Archive for January, 2010

It’s A Folk Metal Party

Monday, January 11th, 2010

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on in this song, but it does involve drinking booze.

Government Is No Friend Of Peace

Monday, January 11th, 2010

My latest news commentary is up at Center For A Stateless Society.

Olympic Games advertisements on Winnipeg bus shelters were recently subverted to read “RIOT 2010.” The saboteurs also glued on a person holding a brick and a short list of things to revolt against. Much could be said about this use of art and the merits or dangers of encouraging riots. But for now I’d like to examine a claim made in the saboteurs’ statement, which can be viewed with pictures of the action at flickr.com/photos/weweremadeforthis.

Their objections to the Olympics include the charge that “By presenting the games as a festival of international peace and friendship, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] allows the nations of the world to deny any internal conflict, pretending to represent their people as anything but discontented.” [read the rest.]

My longer feature article this month will discuss a soft transition to a stateless society, something that is difficult to squeeze into a news commentary.

Some Free Market Thoughts

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I’m considering using the term “free market” to describe my position less frequently. While to me, “free market” means an economy in which everyone is free to engage in whatever peaceable economic arrangements they want, I think the term has different meanings for many people, and it is not optimal to challenge this idea in everything I write.

Because of the way authoritarians have used terms like free market to mean other things, a lot of people seem to look at the term as signifying 1) a state of affairs in which ruling classes are free to market everything – including things that don’t belong to them, 2) an impersonal market free to make commodities out of all aspects of life, or 3) some combination of 1 and 2.

It is often useful to challenge this perception of a free market, especially for people who are more into economics than myself. But for me it will often probably be easier to use a term like “consensual society” instead. Sure, I will continue to contrast a “truly free market” or “freed market” with “the current authoritarian economy” but I don’t see why I should draw this out in every essay I write. The subject is more deserving of full essays than asides in tangentially related essays.

I like “consensual society” better than “voluntary society” because “voluntary” might imply either consent or acquiescence, while “consensual” implies more of a freedom to refuse. Also, while a lot of great people who do a lot for liberty call themselves voluntaryists, I’ve seen people use “the voluntary society” in a way that disassociates with anarchism. This has included defending contradictions like “voluntary government”. Rather than using consensual society as a substitute for anarchy, I would use it in place of “free market” or when “anarchy” makes a sentence awkward (eg “In a consensual society, X would happen like Y). Writing in a way that equates consent with anarchy will also be less confusing to many than would equating markets with anarchy.

Of course, I will use free market terminology when I think it will foster communication and promote greater understanding (like by contrasting it to the current authoritarian economy) or when I think it will get more people to think about anarchism (like presenting pamphlets as “free market literature” to libertarian-leaning conservatives). In both cases, it is a truthful use of the market terminology that can help people understand the world better. When it isn’t necessary to go into ideas about markets, I’ll just use consent terminology, as that seems to generally convey the ideas better and strikes closer to the root anyway (methods of exchange are just ways to express consensual organization).

Somewhat related: Can Anybody Ever Consent To The State?

(EDIT) Also related: Hermes In The Agora

Technical Difficulties

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I hate to have to say this, but the Thinking Liberty discussion with Roderick Long and Charles Johnson was not recorded due to an error in the recording program. I apologize for this, and it was a huge disappointment for me.

This week’s Thinking Liberty started 30 minutes late because of a computer problem that is hopefully fixed now. It should be available for download from Patriot Radio on Wednesday. We had a lively discussion about Liberty Forum, Center For a Stateless Society, Ryan Olander in Palestine, and government helping corporations poison the environment.

Newark Airport Disruption and the Failure of State Security

Monday, January 4th, 2010

It’s Monday, and as promised my first Center For a Stateless Society commentary is online.

On Sunday, January 3, thousands of airline travelers were delayed after an unknown person walked the wrong way through an exit at Newark Liberty International Airport. Continental Airlines, the largest user of the affected terminal, was still behind schedule on Monday morning. Though it is relieving when a security scare results in no innocent casualties, this incident shows the vulnerability of the rigid institutions that are supposed to provide security. The possibility that a freed market can provide security better than a state ought to be examined…(Read the rest: Newark Airport Disruption and the Failure of State Security)

Writing for C4SS involves a different style and focus than I’m used to. C4SS commentary is about writing newspaper-friendly editorials that take a current news item and examine how it provides evidence in favor of market anarchism. But I think I’ll ease into it.

What I’m Up To

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post an update on my activities, but the issue has been forced. Some of you might be aware that I’ve recently become a news analyst at Center For a Stateless Society. This is an exciting opportunity, and my first post will be there by Monday. I’ll be doing a weekly column and a monthly feature article. Massive props to the generous folks who helped make this happen with their donation pledge (I’m not sure if they want to be anonymous; if not they can let me know. Either way I’ll be sure to help them out when I can). If you never go to the C4SS site, you should check out the great content there.

I plan to attend graduate school in September. I’m going to go for an MA in history, then a PhD. I hope to focus on 20th Century Eastern Europe, and examine underground and hidden movements and economies.

I still intend to have my novel Trade War finished this summer. I haven’t spent much time writing it recently, but I have a clear vision for it.

I plan to keep doing the Thinking Liberty podcast with my friends.

I also have a lot of reading and studying to do before September. Think montage.