Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
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Libertarian Socialism?

Some people have a hard time seeing how a libertarian could call himself or herself a socialist. I understand the confusion. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this was far less a mystery. In market anarchist Benjamin Tucker’s day, socialism was more an umbrella term than it is today. It essentially included anyone who thought the reigning political economy — which they called capitalism (and saw as a system of state privilege for the employer class) — denied workers the full product they would have been earning in some alternative system. The Tuckerite socialists’ alternative was full laissez faire — without patents, tariffs, government-backed money/banking, government land control, etc. The collectivist socialists had some nonmarket system in mind. The point is that socialism was more a negative statement — against capitalism — than a unified positive agenda on behalf of a specific alternative system.

Some might say that the common element for all these variants of socialism was a belief in the labor theory of value. But it may be more precise to say that the comment element was more general: namely, that workers were cheated by the reigning system. That need not commit one to the labor theory. (On the relationship between cost of production and price in Austrian economics, see my “Value, Cost, Marginal Utility, and Böhm-Bawerk.“) In fact, Austrian economics contains an implicit exploitation theory, which was made explicit by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. As I wrote in “Austrian Exploitation Theory“:

Böhm-Bawerk was merely applying the more general exploitation theory held by free-market thinkers at least back to Adam Smith: Monopolies and oligopolies (suppressed competition) harm consumers and workers through higher prices and lower wages. For Smith monopoly was essentially the result of government privilege. This largely has been the view of later Austrians, also.

This should be uncontroversial. In the corporate state, government privilege restricts competition among employers in a variety of ways and — just as important, if not more so — forecloses or raises the cost of self-employment and other alternatives to traditional wage labor. So worker bargaining power is reduced. The difference between what workers would have made in a freed market and what they actually make represents systemic exploitation.

I’m not saying that libertarians should call themselves socialists today. That would not communicate well. But this semantic history has its value.

Informe del coordinador de medios hispanos, agosto y septiembre de 2014

Durante agosto y septiembre traduje al español “Por qué el Papa está menos equivocado que Keith Farrell” y “El rol de los bienes comunales en un mercado libre“, ambos de Kevin Carson, y “El anarquismo individualista y la jerarquía” de Cory Massimino. También publiqué un artículo propio en español, “Los fondos buitre vs. Argentina“, y reproduje la traducción al español de Javier Villate de “‘Economía verde’: demasiado verde para ser buena“, de Kevin Carson.

Por último, pero no menos importante, traduje por primera vez al inglés un artículo originalmente escrito en español: “La situación del trabajador en Argentina” de Horacio Langlois.

En C4SS dependemos exclusivamente de las contribuciones de nuestros lectores para mantener el trabajo por nuestra causa, por lo que tu contribución es sumamente valiosa para nosotros. Si crees que C4SS es un proyecto importante para promover una noción de genuina libertad económica y social, te invitamos a apoyarnos con una donación.

¡Salud y libertad!

Alan Furth

Spanish Media Coordinator Report, August-September 2014

During August and September I translated into Spanish “Why the Pope is Less Wrong Than Keith Farrell” and “The Role of Commons in a Free Market,” both by Kevin Carson, and “Individualist Anarchism and Hierarchy” by Cory Massimino. I published an original op-ed in Spanish, “Vulture Funds vs. Argentina,” and I reproduced Javier Villate’s translation of Kevin Carson’s “‘Green Economy?’ We’re Not Green Enough to Buy It.”

Last but not least, I translated into English an article originally written in Spanish for the first time: “The Situation of the Argentine Worker,” by Horacio Langlois.

At C4SS we depend exclusively on the contributions of our readers for supporting our cause, so your contribution is extremely valuable for us. If you believe that C4SS is an important endeavor for promoting genuine ideas about economic and social freedom, please consider making a donation today.

¡Salud y libertad!

Alan Furth

The Weekly Abolitionist: Do We Want Cops & Politicians in Prison?

Do we want cops and politicians to go to prison? Is that a demand that individualist anarchists, radical libertarians, and other enemies of the state should get behind?

Intuitively, it seems like we should. We’re instinctively outraged that cops can outright murder people and almost never get locked up for it. We’re understandably incensed that politicians from Richard Nixon to Ted Kennedy can commit heinous crimes and stay free, just because of their high social standing.

More fundamentally, even when cops and politicians are operating strictly within the limits of the law, they commit acts that would otherwise be seen as high crimes. As long as they follow all the right rituals of law, cops can threaten and kidnap completely peaceful people, and batter them if they resist. By waging war, politicians commit mass murder, and by expanding the prison state for campaign contributions, they literally sell people into slavery.

Ordinary people would certainly at least go to prison if caught doing any of those things. Anarchism is in part defined by a rejection of political authority, which means that we do not morally distinguish between the actions of a cop or politician and the actions of any other individual. So, one might think that the straightforward conclusion here is to one day set up libertarian tribunals to dish out punishments against agents of the state.

This view is understandable, but gravely mistaken.

Before law enters into the situation, we tend to hold to a pretty strict standard of self-defense. Which is to say: in any interpersonal conflict, we reject the initiation of force and only accept violence to the extent that it’s both proportional and genuinely necessary to protect the person being harmed or threatened. When someone goes beyond that minimally necessary amount of force, then they also become an aggressor, and their actions must also be condemned. After the fact, we demand that aggressors make restitution to their victims, but never counsel revenge.

There are very, very rare instances in which forced confinement may be justified, but this is only the case when someone is proven to actually be an ongoing threat to everyone in the community. Even then, this justification doesn’t apply for even the vast majority of violent criminals, and a justification for forced confinement does not justify forced confinement in any particular place. Nor does it justify the near total control that prisons have over prisoners. Hence why prisons are still inherently unjust.

A response might be offered that cops and politicians are indeed ongoing threats to the community at large. That much is true.

Yet the reason cops and politicians are ongoing threats to the community is not because of some psychological condition shared by all cops and politicians. Nor is it about any other quality shared by the particular individuals who occupy those positions of power. Rather, the individuals in those positions of power are ongoing threats to the community precisely because of their positions of power.

In other words, the minimal amount of force necessary to subdue them is just to get them fired or out of office, with the long-run goal of eliminating their jobs entirely. As for getting justice, what should be demanded is restitution – either in the form of hefty monetary compensation, or making amends through some other restorative process. Unlike punishment, that restitution can actually work toward giving back some of what’s been taken from their victims.

Which brings us to what may be the most important point: putting cops and politicians in prison does absolutely nothing to actually solve anything. When some on the left called for the trial and incarceration of George W. Bush (and others in his administration), prison abolitionist Dean Spade dissented, writing:

[T]he call to imprison Bush Administration officials is unsatisfying to me.  Imprisoning them would do nothing for those who have been killed in the wars, and making the call, to me, suggests that we believe the criminal punishment system is an apparatus for dealing with dangerous people and seeking justice, which is not true.  I would rather we put our energies into fighting for things we actually think can ameliorate the harm that has been done and prevent it from continuing.

Even if Bush had gone to prison, the United States government would still be bombing Iraq again in 2014. Even if Darren Wilson goes to prison, the police will continue to arrest black youth at wildly disproportionate rates. To the extent that their sentences would count as victories, they would only be symbolic victories. Those symbolic victories would lead many of us to believe everything was finally under control, numbing our passions for justice, and distracting us from the root causes of their aggression. Just like any other case of punishment.

