Let governments be a service offered to customers. Let people choose what kinds of laws and regulations they want to live under. Allow experimental government, and we will quickly see the benefits and detriments of various philosophies and systems.
What does it mean to be organized? Usually it means “stuff” is defined based on it’s individual characteristics, and put in a place based on that classification.
We organize our desk by recognizing pens, pencils, and markers as writing utensils, and putting them in the drawer. Then we categorize pencils, pens, and markers separately based on their individual characteristics, and put them on the left, middle, and right. Continue reading
First off, welcome to my blog, where you can read about freedom, philosophy, and the future!
I am a writer and mini-farming living on the panhandle of Florida; a transplant from Massachusetts.
And you heard right, I am giving away my latest novella! You can now read my 2016 dystopian thriller “Flight Grounded” for free, just by signing up for my email list.
(I’m not going to send you many emails, only when I actually have something new to share with you. Expect an email about once a week.)
This blog was once geared towards politics and government, but I now write on those subjects for The Daily Bell.
Here you can expect philosophical musings on life, posts about the mini-farm on which I live and work, and my experiences traveling.
Freedom is my passion, and themes of liberation are woven into essentially all my writing. I want to build a future that will only get better for future generations.
My vision is nothing like what we have experienced on Earth before, but I am not pessimistic about the possibilities of changing that trajectory.
My friend Daniel Rothschild might just be the next Rothbard… but with more dirty jokes. He is studying for a doctorate in economics, and regularly posts on Facebook about government.
Although he bares the infamous Rothschild name, Daniel claims no affiliation with the shadowy rulers of Earth. Of course, that could all just be part of the plan. But that would seem like a strange strategy to attempt to end the states which you control. Anyway, the following are all Daniel Rothschild facebook quotes. Continue reading
Scandinavia is often associated with socialism in the muddled minds of Americans. Despite this, one of the world’s first experiment with a completely private city is in Norway. Liberstad aims to provide all services, from roads to fire departments, through the private sector.
Liberstad advertises itself as “a little piece of freedom.” The city’s founders aim to purchase a few hundred acres of farmland in southern Norway to establish a free market enclave.
The project was started by John Holmesland and Sondre Bjellas. They formed the Liberstad Drift Association, which will be responsible for the initial development and operation of the property. Their plan is to build a vibrant community with all the comforts of a modern world, with only minimal laws and taxes.
Liberstad will have no city council or government. Instead, the tone of the city’s development will be organically guided by the first settlers. They can establish businesses, erect buildings, grow vegetables, brew beer, or pursue whatever other economic activity they are interested in.
Liberstad’s few laws and regulations will focus on protecting people’s rights. The founders believe in the non-aggression principle, which states that using non-defensive violence is unethical. They also want to protect participant’s property rights to help grow a thriving free market.
Though I don’t think the end justifies the means, perhaps at one point government fit humanity, but that time has passed and a new age of society is dawning. We have outgrown government, and are in a transitional period of moving from a coercive forceful society, to a free society where our conflicts are not solved by violence, but agreement. Not pacifism, but live and let live.
Humanity is hitting puberty, which can be a confusing, scary time, but in the end allows us to grow into adults. It is time humanity become adults, because we have been a society of children for too long. We have been a society of children, who interact by taking, pushing, sticking our tongues out. But we are coming to a time when people will act appropriately not so much because of the consequences, but because society has developed empathy and rationality.
Yes, there will still be negative consequences for behaving inappropriately. But the punishment for minor issues won’t be a spanking so much as the derision of our peers. Instead of a yelling parent, humans will get the line, “I’m disappointed in you,” that sometimes makes us wish we would be yelled at! But we realize the weight and gravity of the disappointment we can cause through inappropriate behavior, and we curb our own so that others don’t have to.
