Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to pursue liberty?

Let me oversimplify slightly and describe 3 approaches, and let me associate them with Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, and Stefan Molyneux (perhaps inaccurately, even unfairly).

Ron Paul: Find a great spokesperson and an adequate political party, and use logic and evidence to get elected. Once elected, repeal bad policies, enact good policies (pro market, anti-war, pro freedom, etc.) and of course everyone will see that this is best. Everyone lives happily ever after. The system itself is not broken, the electorate are fine but a bit ignorant, the people and ideas running the government are the problem.

Murray Rothbard: Find a great spokesperson and an adequate political party, and use logic and evidence to get elected. Once elected, repeal laws and enact laws in such a way that boundaries become dynamic and DROs can compete and a market process allows people to choose what they want while tolerating experiments, innovations, and differences. Basically, flip the switch on the central government. 

Stefan Molyneux: Convince parents not to traumatize their children. Wait until a significant fraction of the population is not composed of broken people. Wait for people who respect logic and evidence to collect evidence and apply logic. At some point the supersaturated solution will rapidly crystallize. The government will attempt to enforce some idiotic policy, and whether by intent or by accident, no one will obey them. The person who was supposed to obey, will just refuse. The person who was supposed to enforce it, will think, " You know, I think I will let it slide.." And an avalanche will begin. This parallels the end of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, where governments first lost legitimacy, and then some unpredictable events snow-balled into the metamorphosis of numerous states and the collapse of the USSR.

The problem with the political approaches is their diagnosis of the problem. The "Ron Paul" solution assumes that both the system and the electorate are fine, we just need good, persuasive, smart candidates. The "Rothbard" solution assumes that you could fix the broken system without changing the ideas in the minds of ordinary people. The "Molyneux" approach claims that the common belief in the legitimacy of the state is the only real obstacle, and better parenting is the only way to crack that. If we just changed policies, or pulled the plug on government before addressing the legitimacy idea, people would just rebuild the state.

I hope Stef is being too pessimistic. After all, most of his listeners started out a bit broken, and have gone in search of self-knowledge. I doubt that we can "fix" everyone, but maybe we can get something going. Maybe a tiny Hong Kong in New Hampshire, or some sort of web community that goes viral. Something that demonstrates our ideas instead of just talking about them, something inviting to anyone who is willing to consider the possibility that what we have isn't perfect and we can't improve on it without tolerating some experiments. A place or a way for poor people to make money, for creative people to create, for different people to feel comfortable. All are welcome who prefer cooperation to coercion. 

When the government tries to control things like bitcoin, BitTorrent, the 3D printed gun, etc. they embarrass themselves. Maybe we can build something in that gap between what they wish they could control and what they actually can control. Maybe we can widen that gap, and wave it in ordinary people's faces until they see what it really means. Or maybe they don't all need to know. The people using Napster and its descendants ( like Imule and even BitTorrent) were not consciously thinking "Mwahaha, let's revolutionize the music industry!" But it sure got revolutionized. 

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