Objectivist Dad

A child is cursed with an Objectivist dad.

Ayn Rand

I haven’t batted heads with Objectivists for a while now (and I don’t miss that experience one bit), but I always enjoy seeing what results their cult-like ideology brings around. Just now I read this article about a woman who’s childhood was ruined by Ayn Rand and it was fairly depressing.

It’s funny because the experience described here also closely reminds me of the experiences another person described to me about having a (right-)Libertarian dad, and how the parent-child relationship devolved into a form of market exchange. “I’ll send you your birthday gift when you reply to my letters” was an example that stood out.

These ideologies are mental poison.

"You deign to reply to me?"

“I’ve got more knowledge in my left testicle than you’ve got in your whole brain.”

Oh Gawds, the arrogance is over nine thousand!

The title quote from a right-libertarian redditor named “Libertarian Atheist” who fancies themselves as some kind of anarchist. They got a bit upset that I declined to include /r/agorism in the confederation of anarchist reddits and apparently tried to educate me on their personal ideology. The discussion soon after degraded, until they said this particular sentence, and I just had to bow out. What more can you say to that, that is not said by itself.

For posterity, I’m going to quote in full their latest reply. It’s that amazing.

You mistake arrogance with intelligence, knowledge, and an ability to convey ideas in an effective manner. “Arrogance” is a term dumb people with false ideas and impressions use to describe other people with better ideas. A smart man with false ideas and impressions who comes across another person with better ideas will not call that person “arrogant,” he will try to better understand what the other man is saying and be on the ready to throw out his own follies. What you laughably call a “combin[ing]” of “ideologies” is not so, it is the end result of years of study and reading, throwing out weak ideas (like “gift economy”) and championing the strongest. This is what I have been doing all my life and it does not bother me in the least that you (or anyone else, anarchist or otherwise) can’t understand. Luckily opinions are not measured by how many people “take [it] seriously” (if that were the case Christian and Muslim opinions would be the best) and a man seeking the best opinions does not care who “takes [him] seriously”, what matters is reaching as close an approximation of the truth as is humanly possible.

The funniest part is where you claim to be able to teach me anything. I’ve got more knowledge in my left testicle than you’ve got in your whole brain. You’re barely fit to teach a dog. You deign to reply to me? What a laugh! This back in forth with you is the greatest waste of my time this year so far. . . we’ve got quite a bit to go but you’re in a very high running at this point.

I just love that they also italicized the “me”, making that phrase totally sound like Invader Zim. Adorable!

Oh Gawds, Wat? The most hilariously deluded libertarian ever

Hoppean-Libertarianism must be the most inhumane ideology ever conceived

English: German philosopher of Austrian School...

This is…I don’t…

I am just reading through this interview by a radical libertarian called “Code Name Cain” who expands upon his ideology. I do believe this must be the most absurd libertarian I’ve ever read. Calling him Fractally Wrong is almost an understatement.

Take a look at the six parts interview, read through the thing. It gets much more absurd (and much more hilarious) in the latter parts.

Choice Quote:

ANDREW: Obviously it would be better to have defaulting borrowers be effectively enslaved in a way that fully respects their natural rights.

CNC: Obviously. Now that we’ve cleared that up, can you turn off the tape recorder? I want to get started on my steak.

Choice Quote:

CNC: With the secession strategy, you don’t need a majority. That’s good, because [t]he mass of people … always and everywhere consists of “brutes,” “dullards,” and “fools,” easily deluded and sunk into habitual submission [92]. Still, there can be no revolution without some form of mass participation. … the elite cannot reach its own goal of restoring private property rights and law and order unless it succeeds in  communicating its ideas to the public, openly if possible and secretly if necessary… [93].

ANDREW: Even if you do it secretly, convincing the masses that they are inferior sounds tricky.

CNC: That’s true, but you don’t have to convince Joe the Plumber that he is a brute. You can convince him instead that he is a hardworking, productive individual, and that other people are brutes who are making it so Joe has no control over his life.

(Note red parts are direct quotes from the AnCap ideologue, Hoppe)

Choice Quote:

ANDREW: I know that you think this is very unlikely, but suppose people living in the free society of the future decide that they don’t like it very much, and would like to go back to living in a democracy. Could they do it?

CNC: That will not be possible.

ANDREW: You mean, you are sure that no one will want to go back to democracy?

