Hi, my name is Zeno Izen and I am running for President of the United States of America. I have developed a simple plan to restore freedom, peace and prosperity to America. Here is that plan:
Step 1: Every U.S. citizen with a Social Security number will receive, by U.S. Postal mail, an unactivated plastic debit card. The details of the accounts that these cards will access are a technical matter that will be worked out before this plan is implemented.
Step 2: Citizens will have a short period of time to activate these debit cards, and the accounts that they access.
Step 3: At an appointed moment, which may or may not be revealed in advance, each citizen’s account will be credited with a sum of money. The amount of money is a technical detail that will be worked out before this plan is implemented. Hypothetically, the amount is mostly irrelevant, though it will need to be significant enough to qualify as a windfall for the average citizen. Numbers between $10,000 and $100,000 are probable.
Step 4: The U.S. federal government will cede power to the States, and declare itself dissolved.
Step 5: A period of adjustment will ensue.
The benefits of this plan will be many. The velocity of money, and the vitality of the economy will increase dramatically as citizens will be motivated to spend what money they have as soon as possible before its value drops to zero. All sides of political debate will be satisfied by this plan as well, as redistributionists on the left will be directly compensated and minarchists on the right will see their domestic agenda implemented in full.
At the same time, the results of this plan will be unpredictable to the degree that manipulators of the economy, along with entrenched totalitarian interests, will not be able to fully retain their power. Prices and currencies will swing to extremes as the results of this plan ripple across the globe. Innovators and small time players will find themselves knee deep in opportunities, which will disrupt society and make resources newly available in the fairest way possible: according to wit and competitivity.
My plan will initiate a new global golden era based on merit and voluntary association. This is what everyone wants, perhaps excluding those deeply invested in the status quo.
So vote for me for President of the U.S. or whatever other office you want. I ain’t on the ballot and my budget is zero, but I’ve got a slogan and it is thus:
“Vote for Zeno Izen motherfuckers! He’s got the Plan!”
There’s a premise that I’ve accepted as true since I was in high school. The premise’s survival in the face on many years of new information tends to suggest that the premise has some validity.
The premise is this: The human system, as a whole, is anarchic.
Yes, we have nation-states. Yes, we have corporations. Yes, we have elites. Yes, there are people in charge. But, try as they might, there is no single entity that has absolute control over humanity.
At the very top of the global social ladder, there are opposing interests, offsetting forces and competing entities. And, as this is the top of the pyramid, with nothing governing it, the churn here is subject to the laws of emergence and market dynamics.
And as above, so below. From the yacht clubs of Massachusettes to the black hole of Calcutta, governance exists in pockets. Control exists in finite zones that emerge within an overall system of anarchy. And if these zones are seen as discreet bodies within the anarchic system, we can see that they emerge and behave according to the laws of the system that they inhabit.
In other words, a government is the product of a free market.
Empires rise and fall. Kings are as subject to economics as a business owner. Certainly, a king may control the money supply in his realm, but he can’t violate natural law. A king can’t print money indiscriminately and avoid the consequences any more than he can hover in midair.
Between kingdoms there are natural laws, too. As von Clausewitz said, war begins when diplomacy fails. Between individuals a fist fight might result from failed negotiations at a tavern. Of course, there are laws pertaining to that. But what law stops one nation from invading another? Only alliances, quasi-influential international bodies and other artifices have any effect on international relations. These artifices are the product of an anarchic system.
So, seen from the moon, we realize that we already live in a free market system. When anyone talks about, or lobbies, for market freedom they are doing it on a local basis. To work for free markets is a dismantling process, an uncovering of human layers to reveal what lies below.
But let’s remember that these zones of control are temporary. They may last for a long time. Just as an overfunded business can operate at a loss for years on end, a government with faulty financial policies can run for a long long time. But in the end they will fail. No entity, coporeal or corporate, can evade the laws of its environment.
“Nature Bats Last” says the bumper sticker. It’s really true. And if we believe that market forces are natural laws, then the agorist has already won. His only struggle is with his local situation.
