Big Head Press


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 631, August 7, 2011

"A vast paradigm shift is bringing the
8000-year Age of Authority to an end"


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A Call to Action
by Jim Davidson
jim@vertoro.com

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

In a recent hit piece called "How to bootstrap a resilient mutual aid society," author and gadfly George Donnelly attempts once again to gainsay anything I've set about to do. In particular, by persistently deriding all uses of trade and commerce, Donnelly purports to have a better approach. No doubt the free market is going to have choices available to it.

Naturally, I welcome both competition and transparency in our efforts to develop, promote, and operate the Sovereign Mutual Aid Response Team (SMART) concept, or "University Association" as our lawyers have named it. If you are interested in our terms of service, proposals, ideas, or operating approach, the documents for all that stuff are on our web site. We're reporting on our progress on a Mutual Aid Response Teams group on Facebook, so when someone needs help we show what we're doing, right there. Only where someone's private information would be compromised are we avoiding being fully documented.

In his hit piece, Donnelly starts off by asserting that mutual aid is a voluntary practise of reciprocal barter. He insists that it is mutually beneficial and involves never using money. I disagree. I believe mutual aid is engaging in helping one another by any voluntary means, including exchanges of value for value, including exchanges of value for money. Donating money to a person is a form of aid. Lending money to a person in need is a form of aid. Asking that person to pay back what was lent, or pay it forward to another in need, is a form of aid. For aid to be mutual, there has to be mutual regard involved. There does not have to be direct and immediate reciprocity. Sometimes the person in need is unable to re-pay for a long time, or ever.

Donnelly then notes that the state has a good bit of power, to take things, cause employers to do things, and put people in cages. He seems to neglect the powerful profit incentives which not only keep this system going, but expand it. Indeed, Donnelly seems to think that profit is an ugly idea and that incentives that cause people involved in state agencies and government contractors to do things should not be turned to better purposes. Yet we see not only a proliferation of government agencies, but also a dramatic increase since 1980 in the number of people going to jail and staying in prison. So I would suggest that if the profit motive can be made to expand on those things, the profit motive can be used to expand on things we want. If there are no profits for anyone, then what is wanted won't increase. Further to this point, one of the objectives of SMART is to take away the profits from the individual police, prosecutors, and judges who abuse their offices and engage in criminal wrongdoing, official oppression, and violations of the individual freedom of people in their power, but also to take away the profits from the prison industry itself.

Donnelly asserts, falsely, "mutual aid doesn't require money." In fact, it requires a great deal of money, if it is to be at all effective. It requires money for bail, it requires money to communicate with jailed persons -- one of the huge profit centres for the prison industry is charging exorbitant rates for collect calls from jail, it requires money to hire lawyers, it requires money to pay court costs, it requires money to organise an effective offence in terms of lawsuits against those who are doing wrong, it requires money to buy land and houses, to grow food (unless we are to return to the failed experiments of agrarian collectives), to provide safe places for people to be, to provide assets for collateral on large bail fees or large criminal court cases where lawyers are needed, it requires money to do a great many things. It is simply absurd to suppose that one can operate effectively without ever touching money.

In his concern about the state's inflation and seizures of precious metals, I believe Donnelly deliberately overstates the case. None of the overseas metal-based currencies, such as Pecunix, c-gold, or GoldMoney were seized in the recent rash of federal government interventions in free market money. On the contrary, those systems continue to operate successfully, and are being expanded with Loom-based systems such as gold Globals and Voucher-Safe based systems, as well. A sensible approach to a concern about inflation is to diversify one's portfolio into other asset classes. Since land is likely to be needed desperately to grow food when 44.5 million Americans find that food stamps won't buy anything, or that the government won't issue any, one would think that land would be a handy investment vehicle. It would also be good for our activists to have a place to go where food can be grown. It would also be good for our activists to have land to pledge as collateral in bail or lawyer fee cases. And there are numerous mechanisms for protecting property ownership that are used by wealthy people all the time -- charities, foundations, trusts.

Moreover, the supposed threat from the state in gold confiscation often referred to by activists who have some historical knowledge is the 1933 executive order by Franklin Roosevelt. However, only about 22% of the gold coins then in circulation were ever turned in (for the higher exchange rate offerred) or seized. Most Americans kept their gold. See James Turk's Free Market Gold and Money Report fgmr.com for details.

