Essays to write

January 19, 2007 at 11:37 am | Posted in Anarchism, Decentralism, Political theory, Religion | 2 Comments

[Arrrgg! When editing, WordPress keeps deleting paragraph markers.  I re-add some, and then it deletes others.  I give up… for now.] 

Essays to write, and in approximate order. I am very busy with over-time, job hunting, and family to create these quickly. Though perhaps comments or encouragement might spur a few sleepless nights of creative writing.

Unfermented fraud

Have you noticed that every Christian sect outside of American Evangelical influence has used wine for the Christian Communion/Eucharist practice? Do you wonder how this happened? It is an amazing example of history how and why Protestant Americans invented the belief that Jesus used “unfermented wine” in the seder. No other fraud is so provincial and clearly a case of intentional deception and violent utopian revisionism. It is time to let the Billy Sundays know their fate in the afterlife.

The Guitar Market as a Lesson in Markets

I’ve wasted far too much time window shopping and bargain hunting with an excessive love of the guitar market. I’m probably knowledgeable on 10,000 products. This is a market where, if someone has the talent and knowledge, they can start from a hobby and build it into a full-time business. This is quite unlike, say, the beer market. There are massive governmental barriers so a homebrewer cannot take steps toward an income in brewing. As a result, the guitar market shows massive quality, creativity, customization, craft-as-art, and direct contact, feedback, and real customer service directly with the creator. That’s not all. This isn’t only cottage industry, these small businesses compete directly with big corporate competitors, and both can and do make out well. The major difference is approach. The corporate giants attract by advertising, classic brands, market saturation, universal availability, cheap imports and high end vintage reproductions. The small businesses manage by word of mouth, internet forums of guitar connoisseurs, exceptional quality, internet video and sound samples, and value for the mid and high end market.  I think this example provides lessons beyond tautological free market truths to meta-market general truths, especially relating to asymmetrical knowledge in markets.  

Anarchist IP: A Thought Experiment

Anarchists debate whether Intellectual Property is legitimate, and to what degree. These debates often leave out the essential challenge: How will they be enforced? By reconstructing the debate as if happening within an imaginary or future decentralized anarchist world where pro-IP and anti-IP anarchists might defend their “rights” with guns in hand and no centralized authority, we will see that IP rights would be very limited. It will also be an exploration on the grey border area of natural rights, contract rights, and conventions.

Christianity and Libertarian compatibility: Good, Bad, and Ugly

No holds barred attack on the evils of most “Christianity” from a Christian libertarian perspective. IMO, there can be no ecumenicalism with unlibertarian “Christians” because they refuse to even try to be good people, much less good Christians. Strict (anarchist) libertarianism is a pre-condition for being a good person, and many sects, ideologies, and leaders are evaluated by this standard and found wanting, with only a few exceptions.

Speculative Theory of Value:

The Subjective Theory of Value is often presented too tautologically and doesn’t address that degrees of objectivity are gained to the degree people think alike and predictably. And despite Kevin Carson’s attempt to add marginal utility to the Labor Theory of Value, I think it better to start over. I prioritize the term speculative because its unavoidable nature, and ability to represent both good and bad. Some people try to make speculation to be an evil, but I argue this attack is too broad because all human action is speculative. It is important to address, however, areas like speculation in legal title to land created by states when in fact the land in question would be considered unused, unowned, or common property by natural law. Such speculation should be suspect.It is also shows, in a Popperian critical rationalist sense, that there can’t be a perfect reason for everything. There has to be a point where a guess is a kernel for further scientific evaluation. Subjectivists acknowledge this by the leaving reasons for entrepreneurial decisions as a black box. They don’t try to prove that the entrepreneur had to have strict rational reasons.

Natural and Positive Right Synthesis with Common and Private property:

I believe in natural rights, but I believe there are many grey areas for which it would be foolish to claim that natural law provides all the answers for a successful peaceful world. In many cases the answer is in agreed upon conventions. Natural law doesn’t say whether to drive on the right or left side of a road. Private-property-only theories would say that the private road owners would decide, but this ignores that common roads by nature predated and always predate private roads. Exclusiveness of property is something added (whether justly or not) only after the use of property. In a way, this article will be a continuation of the most influential article I’ve written, but build far beyond it. I think Rothbardian anarchists avoided this because they think it implies a centralized standard maker for each convention. However, not so. It just implies that two groups that don’t agree to some standard just don’t interact in areas where a governing standard would be required.

