Friday, November 29, 2013

False consciousness of state victims

Those who violate silly laws (drug users, prostitutes, gamblers, black marketers, etc.) have not undermined the religion of the state enough to give up their own faith in government. Who already feels skeptical toward the benevolence of government? The poor, prison inmates, ex-cons, gamblers, prostitutes, and drug users. How can the government go on tricking them so well for so long?

The miracles of voluntary interaction and spontaneous order are all around us, but they remain invisible to the average person. How do we pull back the curtain?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Libertarian Challenge Thought Experiment

Imagine a tyrannical oligarchy conquered the world, transferred ownership of all property to themselves, then declared a libertarian utopia. That is, repeal all laws, and (depending on what flavor of libertarianism you favor) establish either minimal states or competing defense associations, but everyone has to pay rent to the former oligarchs. Would the liberated tax slaves be justified in redistributing property, or what? If the LTS seize property, does that count as theft or justice? If it counts as justice, how do we ever condemn any kind of theft? Is this an example where we can justify coercion? If we can justify it in this case, what prevents us from justifying arbitrary asset seizure? What principle applies?

We could make this even more extreme by changing the oligarchy to a dictatorship. So one person owns everything except for the other persons. This is not at all realistic, but does it help illustrate the principle? Is there anyone who would want to defend the property rights of the former dictator? Yet if we seize his assets, can we criticize any arbitrary seizure? What principle applies when we confiscate the FD that would not apply to a random person? Perhaps we must accuse him of possessing ill-gotten gains, that his ownership resulted from theft and coercion.
How could the FD hope to hang on to what he's got? Maybe he would try to divide his enemies into rival factions, promising all of them something they want if they gain control of the others. Perhaps he would encourage them to form a conventional government, so that he could bribe the officials to help him maintain his position.
If the economy grows, the FD's relative share of wealth will shrink. Growth requires entrepreneurship, FD would not be able to supply all entrepreneurship himself, he would need to share some upside risk with entrepreneurs. 
Is it better to be free but have nothing but your labor, or to be a tax slave with some assets? 
If we must rectify all existing misdeeds before establishing a just society, we have a lot of work cut out for us. But if we ignore them, we face different problems, perhaps as large?
I am not at all happy with this post, but I am too impatient to work on it any longer. I hope that interested readers will contribute in the comments, because I feel like I am missing something obvious.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kickstart Civil Disobedience?

What if we crowd-sourced civil disobedience? Participants would sign up and only if the crowd got sufficiently large would the activism proceed. Adam Kokesh had thousands sign up on Facebook, but only a fraction showed up. What if they had to pay to sign up, then they got their money back if they showed up and got arrested? The money of the no-shows (or those who didn't get arrested) could be used to bail out those who were arrested. Would this count as criminal conspiracy? Wealthy but timid supporters could sponsor those who lack cash.
My candidates for targets: wiretapping laws (used against public recording or recording public officials), 2 party laws, videoing police, pot smoking. 

Rapping the NAP

 "The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships. ... In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use."
Ayn Rand
It all depends on what you can twist to fit retaliation and initiation. Perhaps a conventional mind would consider all lawbreaking to initiate force, even in consensual crimes, just as Rand's followers consider fraud and theft to be initiation. What sorts of retaliation are allowed? Is there any expiration date on a violation, so that what would be retaliation in one case would be initiation in another, though the only difference between them is the amount of time that passed between the initiation and the retaliation?
I am not comfortable claiming that any action that remains within the NAP satisfies morality. I am much more comfortable claiming that anything that violates the NAP, violates morality.

Advertising, PR, Mind Control, and Business Ethics

If advertising and public relations were absolutely effective, we would all be mindless zombie slaves, and no one would be questioning the role of advertising in our lives. Yet if they were completely worthless, it seems unlikely that anyone would pay for them.
Some advertising consists of informing consumers about their options. No problem there.
Some advertising is intended to increase the market for an item. When the producer genuinely believes that a good improves the lives of consumers, again no problem. (Or must an ethical producer do research to assure that this is so, and not just a convenient belief?) If the producer has no such belief, what does ethics demand? Some goods are fun but frivolous, others are compelling yet dangerous. If congress legalized drugs, how would I react to an ad for heroin? 

Libertarian pessimism, optimism, politics, and?

pessimistic libertarian believes that society cannot avoid some degree of coercion, but seeks to minimize coercion within some reasonable constraints. An optimistic libertarian seeks to abolish coercion, to base society entirely on cooperation. A political libertarian thinks that one can participate in the political system (vote, etc.) without participating in coercion or legitimizing the system. (If your participation does nothing to change the outcome, are you actually participating?) What should we call the opposite sort of libertarian? Voluntaryists oppose political participation, but have some additional beliefs. Are there any anti-political pessimistic libertarians?