The desire to fill prisons with those who are most truly dangerous in our society – namely, agents of the state – is a hard one to shake. Even still, it must be seen as a lingering form of retributivism felt by radicals brought up in a culture of criminal law, and like all forms of retributivism, it must be rejected. Especially given that its rationale is the same that empowers the very people it’s trying to fight against.

ESFL Regional Conference – C4SS in Amsterdam

Libertarianism is growing slowly, but steadily in the Netherlands. The European Students for Liberty (ESFL) is currently at the forefront of spreading the free-market gospel to young people. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend ESFL’s Regional Conference in Europe’s libertine capital: Amsterdam. Through the busy streets I made my way to Oudemanhuispoort, passing a Soviet-themed “coffeeshop”, several gay bars and a shop specializing in 3D printing.

The conference featured a wide range of topics. I learned about the importance of open borders, the history of (inter)national drug-prohibition, free-market feminism, piracy in the horn of Africa, and libertarian hacktivism. What was the highlight of the conference were not the lectures or official debates; the day offered the opportunity to talk to people all across the classical-liberal, libertarian and anarchist spectrum. It was surprising to see how many people recognized the C4SS badge pinned to my sport coat and the conversations it started allowed me to explain free-market socialism, left-libertarianism, feminism, and provide insight into thick vs. thin libertarianism.

I had an interesting conversation with an American anarcho-syndicalist turned anarchist without adjectives about technology. C4SS sounded familiar to him and I pointed towards Kevin Carson’s work on the subject. He talked excitedly about how the People’s Republic of China was planning to build futuristic self-sustaining cities to house its worker population. I remarked that it sounded like the pinnacle of central-planning and managerial socialism and that the real interesting thing about China is its underground economy and its ability to efficiently produce quality knock-offs and I shared with him a story from Kevin Carson’s Homebrew Industrial Revolution about the Chinese underground bicycle industry. He was quiet for a few seconds and said he’d never thought about it that way. A rebellious low-tech spontaneous order is indeed far more awe inspiring than any grand futuristic centrally planned project.

At dinner I took a seat near three young German speaking libertarians and one fellow Dutchman. The topic of conversation quickly turned to left-libertarianism and I talked about my leftist reasons for being a libertarian and how the free-market is the best solution to the problems faced by socialists in the 19th century. In reference to Caroline Devine’s talk on Free-Market Feminism earlier that day I received a few questions about feminism and I went on to explain rape-culture referencing Charles W. Johnson’s essay Women and the Invisible Fist. Although my conversation partners weren’t thoroughly convinced of feminism’s necessity at the end of dinner they did seem somewhat open to the idea. As we left, the Dutchman confessed that he was an anarcho-capitalist heavily influenced by Hoppe and that he nevertheless enjoyed my presence and willingness to calmly and clearly explain so many foreign concepts to him.

All in all the conference was a success. Many young people were introduced to libertarianism through a varied array of topics and the topics of the conference proved for great conversation starters during the social aspect of the conference including my many smoking breaks. C4SS has attained some level of notoriety amongst young European libertarians and people were very much interested in our viewpoint. At the end of the evening I made my way back to Amsterdam Central Station through a cloud of pot-smoke, passing several aging hippies, groups of mohawk sporting punks and a pair of flamboyant transvestites skilfully strutting their way across a cobblestone road in stiletto heels. If it wasn’t for Amsterdam’s big-government and corporate capitalist nature I would swear I was walking through liberty’s Eden.

 

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist And Chess Review 49

Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall discuss how foreign intervention can lead to domestic tyranny.

Anthony Gregory reviews Radley Balko’s book on police militarization.

Ivan Eland discusses why Congress should vote against Obama’s new war.

Patrick Cockburn discusses a true between Assad and non-IS elements of the Syrian opposition.

Dan Sanchez discusses the U.S. and Saudi use of radical Islam for their own purposes.

David Swanson discusses how ISIS thinks Bush was right.

A. Barton Hinkle discusses the imperial presidency under Obama.

Steve Chapman discusses corporal punishment.

W. James Antle the Third discusses the lack of a legal basis for the rebooted war in Iraq.

Bruce Fein discusses how Obama is like LBJ.

Ben Schreiner discusses the triumph of propaganda.

Kevin Carson discusses the “libertarian” character of pipeline politics.

Kevin Carson discusses September 11th.

Peter Van Buren discusses the renewed intervention in Iraq.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses a court ruling about a SWAT raid on a barbershop.

Jacob G. Hornberger discusses immigration controls.

James Kilgore discusses mass imprisonment.

Benjmain Dangel discusses pot legalization in Uruguay.

Aaron Malin discusses police training in Missouri.

Ed Krayewski discusses the new bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria.

Joel Schlosberg discusses crashing the party of Lincoln.

Patrick Cockburn discusses whether Turkey is aiding ISIS.

Bionic Mosquito discusses whether warfare can be civilized or not.

Derrick Broze discusses why profiling Muslim Americans is not libertarian.

Shamus Cooke discusses the U.S. intervention in Syria.

Robert Fisk discusses the bombing of Syria.

William C. Lewis discusses the bombing of Syria.

Franklin Lamb discusses the scene in Syria.

Efim Geller beats Vasily Smyslov.

Efim Geller beats Anatoly Karpov.

Director’s Report: September 2014

The Center for a Stateless Society continues to keep pace with itself, month to month, and it is all because of you — our supporters and donors. September has been a month filled with opportunities for us to correct historical inaccuracies and vulgar libertarianism; to watch Scottish near-independence, continued US “bomb-em” diplomacy and millennial wooing; and to combat ridiculous and shameful wobblie red- and klan-baiting. In other words, we are having a blast. But October and the rest of 2014 are sure to be just as interesting and we need your help to keep our powder dry and our hatchets scoured.

If C4SS, as an organization and an idea, is something you like having around or would like to see do more things (like funding more studies, publishing more books, helping with travel expenses for writers to speak at events, updating the youtube graphics, etc), then please donate $5 today.

What will $5 a month get you from C4SS? Well let’s see,

For the month of September, C4SS published:

29 Commentaries,
Features,
Weekly Abolitionists,
Life, Love and Liberty,
Weekly Libertarian Leftist Reviews,
5 Blog posts,
Missing Commas,
3 Reviews, and
19 C4SS Media uploads to the C4SS youtube channel.

And, thanks to the dedication of our Media Coordinators and translators, C4SS translated and published:

Italian translations (2 more than August),
Spanish translations (1 more than August),
24 Portuguese translations!

Our appeal to the Portuguese speaking world, especially in Brazil, continues to grow. The C4SS Portuguese social media presence, as a metric of this growth, is increasing at an outstanding rate. Just last month we were cheering C4SS’s Portuguese facebook “like” page for reaching 2,000 likes, up from 1,000, in only two months. Now the same page is, again, already half way towards adding another 1,000!

Speaking of Social Networking

As facebook becomes even more pathological with its “real name” policy, being a medium for serving legal documents and the prediction that it could vindicate infectious disease models by losing 80% of its users, two alternatives social networks are becoming more attractive — even describing themselves as anti-facebook in their policies. These alternatives are the kickstarted “Decentralize the web” 4 year veteran Diaspora* and the nascent “You are not a product” Ello. Whichever service you decide to transition to, never fear, C4SS will be there:

Diaspora

 

c4ssello

The C4SS Q4 Tor Node Fundraiser

Four times a year, every quarter, C4SS pays a freedom friendly data center in the Netherlands to continue operating an always-on Tor Node. In order to sustain this project we need your help.