Here’s something I don’t get. Maybe someone can explain it to me.
As a generalization, both scientific atheists and Abrahamic monotheists tend to be inconsistent when it comes to their preferences of socioeconomic organization. Most of your central planners in history seem to have been atheists–Marxism and communism are definitely atheistic systems. And most of those who still stick with these concepts in the modern era also seem to be atheists. Your Christian left-anarchist is an anomaly. Liberal Democrats I suspect–I haven’t looked up the stats–have more atheists, or at least agnostics among them. And it’s my perception that Liberal Democrats tend to be more liberal in their religious belief and believe that evolutionary theory is true. I base this perception on the fact that Liberal Democrats take the non-religious side of the abortion discussion. That alone indicates a liberality in religious belief. But yet, Liberal Democrats tend to be less friendly with free market ideas, more open to state programs, and generally more on the central-planning side of the economic discussions.
Meanwhile, more conservatives (whether Conservative Republicans, or otherwise) are religious, and conservatively so. I’d point to the abortion discussion again to support this assertion. And, again, conservatives have a greater tendency to be free market oriented, rhetorically if not in actual fact. This can be seen in a rough sort of way by comparing various elected persons’ party affiliation with their position on the funding of various governmental (and non-military) projects, such as universal health care, welfare programs, student loans and so on.
I’ll skip over the rest of the logical development and give you my central point: in America, a substantial number of non-religious people have faith in centrally planned civilization while a substantial number of religious people are opposed to central planning, and presumably believe in the power of emergent market processes to create an organized society.
This seems inconsistent to me. To be religious, by which I mean to believe in a single scriptural god, tends to deny the emergent processes of nature. If God is the decision maker for all reality, and evolutionary theory is not true, then emergent market processes are anomalous. Why would markets be able to find equilibrium, and develop into non-planned organization when the rest of nature does not do the same thing?
And to be non-religious tends to accept evolutionary theory–a concept which describes a natural world full of life that has come about without intent or central planning. Why in a world where life emerges in the absence of a supernatural director would we insist upon fallible human beings to design and execute our economy?
To my point of view, and regardless of your religious beliefs, I would expect that you either believe in orderly emergence or you don’t. I can understand believing in a perfect God that micromanages reality and how that is consistent with free market beliefs, but I don’t see how you can then throw out evolutionary theory. And I can see how you can see the natural world as a beautiful orderly accident without a god, but I don’t see how you can then allow imperfect and corruptible human beings take charge of an economy, which is often as complex as any ecosystem.
You know, a good slogan can change the world. And since these Wall Street protests have been said to have no clear message, this may be a rare opportunity to inject some distilled wisdom into the minds of the masses.
Not just any slogan will do. There is a subtle art to creating the cyanide-tipped word bullets that get seriously complex messages over noisy channels in short time. This is the kind of thing you want to leave to certified experts such as myself.
What follows are some slogans that I have developed using a variety of tools and principles developed from my extensive study of linguistics, public relations, poetry, rhetoric, hypnosis, psychology and a great variety of other subjects. This is top grade verbal technology. Don’t mess with it, just use it. It’s powerful and it works.
Now, when you put one of these slogans on your sign, you want to make sure your writing is clear and sense can be made of it from a hundred yards or more. You don’t want to just scribble the words on a flap of cardboard and call it good. And if you make your sign and it turns out to be sloppy, do it over.
Remember, most modern people are used to slick graphics designed by trained professionals. You don’t want your sign to be entirely perfect. A little folksy amateurism will actually serve your purposes better. But sheer half-assedness will discredit you immediately. There’s a sweet spot. Try to find it.
