Freedom Isn’t Free

There are a number of misconceptions about anarchy, one of which is the idea that there are not consequences for your actions. This is false. Believing that government is the only arbiter of justice is an insult to the concept of justice. We have established that ethics can be derived rationally, so we can then rationally determine what constitutes a violation of those ethics and what might constitute a just resolution to the violation. As individuals capable of rational thought, we do not need one organization with a monopoly on force to tell us how to live or arbitrate disputes.

In our modern society, we are so conditioned to believe that the reasons people do not commit crime is because of the police that we lose our understanding of morality or our natural internalization of it. If police presence was really the reason for low crime, then in areas with the most police there would be the least crime. In fact the opposite is true. In white suburbia, there are maybe three cops that patrol localities of 30,000 plus people, and there is virtually no crime. There may be occasional property crime, but certainly no murders. However, if you look at inner city Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, there are hundreds, if not thousands of cops, and crime is rampant. Police presence is a symptom of criminality, not its remedy. So why then are the peaceful places peaceful and the violent places violent?

The answer lies within the people that live in the respective areas. The individuals that live in the suburbs are more capable and thus more apt to internalize morality. Earning money requires deferral of gratification, whereas stealing it results in immediate gratification. Earning money guarantees a steadier stream of consistent and potentially increasing income, whereas theft guarantees nothing. Earning money requires cooperation and respect of your fellow individuals, whereas theft requires only that your fellow individuals do not know you are the thief. If you have the capacity to rationally understand this, then you are far more likely to live in the suburbs, or a community of respectively low criminality.

In order for anarchy to succeed we need to live in a world where a plurality of people understand the aforementioned concepts and are willing to respect them. Thankfully, we do live in such a world. The majority of people, at least in America, do not commit crimes because they know they are wrong. Despite what your initial thoughts might be about your fellow citizens, if you put them to task, they will not steal from you, murder you, or rape you. In fact, they will most likely be as opposed to those ideas as you are. This is a good thing. It means we do not need to convince people of morality; we simply need them to recognize that most other people agree with and share their outlook on the topic. Recognizing this, all of the systems necessary to arbitrate disputes will arise organically. We have the power to thrive in a state of anarchy, all we need to do is have the courage to recognize it. Only then can we flourish!

Why Anarchy Gets a Bad Rep

What if I told you the Constitution is a non-binding document that has done nothing to stop the growth and power of the government? What if I told you police are not required to defend your life or property? What if I told you that taxation is theft, war is murder, and mainstream media is propaganda, all legally authorized by the government? What if I told you the word government means “mind control?” What if everything you have been taught to believe is a lie? What if it is not just a lie, but an intricate system of obfuscation designed to completely control you and extort from you your productivity? What if you are nothing but a free range slave within the confines of your tax farm, with nothing more than the opportunity to vote for a different face to your tax farmer every few years?

What if patriotism is an intentional form of deception designed to gin up support for a system that seeks only to control you and dominate the world? What if “fighting for your freedom” actually means oppressing and killing innocent people in foreign countries? What if soldiers aren’t heroes? What if cops aren’t there to serve and protect, but to brutalize and exploit? What if they are the enforcement arm of a system of complete tyranny over the individual? What if the system is so terrible, and yet good at obfuscation that the officers enforcing the laws honestly believe they are doing good and you respect them for it? What if politicians running for office actually have good intentions when they start out, but it is the nature of the system to corrupt anyone that touches it? What if power is more addictive than crack cocaine, and once you have had a small taste of it, you want only more?

What if everything I just said is absolutely true and you refuse to believe it? What if you are so conditioned to believe you are free that when actual freedom is presented to you, you reject it because you think it is evil? What if you have the capacity to be responsible for your own choices and control over your own property? What if you are better than anyone else at allocating your time and money? What if you are capable of resolving disputes without violence? What if you can see a violent coercive monopoly on the use of force for what it is; an elaborate extortion, racketeering, and murder organization that you have been conditioned to not only accept, but worship?