Essentially, the tragedy of past revolutions has been that, sooner or later, their doors closed, “at ten in the evening.” The most critical function of modern technology must be to keep the doors of the revolution open forever! –Murray Bookchin

Part of the dissolutionary strategy advocated by C4SS is called Open Source Insurgency or embracing institutional, organizational or technological innovations — low-tech or high-tech — that render centralized or authoritarian governance impossible (or so damn costly as to be regarded as impossible). One of these innovations is Tor. And, so, C4SS maintains an always-on Tor Node.

Fundraising with GoGetFunding

C4SS has maintained a Tor relay node for over three years. This is our fourth quarter fundraiser for the project. Every contribution will help us maintain this node until January 2015. Every contribution above our needed amount will be earmarked for our fourth quarter fundraiser.

We encourage everyone to consider operating a Tor relay node yourself. If this, for whatever reason, is not an option, you can still support the Tor project and online anonymity with a $5 donation to the C4SS Tor relay node.

If you believe, as we do, that Tor is one of the technologies that makes both state and corporate oppression not only obsolete, but impossible, please consider operating as a Tor relay or donating to support the C4SS node.

The State is damage, we will find a route around!

If you are interested in learning more about Tor and how to become a relay node yourself, then check out our write up on the project: Stateless Tor.

Please donate today!

Bitcoin is also welcome:

  • 1N1pF6fLKAGg4nH7XuqYQbKYXNxCnHBWLB

The Benjamin R. Tucker Distinguished Research Scholar in Anarchist Economic Theory

C4SS has, currently, awarded three academic positions:

The third, The Benjamin R. Tucker Distinguished Research Scholar in Anarchist Economic Theory, was presented to David S. D’Amato this month. All of these positions are designed to honor, motivate and signal exemplary work towards developing and extending this little experiment we call left-wing market anarchism. D’Amato takes his place along Kevin Carson and Nathan Goodman as just such an exemplar. During September, D’Amato lived up to the mantle of “distinguished research scholar” with two wonderful pieces on the history and promise of a reemergent 19th century individualist anarchism.

Possession of Liberty: The Political Economy of Benjamin R. Tucker:

… The burden of principled consistency fell to Benjamin Tucker and Liberty as it falls to left wing individualists and C4SS today. Tucker suggest that “Anarchy may be defined as the possession of liberty by libertarians,—that is by those who know what liberty means.” That question, the meaning of liberty, is what we as anarchists are attempting to puzzle out. For so many, the life and work of Benjamin Tucker has been the lodestar in that odyssey, ever an inspiration and point of reference. …

Left Wing Individualism:

… The individualist anarchists were sticklers about consistency; if labor was made to come under the law of competition, of supply and demand, then so too should capital. As Schuster points out, the “scientific anarchism” of people like Benjamin Tucker thus “did not appeal to the Capitalist because it demanded not ‘rugged individualism’ but universal individualism” (emphasis added). Because the individualists regarded them as the proximate results of coercive privilege, rent, interest, and profit — the “trinity of usury” — were treated as akin to taxes, allowing the owners of capital the stolen difference between prices under a regime of privilege and prices as they would be under true, open competition. …

George Reisman — Piketty’s Capital

One of the unofficial services that C4SS provides to the world of libertarian discourse is the constant reminder that we do not live in a freed market. The universe we inhabit is riddled, layered, corralled and bludgeoned with those primary and secondary interventions that culminate into that political master noun the state. It is a service we are happy to provide and Kevin Carson is our star representative. Carson comes to the aid of George Reisman, again, in his thorough critique of Reisman’s critique of Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

Reisman, like most of the Austrians, equates increased productivity to capital accumulation and capital intensiveness. Piketty, Reisman says, “advocates his program on the basis of ignorance of the essential role of capital in production, which is to raise the productivity of labor, real wages, and the general standard of living.” But Reisman’s criticism, in turn, is based on ignorance of actual technological history, or of anything else outside the dogmas of Austrian economics.

George Reisman is entitled to a priori axioms. He is not entitled to a priori facts.

Scottish Independence, Almost

September saw the potential for an independent Scotland and its defeat by a sliver more of opposition. This turn of events pulled into the light a number of issues dealing with myths of legitimacy, the interests of corporate and aristocratic elites, and admissions of economic instability and vulnerability. Joel Schlosberg discusses the inevitable dissolution of empire in the acid decentralization in his article The Conquest of the United Kingdom by Scotland:

The Scottish economy, with its diminishing oil and gas revenue, has been hit particularly hard by deindustrialization. But as post-industrial technology rapidly becomes the norm, an economic base is increasingly viable. Key services can be unbundled from geography; the referendum received much of its impetus from the effects of the most limited competition of Scotland being able to pick and choose between the UK and the EU. And full competition of currencies, for one, will go far beyond the choice between the pound and the euro. Decentralization to a point matching the level of the traditional Scottish clan system will no longer be a romanticized memory, but everyday reality.

The sun is setting on the imperial state.

Red-baiting and Klan-baiting

This month we witnessed new attempts to use old scare tactics. The strangest part about these tactics is that they are designed to appeal to established, comfortable status quo types, not radicals that respond to “…between these two classes a struggle must go on until…” with an, “Of course! Let’s do it! Today!” Reason magazine (our favorite target for September) published a howler of an article, Meet the Left-Wing Extremist Running for U.S. Senate, by A. Barton Hinkle. And we just couldn’t resist.

Kevin Carson’s Smarter Red-Baiters, Please! points out the irony of the piece:

I’d also like to note just how ironic it is for a publication like Reason, which is so uniformly hostile to “union bosses” and NLRB-certified union shops, to run an article blasting a union that also hates these things. The Wobblies, by and large, prefer to bypass NLRB certification and union bureaucracy, instead functioning as self-organized unions on the shop floor, eschewing exclusive bargaining unit representation and automatic dues deductions, and returning to tactics like wildcat strikes and direct action on the job that the Wagner Act was passed precisely to prevent.

While Joel Schlosberg’s Klan-Baiting the Wobblies: Unreasonable goes for a line-by-line take down:

Hinkle then presents a passage from the IWW Preamble as self-evidently Leninist. Let’s take a phrase-by-phrase closer look:

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.

First of all, this “working class” and “employing class” aren’t simply automatic aggregates of workers and employers. What makes the population into classes isn’t an inherent tendency of voluntary decisions to engage in employment relations to stratify power, but the predominance of such relations by systematically ruling out alternatives to wage work, artificially increasing the amount of wage work necessary to earn enough to survive, and limiting the opportunities for wage work to those permitted by a restricted pool of employers most of whom can act together as a stable cartel. All of these, and the resulting formation of privileged employers into an employing class, require the coercive power of a state to back them up.

Thus, the division of society into a productive class and a coercive exploiting class that do “have nothing in common” is entirely consistent with longstanding libertarian class analysis of a “productive class” and “political class” drawing their wealth from what Franz Oppenheimer called the “economic means” of obtaining wealth through labor and voluntary exchange and the “political means” of compulsory taking. The analysis is also a rebuke to the “we’re all in this together” liberal rationales, with their eliding of conflicts of interest.

Both conclude with a rebuke of Hinkle’s attempt to compare the anti-KKK IWW to the anti-IWW KKK. Carson concludes:

Hinkle actually compares the I.W.W., in sheer odiousness, to the Klan. Well, except there are no legitimate reasons to hate, terrorize and lynch black people — but plenty of legitimate reasons to believe corporate power and the present distribution of wealth and income result from injustice.