The money avoidance strategy won't work. Since activists are going to be put in cages, money is going to be needed. A strategy that involves advanced planning for this fact, which mitigates the risk of inflation through a diversified portfolio, should have money available when needed. A strategy that avoids having any money or using any kind of effective portfolio management to mitigate risk, diversify to other currencies, decentralise holdings, but instead, persists in the illusion that activists are best served with only reaction, never a pro-active planning approach, is full of fail. Money will be needed, but it won't be available. So activists who have hedged against inflation will have to sell silver at a panic in order to get their friend out of a cage. Or, what is more likely with Donnelly's approach, leave their friend in a cage until money can be raised. Crowd sourcing can raise a few hundred dollars very quickly as we proved with Ethan Lee Vita. It cannot evidently raise $30,000 or more, as we are seeing in the case of Schaeffer Cox.

Worse, the effects of inflation are typically felt hardest by wage labourers. People with business operations often raise prices in response to higher costs. But there is always reluctance on the part of payroll to raise wages. So those who have a job are most likely to see a stagnation of their income while the costs of everything go higher. This fact makes it even worse to have a strategy of avoiding money. Avoiding money in things where you won't ever have to have money might be workable, but avoiding money in situations where you can't do with anything else is madness. And when the state puts our friends in cages, we can't avoid using money to redress that situation.

Trust
Donnelly and I have had a long-standing series of trust issues. I didn't like the way he censored (he prefers to claim he edited) a comment of mine on one of his blogs. I have a very visceral dislike of all forms of censorship, especially of dissenting opinions. Donnelly doesn't care about any of those concerns, feeling that he is the only arbiter of truth. I have a series of e-mails from 2009 complaining about a forum meant to replace, in part, the Yahoo groups where the Boston Tea party, a national political party formed by Tom Knapp in 2006 in response to the evisceration of the Libertarian party's platform, was holding discussions of its activities. I seem to recall the forum Donnellyg was hosting being shut down because of some post he found problematic. Which seems characteristic of his approach to freedom of expression. He doesn't want to be involved in free people having freedom to say anything they please.

Notwithstanding these many disputes, I worked on Donnelly's behalf in finding support among the activist community when he was attacked in Allentown, Pennsylvania by minions of the state who objected to his handing out FIJA leaflets or filming another altercation. I forget the exact particulars. As I recall the matter, I was asked to contribute money to a FIJA related cause, which I remember doing. So it isn't clear to me that trust (of Donnelly, for whom I have considerable contempt and no trust) is an essential element in mutual aid. I prefer to help people attacked by the state, whether I think they are trustworthy or ethical, simply on the basis that the state is the greater evil. I refuse to give even Donnelly or his ilk to the state. "TTu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito." Cede nothing to evil, but proceed ever more audaciously against it.

Possibly what is meant here is "integrity." I have integrity about my hatred of the state and my determination to act against it.

The lending of favours may work well in a culture with homogeneous properties or other traditions consistent with such things. On the other hand, I find that money works well in every context. Money is used by US and non-US people, including Colombians, Mexicans, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Indians, West Africans, you name it. The advantage of money is that it is a very charming friend. People who won't talk to you at all find money to be an alluring reason to start talking. Of course, some mutualists are actually communists and both deride and abjure the entire idea of private property. One of my very dear Facebook friends, Diana Culda, whose husband I have worked closely with in person, and with whom I have worked remotely on our web site (due to the USA government's fascist border policies and inept bureaucracies) says that Donnelly is a communist, in her opinion.

The apparent problem with Donnelly's strategy is that he believes people in the US don't have the necessary level of mutual trust. That's a problem that can be overcome with money and terms of service, I believe. It is a problem that can be overcome with integrity, the kind of integrity that has a man like me helping a man like Donnelly despite years of animosity. If mutual trust is missing, then mutual aid should be possible through agreement, through contract.

Nevertheless, I'm not content that Donnelly is a shrewd observer of American culture. I find that people who trust me are very reliable, and that people I trust are similarly reliable. What it seems, to me, to come down to is: judgement. People use reason, emotion, and spiritual guidance in evaluating whether to trust someone. Reason is the facts involved, the things known, and may be applied to things heard about. Emotion is the feelings one has, the sadness or happiness, fear or anger, sympathy or hostility that are provoked in interactions with someone. Spiritual guidance is that other stuff that people don't talk about in some circles, the creepiness, the tingling sensation, the intuition. I have found that people who have good instincts do take good choices, even if they are unable to explain why in reasoned terms. I find it is easy to create consistent expectations in people simply by being myself, by not backing down, by not equivocating, ever. People very often say that they do not like me, but very few of them think they don't know where I stand. Trust is where you find it, and where you earn it.

Trust is the result of being trustworthy, of having integrity, of doing what you say you'll do. When someone promises not to delete or modify my words, and then deletes or modifies my words, I don't trust that person. I don't trust him, no matter how he justifies his actions.