What if there was a better way and you knew what it was? Would you not seek it out and want to share it with as many people as possible? Would you not see the beauty possible when individuals are allowed to determine for themselves how best to live their lives? Would you believe me if I told you this system is anarchy? Would you believe me if I told you a world of exclusively voluntary interactions would allow humanity to truly flourish? Would you help me spread this message so one day our children can inhabit such a glorious world? Will you join me in my love affair with human flourishing?

Anarchy Is Everywhere

I write about a variety of topics, and I have not yet touched on all of them. I do this because I have a wide variety of interests and because there are so many interesting things in the world I wish to learn. I seek a somewhat high degree of competency in those things as well because I believe that is the only way to truly understand and appreciate them. I write about all of these things in the guise of anarchy because anarchy is everywhere.

Anarchy is defined as the absence of coercive control. In your life, almost every decision you make is made in a state of anarchy. From your choice in breakfast food to the house you live in to the car you drive to the place where you work, and to the person you love, these choices are all made in a state of anarchy. No one is threatening violence against you if you choose to eat cereal over a bagel for breakfast tomorrow. Likewise, no one is going to hang you if you marry the love of your life, even if your family disapproves. Now, you may say that all of these choices are freedoms, and if we are truly free, we have the freedom to make those choices. With that I would agree.

It is only within a state of anarchy that we are truly as free as possible to live our lives as we see fit. Think about all of the myriad of choices you are going to make today, tomorrow, Friday, next week, next month, next year, and ask yourself, am I making this choice free from violent coercion? If so, then you are making that choice in a state of anarchy. Through anarchy we achieve freedom, and through freedom we flourish. I hope you join me in my quest for anarchy so that all of humanity may flourish.

 

What Idols Do You Worship?

What is religion if not the worship of idols? Let’s have a look at two of the most prominent religions in the world, Christianity and Islam. In Christianity you idolize Jesus Christ, and in Islam, you Idolize Mohammad. These men are touted as the idealized version of what a man can become at his greatest. This will not be a critical analysis of the differences between the religions’ idols and therefore their differing outlooks on the world and how to live, although that would be an interesting topic. Instead, we are going to discuss the idea of idol worship.

Christianity and Islam forbid the worship of other gods, and they both claim the supremacy of their respective god over the dominion of man. They present their respective saviors as the idealized version of man, and all followers of the religions should seek to be just like this one man. I ask you, is this idea of just one ideal compatible with humanity? How many people have you met that are exactly like other people? Are most people even that similar, or do we all have unique personalities with different perspectives and perceptions of the world? You may argue that Jesus or Mohammad had attributes that their worshipers are seeking to portray, but that is not what the religion advocates. It says the traits of these men are the exact traits you should achieve, and if you do not you will not receive salvation/reach paradise. This leaves little variability in the actions of the faithful. They must do exactly what is written in their holy texts, or they will not be like their Idol.

Does this make sense for humans? Should we all seek to be the same? This is one of the reasons why I find the ancient pagan religions of the Greeks and Romans, or even the modern religion of Asatru to be more appealing. They have many gods, and you as the individual can choose to worship whichever god or gods suit your personality or interests. The gods were also not perfect, but they aspired to be better. This is very reflective of human beings. We are all flawed, but the degree to which we aspire to better ourselves speaks to our character as individuals. When you overcome your fears or you achieve goals in the face of adversity, you are improving as a person. You get stronger and better. You are not ever going to be perfect, but at the end of the day you will know you have gotten better.

I ask you, what idols do you worship? Who do you idolize? I idolize the best version of myself. This is not a conceited statement; it is a commitment to self-improvement. As I grow as a person, I aspire to be better every day. My understanding of what that means changes and improves daily because I am changing and improving daily. Who I am today is far better than I was ten years ago, and who I will be in ten years is a better man than I am now. I know this because I seek to achieve a virtuous life every day, and every day I deepen my understanding of what that means and how I am doing in my pursuit.

