Archive for the 'Anarchy' Category

WHY FREEDOM?

June 23, 2010

WHY FREEDOM?

Here’s a philosophical question I’d like you to consider; we each tend to make judgments on the basis of several more or less fundamental philosophies. Which is most fundamental with you?

My list includes the following:
Religious law, the rules of your religion.
Cultural law: the rules and traditions of your cultural group.
Egalitarianism: Does everybody get “fair” or “equal” treatment?
Libertarianism: Maximum freedom for each person.
Utilitarianism: The greatest good for the greatest number.
The golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Live and let live.
If you have a philosophy that differs from all of these, please contribute a comment.

These fundamental philosophies tend to overlap more than they conflict. Of course, each person has his own interpretation of each of them. And it seems that many religions initially were dogmatic and claimed precedence over any philosophy.

I’m libertarian, but I try to justify liberty as the best solution to the requirements of all other philosophies. Is this necessary? Can liberty stand alone, fully justified without reference to any other measure of right or wrong? I’ll give it a try

Liberty, like the golden rule, is not imposed from above, but is a simple rule each individual imposes on himself; “I will not violate another person’s liberty”. Perhaps this is the foundation of common law. It is the self government which makes anarchy workable.

Within liberty, each person is free to belong to any group, religion, or culture, and free to give up some liberty to live by the rules of the group. However, he is still bound by the rule of liberty; he shall not violate the liberty of any other person.

Trade is essential to our survival if we are to sustain our present population. Within liberty, all trade is free, within groups, and between members of different groups. Liberty is the only framework which assures that all groups, cultures, and religions can live together in peace and prosperity.

DEMOCRACY ISN’T FREEDOM

June 21, 2010

DEMOCRACY ISN’T FREEDOM

We frequently hear the terms, democracy and freedom, used as if they were inseparable, or even synonymous. Certainly, democracy is a step away from monarchy. But remember, Adolph Hitler was democratically elected to run Germany. Democracy is no guarantee of freedom.

Freedom is minimal restraint on your choice to do anything you want in any way you want. The minimal restraint prohibits using theft, fraud, or violence against others, to assure maximum and equal freedom for all.

Democracy is a means of governing a group. Decisions are made by majority vote of the voters, which may or may not include all members of the group. Democracy can give a majority the power to tyrannize the minority. Unless all members are voters, a minority of members can tyrannize all others in the group.

To quote once again Ludwig Von Mises; “Government is the negation of freedom”.

Under freedom, voluntary members of a group may practice democracy. Within a democracy, freedom lives or dies at the whim of the voters.

So what is the best form of government? There are good arguments in favor of monarchy. So long as there is a real likelihood that dissatisfied subjects may depose the king, he will feel the need to allow maximum freedom to his subjects. Kings have learned that contented subjects are the best source of taxes to support the monarchy.

However, a king, wanting to secure his power, can do so by building a loyal power base, by granting lands (and peasants or serfs) to a hierarchy of loyal lords, and by granting monopolies (Guilds) to merchants, bankers, and tradesmen. Soon, instead of just the royal family to support, the king’s subjects are groaning under the burden of supporting a huge aristocracy and greedy guilds.
A dictator may be voted into power, but then his first priority will be to perpetuate that power. That’s why it’s not good enough to choose good men to rule us; power not only corrupts, but it is also addictive.

Let’s face it; government is the negation of freedom. Government is the enemy of freedom. If we want freedom, we must either invent a form of government which has no power, or abandon government altogether. We must seriously think about anarchy, how to establish it, and how to make it work.

For those who do not want liberty, for whatever reason, and feel that some form of government, or some set of laws, or some enlightened rulers can build a utopia, nirvana, or paradise on earth, by all means subject yourself to such a government. But leave the rest of us free; don’t try to rule over or tax us or our land or property. We’re busy making freedom work. But first, we must find ways to escape from existing governments

SOCIALISM AND THE FREE MARKET

June 12, 2010

SOCIALISM AND THE FREE MARKET
The free market and socialism are not totally incompatible. It’s true that a free market cannot exist legally under a socialist government. That’s what they call a black market. However, socialist countries usually do have a black market and probably would soon collapse without it. This is because socialist bureaucrats do a really dismal job of trying to achieve what the free market does so well; the assignment of the available labor, materials, and capital to efficiently satisfy the wants of consumers. That’s what economics is all about.

What I say about socialism applies equally to all of its variants: communism, socialism, fascism, the welfare state, and others. The differences between them are more a matter of degree than of principle.

Socialism can exist within a free market. The oldest form of commune, the family, has always been an essential tool of survival. Communes of any size can exist legally within a free market system, provided only that membership in the commune is voluntary. However, the larger a commune becomes the less efficient and the more dictatorial it becomes. Only strong bonds of family, tradition, or religion can hold it together.

A commune within a free market system soon reveals its inefficiency by its poverty in contrast with the prosperity of the people in the free market. This strains the bonds binding the commune together, and hastens its eventual collapse.

The solution for socialism is to completely isolate the commune from the outside world. Thus after WW2, the Russian empire (The USSR) proceeded to block all contact with the rest of the world. Winston Churchill put it aptly, “An iron curtain has fallen across Europe”.