The Rothbardian Tightrope: Between Coase and George on Land

Rothbard uses the argument that the free-market takes care of just distribution of land regardless of relative inequities in the original distribution, but then rejects the the Coase Theorem for doing the same thing. So is there a consistent middle ground? I think “Locke’s Proviso” for leaving as much and as good land for others is essential to libertarian thought. Ignoring the original distribution effectively requires a Coasian defense that assumes no transaction costs. Here is where speculation becomes an “evil.” If you have a moral framework that assumes something cannot exist and should not matter, then when people try to maximize it and profit off its existence, the moral framework is compromised.

Overcoming the Calling to Ministry Some religious people get a desire they call a “calling to ministry.” If you strongly believe in your religious beliefs, I strongly advise you to rethink it. When people feel this calling, they don’t think how best to fulfill the root desire to educate and help people in a specific way. Instead, they think, “I would like to make this a full time career. What career paths are open, allowing me to devote myself to this fulltime?” Here is the problem. The career paths have been variously designed with or without intent so that your desire to think freely will be compromised. What if you work for a church, responsible for teaching doctrine, but then re-examine something and become uncertain or change opinion? Your career and income are then dependent on maintaining the status quo. Most people who choose a ministry career subconsciously recognize this and modify the direction of their thoughts to solidify their career.What is the problem with this? A cycle is created where the available careers are effectively funded by those with power, and success in the “calling” is dependent on those with power to support the success. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can ride this dragon without getting either your income or your open-mindedness burned to a crisp. The preachers in my religious movement in the 19th century supported their calling by fulltime work as farmers and such. When fulltime paid ministry became common in the 20th century, not just the passion and humility died, but so did separation from the worldly influences like mainstream political opinions. Even the first step of degrees in Bible from approved colleges is a step through a system designed by state accreditation and government college subsidies. Do you really think this unrelated to why American Evangelical Christianity has become the center of the push for totalitarianism. The GI Bill has played a far too unrecognized part in altering the original anti-war belief of my religious movement. All those federal war profits for colleges had its effect.

Operating Systems: Libertarian Thoughts 1.0

January 16, 2007 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Decentralism, Technology | 4 Comments

I just had an article published at www.strike-the-root.com, specifically here: http://www.strike-the-root.com/71/hobbs/hobbs1.html

If you use a computer, this may be worth reading. :)  It’s time to give Linux a try.  No commitments or even much effort is necessary.  Comments can be posted at that website or here.

Albert Jay Nock vs. John Taylor Gatto

January 10, 2007 at 11:59 am | Posted in Homeschooling | 4 Comments

Albert Jay Nock wrote “On the Disadvantages of Being Educated” opposing state education, arguing that many people are just not cut out to receive a liberal education and are better off learning trades.

John Taylor Gatto wrote “The Underground History of American Education” opposing state education, arguing with quotes from the most influential people in power that the state never intended a liberal education for the common people. Their “education” was intended to have a false appearance of liberal education, but was in reality just preparing them for being peons and cheap labor for wealthy elites and industrialists instead of competition..  Nock and Gatto are superficially at odds, but not deeply so. Nock argues against the common advocates of liberal education for all at state expense. Gatto shows that such advocates were really just useful idiots providing a superficial excuse for those who created and controlled compulsory state schooling.

The compulsory liberal education advocates, by combination of hypocrisy and negligent ignorance, sought to dumb down the common man, training them to exchange a school desk for a work desk without a second thought, without attempt for something better. The worst aspect is those who received the false liberal education and think they have one. These are your average people who think they are cut out for making political decisions to force on everyone else, i.e. voters. Also there are those who become disillusioned by the false liberal education and do poorly but could have excelled if allowed a real education. You will rarely hear about these, except a few who later educate themselves despite the distaste for it bred by public schooling and later become famous, such as Albert Einstein.

As my oldest child turns five, my wife and I are homeschooling. Unschooling may work in an era when learning is a leading source of entertainment, but for us, unschooling would mean our oldest would become a professional video game player. How is it, although I’m no slouch at video games when I play, I can’t even once beat my four year old at competitive New Super Mario Bros?