I know I am not as financially successful today as I thought I would be a decade ago, but I know I am a better man. I have more strength, both physical and mental, more courage, more empathy, more knowledge, a deeper understanding of the world around me and the people in it, I have far more hope for the future, and I have a far deeper understanding of who I am as a man. I also know that as long as I continue pursuing self-improvement, I will become a great man by my own standards, and that is all any of us can ask for.

Seek out your ideals, discover your idealized self, and start practicing at the altar of self-improvement every day. You will find happiness, love, meaning, and self-fulfillment, but if you do not understand what these ideas mean, you will be lost in the dark. Instead, find the light within yourself, discover what it is that makes you special, and seek to make yourself better!

What Is Economics?

Traditionally, economics is defined as the study of how individuals allocate scarce resources. While this is an accurate description, it is not adequate. Individuals do allocate scarce resources, but in order to do so they must act. Subsequently, if we are to completely understand economics, it is those actions we must endeavor to understand. This is why economics in actuality is the study of human action.

In economics, we take as a given that humans act. One cannot acquire bread without taking action to do so. If we could manifest matter out of nothing, not only would we be defying physics, but we would live in a fictional reality closer to that of Star Trek. Given that within our reality resources are scarce and humans must act in order to thrive, let alone survive, it is those actions with which we must concern ourselves. We discussed the three requirements for human action in Why We Do What We Do. Assuming those requirements are met, the individual will act.

We are not concerned with why they act, as in what are their internal motivations. Why someone values chocolate ice cream over vanilla is not within the realm of economics. The fact that they have a subjective value is. All values within economics are subjective relative to the individual. It does not matter why someone will choose chocolate over vanilla, however, the fact that nine times out of ten they will make that choice is something that falls within the realm of economics. It is an outcome that is quantifiable and it tells us valuable information about the subjective preferences of the individual. We can take these preferences and collectivize them with the preferences of hundreds or thousands of other people and conclude that all things being equal, more people prefer chocolate to vanilla. This is not a value judgement on chocolate or vanilla, however, if you are a grocery store owner, it will indicate that you should stock more chocolate ice cream than vanilla.

All voluntary exchanges necessarily leave both parties better off. This is also a given within economics. It is a given because it logically makes sense that the only way I am going to give you my apple for your orange is because I want your orange more than I do my apple and you want my apple more than you want your orange. There is no other logical conclusion. Could it be that my fruit preferences are indifferent between apples and oranges, but you hate oranges, and because I value your happiness over my own fruit consumption I make the exchange? Certainly, but we are still both better off because of the exchange. You are happier, and I am happier because you are happier.

Humans are funny with their subjective valuations, but they will always act in a way that will result in them increasing their perception of happiness. Will they always be right? Not necessarily, but happiness is the end goal. This is why self-knowledge is so important; the more you know yourself, the more likely you are to be happy. We will discuss economics more in future posts, but for now, this is a good place to start.

Avoid Presumptions When Dating and Meeting New People

Has this ever happened to you? You meet someone to whom you are attracted, they seem to be attracted to you, and so one of you asks the other out on a date? I’m hoping the answer is yes, otherwise what I am about to describe won’t be entirely relatable. How did you feel? Were you excited? A little nervous? Dreamy perhaps? Even overly critical? These emotions all come with the flood of hormones that douse your brain in the evolutionary response to the prospect of procreation. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, all your DNA wants to do is replicate, so when you find someone that might want to replicate with you, your body is designed to tell you what you are doing is a good thing. What I want to talk about today is why biology is not always our best friend in these situations and how we can avoid mistakes.

When we meet a new potential love interest (we do this with potential new friends as well but to a lesser extent), we have a tendency to project our desires upon them. They may have a nice smile, so we hope they are kind. They may have soulful eyes, so we hope they are insightful or compassionate. They may have a great laugh, so we hope they are entertaining and funny. These are all attributes that we are projecting upon the person without knowing if they are attributes that they actually have. This is not a bad thing as it can give us valuable insight into what we are looking for, but it is important to be aware that we are doing it. What we do not want to do is presume the other person has these attributes without seeing them for ourselves.