Unfortunately, many of the people we encounter don't have the same number of connections that Donnelly seems to have. What about them? What if they cannot form the bonds of trust among dozens to hundreds of others needed to be reactive in an emergency? Are they to be unable to purchase services from a mutual aid response team simply because Donelly thinks it is wrong? I don't see any reason to follow Donnelly's advice. I don't trust him. I don't think his solutions are robust enough to meet the needs of the roughly 45 million Americans who are persistently preyed upon by police and other government agencies. I don't think Donnelly cares enough about these people, nor that he sufficiently hates the state.

Mutual Aid Society
Keep in mind that my proposals in recent weeks have been about a mutual aid response team, a team able to respond promptly and effectively when someone is jailed or attacked by police, has her children stolen by the state child abductive service, or is otherwise harmed by state intervention. In other words, someone to call in need.

Donnelly sets up a proposed mutual aid society model. First he points out that currently there is a merely ad hoc mutual aid concept at play. "When someone is in trouble, word is passed around on Facebook, Twitter, email and blogs. Those who want to help, do so. It's simple, low-overhead and very egalitarian. At least one person has to champion the cause or the effort fails."

Unfortunately, the system fails in many instances. It fails for people who aren't a part of our network. Nobody is motivated to go get those people involved. (By way of contrast, SMART pays a 20% membership recruitment fee to recruiting contractors.) It fails for people we don't hear about because nobody is following them closely. (SMART offers a contact service, which can ramp up to hourly contacts if needed.) It fails for people who we do know who have really big problems, like Schaeffer Cox. It fails for people when there is not time to react, or it imposes the cost of waiting until people get organised in reaction. Obviously, we have not yet grown SMART to the point where we can easily take on a big case like Cox's, and we are still working on organisation efforts to be extremely timely. Nevertheless, we're already at work for people with cases in Illinois, Colorado, Alabama, and Georgia.

Donnelly asserts that we should abjure money because it may be seized, without making any effort to show how much danger there is in that area. While I don't think the danger is trivial, I do think it is a knowable and avoidable issue. Jurisdictional arbitrage has been used for thousands of years to avoid the state seizing all the assets of a clever person or well conceived organisation.

Donnelly insists that the only kind of capital we may have is social capital, where people do each other favours. And that's interesting, as a possible economic model. It does not seem likely to work well, given the vast history we have of socialist and communist methods of collectivism. Austrian economists might be interested in criticising Donelly's model.

The problem with egalitarian systems is that those who cannot get involved don't actually get to be equals. And while there is an appeal to the simplicity and zero overhead aspects, there are enormous losses every day amongst those who are attacked and are not being helped by Donnelly's model.

Donnelly points out, "Before the rise of state welfare services in the 1930?s, mutual aid societies were abundant in the US." As indeed they were. Private organisations provided charity, fellowship, seals of approval on products (Good Housekeeping, Underwriters Laboratory), insurance, volunteer fire services, and many other methods of support. Charity hospitals were formed by mutual aid societies and supported without any tax dollars. A very great many of these organisations were membership groups, where members joined, paid dues, had gathering places (lodges, meeting halls), and worked together. Many of the early trade unions were similarly based on membership, as were their precursors, the guilds.

Of course, some state supremacists, such as Samuel Gompers, opposed the mutualist and anarchist views of groups like the International Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) and favoured, instead, national labour laws and overseas wars. That doesn't seem, to me, to prove anything about the applicability of membership organisations to anarchist objectives. Donnelly seems to be throwing a red herring into the discussion, imagining that the propaganda against anarchists as assassins and bomb throwers would be a contemporary concern.

Donnelly asserts, "I'd like to see multiple thriving mutual aid societies in the liberty community." But, of course, he means only those societies that do things the way he wants them done should be thriving. He then goes into a lengthy attack on the methods that SMART is using to gain members, pay people to do work, build assets, and take the fight to those who profit from putting us in cages. Naturally, because of his opposition, I plan to continue the work of SMART to use our model and extend upon it. We're interested in being open source, transparent, and successful. We're eager for competition. Even competition from collectivist sorts like Donnelly seems to be would be welcome, since we expect to be able to provide better service to more people sooner.

Centralisation
Donnelly asserts that by ever charging money for anything, money would have to be kept centrally and with a bureaucracy involved. I dispute that argument entirely. Instead, money would be kept decentralised, distributed, and with access available on extremely short notice.

Of course people are needed to solicit memberships, but since people currently need work, not having the endless resources of wealth that Donnelly has accumulated, and evidently not being able to feed roughly 44.5 million of the people in the country right now, having a distributed system of membership recruiters seems like a useful way for people who want to work to get paid. It doesn't do a great job of covering people who want to do nothing and get paid, right now, so it does have that limitation.