There is, however, one organization that really is as evil as the KKK, and was founded for the express purpose of terrorist attacks on Wobblies, directly analogous to anti-worker terrorism by Mussolini’s industrialist-funded black shirts: The American Legion. Maybe Hinkle could take them on.

And Schlosberg drives it home:

Finally, we get the comparison to the Ku Klux Klan. The comparison of a group that produced posters denouncing the KKK as “anti-labor”; that was formed in large part as a direct response to the exclusionary racism of the elitist unions of the time; that prominently counted within its ranks such people of color as Lucy Parsons, Ben Fletcher, and Frank Little; that was among the first to systematically defy segregation laws; that was repressed by KKK-style vigilante thuggery. All solely on the grounds that they must be comparable to the Klan since they’re as “extreme”. And all particularly ironic since Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’;” – and who is equally opposed to “extremists for hate or for love”.

But hey, IWW and KKK have the same number of letters in their acronyms, so potayto, potahto.

We Haven’t Forgotten

We still have our David Graeber Symposium on Debt: the first 5,000 years. There is only one article to be finished; it should be ready soon. Thank you for your patience.

Please Support Today!

All of this work is only sustainable through your support. If you think the various political and economic debates around the world are enhanced by the addition of left libertarian market anarchist, freed market anti-capitalist or laissez faire socialist solutions, challenges, provocations or participation, please donate $5, today. Keep C4SS going and growing.

ALL the best!

Nationalism, Isolationism and Libertarianism

Both nationalism and isolationism are incompatible with libertarianism. They emanate from the idea that the national collective is the basic moral unit of existence. If either flourishes, individualism and liberty suffer. Individual freedom can’t survive people being subordinated to a mystic national social super organism. Neither can it flourish when individuals limit the scope of their concerns to only their immediate national community. In both cases, the individual person will be faced with sacrificing their interests and rights for the supposed “good” of an alleged national social super organism. The implications for human freedom are that the individual will lose their freedom in relation to how much the “good” of the national collective demands it.

In spite of the above; the major libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard, once penned a piece advocating peace within the context of the Cold War that began like this:

To begin with, I wish to put my argument purely on the grounds of American national interest.

How strange to see a libertarian couching their argument in terms of collectivist nationalism. What about how peace will benefit countless people on a global scale by saving them from death at the hands of militaristic warmongering? And lead to the conditions for fruitful internationalist alliances amongst the oppressed everywhere. The oppressed no longer feeling the need to look to nationalist states to protect them from aggressive imperialists.

Rothbard later says:

Simply a genuine policy of peace, or, what is the same thing, a return to the ancient and traditional American policy of isolationism and neutrality.

By using a term like isolationism, he is setting the stage for people living in the territory controlled by the American government to collectively concern themselves only with each other. Of course, Rothbard is discussing the isolation of American military power rather than the kind of isolationism that is anti-trade, anti-migration, and anti-exchange of ideas across national borders. It still has bad connotations of only caring about people within your own immediate collective. Libertarian individualism is about rootless cosmopolitanism rather than national borders. It’s about caring what happens to people without distinctions based on the accident of birthplace. This can mean not being neutral as an individual in the context of something like Nazis vs Jews.

Let us not allow opposition to imperialist interventionism to cloud our judgement about events overseas. If a person is being oppressed or unjustly coerced anywhere on the planet, it’s our concern. An injury to one is an injury to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The C4SS Q4 Tor Node Fundraiser

Essentially, the tragedy of past revolutions has been that, sooner or later, their doors closed, “at ten in the evening.” The most critical function of modern technology must be to keep the doors of the revolution open forever! –Murray Bookchin

Part of the dissolutionary strategy advocated by C4SS is called Open Source Insurgency or embracing institutional, organizational or technological innovations — low-tech or high-tech — that render centralized or authoritarian governance impossible (or so damn costly as to be regarded as impossible). One of these innovations is Tor. And, so, C4SS maintains an always-on Tor Node. But we need your help.

Fundraising with GoGetFunding

C4SS has maintained a Tor relay node for over three years. This is our fourth quarter fundraiser for the project. Every contribution will help us maintain this node until January 2015. Every contribution above our needed amount will be earmarked for our fourth quarter fundraiser.

We encourage everyone to consider operating a Tor relay node yourself. If this, for whatever reason, is not an option, you can still support the Tor project and online anonymity with a $5 donation to the C4SS Tor relay node.

C4SS maintains a Tor relay node with a freedom friendly data center in the Netherlands. The relay is part of a global network dedicated to the idea that a free society requires freedom of information. Since June 2011 C4SS has continuously added nearly 10 Mbps of bandwidth to the network (statistics). Although we can’t know, by design, what passes through the relay, it’s entirely likely that it has facilitated communications by revolutionaries, agorists, whistleblowers, journalists working under censorious regimes and many more striving to advance the cause of liberty and the dissolution of authority.

If you believe, as we do, that Tor is one of the technologies that makes both state and corporate oppression not only obsolete, but impossible, please consider operating as a Tor relay or donating to support the C4SS node.

The State is damage, we will find a route around!

If you are interested in learning more about Tor and how to become a relay node yourself, then check out our write up on the project: Stateless Tor.

Please donate today!

Bitcoin is also welcome:

  • 1N1pF6fLKAGg4nH7XuqYQbKYXNxCnHBWLB
The Weekly Libertarian And Chess Review 48

Lee Fang discusses the funders of pro-war punditry.

Dan Sanchez discusses Tolkien, Plato, and the state.

Kevin Carson discusses the controversy over Burger King.

Darian Worden reviews a book about the Modern School movement.

Shamus Cooke discusses Progressive Democrats going to war.

Patrick Cockburn discusses fear of ISIS.

Laurence M. Vance discusses the legalization of heroin.

Richard M. Ebeling discusses the market.

Ivan Eland discusses the fight against ISIS and U.S. policy.

Arthur Silber discusses suicide and being a parent.

Arthur Silber discusses suicide and parenting.

Majorie Cohn discusses perpetual war under Obama.

Salon.com interviews Ted Rall.

Sheldon Richman discusses the clueless character of America’s foreign policy elite.

David R. Henderson discusses Richard Epstein’s case for intervention.

George Leef discusses a new book on libertarianism by Tom Palmer.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses ISIS and fixing the government.

Studies in Emergent Order discusses Anarchy and Legal Order.

Colin P. Elliot discusses how police militarization is a consequence of policing the world.

Gary Chariter discusses a new book on who rules America.

George H. Smith has released the eighth part of his series on social laws.

Sheldon Richman discusses the anti-militarist heritage of Herbert Spencer.

Robert C. Koehler discusses the God of war.

Peter Hart discusses the PBS left on airstrikes.

Joel Schlosberg discusses the conquest of the U.K. by Scotland.

Kevin Carson discusses online learning.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown discusses Ron Paul at LPAC.

Robby Soave discusses a case of zero tolerance school policies.

Viktor Korchnoi draws Edmar J. Mednis.

Mikhail Tal beats Mikhail Botvinnik in a world championship game.

Missing Comma: The Aftermath of “Gamergate”

It’s been about two weeks since Gamergate came to a head and I’m still trying to sort out all that happened. Lots of what I saw and read (and a lot of what people told me in conversation) suggest situations worth exploring in greater detail, and when I am able, I’ll do that here. These will be issues that are applicable to the entire journalism profession, such as freelancers rights. But for right now, have two pieces of content that I think are important “Inside Baseball” critiques of both Gamergate and the games journalism industry.