So then, here you go, ten protest sign slogans scientifically designed to change the world:
1. UTOPIAN projects ALWAYS create HELL
2. Banks + Govt = Misery
3. TOO FUCKED TO BAIL
4. Are you a producer or a thief?
5. Central Banks – Central Terror
6. Recriminalize Fraud
7. Goldman Sachs has a gambling problem
8. Free money hurts the poor
9. Reset America
10. Defenestrate Oligarchical Collectivism
and as a bonus, one all purpose slogan for all places and all times:
Whatever the goals of contemporary feminism, there seems to be a lack of awareness that America is the least misogynistic nation in the world. A woman is generally free and legally equal in these United States. In general an American woman can feel secure against circumcision, being stoned to death for the crime of getting raped, feet binding, requiring a chaperone for all public excursions, being murdered upon birth as a result of not being a boy baby, being murdered during adolescence for being able to read, living as chattel, and so on.
Women in America can play poker and smoke cigars, go out alone day or night dressed as they please, apply for any job and expect to be considered according to their merit, run for any elected office, play any sport (and at this point I expect a woman could play for the NFL, NBA or MLB if she had chops enough to warrant the salary), cuss, fly planes, have a credit card, enter a contract, captain a ship, lead a platoon, negotiate a treaty and choose her sex partners.
These may seem like mundane freedoms to some, but they forget that women have been able to do these things for less than 100 years, and that in some parts of the world a woman still can’t do even one of these things. Any woman who takes these liberties for granted ought to pause, reflect and appreciate. The liberty of American women exists within a small and fragile historical bubble, as do the liberties of us all. The liberated society of the West is the result of tremendous effort and sacrifice, and maintaining this liberty requires just as much determination.
All this is preamble to my pointing out that, while women can do the things necessary to protect Western Civilization from the assault of less egalitarian cultures, they largely don’t. With some few exceptions, it is men that fight the wars, engage in the diplomacy, and distribute the propaganda that protects the Empire of Enlightenment from barbarous onslaughts. The reason for this is that men have a massively disproportionate amount of the hormone that fuels the aggression and competitiveness required to protect a culture.
But what if American men were less masculine? What if they were encouraged to be more like women, less aggressive, less competitive, less paternal? If such an unlikely trend were to take hold in our civilization, it would weaken men and make our egalitarian way of life easy prey for its main competitors: Shariaism and Confucianism.
So, that is why I am a Fourth Wave Feminist. My determination to do what I can to make masculinity acceptable again is motivated by my love of womankind and my desire for her to be free. Because I believe that women can contribute to the vitality of Western civilization in countless ways, I strive to be masculine without apology. It’s because I want to women to have the choice between the kitchen or the boardroom (or to struggle vainly to inhabit both), that I fight against the tide of coerced epicenity. When I speak against the excesses of feminism, I speak for women, because I speak for the survival of my culture which is the only one that truly allows women to be free.
I was thinking about writing a post about agorism, when by improbable coincidence a couple of related chunks turned up in my media consumption.
Firstly, the always fun Dave Emory covers seasteading and Patri Friedman in episode #744 of his For The Record radio program. This chunk of media doesn’t relate directly to agorism, but seasteading is a concept out of what you might call SciFi Libertarianism, which is the same ground as has spawned agorism. Making the connection more resonant is the fact that Patri Friedman runs a PUA blog.
(PUA, if you don’t know, stands for Pick Up Artist. The PUA community/industry is an outgrowth of a new, loosely associating Social Tactics movement that claims to have good advice about convincing women to have sex with you. More often than not, though, things labeled PUA are rackets for breaking cash off of sexually frustrated men. Recession-proof, that.)
The reason why Patri Friedman’s activity as a Pickup Artist is resonant is complicated. You may want to break out your Illuminati! deck to follow along. These PUA guys are the hucksters of the Social Tactics movement, separating out Game–the sexy part–and repackaging it for resale at inflated prices.
(Game, as with Social Tactics in general, is available for free. All you need to do is figure out the right books to read and get them from the library. Meanwhile, you get out there and talk to people. It’s all really no more than a more self-conscious method of Growing the Fuck Up. You know, put down the controller and get involved in life.)