Donnelly asserts, falsely, "People lose direct control of their money." And that isn't so. People are free to choose how to spend their money, either by buying a membership or not. Those who want to not buy a membership can skip a month, or skip the idea entirely. Donnelly is asserting here a coercive and manipulative concept that all money is evil, that all profit motivations are evil, that a non-profit membership association that ever dares charge for anything is evil. But he refuses to accept the calculation problem and its consequences. Donnelly can't plan for the needs of 310 million Americans, let alone 7 billion humans on Earth. The calculation problem shows that no central planning can work, and that therefore the choice taking behaviours of seven billion Earthlings are needed to satisfy their individual wants and needs.

What the calculation problem does not say is that nobody may ever plan, nobody may ever organise, nobody may ever offer a service for pay. On the contrary, by having multiple for-pay competitors in a given sector of activity, those which are best able to provide services would get the most clients. And the individual remainds in control of their money until they buy something with it. Possibly what Donnelly is saying, if a pouting voice might be implied, is that he's unhappy that a customer of a membership service might have, after paying over his money, limited say in what that money is used to do. I find that interesting because it suggests that at the grocery store we might see Donnelly throwing a fit after paying for his groceries when the grocery store manager was paid slightly more than the cashier. Of course, managing complex operations is a very challenging thing, and something that large organisations have traditionally paid very large sums to have done -- sums that are, in the view of the market, commensurate with the skills and challenges and liabilities involved.

It happens that SMART is currently blessed with a general manager, myself, who is highly trained at business operations, with roughly 40 years of experience in running small and large businesses, who is not taking any pay at all whatsoever. But that kind of spirit of voluntarism is possibly unknown to persons such as Donnelly who only see that the business of selling anything is evil.

One of the improvements this approach by SMART offers is that those who don't have a lot of Facebook friends, but who have paid a membership fee, can still get help. Obviously in Donnelly's world, only those who are already involved in the freedom community matter, and others should not be able to pay to get involved. Oh, well.

Transparency
The whole point of SMART's transparency commitment has been to encourage competitors, even competitors from amongst anti-property collectivists such as Donnelly. Our commitment remains to our members to keep their private information private, and to our members to keep our methods public.

Obviously if there can be paid audits, there can be unpaid audits. Members who wish to know how funds are being allocated can simply ask. No doubt that doesn't work for Donnelly because he insists that it is wrong for the grocer to spend the money paid over by Donnelly for groceries as the grocer thinks best. Oh, well.

Donnelly imposes a standard, which seems to be entirely arbitrary, of 1% overhead for any charity organisation. The United Way, in contrast, imposes a standard of 10%, based on their evaluations of hundreds of charity proposals over the years. The United Way seems to understand that there are limits to how little organisation and management can be effective.

One of the errors in Donnelly's approach is the high cost of reaction. Activists pay very high fees to PayPal and ChipIn for their supposed collection services. Activists for the Motor Home Diaries crew were forced to pay exorbitant fees to Western Union to get funds to Jones County, Mississippi very fast. Where a fee of $10 generates a domestic wire for $50,000 transferred among banks, a fee of $12 is due on a transfer of $500 from Western Union (and similar services). Applied against $50,000 that would be a fee of $1,200, at the same percentage rate. Moreover, there are very low upper limits on Western Union and Moneygram transfers. No doubt, these fees are ignored by Donnelly in his analysis of the low cost of never planning, always reacting.

Principles
We operate in a world with many national governments in it. Also provincial governments, also local governments. Forming new enterprises does not require forming new state-approved corporations, since an existing outfit with an existing bank account can start a new activity. However, Donnelly insists that it is unacceptable to ever work with the government's licence, corporation, and banking apparatus. Which tends to leave activists working with him in the much higher cost area of working without banks, with Western Union and other high cost transfer services, with PayPal (which can and will initiate withholding against individual accounts at its whim), and in other ways limited.

People with wealth have many ways to protect, distribute, and decentralise wealth. The "big pot of gold" issue is a non-starter, utter nonsense. How does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation not only avoid all taxes but also keep big pots of money around while having buildings that are exempt from property taxes? By having effective legal counsel.

Organisations are already put on terror watch lists. Donnelly worries so that the state is all powerful and that anything anyone does is subject to being interdicted. Of course, the state has interdicted Western Union transfers, PayPal accounts, and other systems in the past.

Lists can be encrypted and distributed. One of the advantages for SMART is that we have extensive tools for data encryption of member data, and we use those tools. We have encrypted e-mail and encrypted webmail. We use virtual privacy networks, proxy servers, and other tools. Naturally, these are all unknown to Donnelly who insists that by ever knowing anything, we are endangering everyone.

Of course people have to decrypt things to work with the raw data. That's not a problem, though, because it happens all the time. All the Fortune 50 companies in the USA work with their data on accounting in encrypted form. All the hedge funds use encryption to send and receive data to their accountants.