First, Jim Sterling’s Jimquisition, 9/8/2014:

And finally, John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun on Objectivity:

Here’s the main issue with the argument that objectivity should be a goal for games criticism: Objectivity isn’t possible. It is, at best, an ideal – an unreachable target, toward which some attempt to strive, believing the closer one is to it, the better a job one is doing. However, this is a position RPS rejects, as we believe such a goal is antithetical to useful, accurate reporting on games. It’s our belief that any who claim to be objective are actually failing to understand the implications of that claim, and ultimately undermining themselves when it’s shown that they are not, actually, objective at all.

Go read the piece. It’s long, but wonderful.

That’s it for me for this week. You can follow us on Twitter at @missingcomma where I promise to start tweeting at some point I SWEAR. You can also follow me at @illicitpopsicle and Juliana at @JulianaTweets0.

“It takes money to make money”

“It takes money to make money.” An old, oft-repeated saying, it is certainly true enough as a statement describing the functioning of capitalism. The idea is that once one possesses capital, she can loan it to others for interest or rent, or else invest it in some productive enterprise to earn profits, sitting back and watching her money pile up. On its face, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this, with saving, investing, lending and getting rich. But our little maxim also suggests something of a problem.

After all, why should it take money to make money? Arguably, anyone with the principle of parsimony and a willingness to work hard ought to be able to make money. To get at the basic truth contained within it, we should consider the phrase at its most literal, boiled down to the abstract principle it is meant to illustrate. Put simply, the notion that “it takes money to make money” is just the claim that wealth is able to reproduce itself without work — that rubbing two coins together will make them mate.

Seeing this principle at work, 19th century libertarians such as Benjamin Tucker regarded capitalism as a system of privilege that “gives idle capital the power of increase.” Tucker challenged the capitalist myth that the great fortunes of his day were purely and simply the result of the virtues of hard work and saving. Far more often, capitalists’ riches were a product of “cleverness in procuring from the government a privilege” through which competition could be prevented. Such deep-rooted, systematic suppressions of competition consolidated wealth in the hands of the few.

Today’s market anarchists argue that these free market critiques of capitalism remain relevant, perhaps more than ever given, for example, the role of intellectual property in the global economy. A genuine free market transaction is positive-sum, a benefit to both exchanging parties. Conversely, exchanges in capitalism are zero-sum, one party benefiting at the expense of the other. The latter system is one of exploitative exchange, based on systematic bargaining power imbalances instituted by the State.

While markets exist in capitalism, they are not its defining feature, which is rather monopolism. The fundamental principle of capitalism is indeed quite simple: use the coercive power of governmental authority to monopolize everything of value, compelling workers to labor for whatever bosses deem appropriate. To call such a system a “free market” is to commit oneself to the most obviously absurd fiction, to use language to obfuscate the true, statist nature of capitalism.

Among free market libertarians, much turns on whether unbridled, voluntary exchanges will lead to the “power of increase” that worried Tucker. Many believe that genuine free markets will in fact allow and result in such a power, and they tend to equate free markets with capitalism. For many of us, however, Tucker was right in seeing true laissez faire as a kind of socialism, a way out of the exploitations of capitalism.

Thoughts on September 11th

September 11th is the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. This terrorist attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda. An organization that has long waged war on the U.S. And whose head, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed. This hasn’t stopped the American government from pointing to its remnants as a reason for war though.

Indeed, September 11th is an event that launched a series of unfinished and seemingly unending wars around the globe. What should have been strictly a day of grief and mourning for victims became a pretext for expansive government warfare. This warfare has devastated and destroyed the lives of thousands. These additional casualties are worth mourning as much as the people who died on 9-11. They range the gamut from Iraqi children to Pakistani adults.

The greatest service we can render these dead individuals is to fight against the use of aggressive force and coercion. Both terrorism practiced by non-government actors and warfare conducted by governments can do massive harm to the lives of innocents. We don’t have to choose between one or the other as something to protest. They are both worthy of condemnation.

Aggressive coercion and force is present in both cases. It tends to be more institutionalized in the case of governments, but the damaging effect is the same. A good example is September 11th and the atomic bombings during World War 2. Both of which involved the direct targeting of civilians and killed large numbers of non-combatants. The actors were different, but the damage done was immense nevertheless.

Both of these incidents also involved the practice of terrorism. An act that can occur in the context of statist warfare too. In spite of the fact that governments have a habit of defining terrorism in terms that exclude them as potential users of it, but this is not an objective approach. It’s just an approach that is designed to make them look good.

Making state terrorist entities look bad is the task of the radical anarchist activist. One way to go about it is to promote the works of left scholars such as Noam Chomsky and William Blum. Both of whom have documented a great deal of atrocities committed by governments and especially the U.S. government. In addition, James Bovard is a good figure on the libertarian right to consult. I wish my readers happy reading in pursuit of knowledge on this subject!

The Weekly Abolitionist: Why Abolition Must Be Emphasized

For this week’s Weekly Abolitionist post, I’d like to emphasize the importance of holding a specifically abolitionist stance on prisons. Getting rid of prisons is not just one more reform to tack on after we’ve accomplished everything else. It’s the primary goal, and all other reforms should be judged with that in mind.

The key here is remembering that in order for a reform to actually be a reform, it needs to be a step forward, without any steps backward. Mapping out which way a reform is going, though, requires remembering that prisons are inherently unjust.

For example, measures that meaningfully work against something like prison rape should be supported, all other things being equal. However, all other things are sometimes not equal, as the introduction of women’s prisons has shown us. Since their beginning, the construction of women’s prisons has had the same effect that the construction of any prison does: higher and higher rates of incarceration . In this case, it has led to higher and higher rates of female incarceration specifically. This in turn leads to more and more women in danger of prison rape, especially from guards.

Outside of proposed reforms to prisons themselves, the prison abolitionist outlook also helps to structure our commitments on other social reforms. Hate crime laws provide a good example of this. Obviously, the libertarian prison abolitionist opposition to all punishment to begin with gives good moral reasons for opposing harsher punishments based on the motives of the offender. Beyond just that, though, keeping the structural problems related to prisons and criminal law in mind at all times helps us to see the actual effect of these laws. Namely, they do very little if anything to actually prevent hate crimes, while leading to plenty of real, tangible harms against the minorities they’re designed to protect.

Any expansion of hate crime laws (for example, to include gay or transgender victims) means an expansion of the prison state. Since the prison state is most likely to aim especially its aggression against the oppressed groups hate crime laws are ostensibly designed to protect – by locking up people of color and those who refuse to conform to heteronormative standards of gender or sexuality – this means strengthening the world’s biggest hate criminal. As prison abolitionist law professor Dean Spade tells us, hate crime laws are only about having the law say that oppressed people matter, not about treating them as if they actually do matter. With this in mind, he writes that “we must stop believing that what the law says about itself is true and that what the law says about us is what matters.”

As these and other examples show, insisting on an abolitionist rather than reformist stance is not some useless display of self-righteousness. It is a necessary consideration for making sure that every step taken is a step in the right direction. The incentive structures created by any system of domination and institutionalized aggression are such that it will co-opt any attempt at reform that is not aimed at abolition. We cannot afford to let the prison entrench itself any further. As the abolitionist of slavery William Lloyd Garrison said, “gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist And Chess Review 47

David S. D’ Amato discusses the political economy of Benjamin Tucker.

