Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 19,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

But What About Voluntary Slaves?

African Slave Transport

African Slave Transport

One of the objections that is raised against voluntaryism is that, since “anything goes” in a voluntary society so long as it is voluntary, wouldn’t there be voluntary slavery? If Smith sells himself into slavery to Jones, we as voluntaryists must respect this voluntary choice, no?

Murray Rothbard argues against this view in Ethics of Liberty:

A man can alienate his labor service, but he cannot sell the capitalized future value of that service. In short, he cannot, in nature, sell himself into slavery and have this sale enforced—for this would mean that his future will over his own person was being surrendered in advance. In short, a man can naturally expend his labor currently for someone else’s benefit, but he cannot transfer himself, even if he wished, into another man’s permanent capital good. For he cannot rid himself of his own will, which may change in future years and repudiate the current arrangement. The concept of “voluntary slavery” is indeed a contradictory one, for so long as a laborer remains totally subservient to his master’s will voluntarily, he is not yet a slave since his submission is voluntary; whereas, if he later changed his mind and the master enforced his slavery by violence, the slavery would not then be voluntary.

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Answering Voluntaryism’s Critics: Round Two

What What / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Francois Tremblay has responded to Voluntaryist Reader’s challenge. Needless to say, there’s a lot to disagree with, here. To start off, he tries to strawman voluntaryism:

The voluntaryist view stops at condign power and states that all other forms of power are irrelevant to freedom.

What voluntaryist ever said this? Any form of force or fraud – even if disguised, even if systematized – is “on the table” to be answered with force, if necessary.

He moves on to criticize voluntaryism but ends up apparently agreeing with voluntaryism, as far as I can tell:

… market exchange, being based on power imbalance, is itself a “manipulation” of people’s values and desires.

I don’t know what “market exchange” is as against simple exchange, but what voluntaryist has ever said that exchange in the present order is free of manipulation? Quite the opposite. The entire system is rotten at its very core – the Federal Reserve has corrupted the single most important and universal good in the economy, money. The law monopoly prevents people from forming or abandoning agreements as they see fit, interfering into the voluntary choices of individuals and presuming to know better than the parties to an agreement what their own interests are. The security monopolies render every citizen virtually helpless against the money and law monopolies. And the ecosystem of regulation-favored cartels, corporate lobbyists and crony capitalists that has grown up around this Iron Triangle force out would-be competitors who do not have access to the artificially large capitalization required to enter the market.

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Liberty and Property: Two Sides of the Same Coin

This is part 3 of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 2 is here.

Herbert discusses the intimate link between liberty and property. You cannot love liberty and undermine property rights. He says, “property is … the crystallized form of free faculties.” Without liberty, the individual is reduced to a slave, a robot, an automaton, a mere cog in a machine. Happiness and flourishing are impossible under conditions of containment that deprive the individual of the full expression of his higher faculties. But it is property that preserves for the individual the fruits of this expression. Thus, without property, these expressions are fruitless; which is the same as to say the individual really has no freedom at all.

Delacroix – Liberty leading the people

Nothing can be well and rightly done, nothing can bear the true fruit, until you become deeply and devotedly in love with personal liberty, consecrating in your hearts the great and sacred principle of self-ownership and self-direction. That great principle must be our guiding star through the whole of this life’s pilgrimage.

Away from its guiding we shall only continue to wander, as of old, hopelessly in the wilderness. For its sake we must be ready to make any and every sacrifice. It is worth them all–many times worth them all. For its sake you must steadily refuse all the glittering gifts and bribes which many politicians of both parties eagerly press upon you, if you will but accept them as your leaders, and lend them the power which your numbers can give.

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Issues with Local Government competition

Merlin

The main idea: the Tiebout model of government competition can be said to truly fail to the degree that it ignores the perverse incentives created by the modern versions of feudalism, federalization and devolution.

11. The Issue

1.1 One of the blogs yours truly follows, Let a Thousand Nations bloom, posted an interesting recap of a couple of recent articles discussing the severe inconsistencies of the Tiebout model.

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Christmas, What a Waste!

en:user:kkmd / Foter / CC BY-SA

By Aristippus

‘It’s the thought that counts’ is a phrase sometimes uttered at the unwrapping of a gift held in low esteem by its new owner.  Although gift-giving can often be justified based on the thoughts of goodwill from the giver to the recipient, there is, unfortunately, sometimes little to justify the actual substance of gift-giving.  Despite the good intentions – and the many hours and dollars spent – in obtaining gifts for others, there exists an enormous amount of waste in gift-giving as a result of the inability on the part of the gift-giver to know the true preferences of the recipient.

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Nuclear Weapons in Libertarianism

What does the NAP say about ownership of nukes?