CNC: No, I mean they won’t be allowed to discuss that possibility.
In a covenant… among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s  own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society. [218]

THAT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE CITIZEN. Is it me, or does this vision of libertopia sound increasingly like a weird version of Paranoia? The next paragraph expands on how the rich would be controlling armies of death bots!

Choice Quote:

ANDREW: Noblemen and masters were obeyed because their serfs and slaves recognized that some people were naturally superior to others – but then some GLOs came in and started messing everything up by appealing to racism and jealousy. These “rogue GLOs” are where governments come from.

CNC: That’s right.

That it. We’ve reached peak absurdity people!

Choice Quote:

ANDREW: You are sometimes forced to engage in lobbying.

CNC: Yes. For example, the current meme in the investment community is that the combination of climate change and population growth will make it almost impossible to have enough food for the world by the year 2050. Farmland is soaring in price.

My hedge fund discovered uncultivated land in the African country of ***. The land did not belong to anyone, and so we tried to buy it from the relevant government. Outrageously, certain officials from *** insisted on…

ANDREW: Bribes?

CNC: … arrangements before they would agree to sell the land at a fair price.

ANDREW: Was this farmland unoccupied?

CNC: No one owned the land before we bought it.

ANDREW: But was someone living there?

CNC: There were some local tribesmen who claimed that they had a vague traditional “right” to the land. Decisive action was necessary before they stopped squatting on our land.

ANDREW: Involving trucks of men carrying machine guns…

Oh gawds, wat?!

Choice Quote:

ANDREW: But you changed the story! That isn’t how it ends – the father doesn’t agree with the older son. He says it is right for them to celebrate, for “thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And most readers assume that at that point, the older brother realizes that he has been acting like a two-year-old.

CNC: Look, I’m not like Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises. I don’t think that being a libertarian is incompatible with being a Christian. But since, as Mises put it, “all efforts to find support for the institution of private property… in the teachings of Christ are quite vain,” it is true that the New Testament needs to be edited a

…so fucking funny….must not lol at work…

Fortunately for this world, the CNC character was fictional. Unfortunately, Hoppe and his red quotes are not. And the red quotes were the primary content of this “interview” 😉

In fact, I found Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s ideas fascinating, but it would have been quite difficult to construct a dialogue entirely from snippets of his book. Even if I had done that, there would still have been a risk of misrepresenting his thought. Code Name Cain was created so that I could try to fill in missing or uncertain details of a Hoppe-like philosophy in the most logical manner I could think of, without attributing these additions to Hoppe himself. Some fine points that a couple readers thought I personally invented were actually adapted (rather faithfully) from Hoppe’s book: in particular, the graphs in part VI showing time-preference curves for different types of individuals (compare p. 8 of Hoppe’s book).

(h/t to the Barefoot Bum)

Taxes are voluntary…according to libertarian logic

Libertarians are inconsistent if they consider taxes immoral, but not wage labour and rent.

Punch cartoon (1907); illustrates the unpopula...

A frequent and much beloved (Right)-Libertarian talking point is on how taxes are not voluntary and that they are claimed by the state at the end of a gun barrel. “Taxes are theft”, “Taxes are violence” blah blah blah. We’ve all heard the spiel I’m sure. But I doubt how many have realized that such an argument is not really consistent with the logic libertarians ((I’ll avoid using (right) for brevity. Let’s just assume it’s implied whenever I say “libertarian” in this post.)) apply in regards to voluntary contracts and choice.

You see, a common aspect of most strains of libertarianism is that any choice made voluntarily – by which they mean, in the absence of active coercion – is morally acceptable for both parties. Thus a person choosing to work for a wage, has made a conscious decision to get in this position, because it increases his marginal utility. In the same vein, a person choosing to work in a sweatshop have made a decision which makes their life better off than before, so the sweatshop practice itself is obviously moral. A female being sexually harassed by her boss, but nevertheless staying in the job, is a voluntary choice which naturally means that the sexual attention she’s receiving does not constitute “harassment”. Naturally it follows that if people do not want to end up in this situations, they always have the choice of not taking those particular jobs.

So, in this context, aren’t taxes voluntary just as well? Consider that when you sign up for a job, you agree to a contract that states that a part of your wage will go to the state. You are volunteering to a contract that stipulates taxes. If you do not like the contract, you always have the choice of not working at all. This is a valid choice, as much as it is for the sweatshop worker, is it not? You weight your options and choose the one more beneficial to you.