Tom Engelhardt discusses how America made ISIS.

Peter Harling discusses how ISIS is back in business.

Jacob Sullum discusses pot related prisoners of the War on Drugs.

Ronald Bailey discusses whether immigrants are more likely to commit crime or not.

Kevin Carson discusses Reason Magazine red baiting.

Ralph Nader discusses the ex-im bank.

Mike Marion discusses four questions that should be asked about renewed U.S. intervention in Iraq.

Sheldon Richman discusses how Obama is following Bush’s playbook.

James Bovard discusses how trade was shaped in early America.

Jan Oberg discusses the immorality of Obama’s speech.

Norman Solomon discusses the New York Time’s stance on war.

Barry Lando discusses the U.S., ISIS, and Al Qaeda.

Dan Sanchez discusses why the state is our enemy.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses September 11th.

The 7th part of George H. Smith’s series on social law.

Mike Whitney discusses war with Syria.

Matthew Hoh discusses perpetual war as U.S. policy.

Robert Parry discusses the revival of neocon bombing plans in Syria.

Johnny Barber discusses the lost lessons of 9-11.

Sheldon Richman discusses IP.

Nick Gillespie discusses alleged crime inducing youth icons.

Damon Root discusses Ken Burn’s new documentary on the Roosevelts.

Andrew J. Bacevich discusses Obama’s new war.

Lawrence Davidson discusses international law.

Justin Raimondo discusses the new Iraq War.

Abigail Hall discusses the arming of Syrian rebels

Jack Goldsmith discusses the expansion of war powers under Obama.

Alexander Alekhine plays Ruzena Sucha and wins.

Alexey Shirov defeats Jeroen Piket.

There is No Hope

The war in Syria is here. It got held up in social media traffic. We thought the angry hashtags had permanently ceased death from above for the Syrian people. For a moment, the Internet rejoiced in its seemingly overwhelming power to harness the American people’s voice. We were sick of war, sick of decent people being turned into killing machines and amputees. There was no need to go into Syria, no impending doom. Apparently Americans had wised up in the past decade and weren’t going to accept another bloody quagmire.

Well, so much for that. The war in Iraq, supported by a majority of Americans at its dawn, was not enough to teach Americans. And why would we expect it to be? 50,000 American soldiers and countless millions slaughtered in Vietnam wasn’t enough. The near extermination of the Japanese, the destruction of most of Germany’s cities, the piles and piles of bodies and all the wasted potential of a so-called greatest generation wasn’t enough.

It will never be enough. There is no hope. There is no progress the American government or any state can make away from the inevitability of mass slaughter. The lines at military recruiting booths will continue. Your protesting them will not eliminate them.  Your pleas will not stop your friends from making the decision to kill for what they see as the greatest good. And when your friend comes back a husk of a human being, when the memories of Syrian, Iraqi, Somalian, Yemeni, Pakistani victims haunt him, when he reaches for his legs and finds only air, he will imagine it was all worth it and there will be nurses and psychologists to assure him it was.

The war culture is all-enveloping and there is no end. The American resolve against war does not exist beyond an Internet fad, entirely obliterated with effective propaganda and fear-mongering. We are a nation of dunces, suckers, cads, cowards and killers. The world will bear most of the consequences for our idiocy. The people of the Middle East are not so easily led on. They know that war is all there is. They live with drones dotting their skies and murderers posing as peacekeepers occupying their streets. They know there is no hope, no expectation that America will ever do the right thing. Their children will die. Their parents will die. Their homes will be turned to ash and they will only grieve for a moment, because to wish any of it hadn’t happened is to embrace cartoon fantasy.

There will always be a threat or the threat of a threat which will sell the American dupocracy into sycophantic worship of the capability of our military to make all right in the world. Americans crave protection, or the illusion of it. In truth there is no protection. 9/11 was not a fluke carried out by mad men. Nothing will save us from those who have every reason for blood thirst. They have nothing but their vengeance to guide them against the monstrous robotic nation which slaughters their countrymen and keeps them bound to a life of poverty and desperation. You will not swat them all away. We are not safe. In fact with the announcement of this newest edition of the War on Brown People, we are less safe than ever.  But who needs true protection when all are assured that the state will continue to cradle them and make it all better?

The Americans are coming, stupider and more sure of themselves than ever. Will we beat our former high score of a million deaths? There is always hope for war. War is easy and resistance is futile. None of it will end until borders end, and good luck with that. Good luck dismantling the military industrial complex. If it crumbles, it will merely be reassembled to guarantee another century of death for the weak. There are no consequences for these campaigns of murder, no voice to condemn the soldiers or protect them from the scavenger recruiters. We’ll be duped again, and again, and again. The next time a president declares his steadfastness against perpetual war, the next time you hear media outlets praising the anti-war resolve of the American people, do what I do and laugh. Don’t weep. Your tears accomplish nothing. Enjoy the ride, because there is no exit in sight.

On Inequality, Injustice, and Anti-Capitalism

I’d like to first thank Mr. Lock for his thoughtful, well-mannered observations on my little piece. Commenters such as Mr. Lock honor me with their courteous thoughts and, in my humble view, raise the bar for discussion and debate by refraining from ad hominem and from attempts to impute motives; dealing with my points and arguments themselves, Mr. Lock offers both of us and every other observer the chance to be edified by the exchange. Kudos to him. I hope that he will forgive the use of quotes here to help explicate my individualist anarchism, and that he will further pardon me for not addressing his points seriatim. Also, please be mindful of the fact that the views hereunder belong to me and not necessarily to the Center for a Stateless Society or any other individual in its employ.

In treating the relationship between inequality and injustice, it is important to note that we individualist anarchists ultimately have no problem with the mere fact of income inequality per se. That is, some people should make more money than others, based on factors including the amount of time these people dedicate to toil, their level of skill, and the disagreeableness of the work in question. As Laurance Labadie put it, “In a world where inequality of ability is inevitable, anarchists do not sanction any attempt to produce equality by artificial or authoritarian means. The only equality they posit and will strive their utmost to defend is the equality of opportunity. This necessitates the maximum amount of freedom for each individual. This will not necessarily result in equality of incomes or wealth but will result in returns proportionate to service rendered.” Or else as Henry Appleton put it in the pages of Liberty, anarchism’s “central idea is the direct antipodes of levelling.” What we do propose, however, is to destroy all sources of income that are not based on work of any kind (be it intellectual work or physical—never mind that the line between even these is practically exceedingly difficult to draw)[1], to prevent capitalists form using aggression in the form of privilege to draw what is akin to a tax from labor.

The individualist anarchists often compared rent, interest, and profit to taxation. Whether we agree with them ends up turning to a large extent upon speculation as to the results and relations that a genuine free market would yield. Since we agree that we don’t have such a free market in the present moment, we may disagree as to whether today’s idle rich could continue their lucrative moneymaking schemes absent the State and the many monopolistic privileges it grants them. Thus when we argue with John Beverley Robinson that equality is “a cold mathematical fact” which naturally and ineluctably results from “the hypothesis of free production and exchange,” we are indeed contending at the very least that the widest inequalities of today are the proximate products of privilege—even if not all inequalities are such. The location of the line, again, is impossible to pinpoint. Individualist anarchists, of course, would allow the market to locate it, and have always followed Benjamin Tucker in making liberty the top priority. The point is that we see existing disparities of wealth as hints that something is profoundly wrong—that disparities of political power are in fact at play, with politics not economics claiming responsibility for the capitalistic economic forms of the present.