All Russian soldiers who had contacted Europeans during the war, even if only in combat, were sent off to labor camps in Siberia, quarantined there until they had been decontaminated of any possible negative thoughts about communism. For decades the Soviet leaders tried to hide from their people their poverty in contrast with the prosperity of the rest of the Western world. Now the USSR has collapsed and Russia has adopted what might best be described as a “corporate welfare state”.

Meanwhile, the USA has become an ever-expanding welfare state with politicians buying votes, and gaining campaign contributions, by granting privilege and power to assorted special interest groups. Why do we so easily sell our votes? Do voters realize that they are being bought? Do they care?

Do they all believe that somehow each of them can get more out of the pot than they put in? (That’s impossible). Those who do get more out than they put in are parasites. The rest of us are their victims. This is theft, not a free market exchange, where each party profits by the exchange.

Government budget bills are always loaded with amendments submitted by congressmen to allot some money for some project which will benefit the people of their particular congressional districts. This is called the “Pork Barrel”. This is how your congressman tries to buy your votes. He has no trouble getting his amendment inserted in the budget bill. It’s an unwritten agreement among all congressmen; “you vote for my bit and I’ll vote for yours”.

I suspect that most of the public goes to the polls uninformed, except for the sound bites repeated over and over on TV, and paid for by campaign contributions from the corporate and special interest groups. If we are that careless about our votes, perhaps we deserve to be taxed for the benefit of these parasites.

The men who produced our Constitution imagined informed voters electing wise, public spirited men to represent them in Congress. What we got instead must have shocked them. How do you remove such corruption from government? Power is what creates corruption. Is it possible to create a government without power? Free market anarchy is the only answer I can see. If you can think of something better, please add your comment to this blog.

GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY

June 10, 2010

GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY
Just what is a nation? Is it the piece of land within some borders? Is it the people living therein? Or is it only the citizens therein? Is it the government of those people? What does citizenship mean?

I’m asking you to think from outside the box of the system we were all born into, and try to bring some insight into something so ingrained that we never really question it: the nature and purpose of government. I know that anarchy sounds scary, but anarchy is simply the absence of government. Thinking about anarchy could be a very powerful tool to understand government, and perhaps improve it.

From my perspective, government has always been an institution of power which enables some of us to use the rest of us, and to use the land, to their own benefit. A democracy or a republic is government which permits us some degree of choice of which bandits will “protect” us, just as the local mafia “protects” us. Democracy obliges politicians to offer us something in return for our votes. Usually we elect the ablest liars.

Conquest may clarify the relationship between people, land, and government. When we won the war with Mexico, the USA acquired what now comprises California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. The inhabitants came with the land, and became Americans. They had no choice in the matter. So do the people own their land or does the land own the people? It seems from this example that the government owns both the land and the people. Wars are fought between governments to determine which government shall own the disputed land and people therein.

Do we really own the land we buy? I believe not. If government can tax us for “owning” the land, then the government really owns the land and we are paying rent to the government for the privilege of using it. When we “buy” the land we are really just paying the former “owner” for the transfer of the privilege of renting it from the government.

Who really owns the land becomes even more apparent when the government uses the power of eminent domain to take the property from you, compensating you with whatever amount it considers fair. That’s generous of government, since it really owns that land already, and you are just renting it. Government is just terminating your lease.

Income tax implies government ownership of people, and of what they produce. I have had the personal experience of having to file income tax returns for 2 different countries every year for several years.

From 1979 to 2000, I was resident in Scotland. Then I returned to the USA. I retained my US citizenship throughout that period, but was officially resident in Britain. During all that time, I had to file income tax returns for both countries.

The USA and Britain have a tax treaty agreement. The country of residence (Britain) at the time of the tax has first claim on my income. The country of my citizenship (The USA) has a second claim. If the American tax calculated on my whole income for the year exceeds whatever I have paid to Britain, I owe the USA the difference.

From this I deduce that, as a US citizen, the US owns me, and while I’m resident in Britain, the US shares that ownership of me with Britain.

Absolute proof that government owns us is the conscription of soldiers in time of war. The USA used conscription in the Civil War, WW1, and WW2.

So here’s my analysis; a nation is a territory with set borders. The land and the people therein are the property of the government. Wars are simply struggles between governments to secure ownership of the land and people.

A Libertarian/Anarchist Approach

As a libertarian, and a tentative anarchist, I find the power of government to be the big problem. With government, the government is sovereign and we are its servants. In the free market, the consumer is sovereign. He chooses those who serve him.

To view government from an anarchist or libertarian perspective, lets assume that government is here to provide some essential services for us, its citizens. How could we get the benefit of these services, but avoid the coercive monopoly of government?

Let’s see how a free market approach could provide these services. The free market prohibits coercion, and that eliminates monopoly. Suppose we have competing governments competing to provide us with their services. Such governments could offer services paid for by fee per service, or by subscription. You choose the government that offers the best value for money.

If you are disappointed with your choice, you can shop for a better deal from another government. Or you might get one service from one government and another service from some other government. There would be no room for politics, just competition. Competing governments would have to be efficient and honest to get and keep customers/subscribers/citizens. Government would be your servant, not your master.

