Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Road to Anarchy

Some new ideas ignite my passion like a match to gasoline. Sometimes my wife complains because the language I use implies I'm absolutely positive of what I'm saying instead of just stating an opinion for discussion, pushback, and debate. This is a flaw of mine, to be sure, but I do enjoy duking out ideas because I learn much faster talking to really smart people who disagree with me.

I felt this way about Hypermedia APIs and Bitcoin. More recently, I'm digging into Voluntaryism which is really just a friendly name for Anarchy (not the "civil war" version of the word you're probably envisioning... it's amazing how language can be manipulated).

My journey of exploration started with Bitcoin's libertarian roots. From there I realized the truth in the joke which says the only difference between a libertarian and an anarchist is about 12 months (for me it was much less, it seems, though I'm still not sure if I would consider myself an "anarchist"). Things started bothering me. The logical arguments against the need for a state became quite compelling. I've read books, listened to podcasts, watched interviews and videos and all of it seems to make a lot of sense.

The driving force behind my passion and motivation, I think, has to do with the number 260 million. Some argue government action has killed that many people. Additionally, the voluntaryism Wikipedia page lists Jesus Christ among the notable historical figures in that movement. As a follower of Christ, that immediately peaked my interest. I think he had some pretty good ideas about how to structure society and love people as we all want to be loved.

The search for truth is a perilous journey. You may have to question everything you know. You may have to throw out ideas which you previously wholeheartedly defended. This is how humanity progresses forward. This is how we develop moral ways to pick cotton.

In this post I'll attempt to summarize the ideas I've collected from various sources up to this point. I'm beginning to think the state may be irrelevant and voluntaryism may be an effective way to organize society. I'll link below to many of the resources I've consumed over the last few months and will probably add more over time. I really hope you give them some of your attention.

One of the foundational concepts is the NAP: the non-aggression principle. It's a moral framework which argues any human action which initiates violence against another human is illegitimate. Additionally, the concept of property rights arises because without it you're stuck with a logical fallacy. If there is no such thing as owning something, how can one person steal from another since they couldn't maintain ownership of the thing they steal?

The next conclusion I've heard discussed is that if we own our own bodies, then actions like rape and murder are violations of our property rights. If initiating violence is a universally immoral act, why is it one of the things the government and the state is said to be needed for? They have a monopoly on the creation of currency and on the use of violence. Would individuals kill millions of people without the state?

It seems throughout history only governments participate in these activities at such a mass scale. If we believe humans are so evil and corrupt and they cannot be trusted without a centralized authority, then why do we think it logically follows to take a subset of those humans and put them into positions of absolute central authority? These same humans have been shown time and time again to lie, cheat, and steal in order to obtain and maintain power. We have a high concentration of psychopaths, megalomaniacs, and narcissists in political office. They seek out power.

If power corrupts and humans are corruptible why do we create and support systems and structures that centralize power which only increases over time?

In spite of the data suggesting 260 million people may have been killed because of illegitimate rulers, many statists argue against anarchism ("Who's going to build muh roads?"). If the state has always been the provider of bread, the same argument would be made when thinking about privatizing bread production. They say we can't trust the markets to accomplish this or that, but really the market is just a free voluntary exchange of value. Not trusting the market really means we want to initiate force and use violence so our way is implemented instead of what is mutually agreed upon.

There are many who argue a limited government would be ideal. They argue government is needed for things like national defense and justice. Arguments can be made to the contrary (private security forces, arbitration and reputation services, etc), but I think history does a better job of explaining why these ideas may be shortsighted. The smallest governments in the world tend to create the most prosperity. They also eventually grow into the largest governments. If government is a cancer, I'd rather have no cancer at all.

Some define government as a group of people who are given rights no other human has and which are morally unacceptable (such as the violation of the NAP). There is no moral argument which can justify setting up such a structure.

As we learn more about psychology and the way the human mind works, the manipulations in place attempting to justify illegitimate authority become clear. These are mind hacks; propaganda and PR pioneered by people like Edward Bernays.

If taxation, for example, is actually theft, it's quite amazing how we have been programmed to believe it is our moral duty. People mention a social contract, though a contract implies a voluntary agreement. Most people don't know there was no mandated federal income tax prior to 1913. We don't need taxes in order to accomplish social goals. Using violence to force one group of people to give their earned value to another group of people (or worse, to build the war machine) is immoral, no matter what label you give it.

Governments create monopolies and enable corporations to have powers no individual has and no group of people should have. Without the air of legitimacy governments create, I believe many of the corruptions we deal with today would evaporate. The market isn't free because almost every aspect of it is controlled by central authority. Will there be new problems? Sure. Free markets solve problems better than centralized bureaucracies.

Now onto my personal view: I believe the purpose of a thing is defined in the mind of its creator. If someone builds a table, a chair, or a car, they define the purpose of that creation. If human beings have a creator, that creator has established their purpose. Based on property rights, it follows the creator has absolute authority and ownership of those created beings. I personally believe God, through Jesus, gave up that authority by giving us free will. A good analogy for this would be our own children. Though we created them, and as babies our authority over their life is essential, if we do our job well as parents we will eventually give up any authority over them so they can become completely separate humans.

What if the controlling, domineering human authority we see around us today is actually a myth? What if government is just a system of control? Even in the Old Testament God continually told his people they should not have a king. The king didn't create the people, so what authority could the king legitimately have?

Deep in our very being, we know, even as young children, we were born to be free. Freedom and liberty have to be systematically removed by educational processes for humans to believe in non-freedom.

Anarchy isn't about no rules, no law, or no consequences. It's about voluntary exchange as the basis for human interaction. It's about peaceful parenting to remove the root causes of many of the psychopathic actors we see in society. Epigenetics can even show us what type of early childhood abuse took place in these sociopaths via brain scans. Many of the fears we have about an uncontrolled society could become irrelevant if enough education and support was provided to parents to raise their kids without violence, coercion, or oppression.

Many will dismiss this idea as an unrealistic "utopia." If you use that word, you'll be using the parts of your brain which deal with fairy tales, not logic and fact. It's much easier to dismiss than to rationally consider. The more I learn about it, the more I think it models The Way or the Kingdom of God which Jesus and his early followers were known for.

Unfortunately, it seems atheists are the ones most commonly spreading these ideas of voluntaryism and anarchy while the religious are the ones saluting the flag and calling for people to vote for their favorite candidate as if this time their version of morality will be effectively legislated.

Jesus, arguably one of the greatest leaders and influencers in history, never used violence (the initiation of force) or coercion. Those who followed him did so voluntarily. Unlike what you may have been taught in Sunday School, he also wasn't a pacifist. He made a whip to defend his father's house and drive out the thieves and moneychangers.

Whether you're an atheist, Christian or follow some other religion, you most likely see problems in the world and want to make it better. Thinking differently about government may be the first step towards that better world.


Stefan Molyneux
The Story of Your Enslavement 13 minutes
Beautiful Freedom 18 minutes
Beautiful Freedom Part 2 23 minutes
Everyday Anarchy 3 hours, 44 minutes (audio book)
Introduction to Philosophy (podcast, 18 episodes)
Philosophical Parenting (podcast, 75 episodes)
Murray Rothbard
For a New Liberty 7+ hours (audio book)

Larken Rose
Free Your Mind 2 Conference 2013 54 minutes
(Actually, just watch all his YouTube videos)

Law without Government: Conflict Resolution in a Free Society 10 minutes