But then what do individualist anarchists mean by our opposition to capitalism? First, I freely admit that insofar as I defined the word “capitalism” in the way that you do, I would adopt it as a statement of my own economic views. Capitalism as “the condition in which no-one is prevented from justly acquiring or justly using wealth” is a system hardly to be objected to by any thoroughgoing libertarian anarchist. But free market champions like Tucker and Heywood did not define capitalism in such a favorable way, and my C4SS colleagues have set forth several very good reasons why definitions that equate free markets and capitalism probably ought to be avoided.

I would rather join the individualist anarchists in defining “capitalism as a system of privilege, exploitation, accumulation without limit, theft, abuse, and wage slavery, all supported by the coercive authority of the state.”[2] We must remember also that Franz Oppenheimer shared many fundamental economic views with the individualist anarchists and railed against “the idea of using a human being as a labor motor.” Oppenheimer regarded many of capitalism’s most basic elements—for instance, the taking of rent on real property—as products not of the “economic means,” but of the “political means.” This is, I think, the real crux of the disagreement here at issue: To what extents do the relationships and inequalities of capitalism rely on the coercive interventions of the State? Can landlords obtain their rents without land monopoly? Can bankers obtain their interest streams without arbitrary privileges that preclude competition? Can the great manufacturers and retailers obtain their profits without using legal and regulatory means to prevent competitors from cutting in on their margins? Similarly, could they pay so little in wages if the State did not rule out so many natural opportunities? I believe that the answer to all the foregoing questions is approximately “no,” and thus that many if not most of today’s lauded capitalists are Mr. Lock’s Takers, Robbers, Shirkers, and Raiders. This is not to suggest that they are engaged in some conscious conspiracy, only that they are the principal beneficiaries of a system that institutes legal monopoly and therefore allows privilege-holders to accumulate ever more wealth without working.

I’ll stop here, since I’ve run on far too long, but I hope that my comments here shed light on my piece and on the individualist anarchist opposition to capitalism. Thank you again to Mr. Lock for reading and commenting.

[1] As Benjamin Tucker wrote, “If the men who oppose wages—that is, the purchase and sale of labor—were capable of analyzing their thought and feelings, they would see that what really excites their anger is not the fact that labor is bought and sold, but the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labor, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labor by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labor, and that, but for the privilege, would be enjoyed by all gratuitously.”

[2] Feel free to visit my site www.individualistanarchist.com for more on this.

The Weekly Abolitionist: Prison Guard Unions vs. Private Prison Contractors

In a comment on last week’s post on The Labor Politics of Prisons, Steve Robinson said that my discussion of guards unions was “interesting given past posts about the for-profit prison industry.” He noted that while prison guard unions push for increased incarceration, they also are generally harmed by prison privatization, as private prison contractors have incentives to minimize labor costs and maximize profits. A scenario where public sector unions are pushing for many of the same policy goals as corporations that could eliminate their jobs certainly “presents an interesting coalition,” as Steve put it.

This got me thinking about the relationship between different interest groups in shaping criminal justice policies. I had previously thought of prison guards unions, police unions, and private prison companies as basically the same. They are interest groups that benefit from incarceration and the criminal justice system’s coercive power, and accordingly they will engage in rent seeking to increase incarceration and related coercive powers. But while this is true, I don’t think it tells the whole story. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to be explored here.

For example, sometimes we see direct confrontation between these interest groups. In 1997, the California prison guards union strongly opposed the Corrections Corporation of America’s plans to open a 2,000 bed for-profit prison in California. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time:

The plan drew criticism from the politically connected California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the union that represents prison guards.

“This guy’s full of bull,” declared Don Novey, president of the union. “Public safety should not be for profit. It’s just kind of stupid.”

Novey insisted that his opposition is not based on the prospect of losing union membership to a private firm. “When you start privatizing public safety, it’s a big mistake,” he said.

One of the most powerful prison guard unions in the country directly faced off against the largest operator of for-profit prisons in the country. If only these interest groups could spend more of their resources like this, fighting over who will control the spoils of mass incarceration rather than demanding the system’s expansion.

One intriguing and somewhat counter-intuitive possibility is that competition between guards unions and private firms may result in less advocacy overall for increased incarceration. In 2008, Alexander Volokh published an article in the Stanford Law Review that contended “privatization may well reduce the industry’s political power: Because advocacy is a “public good” for the industry, as the number of independent actors increases, the dominant actor’s advocacy can decrease (since it no longer captures the full benefit of its advocacy) and the other actors may free ride off the dominant actor’s contribution.” Volokh presents an interesting economic argument for why competition between guards unions and for-profit contractors might create a collective action problem that decreases the total amount of advocacy for increased imprisonment.

It seems plausible to me, however, that specialization may result in increased advocacy in particular areas, such as immigration policy. While influencing federal immigration laws is not likely to be worthwhile for guards unions that work mostly with state prison guards, it is worthwhile for firms like GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, both of which receive lucrative contracts to operate immigration detention centers. And because ICE is still directly involved with the detention centers whether they are “privately” operated or not, it seems unlikely that ICE would compete with CCA and GEO Group the way the California Correctional Peace Officers Association does.

Both guards’ unions and prison profiteers face perverse incentives, but in different ways. Prison profiteering firms are often seen cutting corners in order to cut costs. For example, Corizon is paid to provide healthcare to prisoners, and avoids providing care whenever they can cut costs by doing so. This desire to cut costs is not seen from public employee unions. But the public employee unions face different perverse incentives, largely related to protecting their members from accountability. For example, in Maryland the guards’ union successfully lobbied for “the passage of the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights, which made it much harder to discipline bad correctional officers — thus reducing C.O.s’ accountability and facilitating brutality and corruption scandals,” as Alexander Volokh explained at the Washington Post.

Exploring the relationships among interest groups that influence criminal law gets more interesting and more complicated as we introduce more players. Civil liberties groups like the ACLU are generally opposed to the guards unions, the prison profiteers, and the rest of the law enforcement lobby. However, they occasionally support policies that increase incarceration, such as hate crimes laws. The way pressure from the law enforcement lobby and the civil liberties lobby interact to shape the criminal justice system has been explored in some interesting ways by Bruce Benson in The Enterprise of Law. Crime victims advocacy groups also often push for new criminal laws and act to shape the system in important ways.

These relationships among interest groups are fascinating to me, and I think they can tell us a lot about the prison system. I hope to explore these issues further in future posts.

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist And Chess Review 46

Mike Whitney discusses the Ukraine and U.S. intervention.

Kevin Carson discusses the role of the commons in market anarchism.

Kevin Carson discusses how Obama doesn’t want to defeat ISIS too badly.

Cory Massimino discusses individualist anarchism and hierarchy.

Kevin Carson discusses a book on new forms of worker organization.

Mel Gurtov discusses America’s return to Iraq.

Corey Robin discusses Labor Day readings.

Rizwan Zulfiqar Bhutta discusses lessons in counter-terrorism.

Ron Jacobs discusses the rational unreason of imperial war.

Conor Friedersdorf discusses what going to war with Syria would really mean for the U.S.

Robert Murphy discusses why we need to scrap the empire to have a free society at home.

Ezra Klein discusses the DNC’s braindead attack on Rand Paul.

Lew Rockwell discusses why libertarians are winning.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses why we don’t need a police czar.