Post-anarcho-capitalism

January 5, 2007 at 3:57 am | Posted in Anarchism, Decentralism, Political theory | 8 Comments

[Founding thoughts of the blog: subject to continuous revision.]

I became an anarcho-capitalist almost the instant I read the concept in 1995. Shortly before that I became a libertarian, and this seemed the natural and unescapable conclusion of consistent libertarianism.

Now, I think that anarcho-capitalism (as the an-caps understand it) is necessary but insufficient to preserve liberty alone. Unfortunately, we made the same mistake for which we accused the anarcho-socialists.

We claimed that the collectivization demanded by anarcho-socialism creates a central authority that would not restrain itself from abusing the power once placed in its hands. Similarly, governments make written constitutions. They agree to certain principles to limit power. But in the end, states by design provide themselves the temptation and power to break self-imposed limitations of power.

All this is true enough, but anarcho-capitalism allows any distribution of property, state of affairs, power structure, etc. that derives only from voluntary transactions to be a legitimate and acceptable state of affairs. But what if everyone decided to give all the guns to Mr. Ancap the Hero’s Protection Service, and voluntarily contract to no longer bear arms individually?

Because this is a voluntary change, An-Caps say, “Well it would be legitimate, but no one in their right mind would do that!” Unfortunately, history is filled with people voluntarily making such dumb choices. It must be seriously considered, and occasionally expected. Mr. Hero, or his successors would eventually become Mr. Villain.

Businesses can become very powerful. Power creates temptation. A disproportionately large amount of power in one place weakens the ethical self-imposed barrier between economic power (voluntary interaction) and political power. Radically successful businesses therefore create exactly the same temptation for political action that collectivization does to socialists because power is in the hands of the few.

So what is the solution? Those who want to maintain liberty must seek the limitation of power as an additional goal in itself. This cannot be put above respect for legitimate contracts and property, but beside it. It is further impossible to place it above contracts and property as the attempt requires a direct contradiction.

To limit power, it must be decentralized. In the defense of some anarcho-socialists, particularly those following Kropotkin, decentralism was a tenant from the beginning. Ludwig von Mises called this syndicalism and said it wasn’t even socialism at all. True enough as Mises defined socialism. So when consistent, criticisms of socialism while defined as “centralization of the means of production” don’t apply to any type of decentralist. Or if taken to the extreme, was Mises attacking the “centralization” inherit in a nuclear family structure? No, he was addressing socialism on a national or international scope. His argument gets relatively less true for increasingly smaller scopes, till at some point disappears, perhaps at only slightly bigger than the nuclear family.

What does limiting even voluntary power then mean in practice? If some legitimate business appears to be gaining monopoly-like power, that is enough to be concerned. Support the underdog. Instead of patronizing Microsoft, Intel, and Walmart, use products from Linux, AMD, and local stores.

That’s not the only problem I now have with anarcho-capitalism. “Finders Keepers” for first owner of land regardless of scarcity just doesn’t necessarily work. If Friday shipwrecks on Crusoe’s tiny island, does Crusoe really have the right to make Friday get off and drown unless Friday agrees to any contract Crusoe demands, just because Crusoe has “mixed his labor” with the “whole” tiny island first?

Rothbard rejected the Coase theorem which argued that the original owner isn’t important (assuming no transaction costs) because the market would allocate efficiently. But doesn’t Rothbard’s argument against Henry George boil down to arguing that the original owner of land isn’t important because the market would allocate efficiently? That’s not properly detailed enough to really be accurate, but I’m intending to start an essay on this to straighten my own thoughts out.

I’m not a Georgist, and not sure if I should consider myself a Mutualist. I still prefer the term free market anarchist, but won’t call myself an anarcho-capitalist proper. I would guess that any leadership structure of a sovereign society too big to know all the people, whether corporatist, feudalist, or democratic, is too big to control its temptation for political power. When it ceases to be personal, it becomes impersonal. Is that not a dangerous step towards the political? A fundamental characteristic of politics is the claim to represent someone’s best interests contrary to their stated interests. This is much harder to rationalize if everyone you so claim to represent knows you personally and can regularly complain to your face.

What am I? A decentralist.

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