Nuclear weapons like to pop up from time to time and make the headlines. They held the national attention during the Cold War, and now Iran is allegedly close to being able to build a bomb of their own. If the Iran bit sounds like déjà vu to you, that’s because it is – Iran has been “only months away” from making a bomb for quite some time:

– “Iran Poised To Build Bombs” (Sept 2003) [1]

– “Iran Only Months Away From Making Nuclear Bombs” (Jan 2006) [2]

– “Iran could have ability to build nuclear bomb by 2010, study warns” (Jan 2009) [3]

– “Goodspeed: Iran may be two months from bomb, two new studies say” (June 2011) [4]

– “Iran just months from N-bomb” (Sept 2011) [5]

I’m not a physicist, but I’ve heard that time travel is possible, so there could be something to it – they just happen to be a time-traveling nuclear power.

The point of this article is not to make bad jokes about the nuclear weapons in Iraq Iran, however, but to answer a question posed to libertarianism from time to time: “In a libertarian society, are you allowed to own nuclear weapons?” I will first address the ethical aspect and then the practical one.

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Success, Socratic Style

Convert people and never lose an argument

Libertarians often get caught up in internet debates which test both their knowledge and their rhetoric. An unfortunate truth is that the task of proving liberty is volumetrically larger than that of defend the state – you have to show in-depth knowledge on why all the different government interventions have to be stripped away, while the opponent can wave a magic wand and claim that government will solve a problem. The libertarian, then, has to be well-versed in economics, history, and philosophy, while the opposition can say that we just need to “elect the right people into power.” I’d like to let you in on a public secret: The Socratic Method.

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Dear President: What I Want for Christmas

bernanke- santa claus.
Perhaps you wrote a letter to Santa Claus when you were a child. “Dear Santa”, you wrote. You poured your energies into it in the expectation of receiving many blessings. When you finished, you mailed it away to be read by the magical man who can deliver all the world’s toys in a single night. But, alas, you never heard back from him. You are to rest assured that he got your letter – he reads all the letters of all the little girls and boys. Of course, your parents will have read it and taken upon themselves the costs of providing the real toys that you actually received on Christmas day.

Santa, in many ways, is an excellent metaphor of the popular conception of government. It’s how government wants to be perceived. All-capable and hyper-competent, government accomplishes feats that surpass the ability of the individual to even conceive of doing through non-governmental means. Governments build eternal, awe-inspiring pyramids. They launch men to the Moon. They build massive dams. They implement vaccination regimes affecting vast, uncountable populations. A touch of the nose and a wink, and it’s done.

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The Futility of Quashing Dissent

This is part 2 of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 1 is here.

Herbert identifies the common ground between religious and non-religious voluntaryists: principled opposition to the substitution of force for reason. He then goes on to show the futility of suppressing opinion with force. It stunts the progress of thought by denying to those on the correct side of a question the opportunity to air out the arguments against those on the wrong side of a question. Thus, even when force happens – by accident – to be employed in the “correct” direction, that is, to the suppression of an incorrect view, it still cannot help but obstruct human progress.

There are some who reject the doctrine of soul and would not, therefore, base their resistance to State power on any religious ground. But apart from this great difference that may exist between us, we are united by the same detestation of State power, and by the same perception of the evils that flow from it.

Dore – Destruction of Leviathan

We both see alike that placing unlimited power — as we do now — in the hands of the State means degrading men from their true rank. It means the narrowing of their intelligence, the encouragement of intolerance and contempt for each other, and therefore the encouragement of sullen, bitter strife, the tricks of the clever tongue, practised on both the poor and rich crowd, and the evil arts of flattery and self-abasement in order to conciliate votes and possess power. It means the excessive and dangerous power of a very able press, which keeps parties together, and too often thinks for most of us, the repression of all those healthy individual differences that make the life and vigour of a nation, the blind following of blind leaders, the reckless rushing into national follies, like the unnecessary Boer War–that might have been avoided, as many of us believe, with a moderate amount of prudence, patience and good temper–just because the individuals of the nation have lost the habit of thinking and acting for themselves, have lost control over their own actions, and are bound together by party-ties into two great child-like crowds. It means also the piling up of intolerable burdens of debt and taxation — the constant and rather mean endeavour to place the heaviest of these burdens on others, whoever the others may be — the carelessness, the high-handedness, the insolence of those who spend money compulsorily taken, the flocking together of the evil vultures of many kinds where the feast is spread, the deep poisonous corruption, such as is written in broad characters over the government of some of the large towns in the United States–a country bound to us by so many ties of friendship and affection, and in which there is so much to admire; a corruption, that in a lesser degree has soiled the reputation of some of the large cities of the Continent, and is already to be found here and there sporadically existing amongst us in our own country. And it only too surely means at the end of it all the setting up of some absolute form of government, to which men fly in their despair, as a refuge from the intolerable evils they have brought upon themselves; a refuge that after a short while is found to be wholly useless and impotent, and is then violently broken up, perhaps amidst storm and bloodshed, to be once more succeeded by the long train of returning evils, from which men had sought to escape in the vain hope that more power would heal the evils that power had brought upon them.

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