Most of 310 million people are not in prison most of the time. So it isn't a problem to have encrypted data. It is actually very common. It simply isn't something Donnelly knows about, so he's against it.

Further to this point, many of our existing services are located in other countries. IndSovU.com, for example, is hosted in Panama. We're working on a new server approach that would include active mirrors in multiple countries. So it turns out to be extremely difficult to hold someone at gunpoint to get the passphrases and then apply their keys at a foreign location. But jurisdictional arbitrage and other nuances of contemporary data storage (including wide area "ocean store" striping across the network), loop AES encryption, IDEA encryption, and so forth are techniques that have been used for over a decade to handle highly confidential accounting data for major companies.

Unfortunately, the criticisms Donnelly levels at SMART are criticisms of his purely reactive system, as well. The state already cages and coerces activists. It can also torture them to demand ransom. It can also torture those who pay the ransom to get even more ransom. These aren't pretty ideas, but they don't seem to have occurred to Donnelly. In a country where the president has already authorised the execution of American citizens without trial, any state action against anyone can be attempted. The question, really, is whether planning and organising in advance may be of some service.

Much Value Added
A membership model is financially viable. Some of the most successful insurance and non-profit companies in the world, such as Woodmen of the World, Natoinal Geographic Society, etc., have functioned from the start as effective membership groups.

The cost of defending against the state may be paid by the state, and by those working for the state, and by those benefiting from the state's prison and war industries, through the use of effective offence. Effective offence would include especially lawsuits against oppressors. I'm told that a sum greater than $10,000 is being paid over to one activist who was arrested wrongly in Maplewood, Missouri. And that's without naming the particular officer who arrested her. It seems that more effective use of this technique would generate high returns. The Southern Poverty Law Centre has made tens of millions of dollars from such suits, which it uses for evil purposes thwarting individual liberty. The ACLU used to support liberty by suing against oppressors.

"How do you insure against infinity?" asks Donnelly, which illustrates his inability to perform simple mathematics. All insurance is based on assessment of risks, and there are many, many ways to mitigate risk. Yes, the USA government carries the highest premium for insuring against political risk, because it is the least stable and most capricious government on Earth. But political risk insurance is available, anyway. And that's where Donnelly's maths are poor -- he simply asserts infinity must be the right number. But if the state is able to impose infinite costs, then it must be infinitely powerful, and it is not. It is not only a fiction, but a fiction with only about 13.5 million actors and actresses, including school teachers, at all levels of government.

In order to deal with higher costs than the membership fees collected can currently sustain, the University Association has already announced chip-in efforts. We have a chip-in on our home page, we have donation links for Google Checkout users (see, distributing risk to multiple card processors, even at this early stage), we had a chip-in built for our friends in Ghana who need help, we already crowd-sourced Ethan Lee Vita's bail money, there is a chip-in for Schaeffer Cox organised by those working for his freedom, and so forth. See, the advantages of spontaneous fundraising are available to both Donnelly's react-only strategy and to IndSovU's SMART strategy. But the advantages of long-term fundraising, endowments such as the recent bitCoin mining endowment we obtained from our most generous donor, and so forth -- these are not available to Donnelly's react-only approach.

The question of whether a given member is better off paying his membership dues this month or this year or for a lifetime in one go is not up to Donnelly. Donnelly asserts that he has infinite knowledge and that the calculation problem can be solved by taking his word for the fact that members lose if they don't keep their money always. However, it isn't his money, so he has no way of actually evaluating their risks, rewards, and preferences. Further to this point, he asserts that the whole enterprise is at risk because it cannot meet implied obligations to members that Donnelly imposes in his typically vindictive and arbitrary fashion. Instead, the only risk to the organisation is that it would need to publish one more request for contributions to its members and friends.

Yes, beating the state in their system is difficult. However, it has not only been done, and continues to be done, but it is done frequently. Donnelly would rather that everyone simply lay down and passively submit to abuse without ever calling the state and its minions and those who profit from it to account. And while that is a very pacifist and no doubt loving-kindness filled approach, it isn't the goal of SMART. Our goal is to take the pain and suffering from our people and place it on those who oppress us.

A great many activists beat the criminal charges but are unable to organise an effective civil suit. Donnelly doesn't mind, because he doesn't want people to even try to thwart the state in its efforts to oppress us, I suspect, based on his comments. In fact, we already know personally activists who have been paid settlements out of court thanks to lawsuits.

There is risk that knowing that our members are backed by us, our members may be more bold in committing acts of civil disobedience. That's good, since we want more civil disobedience and less government.

Then Donnelly makes our case. "Consider the case of "Sovereign" Curtis who is accused of passing less than a gram of cannabis to an undercover cop in New Hampshire. After months of fundraising he has apparently raised less than 10 per cent of the $8,500 he needs to fight a felony charge. Curtis is not only well-known, he also has the support of the CD Evolution Fund."