If we presume the person is who we want them to be, two things happen. First, we make decisions and interact not with that person, but with the person we want them to be. This results in miscommunications at best, and horrible confrontations at worst. If you think Sally likes dogs because her smile reminds you of your aunt who loves dogs, and you take Sally to a dog park, you may be in for a world of hurt when she tells you that she is allergic or deathly afraid of the four legged furry creatures. This gets worse with personal preferences within the relationship regarding personal space and communication style. The second thing that happens is you miss out on the person as they actually are. When you spend so much time thinking the person you are dating is one thing, and they are something else entirely, you miss out on how your relationship could be different, even better, if you actually dated the person you need to discover and not the person you presume yourself to be with. This, of course, presumes the other person is not intentionally misleading you.

When you lie to yourself about the person you are in a relationship with, you are setting yourself up for failure. You are wasting your time as well as the other person’s, and you are missing out on the opportunity to appreciate another person for who they actually are. This happens because we want so badly to be happy and to find that person with whom we connect and truly appreciates us for who we are. This is an argument for authenticity within a relationship, but that is not where I am going with this. So, where am I going?

Do not place expectations on the person you are going on a date with. Instead, spend time getting to know them for who they are. Do not presume they are something they are not, and do not put the pressure on yourself of believing that the relationship has to work out, especially on the first date. It doesn’t matter if he is the cutest guy you have ever dated. If he cares more about his hair than why you cannot eat spaghetti because it makes you think of worms, chances are good it won’t work out in the long run. Certainly have standards, but don’t be too upset if those standards are not met. This is just one meal in which one stranger tries to get to know another for who they actually are while presenting their authentic self. If it works out, great! If not, you learned a little about yourself and about a perspective partner that you now know will not work out.

The Importance of the Independent Self Within a Relationship

I was talking with a friend of mine at work today about the importance of self-identity within a relationship. She recently went through a breakup from a relationship that lasted two years, and was having a hard time finding motivation or anything to get excited about. I started asking her about what hobbies she had or what interested her. She seemed to be at a loss for answers. This is not uncommon, but it is something that she needs to remedy if she wants to find meaningful connection and motivation for life. So often it happens when we are in a relationship that we lose sight of who we are as individuals. Certainly, when you enter into a relationship, your decision making processes change, but you should not forego who you are as an individual for the sake of the relationship. The right person will love you for who you are as a unique person, not for the parts of yourself you are willing to sacrifice for the relationship. A truly great relationship is one in which your partner loves you for who you are, not who they think you are, and you love them for the same reasons. This is the ideal, but how do we find it?

The answer lies within finding ourselves. What makes you special? What are your hobbies, interests, and meaningful life pursuits? More importantly, what are your virtues? Virtues are attributes such as honesty, integrity, curiosity, empathy, compassion, strong work ethic, and any other attribute that describes consistent actions that improve the wellbeing of the self and others. Lying, deception, anger, hate, these are attributes that do not make you or other people better, and they should be eschewed as often as they are confronted. If you find someone that is constantly lying to you or simply won’t tell you important details about their life, run away as fast as possible as those are huge red flags. But, I digress. Why do we need to know these things about ourselves?

Through self-knowledge we gain an understanding of the world. The better we know ourselves, the better able we are to know the world. How do you know if someone has empathy if you do not have empathy yourself? If you are not curious, a curious person may seem annoying to you. However, if you are consistently trying to empathize with others, or struggle to tell others the hard truths but do it because you know it will be better for them, then you are able to recognize these attributes, these virtues in others. Not only that, but you will appreciate them. So, when you are on your next date, and the person across from you stutters or mumbles because they are nervous, instead of thinking they are weird you will be able to empathize and sympathize with them, thus deepening your connection.

Hobbies, or more specifically personal pursuits, are incredibly important as well. Whether you are learning the guitar, running a chess club, or like me pursuing strength, your ability to dedicate yourself to a pursuit you value is reflective of your ability and willingness to commit to other things you value, such as a relationship. Meaningful pursuits teach you a considerable amount about yourself. You are going to face adversity. There will be chords you struggle to learn or weights you cannot pick up, but your willingness to persevere demonstrates your strength of character. It gives you valuable skills so when you get into an argument within a relationship, you are able and willing to work through the conflict. It teaches you that there is reward for your effort on the other side of that struggle. Personal pursuits also help you stay attached to your independent sense of self within a relationship.