Most likely libertarians will mention at this point that even those opening their own business have to pay taxes, even though they have no contract with the state. But that would also be false. They do have such a contract with the state. The contract that leases the land they live on, for it is in the very end, the property of the state. You can’t own any land, unless somewhere in the history of that land, there is a contract between state and the first owner. And that contract, had stipulations for taxes. The taxes of the business owner thus become analogous to the rent of a land owner, and much like the contract with a land owner can have stipulations that you can accept or deny, so does the contract with the state. In this case being that you have to give an amount of your income to the state in the form of income tax, and all contracts with your employees must stipulate income tax as well. If you choose to enter this voluntary contract, then naturally you must think it acceptable. Surely if the land owner was simply a private person, requiring rent from you and everyone you employ, you would have the same amount of choice, no?

It is the case then, that if you don’t like the terms of such contracts, you are of course free not to work at all. Nobody is forcing you to make such a choice. But if you do make it, then it’s under our own volition, is it not?

I can foresee at this point the enraged flames that will start bursting my way. Most likely I will be informed that the choice is an illusion, since the state has artificially and violently limited the options to either paying income tax, or not making money at all. And I will admit, this is a very compelling argument indeed.

Which is why I will have to pull the “switch” to my “bait” now.

You see, the argument that will be made to point out that the choice between “work with taxation or no work” is an artificial one, is the same one I will use myself to point that “work for a boss or don’t work” is an artificial choice just as well. You want the option to  live in a society where nobody has to pay taxes, I want the option to work in a society where nobody has to work for a boss.

Libertarians might claim that everyone would have this option in a society with no taxes, but if some landowners already hoard all the available land, then that is simply not true, for no landowner would be foolish enough to sell it rather than rent it. It would be as likely as the state truly selling land (rather than renting it via taxes) and allowing anyone to secede. In fact, that is the truth of the matter: The state, at the moment, is acting just like a capitalist landowner renting you some land with stipulations. The “rent” you pay, is your taxes. Imagine for a moment that instead of states, you had private landowners who asked for rent instead of tax. Would you, as a libertarian, have an issue with this?

Perhaps the smart libertarian will claim that the state came into ownership of this land through violence, and therefore any ownership claims over it are invalid. This is undeniably true: The state did enclose all the land through brutal violence. But what is to be done? The libertarian of a Rothbardian persuasion would undoubtedly claim that the best option would be to simply remove the state as the player, and let the ownership titles stand as they are, or possibly owned by their current workers in a shareholder format.  But I would object to that, for this is not a natural distribution of ownership either, rather, it is artificially created by the previous violence of the state and its continued legacy of its collusion with the plutocracy throughout history. If one were to simply declare that the current ownership claims should be treated as “homesteading”, then why not do the same jump and claim that the current state ownership should just as well be treated as “homesteading”? Both these scenarios would ignore violent history anyway, so why not stick to the status quo? After all, I’m confident that very few libertarians would have an issue with the current arrangement if they were paying “rent” instead of “taxes” and they were living under the rule of a private landowner with extensive management staff, rather than a democratic state with extensive bureaucracy.

Or perhaps not. But then, I’d like to hear what the significant difference would be (except the lack of democracy that is).

The truth is that there’s isn’t a functional difference between a state and a landowner. Both simply ask for rent to allow you to live within their ownership claims (borders). The former simply also provides the illusion that you have a say in the policies that affect everyone under these border, as a way to pacify you. And this lack of difference remains whether you have 204 uber-landowners or 2.000.000. The size of their borders might decrease, but the effect of their rule would not.

As such, the original problem would remain. Perhaps the libertarians won’t mind, as long as they have 2.000.000 choices of contracts, rather than 204 but then again, that would mean the problem was in the number of states in existence, not in their taxation.

The lack of choice would still remain. We would still not have the option to live and work without rent and without bosses and landlords. For anarchists like me of course, that is still the biggest problem, but for libertarians it shouldn’t be; after all, bosses and landlords aren’t an issue for them…

Thus in the end, it would be simply hypocritical for a libertarian to claim that the state rent (i.e. tax) is immoral while the rent demanded from a landlord or boss isn’t.  Both are based on passive coercion, rather than active. “Work for a boss, or starve” is not much of a choice, anymore than “Pay your taxes or go to jail” is. Both rely on the same exact set of circumstances: The artificial limitation of choices through the past exercise of violence.