The thing about Game, though, is that it becomes political because it must consider feminism. Feminism is a constant specter for players because feminism wants to make bad Game illegal–literally. Good Game is invisible. Bad Game is harassment, or so it would be if feminists succeed. This means that any player’s game must be flawless %100 of the time. Otherwise he’s a harasser.
The place where Game butts up against feminism is quite a busy one. There you’ll find a rich array of men who question the wisdom of feminism’s mission and premises. And out of this grows an increasing suspicion of leftism, Marxism, postmodernism, multiculturalism and… governmental social programs. So then, a minarchist, if not completely anarcho-capitalist sensibility pairs very well with the study of Game, and especially well for the PUAs who have decided to turn Game into a business (as shady as it may be).
While agorism doesn’t require anarcho-capitalism theory–any illiterate thug can become an agorist–anarcho-capitalism does provide a theory to support agorism. And here is where criticism of Patri Friedman gets weird for me. To some degree, Friedman and myself are fellow travelers. I think seasteading is a brilliant idea, and I’ve written mediocre science fiction exploring the topic. Also, I study Social Tactics. For a long time I’ve been frustrated on a handful of fronts, not just with women, but in earning a living, excercising my creative impulses, and keeping the Other People from fucking up my day to day. Being kind of nerdy I’ve turned to reading to see if I can’t find some insight that could help me break through. After an excruciatingly long time I’ve come to realize that it’s eye contact and conversations that determine our lives, and that social competence is the most important skill. Meanwhile, the unfolding of history has made me realize that I can rely on neither government welfare nor corporate employment to take me where I want to go. The only way I’m going to fund my adventures in this life is through my own entrepeneurial spirit. Hence agorism. Because agorism is the methodology of the proletariat capitalist in the belly of the corporate plutocracy.
So Friedman and I have similar views on some things. The difference is that he’s a high roller and associates with people like Peter Theil a major investor in Facebook. Facebook is of course a data mining operation for the government. There is no arguing against this fact, because at the very least these two statements are undeniable: 1. Facebook has lots of data about lots of people. 2. Facebook will comply with practically any subpoena.
So, we’ve rounded the corner of our ass and our elbow looms on the horizon. The point is that my interest in agorism, not to mention a few other ideas I carry around, have been linked to fascism. That is, after all, Emory’s greater premise–that the Third Reich did not collapse after WWII but went underground, and that it is now making a gradual comeback.
Secondly, idle web surfing lead me to this sentence at The Exiled:
“I did a brief check on what sort of “libertarian anarchists” were at Hunter College in the early 1970s, and discovered this: some libertarian hack named J. Neil Schulman waxing nostalgic about his libertarian youth, including some forgettable “libertarian anarchist” lectures at Hunter College in the early 1970s.”
Interesting. Schulman is the author of the 1979 novel Alongside Night, the preeminent work of literary agorist illustration. In the tradition of Moore’s Utopia, Skinner’s Walden Two or Ayn Rand’s novels, the book paints a fictional picture of what well-developed agorism looks like. The book is more than 30 years old, but Schulman is still alive and active publishing a blog at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/
As part of a longer pastoral that excortiates libertarianism as a faux-radical movement that plays to the needs of the existing hegemonies to the degree that the FBI has consciously passed on infiltrating it, the Exiled article portrays Schulman as an establishment stooge with a–oh no!–pro-gun point of view. The piece is idealogical but written well enough to give a thoughtful person pause.
Fortunately, though, Schulman actually comments on this Exiled article, resulting in a dialectical clash that spills over to his own blog. The comments section of Schulman’s blog entry becomes an excellent back and forth addressing differences between Marxist and market anarchisms.
Yeah, it’s a big convoluted mess. I’m relieved, though, because I’ve been reading about agorism for a few weeks now and finding myself comfortable with the practical aspects of it–counter-economics and so on. As the agorist story goes, capitalists have consolidated their wealth and power all these years by hamstringing the little guy via governmental regulation. This seems true enough in the United States. International corporations can operate the different facets of their businesses anywhere in the world, according to profitability. Labor costs and taxation are the clearest examples of this. For years manufacturing has thrived in countries with the weakest labor laws. Meanwhile, income has been streamed to nations with the lowest tax rates and stashed in the countries with the most discrete banks. Middle-class Americans, though, can’t usually skirt the law by changing locations. (And I’ll skip the opportunity to point out how these facts contribute to the lack of productive growth in the United States.)