It is very common for individuals to lose themselves within a relationship. People stop hanging out with their friends, stop playing guitar, stop pursuing strength; they stop doing the things by which they defined themselves previously. It is important to be fully present in a relationship and to fully give yourself to your partner, but you must maintain a self to give. You must resist the impulse to give up everything you are as an individual for the sake of your partner. This leads to two people melting into an arbitrary goo of what was once individual people. Neither of you particularly cares what you do, where you eat, what movie you see, how you spend your free time, or how you define your relationship. You simply end up on the couch ordering pizza and watching Netflix every Saturday night, complaining about how boring your lives are. You stop having sex, and then you stop having any sort of a relationship at all. You are an empty vessel devoid of all vestiges of uniqueness or purpose to life. You have to start over, and you have to start first by defining again who you are as an individual.

Instead, maintain your independent self, and bring that with you to your partner when you are together. If you love seeing live music, don’t stop that passion. The right person will go with you to shows, even if he or she is not that into live shows. This is because you are valued as the unique individual you are with the passions and interests you have, and your happiness is their main concern. If your partner likes obscure sporting events, watch them with him or her. The passion, excitement, and joy from your partner will make the experience far more enjoyable, regardless of whether or not you like seeing competitive cheese rolling.

For success within a relationship, find yourself first, and then be that person every time you are with your significant other. Your partner will appreciate you more for it, and if they don’t, knowing to move on becomes easy. Find your independent self, and you will find happiness.

Why We Do What We Do

Have you ever wondered why people do what they do? Why do people act? Ludwig von Mises set out to answer just that question in his fantastic work, Human Action. In that book, he lays out three requirements for human action. First, you must have an unease with your current situation. Next, you must perceive a better situation. And, finally, you must believe that positive action will get you from where you are to where you want to be. These can be somewhat confusing, so let’s break them down.

Do you like your sofa? If you do, are you likely to go out and buy another one? If you don’t like your sofa, are you considering getting a new one? Not liking your sofa is an example of unease with your current situation. You do not like your sofa, so you want to relieve your unease with it.

Assuming you don’t like your sofa, how do you know can improve your situation? Perhaps you saw a commercial on TV for a new sofa, or you went to a furniture store. This is a presentation of the second requirement for human action; you perceive something better. If there were no new sofas, you would not pursue getting a new one, and therefore would not act. In our scenario you do see a new sofa, however, this is still not enough for you to act.

The last requirement for human action is the belief that positive action will get you from where you are to where you want to be. Where do you want to be? Sitting on a new sofa! Where are you now? Sitting on a crappy one. How do you get a new sofa? If you already have the money saved, you go buy a new one. This belief that going to the store and purchasing the new sofa will get you the new sofa results in you going to the store and buying a new sofa.

Consumer goods are an easy representation of this concept, however, it is just as valid with all of our actions. It applies to why we go to work, why we eat food, what food we choose to eat, the friends we have, the places we live, the relationships we cultivate, everything. If you can work through this framework, you can understand why you do what you do and why other people do what they do. I will go into this in further detail in subsequent posts. Thank you for reading, and I hope you stay tuned!

An Opportunity Lost

I believe art is the highest form of human flourishing expressed, so from time to time I will share some of my art here. I am a hopeful romantic, and my art will reflect that. Poetry is one of my favorite forms, so I give you a poem:

An opportunity lost?

What was I thinking?

Your pretty face,

My heart was sinking.

I saw your smile,

No sense was I keeping.

An opportunity lost?

Why didn’t I speak?

What can I say,

My constitution was weak.

In that moment I doubted,

My outcome got bleak.

An opportunity lost?

Please heaven forgive!

To see you again,

What wouldn’t I give?

Yours is a face,

That makes a man want to live!

An opportunity lost?

I refuse to believe!