So, apparently, the reaction-only strategy has failed for Curtis. We're not happy with that result, at all, which is why we've designed an advance planning strategy. Being pro-active should be better.

Is the strategy of beating the state in court worthwhile? Yes. It's already produced results for activists. Not that Donnelly cares, since he doesn't really want the state to be beaten, in my opinion.

Insurance for expensive things, he says, has to be expensive. But it isn't. Insurance for expensive things, such as a million dollars of liability insurance, is often trivial -- about $250 for a year of coverage is a recent quote. Anyone who has rented a car knows that insurance is available on the expensive vehicle for a very few dollars a day.

Donnelly writes, "the liberty community is not known for its wealth."

But it is. Not everyone in the liberty community is impoverished. Billionaires like the Koch brothers persistently contribute to freedom groups like CATO Institute and Reason Foundation. Many other billionaires are interested in freedom. Every person in the USA has a reasonable expectation to have an average annual income in about 30 or 40 years of their life. Currently that average is $48,000 or more. Which means the lifetime income for the average American is over $1.9 million. That's a lot of money, even by today's standards. So why don't you always have that wealth? Because so much of it is stolen by the state in taxes, and in higher prices due to taxes on the things you buy.

Part of our plan has been to raise money from the people we know who have accumulated great wealth.

Market Forces
Donnelly again makes our case, "When I was arrested by US marshals, they kept my driver's license. I couldn't drive for several days until I was able to go and get a new copy." See, that's an act of official oppression, seizing his licence. That caused Donnelly actual damage. He should gain a settlement offer if only he would bother to sue.

Can we grow by asking for money from people we know who have money? Yes, and we're working on that. Can we grow by soliciting members from the general public? Yes. And as I've shown, those people have few alternatives to service, not having the kinds of contacts that Curtis and Donnelly have.

Donnelly is opposed to commissioned sales, presumably because he has money or income and doesn't need a job. By attacking people who are offering the services of our membership association, Donnelly is attacking the very concept of work for pay. No doubt as a collectivist he might prefer that nobody have to work to be paid.

There is, in fact, every incentive to support the member after the sale simply because that's how members are satisfied. Satisfied members generate more members. The very best advertising is word of mouth. Of course, for Donnelly to understand these things he might need to study marketing or business.

Again, the market has the choice. If the individual who is recruited does not want to pay the recruiter, they don't enter their coupon code, they forego the 1% discount, and the seller does not get a commission -- unless someone in our group intervenes and takes the seller's report seriously, which we do. The point being that if the market doesn't want memberships, then Donnelly's essay is unnecessary. If the market does want memberships, but not commissions, then Donnelly's complaint about commissions being paid to the people in the liberty community who want sales jobs is, again, unnecessary. Those who don't want sales commissions to be paid can bypass that part of the system by not entering a coupon code, probably. And we'll respond to that behaviour over time by pursuing research in the market (surveys, focus groups) to find out what a workable recruiting strategy would be.

If the market wants memberships and wants to compensate recruiters (who, after all, need jobs and income in this wicked world that uses money for trade and commerce in defiance of Donnelly's preferences) then, again, Donnelly's essay is unnecessary. So I get the impression that his attacks on the SMART business strategy are more motivated by sour grapes and a desire to further his animosity toward me rather than from any wholesome purpose in helping others.

Donnelly asserts that a mutual aid foundation project in South Africa was poorly organised by Gandhi, who failed to maintain control, but instead lost control to a board of directors that turned the mutual aid foundation to other purposes. Curiously, Donnelly ignores literally millions of aid groups, charities, membership organisations, foundations, trusts, universities, and other entities which have functioned very well. No doubt Donnelly's experience and education about membership organisations is limited, and he's either ignorant of, or deliberately ignoring, all the many successful examples.

Donnelly's Model
Donnelly is willing to await a more perfected design because he doesn't currently sense the urgency. He isn't in a cage, and his neighbours aren't all in cages. If some black inner city youth is in a cage, it isn't clear that Donnelly wants to do anything about that.

Without ever establishing that there is a board, lists, central storage of information, or hierarchy, Donnelly goes off on a rant about peer to peer concepts that it seems doubtful he actually understands. Certainly peer-to-peer money transfer is an ancient and effective system, called "fast money" or "hawala." Chinese clans and tongs, Somali clans, and many other groups have used, for thousands of years, networks of trusted individuals to cause money received in one place to be paid out within minutes in another place. Books are balanced behind the scenes. This peer-to-peer approach was developed on a large scale by the Napster network for file sharing, and then distributed through the work of one of the coders involved in Napster's early going, who built the bitTorrent concept -- which actually applies some of David Chaum's early work on mesh-mixed networking.