The agorist solution to this is to ignore the law and operate under the radar. Agorism in action, called counter-economics, includes black market and grey market business. A meth lab is counter-economical, but so is a bake sale. While these are radically different types of operations, they are the same in that they are motivated by a desire for cash income, and not by a desire for political change. Agorism gives sub-market business a political underpinning and provides points of solidarity for those who want them.
It’s a heartening set of ideas for hustlers of all types, but it’s also viable and relevant. Claims that agorists collaborate unknowingly with the establishment are launched from confused minds.
Maybe you’re aware of the recent federal raid on Gibson Guitars. There’s been a lot of talk about this around the internet. It’s sad, sick, wrong, etc. etc. that a job-creating American manufacturing company has been crippled by the federal government for hazy legal reasons.
There’s something that’s been bothering me about the discussion of this situation though. Several times I’ve heard that Gibson is anomalous in this day and age, an American manufacturing company making a profit.
And it’s great. Manufacturing is the basis of a healthy economy. That so little is actually made in the United States is a fantastic proportion of the reason that we are in decline. Wealth comes from creation. Turning raw materials into something a person can use is the most direct way of creating wealth. Importation, marketing, retail, service and all of the other activity that comes between the creation and consumption of a product are important to the economy, but without the manufacturing none of it is possible. And the more we allow manufacturing to take place outside of our country, the less self-sufficient we become. For years we have been the world’s customer, and recently we’ve been borrowing the money needed to buy the world’s goods. By creating money instead of wealth we’ve allowed the world’s economy to become balanced on the tip of a needle.
So any manufacturing that happens in the United States is something to be celebrated. But it strikes me that the success of this particular company is kind of perverse. They are making guitars, a recreational product for sale to persons with disposable income.
Other paragons of American manufacturing are similar. Harley Davidson makes a lifestyle product. Apple products are useful for industry, but the company’s success is a result of addressing identity concerns in its marketing. Philip Morris makes a fairly useless product. The list goes on.
Certainly there are lots of American companies that make things that have little to do with entertainment, lifestyle, recreation or rely on their customers having disposable income. Caterpillar comes to mind. Case IH and Marlin Wire make products that are truly necessary for the ongoing interests of civilization.
Any manufacturing is good for America. And a diversity of manufacturing is even better. But as the decline goes on, it’s the companies that depend on disposable income that are going to fail soonest. There are only so many people on the earth that truly need a new guitar. The rest of Gibson’s customers will fall off as their money loses value and their incomes wear thin. Meanwhile, the guitar heroes of the world will be selling fewer records.
There’s a parallel universe where things are simpler and more honest. In that universe the citizens of the United States all take turns at opposite sides of the bar. Six hours mixing drinks, six hours drinking drinks, six hours drunken slumber, and six hours nursing a hangover. Repeat.
Oh boy, here we go. This recentNewsweek covershowing Michele Bachmann in arguably unflattering way (come on, her eyes are actually a little weird, right?) has been deemed sexist, and not by only the National Organization For Women but also one apparently up-and-coming conservative pundit.
The thing is, if this magazine cover is sexist, we may be in for an election cycle steeped dark with gender politics. The sexist card is bound to be played as long as there is a woman running for president, but to have it played this early and this speciously is not a good start.
Of course, there is also the possibility that Ms. Loesch has an anti-feminist agenda and means to goad feminist organizations into taking the stupidest positions that they can.
The hopeful glimmer in this story is that the loudest sayers of the S word, Loesch and NOW are not particularly relevant entities. And either is Newsweek for that matter. This nontroversy will probably fizzle out and the gender discussion will continue to boil under the surface, for better or for worse.