The term “government” would hardly be appropriate in such a situation. “Service Provider” might better describe the new role of government.

Anarchist proposals are similar to this but they tend to designate these servants as insurance companies. Individual companies might specialize in one service such as education or roadways. Some might provide groups of related services such as police, courts & prisons. An insurance company might insure your life, safety, & property in conjunction with providing home security measures and police services. A free market in the services that governments provide would give us many choices. Competition would assure value for money. Wasteful bureaucracies would disappear.

Under competing governments, you and I might subscribe to different governments. In any transaction between us, we should agree in advance which government shall be given authority in case of a dispute. The Anarchists have this sort of problem worked out in some detail. Such arrangements would probably give us arbitration courts independent of the other services of government. The free market always produces solutions to problems with variations to suit everyone. I suggest you read “Chaos Theory”, by Robert P Murphy, ($8 from Mises Bookstore)

THE HELPLESS CONSTITUTION

June 6, 2010

THE HELPLESS CONSTITUTION

When the US Constitution was written, it was simply a framework of offices and institutions, duties and powers. It immediately became apparent that it lacked protection for the people and the states from oppressive use of these powers. So the first 10 amendments were added to limit the power of the Federal Government over the States and the people, and the power of the States over the people. The amendments were quite specific and unambiguous.

The Constitution had its checks and balances to permit each branch of the government to limit the excesses of the other branches. The Supreme Court was the final judge of the constitutionality of any action of the other branches. But the members of the Supreme Court were appointed by the President and Congress.

The only basis for selecting the Justices of the Supreme Court should be their honesty and wisdom; interpreting the constitution should be the basis of all their decisions. However, they were selected from the start on their political positions on the difficult decisions of the time; how did they feel about slavery or abolition, States’ rights or Federal power.

So the decisions of the Supreme Court were always political, rather than technical. When they disagreed with the Constitution, they would use a “liberal” interpretation of the Constitution; it said just what they wanted it to say. They were only human. The Constitution was soon in tatters and ineffectual.

When a President decided to go to war, (Not his prerogative), He would simply send the army off to war, and Congress would dutifully declare war after the fact. States’ rights quickly went down the drain.

The Constitution was a noble effort to avoid the pitfalls that had ended earlier experiments of democracies and republics. It proved helpless against the thirst for power of politicians. There was always a struggle between the branches of government for dominance. Each branch increased its own power but in the end the presidency became dominant and we now have the Imperial Presidency.

Is there any alternative? In my opinion a written constitution is powerless, the enacted laws of congress are disastrous, and the imperial presidency is stripping away even the freedom we had before the American Revolution. Anarchy could hardly be worse. The unwritten common law serves up better justice than the written laws of Congress. The problem is not bad men or policies of any political party. It is the weakness of a legal document against the very human craving for power. Power is the root of all evil.

FOR FURTHER READING

May 28, 2010

FOR FURTHER READING
I have tried to write about Austrian economics in simple English, free of Jargon. Most of what is available on this is subject is very scholarly. I’ve listed here some internet sources and books which can help you to expand your knowledge on this subject. The books are good basic reading which bridge the gap to provide a more thorough understanding but still in plain language. I hate specialist jargon which serves only to exclude the non-specialist.
Austrian Economics: Mises Institute
Mises Website: http://mises.org/
Mises Bookstore: http://mises.org/store/
To subscribe to Mises Institute Emails:
http://mises.org/content/elist.asp
Political action for Freedom:
Ron Paul: http://www.ronpaul.org/
http://www.campaignforliberty.com/index.php
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Books I recommend: All available from the Mises Bookstore
Economics made Easy:
Economics in one Lesson by Henry Hazlitt $12
Economics for real people by Gene Callahan $14
Real American History:
How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas J DiLorenzo $14
The Politically incorrect guide to American History
By Thomas E Woods $19
Understanding Money:
The Case for Gold By Ron Paul $14
What Has Government Done to Our Money?
By Murray Rothbard $17
Anarchy
Chaos Theory by Robert P Murphy $8

EXPERIMENTS IN ANARCHY

May 10, 2010

Experiments in Anarchy
Libertarians and Anarchists have dandy ideas about ways we can live without government. I doubt that many people will take them or their ideas seriously until these ideas have been tried and proved workable. So I propose an experiment to test their theories.
How to start? The first need is a place to conduct this experiment, a place free from the control of any government. I wouldn’t suggest a revolution or a war of conquest. So someone with money should buy some land, free and clear of any government control or taxation. It should be big enough to build a small economy, preferably with some ocean frontage to permit free trade with the outside world. Then sell off parcels of land, free of any external control.
I can see only one precondition necessary to assure freedom for all. A strip of land around each parcel should be left as common property to allow an access route from any parcel to any other parcel. This commons, of course, would need some sort of government, representing all landowners, to assure free access, and to lease out the common land to one or more corporations to install and maintain streets and highways.
Some anarchists believe that streets and highways, too, should be privately owned. That could be another experiment.
Now proceed with your experiments. See what works and what doesn’t.