Something which we communists like to call Primitive Accumulation…

PS: This post was inspired when I watched the “income tax bait and switch” in action, in this reddit comment thread. Props to watwatwatwatt for thinking of it.

Leftists! Leftists Everywhere!

On the annoying habit of right-libertarians to use “Socialist” as a profanity.

Mimi and Eunice had a very funny comic today

The sad slash annoying thing is that this is done against everyone, not just against each other. Of course, most actual socialists, like Anarchists, don’t mind being called such, but it’s the implied definition of socialism that is the annoying part.

By “Socialist”, Right-Libertarians usually mean a very particular kind of Socialism: Marxism-Leninism and variants of such (Stalinism, Maoism etc) and by calling people socialist, they mean to imply that your ideas would end up resembling a totalitarian dystopia. They are unwilling and very often unable to entertain the idea that not all socialism needs to be or leads to totalitarianism and will vehemently reject any such argument.

This is one of the most common frustrations I have when having to deal with propertarians but it’s hilarious when I see them turning such an absurd rhetoric even against each other. That they can actually call people who praise Rothbard, Hoppe and whatnot “Socialist”. For example this vide, other than being comedy gold by itself, has a part displaying this mentality succintly.

“Leftists! Leftists! Leftists everywhere!”


Quote of the Day: What Logical Principles are for

A quote explaining the main error right-libertarians and “anarcho”-capitalists make.

Quoth Sidney Hook (Quoted in turn by Corey Robin)

The extraordinary virtues Miss Rand finds in the law that A is A suggests that she is unaware that logical principles by themselves can test only consistency. They cannot establish truth….

This is something that needs to be drilled in the minds of all right-libertarians who insist that they can describe reality without requiring any empiricism at all. From the “A is A” Randroids to the “Human Action” Misoids.

How to make Right-Libertarians bite the bullet.

Making Libertarians put their foot in their mouth has never been easier.

This image is of economist Walter Block teachi...
Image via Wikipedia

The funny thing about WalterBlock’s quote defending sexual harassment in the workplace is that the nature of the argument and its unfortunate compatibility with right-libertarian principles can serve as a very easy way to make those espousing said principles get in a very tight ethical conundrum. When this quote is presented to someone (something especially effective when someone is a Block disciple) they either have to find a way to distance themselves from this argument (much like Walter Block himself has done) and thus risk cognitive dissonance, or they must bite the bullet and admit that Block was right.

It’s amazing, not only how often you’ll find them defending sexual harassment in the workplace in the name of liberty but also how often and easily they will trip on their own argumentation and put their foot firmly in their mouth.Oh, they won’t call it “harassment” of course, they’ll dance around the words until it can sound like some kind of normal human relationship, but functionally they will be defending the exact same situation and the right of the employer to make sexual advances to his secretaries under the guise of voluntarism.

Witness this latest example in reddit, where a commenter took the opportunity to defend Block’s argument and give us gems like this:

In a society of private property, there is no inherent reason whatsoever why a woman will be compelled to accept a job that contains sexual advances that she does not want. If a job does not specifically contract against it, then the employer can engage in that behavior. If it does, then he can’t.

(emphasis mine)

How about a woman that does not have enough money to feed herself and her family? A very rare scenario I know…

And this:

If I have $50,000 say, then I do not owe anyone that money. It’s mine. If I want to pay a woman to help me with my paperwork, then I can offer them that money. If they are so destitute that they are willing to accept my sexual advances, then I can follow the non-aggression principle and not once harass her. She is not obligated to stay with me. If she wants to quit and find money somewhere else (the number of potential jobs are numerous), then she can. If she stays, then that’s her choice that you must respect. If she stays because she accepts it, then how can you say that I am acting improperly? I am not doing anything she doesn’t want me to do. I will not harass her because that violates the NAP. If she accepts, then she must want it. That’s how relationships work.

This is the common fetishism of voluntarism that AnCaps do all the goddamn time. Here in all its ugly glory for all to see. A rich boss hiring a destitute girl and advancing sexually on her? No problem. She must want it or she would have left. You can easily see how much they need to assert that in a AnCap society there would be no unemployment which flies against all logic as this would make such a society immediately implode in a capitalist crisis. But as long as we can assume that no unemployment will exist, we can sweep all such contentions under the blanket.