Anthony Gregory discusses class theory in the first part of a series.

Tariq Ali discusses current Pakistani politics.

Benjamin W. Powell discusses market regulation of secondhand smoke.

Nathan Goodman discusses the labor politics of prisons.

Rick Sterling discusses myths about the conflict in Syria.

Dave Lindorff discusses the re-invasion of Iraq.

Belen Fernandez discusses Patrick Cockburn’s new book on ISIS.

Thom Holterman discusses Gary Chartier’s book on anarchy and legal order.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses why reassessing WW2 is a good idea.

Justin Raimondo discusses anti-interventionism and its discontents.

Rachel Burger discusses incest and the state.

Sheldon Richman discusses whether freedom requires empire.

Sheldon Richman discusses the crisis in Ukraine.

Jeff Sparrow discusses wars conducted in the name of humanitarianism.

Vassily Ivanchuk beats Alexey  Shirov

Vassily Ivanchuk beats Gary Kasparov.

A Rand Paul Presidency would be a Disaster for Liberty and Libertarianism

Rand Paul has been touted as a libertarian Republican. In spite of the fact that he has claimed to not be a libertarian. This claim is also peculiar due to his statements about not wanting to end the War on Drugs. Not to mention his promotion of a “pro-life” anti-abortion rights bill. And his lack of belief in a borderless world. These are all positions contrary to radical libertarian principle.

Not only would we see a violation of said principle from a Rand Paul presidency, it would help sustain the present perception amongst many non-libertarians that libertarianism is reactionary. This will make it more difficult for left-libertarians to reach out to the non-libertarian left. Something not at all good for our cause.

Genuinely radical libertarian politics doesn’t require a constitutional conservative savior to coming to our rescue. It requires bottom up direct action. And this is precisely what a preoccupation with the presidency as a mechanism for change ignores. It can only contribute to a bizarre “libertarian” cult of personality surrounding the holder of executive power.

Such cults of personality have wreaked major havoc throughout human history. Mao and Stalin worship come to mind. Libertarians should strive to avoid a repeat of this. Of course, Rand Paul is not proposing Stalinism or Maoism, but, a cult of persona surrounding him could lead to him getting away with the liberty destroying measures mentioned above.

Presidential politics is just not the right thing for libertarians to be involved with. One only need look at the deference shown towards Obama and George W. Bush by their respective partisans. They can literally get away with murder due to the respect offered them.

The transcendence of aforementioned presidential politics is key to the project of liberty. A commander in chief is fit for a militarized society, but, not an egalitarian one. Industrial organization such as that championed by friends of liberty calls for equality rather than hierarchies of command. A Rand Paul presidency would be a setback for that project. It would wrap the mantle of the presidency in the aura of liberty. Something that would lead to disaster for actual freedom.

In lieu of voting for Rand Paul, libertarians can work to create liberty by labor organizing, copwatch programs, and other such grassroots efforts. All of this will do far more to help the most disadvantaged members of society than a Rand Paul presidency would.

In Search of the Perfect Night

You hear a knock at your door. It’s your friend Steve.

While it’s physically impossible, Steve seems to bound through the door before you even open it. “Excited” is an understatement: he’s psyched, and you couldn’t reach his level even if you tried.

Around two, you and Steve made plans to go out tonight. You spent the afternoon doing laundry, going to the grocery store, taking out the trash, and doing some light reading. Steve spent the afternoon plotting the perfect night.

This is not Steve’s first foray into the “perfect night” — far from it. Steve’s last plan failed, and so did the twenty-two before that. But Steve is not a quitter. He adheres to the “twenty-fourth time’s a charm” philosophy.

Steve really outdid himself this time. The amount of research he performed makes you question his sanity. He even prepared maps and charts. You buy into his madness. You question your sanity. His design does appear flawless, however.

“Tonight is going to be awesome,” he says with unbridled enthusiasm and a furrowed brow. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The plan accounts for everything. Not a single second will be wasted. Not one beautiful girl will go unnoticed. All the hottest bars will be visited. You’re going to be in basements and on rooftops — at the same time. Somehow, there’s even a horse involved.

The night starts off well enough.

Pretty soon, Steve starts acting like a millionaire. Shots for everyone! Everyone includes you, though, so you’re okay with it. At least for now. Besides, everyone likes Steve. He buys them things. He talks to them. Your proximity to him gets you in contact with some pretty cool people.

Steve speaks only in the tongue of grandiosity, making lavish promises and telling of fantastical escapades. Another round of shots!

All of a sudden, Steve’s face turns white. He didn’t see a ghost. He’s out of money. “I don’t know how it happened, man!” You roll your eyes. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to solve the case of Steve’s empty wallet. “You got it, right?”

Yes, you got it. And the drinks for that entire bachelorette party? Yeah, you got that, too. You’re a good friend.

To mitigate the financial impact of Steve’s prodigal activites, you start drinking Miller Lite (because something’s gotta give). You have to somehow offset the financial burden thrust upon you.

From there, the night gets progressively worse. Steve abandons his earlier design in favor of new, hastily planned ambitions. For instance, he decides that he doesn’t want to wait in line at West Bar, so you jaunt over to East Club.

East Club has a thirty-dollar cover, which you pay. And of course, you pay Steve’s cover, too. As soon as you get inside, someone spills an entire long island iced tea all over your trousers. Nobody could have anticipated that. What do you do? Take a taxi back to the apartment and change? Hang out under the hand drier in the bathroom for an hour?

Steve had convinced you that a perfect night was in store. Now, however, you realize something. Steve’s design was overly ambitious; his objectives were unattainable. What convinced you was the confident oratory of a passionate man. Besides, you didn’t have a plan of your own.

Steve made a valiant effort, but he didn’t — and couldn’t — account for everything that happens in a night. He didn’t account for long lines. He couldn’t account for the actions of others. Even an ostensibly airtight plan was bound to fail. The perfect night — or day, or weekend, or whatever — is simply not something that can be designed.

There’s a classic episode of How I Met Your Mother that captures this lesson. One New Year’s Eve, Ted decides that he’s going to plan an unforgettable evening. Most of the gang’s New Year’s Eves have been dry and underwhelming. But not this one. No, Ted rented a limo. He assembled a list of the top five parties in New York City. They’ll have to keep a tight schedule, but they can pull it off.

Quickly, however, the night devolves into chaos. Unanticipated events happen left and right. They lose people and find people—including a criminal bearing a strong resemblance to Moby. Ted loses his date. In the end, nobody makes it to all five parties. To the extent that anyone has an enjoyable evening, it’s without friends. The saving grace? A spur-of-the-moment champagne toast inside the limo while stuck in traffic.

Steve is Ted. And Barney. And you. And me.

Steve is also the head of the Department of the Interior. And a member of the County Zoning Board. And the Mayor.

Steve is a man — a good man, but a fallible man. Because of his very nature, Steve is incapable of planning the perfect night. No matter how many smart people he surrounds himself with, no matter how many Yelp reviews he consults, and no matter how many hours he spends at the drawing board, Steve can never plan the perfect night.

Yet, the perfect evening can happen. In fact, perfect evenings happen all the time. They happen in the absence of meticulously detailed design. They happen when you surround yourself by people you like. They happen when you let the night take you where it may. They happen spontaneously.

“To assume all the knowledge to be given to a single mind… is to assume the problem away and to disregard everything that is important and significant in the real world.” –F.A. Hayek