We’re growing up, and we don’t need government anymore. Maybe we never did, but we were children easily conquered. There will be some rebelliousness in the teens, there might be some mayhem, and some crazy stuff might happen, but humanity will emerge a rational adult, capable of making decisions, producing, and living without the constant threat of punishment for actions that don’t hurt anyone else!
And the actions that do hurt other people will become so out of the ordinary that violent people will be shamed as cavemen the way racists are shunned today. In a self empowered society where we don’t feel like children, everyone will quickly learn the dangers of being violent. Self interest will keep violent people in check, because society will not permit it.
If humanity wasn’t ready for stateless societies, the internet changed all that. We could think of the internet as the final moment when humanity’s brain finished developing, all the synapses clicked together, and finally we found ourselves coordinated, and in control. The flow of information is crucial to keeping bad people in check, and the internet makes constant vigilance realistic and easy.
It was once said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and that is true. But what good is constant vigilance if you can’t change anything with the information you have gained with your watchful eye? I’m vigilant over the companies that get my business, and my funding is withdrawn when that oversight turns up something unsavory. What can I do, armed with all the knowledge I have about the horrors of government? Not remove my funding, lest I find myself caged.
But as I said, the time when a group can threaten you with violence for refusing to fund them is coming to a close. The time when an entity can force their “services” on you, and mandate participation is waning. If you haven’t noticed, government cannot keep up. Currency was their stranglehold on humanity, which has been threatened by bitcoin and other alternative currencies, only in their infancy. Companies like AirBnB and Uber are showing people a new way to do business, with no government necessary. We will have a true voice in the structure of society, by patronizing the businesses that supply our demands, or starting our own businesses to supply others’ demands, without the state stopping us to protect their nefarious interests.
It is becoming obvious that all the services government provides can be had better and cheaper through voluntary means. Regulations will be traded for reviews. Laws will be traded for rules on private property. Police will no longer work for the state, and enforce state interests; they will work for us, and be beholden to the customer.
People are opting out of society, to the degree they can. Everyone is getting back to basics, finding ways to make the government as obsolete as possible in their lives, creatively skirting an oppressive system. Mini societies are popping up all around the world, and expect secession to become a mainstream topic as the world economy gets worse–that is, the world economy based on government monopolized currencies. People are planning for a world without states, and taking steps to make that world a better place.
Society is growing up, which can be stressful, but so rewarding. We are in control of our own destiny, and now is the time to step up, and form the lives we want to live.
I don’t care about you, and would really appreciate it if you would stop “caring” about me.
Now, you might be thinking, “Of course you don’t care about me, you’re a libertarian!” But that is not what I mean. Actually, I do tend to care about other people; I am empathetic of others and therefore advocate free markets, because the closer the globe comes to a free market, the more people are lifted out of poverty.
But when I say I don’t care about you, what I mean is, I don’t want to force my views on you. If it seems like I do care, it is only because we currently live in a society where 51% of the population decides which views will be forced on everyone.
So I want you to stop forcing me to do things I don’t want to do, but I don’t need to convince you to join me; I don’t care what you do. You don’t have to change your ways, except by letting me change mine.
I just want you to stop forcing me to live the way you prescribe. My views allow individuals to decide their own solutions to their own problems, so if your solution is to sell yourself into slavery, so be it. But don’t put me on the auction block as well!
If you allowed me to live the way I want, it would not affect you negatively in the least! In fact, you probably wouldn’t even notice. I don’t need all of society to change, I just need to be freed from your societal chains.
And no, I am not talking about America in particular, so I can’t just move to another country and live how I want to live. That would be like if you were forcing me to eat at Applebee’s, and I described in detail the unique and healthy dinner I would rather have, and you said, “if you don’t want to eat at Applebee’s, go to another restaurant!”
The point is I don’t want to eat at any restaurant! I just want to make my own dinner, with my own ingredients that I choose to grow or buy from whomever I wish. But I won’t force you to eat my dinner; you can stay at Applebee’s for all I care! And none of this hurts you, (unless of course, your goal is to force me to fund restaurants.)
