THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 593, October 31, 2010
"These times aren't exiting, they are downright exhilarating!"
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Politicians speak artfully of hope. Obama campaigned on the "hope" that he would actually restore habeas corpus, actually free people not charged with any crime, actually bring back due process, actually end don't ask don't tell, actually end the subsidies for giant corporations, actually end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and the military occupation of 805 bases in 163 countries. Guess what? He lied.
There is no hope. There is only action, or inaction. In that hope means you are tending to take actions consistent with what you desire, great. In that you are waiting for other people to come to their senses, I think you may be over-estimating their sensibility. There seems to be plenty of evidence that a large percentage of the population (maybe 30% or so) thinks that other people ought to rule them. Another substantial percentage thinks that they ought to own and rule other people. Even though as much as a third of the people in the USA don't vote, don't file tax papers, avoid complying with the census questions, it still seems clear that the no-rulers ideal is not near at hand.
Let me be clear that if the government were suddenly cut down to size so it would fit within the boundaries of the constitution, I would be much happier. That idea may seem like a fairly good one, but it simply doesn't work. How do you think we got where we are today? Either the constitution has authorised all the tyranny we suffer, or it has been powerless to prevent any of it. That is one of the ideas from Lysander Spooner.
The constitution did not limit government. Now if you say that you think government should not be out of control, should not have unlimited power, you have a steady friend in me. I agree utterly and completely.
The extent to which people are permitted to openly coerce and brutalise one another in the name of government should be strictly and even severely limited. But we have tried classical liberalism. We have tried it for 320 years, since the "glorious revolution" of 1689. It has failed.
Classical liberalism has failed not because people are imperfect. People were imperfect long before classical liberalism. People are all we have to work with, so any system that relies upon people not being imperfect is destined to fail. Classical liberalism failed because it is founded on two fallacies, two ideas that were not true, and cannot be made true.
The first fallacy of classical liberalism is that governments come to power because of the consent of the governed. Actual experience shows that government after government comes to power and grows to greater power without the consent of anyone. Those in power do not care whether or not you consent.
Second, classical liberalism has a doctrine that governments are instituted among men for the purpose of defending life, liberty, and property. But that also isn't so. Governments are, in fact, only created for the purpose of separating the unwary from their property for the benefit of those who run the government.
This is not merely jaundiced hostility toward the idea of the state. It is observation, based on my study of thousands of years of human history. Centralisation doesn't work.
But decentralisation does work. And, at last, we have totally decentralised information and communications, which means we now have real power in the hands of the individual.
Everything has changed. Everything is changing. There is no putting the mushroom cloud back into the steel casing. The system is totally out of control because the people are out of control. And this is not a bad thing, this is a great blessing.
In terms of action, I think the best approach was suggested about 2,500 years ago by Laozi. It is the "withdrawal of support" that Etienne de la Boetie wrote about in 1561 or so. It is the "dropping off the vine" that Thoreau spoke of in his speech on Civil Disobedience in 1848. It is the withdrawal that Murray Rothbard wrote about which so clearly inspired Samuel Edward Konkin III to develop the ideas of agorism, as most excellently expressed by Kyle Bennett in 95 theses on the subject.
Now, you can obviously say, "But Jim, if there were any evidence that this strategy would work, wouldn't we have seen it in 2,500 years?" To which I say, "There is plenty of evidence that is has worked. A thousand years of peaceful anarchy in Ireland. Three hundred years of free Iceland. Thousands of years of freedom in Zomia. Dozens of places like Boston in 1774 and Barcelona during the Spanish civil war where anarchism held sway for a short time. Anarchism works every time you do what you choose without being supervised. For seven billion people on Earth, it works a little bit every day."
But I would go further, today, and point to places like IndSovU.com and SecondRealm.net where people are actually implementing, talking about, and teaching the methods of agorism. Entire dark nets have been created, complete with free market money. We have, at last, a distributed, decentralised communications system where peer to peer rather than client-server is the norm.
We have, at last, the technologies for completely private economic transactions. What the government cannot detect, it cannot prohibit, it cannot regulate, and most importantly it cannot tax.
I do not say that this path is going to be easy. It is already very evidently hard. But the hierarchical systems have torn themselves apart, again and again. The fraud endemic in the system is more evident than ever, in the bailouts, in the auto company takeovers, in the huge wealth transfer of the government purchases to keep the stock market from plunging, and in the foreclosure scandal of "robo signing." People are already hurting.
Prosperous people do not readily change the systems they think are making them prosperous. Now is the Winter of our discontent. But soon, the Spring of our new agorism economy.