Of course, we know all these things about funds, about not storing them centrally, about peer-to-peer money transfer, and many other things. So, it isn't clear that anything Donnelly is proposing that is worthwhile isn't already being adopted, or would be adopted, by SMART. We're committed to ending the state, using the means at our disposal.

Donnelly demands that we "Don't sell memberships. Don't have a board or bureaucracy. Don't have salespeople." Naturally, we have no plans for a board or bureaucracy, and he hasn't shown anywhere that we have such plans. He simply imposes upon us his view that we must be having bureaucracy because we dare to have both money and plans. His demand that we not sell anything is collectivism writ large. It isn't up to Donnelly to demand. We'l sell as we choose, and the market will buy as they choose, and it isn't any of Donnelly's business. We'll have salespeople as long as they produce results, as long as they enjoy being paid. Clearly, Donnelly is against anyone having a job or having the opportunity to work for a living.

Donnelly's master mutual aid mailing list becomes the very list he worries about. While e-mail addresses may be discarded, traffic analysis cannot be discarded, so now all his activists have to know how to avoid having their IP address tracked. Good knowledge to have. Plus if they ever use the same IP in the future, or in connection with any other e-mail address, their actual behaviour may be exposed, anyway.

Unfortunately, the rest of his proposal never mentions "encryption" presumably because he thinks it is useless. Which is too bad, because it can save lives. It is used by very large companies with billions of dollars at stake for a reason. But Donnelly doesn't want it. Oh, well.

Syndicating big projects already happens in the liberty community. Unfortunately, it has to involve organisations that trust each other to exist through the period of syndication. It isn't clear that the tiny mutual aid societies posited by Donnelly would last long enough to be effective participants in a big project syndication.

Unfortunately, no one in Donnelly's model is paid to tell the story of anyone else. So there is an inherent limitation here to getting good results only for good story tellers. Sad.

Of course, marketing/writing specialists cannot be paid, either, because there is not only no money, but there is something inherently wrong with ever using money, according to Donnelly. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, Donnelly's model depends on an unknown number of champions of unknown calibre. So, nobody gets paid, and nobody gets good at their job. The few champions who produce good results will be flooded with requests for champion relationship, and everybody else will get the squalor of prison. Oh, well.

There seems to be an implied use of computer resources that nobody pays for. Which is great, until whoever is paying for those resources goes away. It isn't clear that the Donnelly mailing list would be stored securely, off shore, encrypted. And there is no way to cover the cost of server use, so the model isn't robust. It has a single point of vulnerability -- whoever is paying for the server. Whoops.

Unfortunately, requests for mutual aid in Donnelly's system are funded only after group discussion and approval, so there is an inherent weakness for anyone who lacks an effective champion, or who is unknown to the group. The SMART path of approving all requests for aid by helping members and non-members get in touch with compassionate individuals who can help them would seem to be a better approach. Also, the costs of moving funds through PayPal, Western Union, and other current methodologies are very high, and cannot be readily addressed by Donnelly's system.

Unfortunately, Donnelly's system derides and abjures anyone who isn't popular, who ever says unpopular things, so it is destined to be a peer pressure system that thwarts individual freedom. People will feel burdened by concerns that their ideas are unpopular and therefore they won't express them, in order to maintain their socialist capital with the other socialists. Mind games. Yuck.

Donnelly himself describes it: "Each potential aiding member asks: 'Do I know this person?' 'Do I like this person and what they do?' 'Have they been nice to me?' 'Have they helped me before?' 'Are they my friend?'"

Whereas a faceless membership society that already responds to requests from non-members in a very positive and caring fashion, that has integrity to answer *all* calls for help, imposes no peer pressure on people to think that they have to limit their ideas or only talk nice when they are being insulted, for fear that they'll sit in a cage because Donnelly's peer pressure syndicate doesn't want to help. Yikes. Group think writ large.

Donnelly, "this kind of investment exists in our memories. It can not be taken from us."

People who are dead have no memories. Whoops. The state can take your lives, and therefore your memories. Yikes.

Skype has never been interesting to me, but I've known that its proprietary encryption wasn't trustworthy for years before proof of phonotactic penetration of Skype was presented to me. I wrote about that penetration months ago. Yikes.

Twinkle and other OpenSIP systems have been providing reliable voice encryption without phonotactic penetration risks for years. Of course, I've been using it for years. The key is to use encryption. But that involves knowing about encryption, not merely worrying about what is popular, like Skype.

Objections
The objection that the just-in-time model does no planning and no advanced funding work is valid. It shows for both Schaeffer Cox and Sovereign Curtis. Oh, well.