Please God I beg you,

Grant me reprieve!

And if I see her again,

In you I might believe.

An opportunity lost?

I will not let it be so!

I’ll find you again,

And this poem I’ll show,

And on to our future,

Together we shall go.

An opportunity lost?

I will not regret,

We locked eyes for a moment,

I will never forget.

I will hope for future moments,

We have yet to beget.

What We Really Want From a Relationship

Relationships are one of the greatest expressions of anarchy we experience every day. We have relationships with our parents, our friends, and our significant other, should we have one, and all of them have one thing in common; they are voluntarily chosen. As a child, you cannot choose your family, but when you become an adult, you are free to choose if you want to associate with your family of origin. You do get to choose your friends from day one, and you do get to choose your significant other. You also get to choose if you want to have children and start your own family. You must keep in mind, however, that the children you have did not choose you as parents, so you have to be as awesome to them as you can be so it is as if they would have chosen you. That is a story for another time, however, so before I get too off topic, I should get to the purpose of this post.

I spend a fair amount of time on online dating sites, and despite the fact that they are all set up like Amazon selling you the best version of possible partners you can purchase, I have not been successful in finding someone. I have, however, made some good observations. Most profiles of women read something like this. “Hi! I am an exciting and interesting person who does exciting and interesting things. I like a fun night out, but I also like to spend a fun night in. I like to go on adventures, but I also like to be low key. I’m looking for someone to share my life with!” Pardon my generalities, but that is how most of the profiles read. The reason for this is twofold. One, the person wants to appear as normal as possible, and two, the person wants to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. While this strategy increases the likelihood of receiving potential mates, it does not increase the likelihood of meeting the right mate. This leads me to my point.

What we want out of relationships is not to have some to share our lives with, or to adventure with. What we really want is someone that sees us for who we are, the good and the bad, and accepts us for all of it. This is true for friendships as well as for romantic relationships. We may advertise how awesome we can be for another person, but in truth, we do this because we want to find someone who sees how awesome we really are. We are not all awesome in the same way either. If that were the case, we would all be homogenous interchangeable sex robots with no particular regard who we spend time with, sleep with, or have kids with. Thankfully that dream of the authoritarian left is not a reality and life is far more exciting!

It is because we are all so unique that we spend so much time worrying about finding a special partner, and we put so much emphasis on the necessity to be seen for who we really are. Most people are not consciously aware of this necessity, but they pursue it anyway. Often their attempts at achieving it are misguided and backwards, but sometimes it does work out. When someone starts out trying to be as appealing to as many people as possible, the weeding out process gets extreme. However, if a person were to be as specific as possible with their description of themselves and what they are looking for, then perhaps we would all be better at finding that special someone. Of course, you cannot find what you do not know you are seeking.

If we are to find true happiness and a loving relationship with the right partner, we must be honest with ourselves about who we are and what we are seeking. Instead of being as general as possible in your dating search, be specific. If you like analogies, then try this one; dating is like traveling. You know you are going on a trip, and there is a specific destination intended, however, the vaguer you are, the more likely you are to get lost. If, on the other hand, you know the exact GPS coordinates of your destination, you will be sure to find it. Unfortunately, people are not points on a map, so finding who suits you best is not going to be that easy. This is why self-knowledge is so important. If you know what you like and do not like, what makes you happy and what does not, then you are more likely to find the person that suits you best.

You should never compromise who you are or what you believe for the sake of a relationship that you think will make you happy. This is a recipe for disaster. If you are not true to yourself, you will never be happy. This is as true in relationships with people as it is in relationships with institutions. This is why anarchy is so important in all aspects of life. It is also why it is so challenging. It is easy to believe you have no influence over large, distant, and seemingly powerful institutions like governments, and it is hard to believe how much power you have over the personal relationships in your life. When you realize that the governments have power only because of your tacit compliance with them, you start to see them for the house of cards they are. When you realize the people in your life are only there because you have chosen to let them be there, you start to see how powerful you really are. Embrace that power, and define your life and your relationships in the ways that make you the happiest. You owe yourself that much.