Society will be civilized when you let me do my thing. And I won’t force you to do my thing either. I will be perfectly happy doing my own thing, and if you all still want a government for whatever reason, you can go ahead and do that. Just don’t force me into your club. Don’t initiate violence towards me for not wishing to be involved.
And if you think this is already an option for me, you are naive and misguided; I would be arrested for committing (victimless) crimes, breaking regulations (that protect me from myself), and not paying taxes.
You may think I should still be forced to pay taxes, because of the “benefits” I will still be getting from the government. But America doesn’t tax foreigners on vacation to pay for the roads, America is content with the money tourists will pour into the economy while here, in addition to the sales and other taxes they will pay during the visit. The same would happen if I went into the government’s territory.
But to force me to continue paying taxes, while not using government services, would not be allowing me to go my separate way; I would still be forced to fund your government, which would place an extra burden on my own self governance, as well as force me to convert labor into fiat dollars, which I would not otherwise do. To force a man to fund something which he does not want or use is to admit that you view him as a slave.
Any of those things would impose extra burdens on me, even if the government goods and services I pay for were forced on me. On the other hand, my opting-out of the system does not impose any extra burdens on the society I am leaving.
So please, do not join me if you do not wish, and think me crazy and my ideas ludicrous if you must. But in doing so, please do not force me to consort with you or fund your government, and please do not initiate violence against me for doing things which do not harm anyone.
I will be the first to admit that this agreement is null and void as soon as my activities cause harm, as would be the case with dumping chemicals in rivers, or burning toxic waste. But I think you will find my own desire for healthy living severely restricts the likelihood of that ever happening.
I promise not to care what you do, if you promise not to care what I do.
This is the 500th post I have made to Vigilant Vote in the 2 years and one month since I created it. As all things should, this blog has transformed in some ways from its original version and purpose. Through researching, thinking, and writing, my opinions have altered, new information has changed perceptions, and my goals for how I would like to influence people have shifted. That is why I want to spend the five hundredth post defining what Vigilant Vote means.
The original name came from a famous quote, attributed to a couple people, but probably existing in its original form in President Andrew Jackson’s farewell address (emphasis added): “But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States, as well as in the Federal Government”. I added that since Andrew Jackson had faults, it was a further reminder that actions mean more than rhetoric.
Boiled down the tag line for my blog became Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty. For a while the theme of this blog followed that within a relatively narrow scope, in terms of how it related to government. I discussed issues with government policies, and how those policies could be improved. I discussed what the scope of government should be, the incentives and disincentives they create, and why an economy is best left alone by government. The more I learned, the more I realized that not only should the government stay out of economics, but they should stay out of everything.
This feeling was expanded on when I was introduced to Anarcho-Capitalism; a scary sounding idea which really just means people can organize themselves just fine without government using force to do the organizing. The reason this would be more beneficial for societal organization is because there would be no contradictions to a core philosophy that most people agree with: the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do to you, the non-initiation of force principle, non-agression principle. And this foundation cannot support a house built from a different blue print: one that says initiating force in a particular geographical area is okay for an entity called government. If using force to organize is never okay, then government is never okay.
So this brought me to the point where on essentially every government issue my answer was, it should not be a government function, and the market would better take care of it. There were plenty of different arguments to make to this effect, various examples and facts to present, and numerous plans to put forward for alternative organization to achieve the same end, but it all came down to allowing these things to be solved through mutually beneficial transactions. I think these discussions still have a place, and I will continue to explain how current problems involving government could be better solved by a free market.
However this shifting paradigm of how much scope I believe government should have (from limited to none) has also necessarily changed my advice on how best to solve these issues. The Vote in Vigilant Vote once quite literally meant vote in elections to make things better. I still think voting can make things better, but it cannot be the thing we rely on to make positive change in the world. Let me use this landmark of 500 posts on Vigilant Vote to define what it means to be Vigilant, and what it means to Vote, in a broadened definition of the title Vigilant Vote.
