L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 888, September 4, 2016
The Facts of Life, for Anarchists
by Nic Leobold
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
People are flawed. That’s the Fact of Life. Because people are flawed, it leads to all sorts of other evils that are magnified, multiplied and compounded on top of each other.
According to Chinese legends, the human race was created when two snakes joined together and reproduced. In the Western Judeo-Christian Creation myth, Woman was tempted by the Devil snake to desire more than what she had and thus condemned humanity to lives of sin and suffering. Even looking at life from a secular perspective, humans constantly err and suffer because they are always seeking their self- interest rather than a holistic Good.
That brings me to the current state of the world today. The Earth and its inhabitants are plagued by the symbiotic parasitism of a corrupt government system, corrupt business and corporate interests, and corrupt Individuals and families all fighting each other to always gain larger shares of the economic pie.
I don’t mean to imply that ordinary Individuals are as corrupt as government and corporations. I don’t think anyone could approach government and corporations and banks for their sheer corruption. But for the purposes of this philosophical article, I want to explore the issue of all human actors having some degree of corruption, greed, and inconsistency, or hypocrisy.
For the Individual businessman or woman, for example, as a matter of expediency and common sense, they are much more likely to comply with the tax regimes and regulatory frameworks in society than resist and fight them, by, say, evading taxes and fighting regulations in courts and public relations. Fighting taxes and regulations is simply much less profitable not to mention completely futile for a sensible businessman then just finding legal ways around the system, like tax shelters, and gaming the regulations to whatever degree they can get away with.
Similarly, when most Individuals and families file their taxes, they usually lie to varying degrees about their real income, and also take advantage of dubious tax laws and tax breaks to minimize their tax, as opposed to refusing to pay taxes or file returns and openly rebelling.
The street criminal is largely similar, in that he is reacting to a rigged, unfair system by taking the path s/he deems most expedient to getting ahead. Why is stealing cars, mugging people, and robbing banks any less honest when everyone else in society is engaging in the same things, albeit in the virtual financial sphere?
So all actors in society are cutting moral and logical corners to get ahead in the fastest, easiest, most expedient ways. And isn’t that fundamentally the problem confronting everyone? Everyone is compromising Principle to live better, and they simply justify it by arguing that it’s necessary and rational because the system demands it.
The system and Reality really demands that all of us immediately stop cooperating in this social farce and rise up and slay all violent agents of oppression. But no one does it. At least, only street criminals and rabble actually engage in openly resisting and fighting police, destroying things, and rioting. Perhaps from their perspective that’s the most sensible and expedient response for people in their positions to answer the overwhelming injustice and unfairness of systems set up to regressively steal from and oppress Individuals, families and businesses more and more the further down on the economic ladder they fall on.
All of us, even the street muggers and rioters, are living with a warped sense of Reality and consciousness. We’re going along with a system of oppression, waste and desolation because it’s the most expedient way for us to live day to day. Even though the “Right thing to do” is start assassinating police, politicians, judges, bureaucrats, corporate crooks, corrupt businessmen, not to mention the “innocent” violent street criminals, rapists, muggers, and rioting rabble, most of us don’t do that.
Wouldn’t Revolution be glorious? If all of us just rose up and started fighting back, maybe we could achieve Free Market Anarchism. And wouldn’t that be True Justice? After all, a lot of government and corporate people are murdering a lot of people and stealing trillions.
But face it: Most rational, reasonable people would never choose to fight. They’re corrupt enough to choose expediency and safety over true Justice and an attempt at a Perfect World. Most people correctly argue that most revolutions always end with more tyranny, injustice, and inefficiency. So why even risk injury, death, and ruin when revolution doesn’t work?
So that’s where we find ourselves. All of us are compromising our Principles, basically out of common sense if not the better part of valor. If all of us are compromising hypocrites actively bending the rules of ethics and morality, where are we going to end up?
Well, that’s the ancient conundrum of the Nature of Reality. The Asian philosophies are true to a very real extent: Life is a balance of the Yin and the Yang, there are competing gods of Greed and Kindness, Hatred and Understanding, Retribution and Revenge, Beauty and the Profane. And for that matter, Christianity and Judaism seem correct too, at the least in that they seem to contradict themselves and sanction any sort of behaviors whatsoever, if God makes All Things Possible.
“Life hurts,” “Life is just a Dream,” “Life is a Mystery,” “Reality is Intangible and Elusive,” etc. Are Free Market Anarchists just being dishonest with ourselves when we constantly rail for a non-aggressive and honest society? I can point to thousands of instances in my own life where I have run into dishonesty, corruption, and outright meanness, aggressivity and pettiness from supposedly fellow libertarians and Free Market Anarchists. If people in the Liberty movement can not even be decent to each other, how can we seriously propose a non- aggressive, ethical private society?
In my opinion, there is an answer to this, but it’s not completely a satisfying answer. Just as most libertarians and anarchists will freely admit that a Free, Liberated society will not be a Perfect one, We as libertarians and anarchists have to acknowledge and be honest with ourselves that the answers to the world’s social problems are not going to be clean, cut and dry, but very middling, muddy, messy and opaque itself. When everyone is a compromised, corrupt bad actor compromising principles, morals and ethics left and right, always taking the easy way out instead of striking down evil with literal sword blows, the answers are no longer simple and pure.
Even in frontier Western towns with cowboys, whisky-drinking sheriffs who were appointed by near-consensus, and rollicking laissez- faire economies free of centralized authority, people were constantly aggressing against each other. Justice usually came down to personal retribution, mob disapproval or sometimes even lynching, and usual democratic mob rule.