But the best quote is this:

If you condemn this because she is only sleeping with me because she wants my money, then does not reflect poorly on me or her? It’s not me. I’m not the one sleeping with somebody else because I want their money. It’s her moral failure. Nobody is destitute enough in a private property society that they must resort to prostitution. Prostitution is a choice, just like every other occupation. You can’t change that.

I won’t even try to point out how disgusting this paragraph is on it face. How much it flies in the face of reality and women’s plight. I will only point out how one small Walter Block quote led this AnCap to say something like this.

Seriously, this thing is like an instant way to make right-libertarians say something so absurd or reprehensible that they will automatically lose all credibility and leverage in the eyes of those not already convinced of their ideology. Use it with abandon and make them face up the ugly consequences of their ideology.

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(Right-)Libertarianism, Denial and lulz

A blogger make an empirical research on the subjects of right-libertarian blogs. The results were unsurprising.

Someone recently attempted a small study to check what the top topics of the top “Libertarian” ((Well, you know, right-libertarian really, which is only close to actual liberty in la-la land)) blogs are about and found some interesting conclusions, namely, that right-libertarians are in denial about economic externalities. This is not particularly surprising for anyone who has had the misfortune to discuss extensively with some of their more vulgar elements but it is interesting how a similar result can also be seen from a methodological research.

I like how the author has seen the general trend towards denial that one can notice in right-libertarians and consolidated it as denial against economic externalities.  That’s far more concise than my observation of their general denial against anything that might point out that capitalist free markets are not a particularly good solution. I personally find that it’s the flaw of starting from the explicit premise that the Free Markets Are Good which therefore compels one to ignore and eventually deny all evidence that might challenge this. It can easily lead to a faith-based belief that is severely unhealthy to critical thought. It’s only more ironic when one considers how proud right-libertarians are of their “Rationality”.

As one would expect the author noticed that the top subjects discussed in the top blogs are all of those one would expect from people already convinced that what’s good for business, is good for everyone. Denial of AGW (Because there’s no easy market-based solution so it’s far easier to support libertarianism when this uncomfortable harm doesn’t exist). Denial of Smoking harms (Same as before). Support for tax breaks for the rich (On the flawed assumption that either the rich invest more when they have more money or Randian-esque nonsense that the rich deserve their wealth because of their hard work.) Fortunately for the author, he didn’t get to see other crown favorites such as support for sweat-shop practices, Anti-Trade-Unionism, Pro-IP confusion, Anti-Minimum-wage, crypto-misogyny etc.I guess he can consider himself lucky.

Expectedly, the right-libertarian stormtroopers quickly descended to defend their ideology with the wrath of heavens It’s a pity the author didn’t take the time to respond to them (or was it because of his crappy commenting system?) to provide more lulz for onlookers like me.

I also found this kind of research interesting. Perhaps it’ll be worth doing the same in the Anarchosphere and see what kind of stuff we’re talking about. Of course there’s bound to be some confusion if one simply tries to look for the top 20 Anarchist blogs as they’re going to end up with some confused right-libertarians in the mix as well, skewing the result. Perhaps I’ll choose the top 20 blogs which I know are LibSoc. I’d be interesting to see what we’re talking about in general.

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On First Principles

“Anarcho”-Capitalist request LibSocs to state their first principles in order to understand their worldview. I explain why this is entirely to wrong question to ask.

Abstract Principles Taken to Their Logical Ext...
Image via Wikipedia

In a recent conversation with Facebook ” Anarcho”-Capitalists I’ve been asked to provide an explanation of my beliefs starting from “First Principles”. As my initial answer didn’t seem to be enough, the same question was later posted, once more, in a location I couldn’t access ((h/t @Noor for letting me know and posting the discussion somewhere public)). I think this deserves an explanation on why it is entirely the wrong kind of question to ask when trying to understand Libertarian Socialism.

The confusion I believe starts from the way the Propertarians start to build their worldview. From what I understand about this point (and of course, I may be wrong – but concise information on this is not easy to find online) they declare a few particular normative propositions as inviolable or “true”, call them axioms or “first principles” and then build their ethical system from there. There’s no clear agreement on this but the axiom of Self-Onwership seems to be the primary basis on which the ideology is built. There are others like the Non-Aggression principle (Also called Zero-Aggression principle. NAP or ZAP) which may follow from Self-Ownership or may be asserted standalone.