“Vigilant”. Pay attention, research, learn, reason, be aware, seek understanding, seek truth, gain knowledge, gain skills. Being vigilant now means more to me than simply paying attention to what the government is doing. It means recognizing the repercussions of this, how vastly effected we are by the ills created, and what influences government has on the broader society. And then it doesn’t stop with government: we need to also make sure the businesses we patronize agree with our philosophy and values. For that matter, being vigilant means having values, setting goals, and working towards something.
It also means being vigilant over oneself. Are the actions I am taking consistent with my philosophy? For me, as I would hope is similar for most people, victimizing someone is wrong, initiating force against another is wrong. Am I aware of how each of my actions are affecting other people? And before this gets too preachy, let me say this is a constant work in progress for all of us. We are not perfect, and maybe we never will be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for better and better. And that’s where Vote comes in.
“Vote”. You vote with your dollar, you vote with your actions and interactions. Voting is the action side of being vigilant. I once received some profound knowledge from a fortune cookie: “The proper fruit of knowledge, is action”. Gain knowledge, take action. Be vigilant, then vote. So if you see something wrong with the world, do something about it. If something seems fishy, look into it, research it, and then figure how best to move forward to effect the change you want to see.
The idea of being Vigilant and Voting fit well, because one without the other is relatively useless. If you are Vigilant, well that’s great, you could have all the knowledge in the world, and have the perfect plan to change things for the better; but if you don’t act on that, what’s the point?
On the other hand, acting without a point can be seriously damaging to society. You hear it every election, “get out the vote”. Well why would we want uninformed or misinformed people to be making governing decisions? That’s democracy, voting without the vigilance. And as with the other aspects, it goes way beyond voting in elections. Taking actions, voting with yourself and your dollars, will achieve no end if you do not define the end you wish to realize, and have the proper knowledge (vigilance) to get there.
I’ve shifted over the last two years from focusing mainly on political issues that are in the news, and analyzing how to act on them, to taking a broader philosophical look at what government really does, the consequences of government actions, and why the defining feature of government, monopolizing force so that it can be initiated without retaliation in a certain area, is inherently wrong.
We can argue any single issue until the cows come home, but without some philosophy behind your ideas and actions, the real change this country and earth needs will not take place. And if you are arguing with someone whose core ideas about life are different than yours, what change do you think you can make in them? We need to start from the point of discussing and agreeing on goals, and realizing that if there is no philosophical grounding for a person’s thoughts and actions, then having them vote for “our party”, or agree with this issue or that issue will be fleeting progress, erased when the next smooth talker convinces the person to think and act oppositely on the issue.
Be Vigilant: seek the truth. Vote: act on that truth.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond is such an interesting look into the development of human society. The other day I discussed the factors that made Japan quickly adopt, and just as quickly abandon firearms in the 16th and 17th centuries. But Diamond also speaks of the formations of various governing bodies humans create as their numbers grow. There are bands with people numbering in the dozens, tribes which can consist of multiple bands and generally include hundreds of people, and Chiefdoms generally consisting of thousands of human inhabitants. Chiefdoms resemble State’s and are the smallest organization of humans to justify kleptocracy, “transferring net wealth from commoners to upper classes” (276).
This central control was justified in larger organizations of society when everyone in a group did not know one another, and was not related to one another in some way. In bands and tribes if you came across someone you didn’t know, it was common to discuss familial relations until one was found in common. Disputes would generally be settled by a mutual relative of the feuding parties, excluding the need for a monopoly on force, which the rulers in Chiefdoms and State’s exercise.
The problem among centrally governed societies becomes the balance between keeping peace through settling disputes, and functioning “unabashedly as kleptocracies” (276).
