Much ado has been made in the centrist liberal press regarding the supposed decline of liberal democracy and the rise of supposed nationalist strongmen such as Trump, Putin, Duterte, Modi, Erdogan, Xi (who recently declared himself president for life) or, after the recent elections in Italy, Salvini. This supposed rise of strongmen is alleged to be accompanied by the growth of right-wing populist movements motivated by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and opposition to All Good Things. Not only the Left but even many mainstream conservatives have engaged in considerable hand-wringing over these trends.
A more realistic view recognizes that the rise of populism and nationalism represents a backlash against the centralization of wealth and political power on an international scale, and on an unprecedented level, and the fact that the political classes of most nations have been complicit in this. Additionally, societies around the world are experiencing unprecedented levels of cultural, social, and demographic change due to technological advancements and the emergence of the global economy. Naturally, when periods of rapid change emerge, a predictable and parallel opposition to such change develops as well. For example, the anti-immigration movements of the West are acting in response to the radical and unprecedented demographic change that is taking place in Western societies. The rise of populist and/or nationalist leaders in other regions of the world is a response to the hegemony of neoliberalism. That most of these leaders are actually accomplices to the global plutocratic class is less significant than the perception of these as somehow being mavericks defying globalist elites. That some of these figures have cultivated a strongman image for themselves reflects an effort to play to popular frustration with the inertia of the centrist political classes.
By John Zube
All individual rights & liberties, clearly declared and widely appreciated and respected vs. governmental bills of rights, human rights declarations like that of the UN, including wrongful but legalized claims against others, in “Welfare States”, as if they were basic rights or liberties.
All individual rights and liberties for all peaceful volunteers, all practiced to any freely chosen extent vs. any imposed territorial uniformity and obedience to majority supported territorial legislation, regulations and institutions, government orders, programs, methods and actions, all at best somewhat restrained through government legislation and court decisions and its bill of rights, including many mere claims against other people as if they were genuine rights.
Bottoms up organizations vs. top down organizations. However, volunteers might also organize themselves – not others – in totalitarian ways. Compare the restrictions monks and nuns imposed upon their lives.
Choosing and freely doing the own things vs. being under the orders and threats of others, mostly power addicts, their legislation and institutions, commands and penalties for disobedience, i.e. enforced obedience to others and their preferences, as tax slaves, forced laborers or conscripts.
An interesting application of Stirnerite principles.
Instead of a Blog
I do not believe in objective standards, norms, ends, means or values; but I have a strong preference for the combination of hardass and self-indulgent traits one finds in the mercenary reaver cultures of places like medieval Burgundy. Essentially, I care about what I care about and consider anything else a means to that end. But I don’t really believe in ‘muhTroof’ or anything; I do not (for example) believe in ‘natural law’, I just believe in shooting thieves on sight. But if you can get away with stealing from defenseless peasants or the fat-asses of the power elite, good for you.
I have a lot in common with LaVeyan Satanism, but more through a sympathy of attitude than any fake-occultist stuff. I tend to favor the most extreme and materialistic aspects of civilization and barbarism, my ‘ideal society’ would be a bunch of heavily armed autistic stock jobbers who obey and disobey the law entirely based on sociopathic cost-benefit analysis.
“Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia.” ― Robert Anton Wilson
I can think of no better term to describe my political philosophy than anti-authoritarian. That simple term encapsulates my most consistently held beliefs concerning the nature of relations between individual, society and state. That I above all oppose authoritarian policies, aggressions and values is the firm bedrock from which I evaluate any and all action. That I favor liberty over tyranny is an absolute principle.
There are many factions of formal and loose-knit tribes of anti-authoritarians. I sympathize in varying degrees with all of them. On the other hand, I have found that the very moment I’ve identified myself with a specific subset of anti-authoritarianism, I begin talking myself out of such a commitment.
Most research shows that we live in a far more peaceful time than previous periods in human history. It’s a complicated topic with a lot of incomplete data for a massively huge period of examination, but the current conventional wisdom follows from Dr. Pinker’s study of the long decline in violence, “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” I agree with Pinker’s specific argument that violence has declined generally, and Pinker does save for a break from the typical 10 o’clock news run about how you might get stabbed to death by some Sureños while walking to your car at night.
A big debate exists between “free market” conservatives and libertarians, and leftists, socialists, progressives, etc. over “Who is worse? Governments or corporations?”