I won’t go into details on why those “first principles” are flawed at the moment (soon though). The point is to explain why such propertarians expect someone to state their first principles initially so that they may grasp the concept. They just can’t contemplate a different way to reach a social framework than by starting from such “axioms” and when Anarchists point out that we don’t have any, they are unable to compute, as can be seen from the quote (from the discussion I linked above)

The implication is that logic is optional. She’ll deny it, of course, and say that she’s just not doing logic in the way that the oppressive capitalists demand, but it still amounts the the notion that logic itself is seen as a kind of oppression. It’s a religion.

The obvious flaw in this reasoning is that it is asserted that those first principles are the result of pure logic and therefore impossible to be flawed (thus the label of “axiom”). Of course if one starts from this assumption it is understandable that when someone else denies the necessity of “axioms” to base a socioeconomic theory on, they can be seen as denying logic itself.  But this is merely begging the question.

And this is where the biggest problem lies in this perspective. Using scholasticism (i.e. pure logic) to understand reality has been discredited for a while now and empiricism and inductive reasoning took its place. No matter how perfect one’s logic can seem, it’s very likely that some small errors or wrong assumptions have entered into it at some point, therefore leading to the wholly wrong results. Without empiricism thus, it impossible to find logical errors as there is nothing to compare the results with.

Thus (many? most? Well me at least.) Libertarian Socialists reject this perspective in favour of what has been shown to actually work in understanding and predicting reality. Science and Materialism. Talking for myself here, I find no reason to start from a principle of self-ownership (even if it wasn’t inconsistent) when I have the far better option to start from a (meta?)ethical question: “What bring the best results for the maximum amount of people?”. Starting from this question and then using scientific knowledge (on how humans behave and how human societies tend to work) we can try to compile a socioeconomic system which will achieve this result.

Adding a “first principle” such as the NAP or self-ownership would thus only come into the picture if it followed from the original question. Looking at it this way, one could call the Anarchist opposition to hierarchy and authority as a sort of “first principle” but not in the same absolute way as the AnCap ones are asserted but simply as means to an end.

And this is in the end why it’s completely misguided to ask an Anarchist what their “first principles” are. The most likely answer would be “Why do I need them?” and this is a perfectly valid response. To preempt those who would express the sentiment that having “First Principles” is obvious: It is not. The burden of proof is on people who assert that such principles are necessary to prove why this is so. An argument from obviousness just does not cut it as it’s far from obvious to me and many others.

I get the impression that people who assert that such first principles are necessary, are those who saw them expressed somewhere and immediately latched onto them as something that made obvious sense. Yes, it may make obvious sense but this does not make it an absolute or an objective fact of reality. There’s always the chance that there’s holes in the reasoning, or it does not make sense in some contexts. What I’m trying to say that even if something is making sense, it still does not validate the concept of “first principle”. This is akin to saying that because the golden rule makes sense, the Christian god exists.  It simply does not follow.

It is similarly  flawed thus to accept only a different set of first principles in order to counter your own ideology. It’s like a Christian asking someone trying to explain evolution to him, to first state which other deity they assert instead of the Christian god. A perfectly valid answer to both questions is still “None.”

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The 5 stages of "Anarcho"-Capitalist reaction.

From the first time an AnCap encounters a LibSoc for the first time, a common reaction is to be expected passing through 5 stages. Here’s a very scientific explanation of this effect.

.bless uS
Image unrelated by 27147 via Flickr

Every time I argue with Stateless (or minarchist) Propertarians of various degrees of vulgarity, I keep seeing a few types of reaction over and over. Not only are they common but they seem to follow in a very particular progression which made me think of the 5 stages of grief.

With the same lack of scientific accuracy then, I will now present you with the 5 stages of “Anarcho”-Capitalist reaction to Libertarian Socialists. For the lulz.

1. Surprise and Denial

“Libertarian Socialism? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”; “I can’t believe someone can support communism at this time and age.”; “You’re not a true Anarchist if you don’t support private property!”