These noble and selfish functions are inextricably linked, although some governments emphasize much more of one function than of the other. The difference between a kleptocrat and a wise statesman, between a robber baron and public benefactor, is merely one of degree: a matter of just how large a percentage of the tribute extracted from producers is retained by the elite, and how much the commoners like the public uses to which the redistributed tribute is put (276).
Keep in mind that even though the elite maintain a monopoly on force, this does not mean that the outcome will be good for any particular feuding party. The innocent party could be punished by the elite as often as the guilty, and inevitably when the elite and their kin are involved in disputes, they will win regardless of guilt or innocence. What the monopoly on force instead does is keep violent actions to a minimum among the commoners who cannot use force without retaliation. But what makes the commoners put up with the upward redistribution of wealth inherent in all Chiefdoms and States?
Diamond pinpoints 4 solutions kleptocrats and elites have used through history to maintain control:
1. Disarm the populace, and arm the elite…
This should be obvious from Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the British marching on Lexington and so on and so forth. The biggest centralizations of power have always happened when commoners are least equipped to fight back.
2. Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received, in popular ways. This principle was as valid for Hawaiian chiefs as it is for American politicians today.
Indeed, if it is for the children, to help the poor, or to protect us from terrorists, the commoners will gladly throw more tribute (tax dollars) towards the kleptocrats in hopes that the commoners will again be safe, or taken care of. But remember what Diamond said before, the difference between a robber baron and a politician is simply the degree of redistribution. Certainly elites like George Kaiser benefited from the tribute the taxpayers gave to Solyndra through the Department of Energy, but no commoners could say the same.
3. Use the monopoly on force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence. This is potentially a big and underappreciated advantage of centralized societies over noncentralized ones (277).
And this is really what modern States boil down to. If their monopoly on force is used fairly, to only punish those who have victimized another, and not to protect elites who have victimized commoners, then the population is peaceful and generally happy. The real problem is how the commoners can make sure this happens.
Even in a country like the US with a generally fair justice system, the monopoly on force is used against those whose “crime” includes no victim. The war on drugs, government regulations, and corruption: these factors sometimes lead to the monopoly of force being used on those who do not deserve it, and this is when the population becomes skeptical of the legitimacy of the elites who rule them. In America for example, police officers need to be held to the same standard as the population, but unfortunately many get away with crimes because of the badge they wear while committing the crime.
The final way for kleptocracies to maintain control over a population is for elites to “construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy”. Pretty much every religion has served to justify kleptocracy at least one time in history, in some society. But ideology in modern America seems to be the preferred justification. On the one hand you have an ideology that says people will not be safe from outside threats unless the elites take our money and soldier tributes. On the other hand you have an ideology that says the greater good must trump individual concerns. They are related, but appeal to different segments of the American population.
But if we throw out the ideologies supporting kleptocracy, then we realize that we can still have an organized society in modern times that does not justify kleptocracy, but keeps people safe and taken care of. It would still be centralized, but there would be no monopoly on force by one group of elites. I am not saying go back to tribes or bands of humans, that is not realistic, but perhaps take a page from their book on dispute resolution. Arbitration between feuding parties can solve problems based on the incentives of each party, and disincentive of violence. I am saying allow people to function in groups without compulsion, and decide how to get along, without elites using force to resolve differences.
Part of the ideology justifying kleptocracy involves the myth that people cannot organize themselves without an “authority”. But proper organization, the functions purported to be carried out by the elites governing, is not uniform across states, and more often leads to injustice. The fear that keeps us subservient to these elites is that things would be worse if they were gone. We may think, sure, it is an unjust society, but it beats widespread murder and mayhem.
And maybe in times past this was true, but as we advance as a society, connected by the internet and advancements in travel, we are outgrowing states. If the earth ever hopes to be linked together by a global society, we cannot rely on the archaic organizations of States monopolizing force to do it. Free interaction, trade without compulsion, and organization based on the absence of force will take humanity to the next level, where there is no distinction between elites and commoners.