I am somewhere between the Marxists and the Libertarians on this. I agree with Libertarians that states have powers that private institutions typically do not have, like raising mass armies through conscription and taxes, police, prisons, capital punishment, nuclear weapons,etc. Even the largest, scummiest corporations like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Pepsi, etc. do not have that kind of power generally. However, corporations have power that normal “private institutions” do not have. Amazon is not the same thing as a Star Wars Fan Club.
Corporations do not have the direct coercive powers of states, like the power of arrest and incarceration, but they do have the means of economic compulsion. The choice of whether or not to eat, have a roof over your head, or have healthcare is not on the level of whether to go to the Baptist or Methodist church, or join a chess club or the Cub Scouts. Corporations and banks are the economic arm of the state. The two can’t be separated as easily as both leftists and rightists seem to believe. The president, Congress, courts, state and city governments, corporations, banks, military, police, prison, media, educational system, NGOs, think tanks, foundations,etc are all part of the same ruling class/power elite apparatus.
Again, both leftists and rightists seem to miss this point, which demonstrates, IMO, a serious lack of knowledge and education about how “our system” actually works. My first year sociology students are more informed about this after reading the chapter on political sociology in the textbook and listening to my lecture on the topic (assuming they are in class, awake, sober and paying attention which is an awfully big and generally unreasonable assumption) than many seemingly serious political thinkers are.
Without the laws protecting the currency monopoly, we would not have the loansharking operations known as banks in their present form. Without eminent domain, transportation subsidies, and a range of other things, superstores like Wal-Fart would not be able to undercut local business on the level they do. Without transportation subsidies eo-commerce firms like Amazon would not be able to undercut conventional book sellers as easily. Without military protection of Coke’s and Pepsi’s mining operation in Latin America and Africa, they would have been expropriated by locals decades ago. Without intellectual property law, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Microsoft would be toast. Without imperialist, mercantilist “free trade” being imposed on the developing word, not to mention subsidies to agribusiness plantations, the fast food giants like McDonald’s would be less able to compete with local farmers and traditional restaurants. There are many other examples but the point has been made.
One of the most successful scams in history is the way that states and ruling classes have been able to persuade ordinary people that their own overlords are their friends rather than their enemies. The truth is that if you’re an American, the American state is your worst enemy, not some foreign state. If you’re British, the British state is your worst enemy. If you’re Chinese, the Chinese state is your worst enemy. If you’re Russian, the Russian state is your worst enemy. There might be rare historical exceptions to this (the occupation of surrounding nations by the Third Reich and USSR in the 20th century is an obvious example), but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. There can also be situations where a foreign state is more your friend than your own state. Vietnam’s liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge in 1979 is an obvious example. Herman Goering got it right:
“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
— Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
I have long believed that the most important political questions is actually a matter of social psychology. Why are people so susceptible to the promptings of authority figures, leaders, and groupthink? There have been some interesting studies on this (Milgram, Zimbardo, Asch, Jones, etc). As Arthur Koesler said:
“…a series of fundamental misconceptions…which prevented (man) from learning the lessons of the past, and…now put his survival in question. The first of these..is putting the blame for man’s predicament on his selfishness, greed, etc.; in a word, on the aggressive, self-assertive tendencies of the individual…I would like to suggest that the integrative tendencies of the individual are incomparably more dangerous than his self-assertive tendencies.”
Hobbes had it backward. The problem is not how to control the assertive human ego, but how to overcome the overdeveloped human tendency towards subservience, obedience, and gullibility to scams perpetrated by power elites.
Jakub Jankowski speaks about the metapolitics of libertarianism and identitarianism in the UK and elsewhere.
Duncan Whitmore on how economic decentralisation contributes towards economic prosperity.
Though ultimately about the future, this will also be a speech that dwells on the past. The first past event that I wish to discuss is what happened in June 2017. When I stood down as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, I was asked if I had taken leave of my senses. I was not visibly broken down by age and ill health. I had evidently not run out of things to say. Why, then, was I steeping aside in favour of a young man who was nearly forty years my junior?…
George Pickering walks through the lessons he’s learned from the Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, and how we can apply them to help Mises UK thrive in the future, especially in comparison to organisations such as the Adam Smith Institute, and the Cato Institute.
Mikhail Svetov, a founding member of the Libertarian Party of Russia, speaks about being in opposition to Vladimir Putin.