Small l-libertarians and anarchists are constantly pounding the pulpit about how great a free society would be. But in reality, it would be anything but great, it would still be a struggle and constant hard work for the vast majority. Of course, we as libertarians and anarchists are correct that a private, voluntary society, such as it is, such as we could preach, would be the best of all systems and result in the most peace and prosperity for the most people. But it would never be Utopia, so we should stop our attitudes about our proposed ideal system and realize that The Future is Now.
The only Justice and Liberty that we’ll ever achieve is the Justice, Liberty and Prosperity we make for Ourselves and our Families *Now*. Not only does it require Idealism, Hope, and Positive Mental Attitude, it also requires a vast amount of Cynicism, Profane Common Sense, Compromise, Murky Moral Positioning, a sense of Universal Wariness, and a willingness to Bend Most and even All Rules and Engage in varying degrees of Moral Relativism.
If a corporation is openly flaunting your Rights, but is protected by the social system, financial framework, and business consortiums, it’s perfectly rational to ignore your greater anarchist scruples and actively use the government legal systems to fight back.
Similarly, attacking the violent institutions of the police or politicians is not generally good for your health, but if you see a way to get even with them or even harm them without being caught, many people would gladly take advantage of kinks in the system or chances to hit back without detection to get even with those evil bastards.
If using the tax system to avoid taxes with tax shelters and exemptions is a more expedient way for you to make a larger amount of wealth, it’s just a rational decision based on common sense to file a tax return and “comply” with the tax regime while creatively circumventing it to achieve a greater gain.
Even libertarians and anarchists are screwing each other left and right in order to try and gain what they perceive to be “Justice”. Big-L and small-l libertarians and anarchists are often nicer and more decent to non-libertarians than they are to themselves, and as the saying goes, it’s easier to herd cats than it is for libertarians to come to any general agreement.
So will we ever reach The Promised Land (a freed market and international peace)? The answers are, No, there is No Promised Land, and, No, you miss the point: We already Have reached the Promised Land.
We’re Alive, the Most Precious Gift of all, and Life and Being Alive is the only Promised Land there is or ever will be. Humans have been fighting, suffering, Overcoming, taking Steps Back, and getting up again to struggle and Win again for as long as there has been a world. The way to look at our struggle is Philosophically, as a story. Life is a Process and a constant battle against real foes, ghosts, and Ourselves and our View of ourselves.
Prepare to get dirty and messy. There are no easy answers. It’s every man and woman and family for themself, and God favors none. The battle and the nature of the war itself is intangible and elusive. What are we fighting? Is it something material, something Spiritual, sometimes neither and sometimes both? Yes, to all of the above.
Look at things philosophically. We’ve always had a free market and freed market. What has arisen in the market was perfectly Natural, because it had to be natural, or it wouldn’t have happened.
Government, monopolies, institutions, and rivalries are just as Natural as families, Freedom of Choice and Freedom of Conscience.
We have to make our own lives. It’s up to each of us. We’re totally free to make any decision and Choice we choose. That’s what the meaning of libertarianism and Free Market Anarchism really is, Freedom To Choose our actions, plans, and responses to Kindness, Cruelty, Opportunities or Oppression. The answers and choices are different for everyone, based on our Individual circumstances. The next time you judge a cop-killer or street mugger, maybe you should evaluate how much your expedient compliance with the system is pressuring that street criminal not to have other better alternative choices, and whether you or them even have much of a choice, philosophically.
Let’s stop judging each other and other people, but most of all, let’s stop judging ourselves. Instead, let’s try to participate in the great Battle of Life and win and produce as much for ourselves and others as possible.
They say we all have to break some eggs to make some omelets sometimes. I personally believe that I lead a happier life when I try to avoid aggressing and cheating honest actors and when I avoid breaking eggs as much as possible. After all, there is a neat As Seen On TV gizmo for scrambling an egg with a buzzing rotating needle without breaking it. I’m sure we could also empty the egg for cooking without cracking it by drilling a small hole in it to pour it out.
But some people will just crack your eggs anyway. A lot of people in this world are mean assholes, including a lot of so-called libertarians. Sometimes you’re going to want to crack their eggs, and if you get a chance sometimes you will.
“All is Fair in Love and War.” Yes, we’re in a war, and the war is Eternal. We’re going to have to use every resource and tactic available to win our personal wars and our War for more Liberty. The big banks, corporations, and government are generally much worse enemies to many more than your average common Individual, small business and family, but on the other hand everyone is a potential enemy and sometimes, even frequently, atrocious atrocities are committed by private individuals and small business.
Prepare to get your hands dirty, prepare for a lot of messiness. We’re all going to have to cut corners and compromise and bend principle and even bend common sense sometimes to prevail in our struggle.
But the fight is worth it. The prize we win is to be able to cherish whatever Beauty, Tranquility, Pleasure, Profoundness and Integrity we can wrest out of these bloody battles.
You need a Warrior Ethic, or a philosophical attitude, and frequently both, plus-plus.
Speaking as a Philosopher, Student of Economics, and also as an Eternal Optimist,
I wish you All the Best,
And, Good Luck and Godspeed.
Nic Leobold is a Bizman/Artist/Athlete/Consultant & Free Market Anarchist-Voluntaryist based in Asia, Europe & America and enjoys eclectic interests from great films & casino gaming to ballroom dancing, ballet, target shooting, classical music, shopping, gourmet cooking and fitness. A filmmaker & artist with a background in pro athletics, he is continually looking to learn more & share of his passions for economics, living free, living smart, "beating the system", promoting Liberty, and the spiritual & philosophical components of a good life & contentment.
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