Its amusing but sad that people always seem to come from the same perspective for “solving problems”. Everybody wants to use a top down approach when dealing with borders. People just assume that we need to group people together, even if they don’t like it! So in the U.S. we have parts of Colorado that want to form a new state, we see a piece of California trying to secede, and Texas was once its own country, and entered into the U.S.A. from the position that it could leave if the population so desired. The Kurds never really wanted to be part of Iraq, and borders within the United Kingdom have shifted countless times over the past 2,000 years. So we see these problems and think, how do we divide up who controls this land? But control is the very problem.
I think a hundred years from now people will look back on the debate about whether or not part of Colorado or California or whole states should be allowed to do their own thing, and laugh because of how ridiculous it seems that anyone would try to force people to remain under their jurisdiction, like subjects or serfs. I hope the prevailing notion of that day a century from now will be that of course people have the freedom to move as they like, associate as they like, and live as they like, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.
Because isn’t that really the issue, that governments want to force people under their control? If the Kurds hadn’t been stuck between Iraq and a hard place, they could have just continued their society and lived their lives in relative peace. But Iraq and Iran made promises, broke their promises, lied, and Saddam Hussein gassed an entire city of “his people”. They couldn’t just be left alone?
Or how ridiculous that Denver or Sacramento want to hold onto their population in the outer districts in order for the capital to extract money and labor to fund the government programs, expenditures, and extravagance which mostly takes place in the capital. I think there is a book like that…
Then there’s Crimea, and Palestine, and Israel and it has never occurred that people don’t need to be controlled, or told what to do, or where the borders are, or to whom they are supposed to pay protection money—or taxes if you prefer. It seems immature as a species that whole groups of people routinely use their military strength to force others into their way of life, or their way of thinking, or within their borders.
Who would fight wars if not for governments? Who would enforce borders, and collect taxes, and make up laws that you can lose your life and liberty for breaking, even if there is no victim? Here’s the thing: the guy that starts the war, never fights in it. Sure, sometimes he overplays his hand and kills himself in a bunker, or gets hanged or slaughtered by his own people, but these are more like exceptions to the rule. So in whose best interest is a war? Tell me, who is going to start a war, and who is going to fight a war, if we don’t have government relations to sour, and government force to muster, and government controlled populations to enslave?
War is only in the best interest of those who have something to gain from it, and nothing to lose from it. Only those who can use force without retribution are in that position, and only governments can use force without retribution. Who would be sending men off to die if people were truly free from the initiation of force? What mutually beneficial transaction includes death and destruction?
I’m not going to get into right now how a society could be organized without government, I’ve written enough about that to give you a good idea. I just want people to reflect on the dynamic that we have always seen on earth, governments starting wars with governments and pretending it is in the best interest of the people: the people who die on the battlefield so that the government can say, “see, this is the border” or “these are my subjects” or “no, no, this set of victimless crimes is legitimate, theirs was not!”. And yes, we have certainly had better governments than others; the American government as defined in the Constitution was pretty good, but not perfect.
I once thought of ways to design the perfect government, with the perfect restraints, and checks on its power. I thought of ways to design elections, to form opposing powers, and to decentralize control. This is the “government is evil but necessary” philosophy. Then it occurred to me that nothing evil should ever be necessary. Why keep a beast in your house that would devour you if its chains are too loose, or break?
Would a lion be a great deterrent to crime at your home? Yes, but it might also eat you and your family. A big dog can be just as good a deterrent to crime, and you have control over it. Your dog loves you because you feed it and pat it; you trade food and affection for protection. Protection that will never be turned on you and your family, even though your dog can go anywhere in the house. The lion you feed so that it doesn’t eat you, and it dictates where you can safely walk in your own home. And the lion provides protection only if its chain is long enough, which also puts you in danger. But if the chain is too short, it won’t be able to stop an intruder.
Right now we are a society of lion keepers, and we should be a society of dog owners.