Michael Strong, confounder of the Startup Cities Institute, talks Honduran Zedes and the principles behind them.
Titus Gebel from Free Privates Cities talks with us in the Startup Societies Podcast.
Andreas Kohl discusses Liechtenstein
San Fransisco California Aug 11, 2017 Max Borders CEO, Voice And Exit
By Chris Weller
Gurgaon, India is a city where normal functions of a local government do not apply — because there is hardly any government at all.
Instead, private corporations dominate the city, offering sewage removal systems, firefighting services, health care, and education.
“The interesting thing about Gurgaon is that because there was a market for it, anywhere the government was lacking, the private sector came in and they provided the service,” says Shruti Rajagopalan, an assistant professor in economics at Purchase College, State University of New York
As locals have discovered, however, that doesn’t always mean Gurgaon is paradise.
Gurgaon had a population of approximately 173,000 in 2001. Today, it’s nearing 1 million, with residents living in garbage-strewn shanties and luxury high-rises.
A former military officer weighs in.
By Zack Sorenson
Arguing that libertarian society can offer defense “services”, Bob Murphy relies on the idea of insurance paying the costs of defense.
Arguing that a monopoly state should offer these services, Todd Lewis points out numerous historical examples in which government organized national defense is seemingly necessary.
I dislike this kind of discussion in general. My feeling is that there shouldn’t be such a thing as any kind of organized, politically driven, violence. The idea of private armies is as horrifying as the idea of a giant state army. However, this issue is obviously relevant, and worth addressing. I’m just going to address different issues in no particular order.
First, Todd Lewis mentions the Sengoku Jidai (“feudal” Japan), and also the Roman civil war between Marius and Sulla. He argues that these are examples of “private” defense, where mercenaries for hire end up fighting brutal wars that devastated each country. I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.
A specialist on Japanese military history weighs in on the Lewis-Murphy debate on private defense services.
Regarding my recent debate on the Tom Woods Show with Todd Lewis–regarding private defense–I got the following email (permission to reprint):
Following your recent debate with Todd Lewis I felt motivated to write the following based on my experience of living in Japan and studying its martial history for over 24 years.
Why Japan’s Sengoku period does not support monopoly security provision and actually makes the case for the private production of defense:
1. Feudal Japan was a peasant-based agrarian economy overseen by samurai landlords enforcing law and securing territory, ostensibly at least, on behalf of the emperor. Controlling land and the agriculture products yielded from the peasant farmers was essential to power. Taxation and trade were denominated in units of rice bushels. Modes of production, means of commerce, and centers of power have changed significantly since that time. One must be careful and selective when comparing pre-industrial revolution societies with modern theories of political-economy.
By Bradley J. Birzer
The American Conservative
As I write this second part of the series, the origins of the rise of the modern nation state, our own nation state looks—financially—nothing short of pathetic. At the end of 2017, the federal government’s official estimate for deficit spending is $666 billion. For all kinds of reasons, this is a really scary number, and not just because it causes one to think of the mark of St. John’s envisioned beast. Rrroawr! $666 billion is a number so terribly large that it is difficult for any of us—even those of us not suffering from innumeracy or apocalyptic dread—to comprehend. And, of course, this is just the recorded and admitted deficit spending for one year. That is, it accounts for those things the government admits to, on the books and on budget.
According to the U.S. Debt Clock, we’re at nearly $21 trillion in debt, and the number increases so quickly that seizures might very well result. As the number made my stomach turn, I thought, perhaps the site should come with a warning akin to those found on PS4 and Xbox games. That’s all we need, right? Another law and another regulation.
As Tom Woods and all sensible economists have recently claimed, the United States of America is simply insolvent. The only shocking thing is that no one in the mainstream media or financial institutions seems to care.
If the objective of pan-anarchism/anarcho-pluralism is the replacement of states with societies organized on the basis of decentralized, voluntary associations, then a question that arises involves the issue of what kinds criteria individual communities would have to meet of qualify as legitimate voluntary associations of these kinds. The Startup Societies Foundation offers a pretty good set of standards, all of which are rooted in the “exit principle,” i.e the right to leave if you don’t like what people around you are doing.
- No democide.
- No arbitrary laws.
- No impossible cost to exit.
- No surveillance for blackmail.
- No psychological control without freedom of speech.
- No torture.
- No ignoring sovereignty.
- No fraud.
- No red market economy.
- No aggressive military action.
Click here to learn more about these ten rules.