Surprise usually occurs to those who have had a fairly sheltered political life and have only just began to radicalize recently by discovering Ayn Rand or Austrian Economics but have only the slightest experience with the wider libertarian movement or conceptions of Socialism outside of McCarthyian propaganda . It is quickly followed by denial as the position of LibSocs quickly assaults their recently acquired radicalism but disentangling the concept of liberty from the concept of property. For someone who has just recently embraced the NAP or the self-ownership principles as  true and inviolable, any direct challenge to those principles is likely to be dismissed out of hand.

2. Misunderstanding and Anger

“Stalin! Mao! Pol Pot!”; “Try to take over my house and I’ll shoot you!”; “You’re just a bunch of hippies dreaming of utopias. Get a job!”; “You’re just hate Capitalism because you’re lazy and jealous.”

This often follows and complements denial when the discussions continue for a any length of time. Occasionally someone may start from this position when he’s had discussions with LibSocs in the recent past as well. The reasons for such a reaction is generally the persistent assault on AnCap principles and the opposition to some basic building blocks such a the “Free Markets”, an opposition which is misunderstood as expression of authoritarianism. Another common cause is the misunderstanding of LibSoc positions, assuming that they support involuntary societal organization, such as forced collectivization or forbidding of trade. In general, As such discussion grows longer, the probability of comparing the LibSocs to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or their corresponding regimes approaches 1. (Db0’s Law?)

3. Bargaining

“Why don’t we put aside our differences and focus on toppling the state?”; “We would never be opposed to communes and co-operatives within Anarcho-Capitalism.”; “We’re all Libertarian socialists at the end of the day.”

The bargaining phase of the AnCap reaction tends to come as one’s understanding of the Anarchist position increases and they realize that they too are suggesting voluntary rather than coerced relations and social organization. Missing the point of Anarchists not considering voluntarism to be enough, they reach the flawed conclusion that the two movements are close enough to ally in opposition to the state. It is at this point that the crucial differences in tactics start to be expanded which can lead the discussion to back into Anger as AnCaps interpret refusals of potential alliance as stubborness or given convincing argument on why Agorism or “Libertarian” Reformism is not good enough to crush the state, they may descend into…

4. Depression

“The state is too powerful to topple.”; “I want to smash the state as much as anyone else but we need to find a way to do it peacefully.”; “I’m only an Anarchist ideologically. Practically we can’t change the system without making things worse.”; “The free market/internet/cryptography will lead to the state’s demise naturally.”; “Vote Ron Paul!”

The end of the road for the “Anarcho”-Capitalism movement remains firmly within the current system. While they have truly numerous criticisms of the state and quite a bit of perfect-society theories and literature, they are sorely lacking in transitional ideas. In short, they have no idea how to get from here to there and as a result they are stuck. There’s a lot of rationalization for this predicament of course, from claiming that they would only support “peaceful revolutions”, to insisting that they are waiting for most humans to turn AnCap due to their superior arguments to my all-time favourite, waiting for the internet to revolutionize society towards the direction they expect.

This is of course nothing but a way of giving up, of raising up their hands in frustration and devolving into wishful thinking. Those who take a more practical approach either turn to Agorism or Reformism as a best-next-solution. Supporting Socialist Revolutions and then trying to convince people to voluntary turn to propertarianism is of course out the question. One guesses because they realize the futility of achieving the later. Silently consenting to the current system is apparently a better option.

5. Acceptance

“Fine. What do you suggest we do?”; “If you don’t want to force me into collectives I have no problem with you doing your own thing.”;

This last step is usually irreversible. At this advanced stage, LibSoc ideas have finally started making sense, usually when coupled with real-life experience of wage-slavery and hierarchical domination. The veteran AnCap now understands the perspective of the LibSocs and knows better than to make egregious strawmen as he’s been in the same discussions too many times already. Rather, he turns far more to lurking as he’s also too tired to try and correct his fellow AnCap’s misunderstandings and thus draw their online ire.

At this stage, one cannot help but see a character of wary tolerance to ideas of Anarchists. The whole “I don’t see it working in practice but I’m willing to be proven wrong and if I do, I’ll join you guys in a heartbeat.” mentality. This stage is characterized by attempts at constructive criticism and attempts to distance oneself from the more extreme elements of their own camp (Block, Kinsella etc).

Of course, Acceptance is not the end of the road. Fortunately quite a few AnCaps are eventually brought over by the very viral ideology they have to argue against and pass through the veil to the opposing site as more open minded mutualists. The Libertarian Socialist Pull claims one more “victim”.

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