It is sort of amusing to read that Shaun Lee got out of a mental hospital thanks to Donnelly's just in time methods. I was there. Donnelly wasn't. I drove hours to be there. Donnelly didn't. I'm not clear how he has any claim to success in that situation.

Donnelly writes, "It works just fine -- as long you have already paid forward the amount of social capital required for your situation." So he condemns everyone who isn't popular, and everyone who hasn't yet paid forward requisite social capital. Yikes.

Donnelly: "Some or all of the above mutual aid cases may have required champions or initial outlays from personal funds. But there is nothing wrong with that."

Gee, thanks for all your contributions to me for my time and my fuel costs and my work to get Shaun out of the mental hospital. Whoops, you didn't contribute a damned thing, Donnelly. I was there, you weren't. So you are great at saying there is nothing wrong with my outlay of personal funds. But I don't have enough money to help every woman who is wrongfully condemned by her inlaws to a mental hospital for daring to report her husband for domestic violence assault and battery. And there isn't a champion in sight for all those unknown persons who are caged in one way or another. So Donnelly's system condemns them to suffer, or me to go broke trying to help them alone. Yikes.

Donnelly, "If you don't have enough social capital accumulated for champions to step forward on your behalf, it is not to the advantage of the community to help you anyway. This is the free market at work."

No, Donnelly, that isn't the free market at work. The free market involves buying and selling. Personal choice as to what to buy, including member services. Apparently Donnelly would rather condemn millions to live in cages and be beaten by police than do anything for them. Yikes.

Donnelly, "People are incentivized to build social capital with the members of that bureaucracy." But that's not so. Since we help even those who have not paid membership fees, with equal enthusiasm, nobody needs to sweet talk us. Which is the opposite of Donnelly's system, where everyone has to be dishonest and disingenuous for fear of blurting an uncomfortable truth.

Donnelly, "This model requires begging others for help. Sure, but that is as it should be."

No one should have a job, no one should be paid for sales, everyone should beg. Wow.

Donnelly, "It's either that or beg the bureaucracy."

Nope. The policy of SMART is to help everyone who asks, everyone we can find. No one begs. People are actually compensated for helping us, by selling, for example. But Donnelly hates the idea of people working at something they enjoy and being paid, because Donnelly is a communist, in the opinion of Diana Culda. I'm beginning to see her point.

Donnelly, "We should each be able to decide exactly how we will spend it."

Indeed, we should. And those who wish to buy memberships should do so. Those who wish to have endless peer pressure and shaming from Donnelly might like his idea better.

Donnelly, "Success in business requires laser focus. An enterprise prospers when it centers on one service or one tightly-related basket of services. But there are lots of ideas being tossed around: activist insurance, bail-out service, keep-in-touch service, Porc 411 service, fundraising service, defense networks and more."

Of course, the biggest problem for a new business is having a second product. Donnelly, who hates business and derides free enterprise, especially selling, would not understand such a thing.

Donnelly writes, "One excellent service that MASes can offer (to make money on the side) is training in how to start, grow and maintain businesses."

IndSovU has offered courses on business planning for about a year now. Of course, we have people with actual business success teaching courses.

Slow and Steady Condemns Many
Before everyone rushes over to work with Donnelly, keep in mind that he's not ready to help more than a very few. Which limits the appeal of his approach, and condemns a great many to further suffering.

Donnelly writes, "Our ability to help ourselves must be preserved at all costs." See how generous?

Donnelly demands, "It is ho-hum same-old same-old to provide mutual aid via a hierarchical company."

Of course, no one has built a hierarchy. But Donnelly wants to defeat it before it takes hold, because he seems to hate the idea of 44.5 million people having somewhere to turn when the state collapses. Oh, well.

Donnelly, "On a side note, I've been thinking about this concept for some time. I am still considering launching Shield Mutual, a cooperative mutual aid society based on this vision."

So, more waiting, if you have the time. If you don't, if you have any sense of urgency, please get involved in SMART. We're here, now, and already helping others.


Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, and anti-war activist. His 1990 venture to offer a sweepstakes trip into space was destroyed by government action as was his free port and prospective space port in Somalia in 2001. His 2002-2007 venture in free market money and private stock exchange was destroyed by government action in 2007. He's going to Mars if he has to walk. His second book, Being Sovereign is now availble from Lulu and Amazon. He is currently working on a book about travel to Mars with John Wayne Smith, a book with international fugitive Chad Z. Hower on his story, a book on sovereign self-defence, and a book compiling his letters and essays in The Libertarian Enterprise from 1995 to 2010. Contact him at indomitus.net or indsovu.com. Come visit IndSovU teams at gatherings in September 2011 in Montana, December 2011 in Florida, and March 2012 in Austin, Texas. Or join State Busters.

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