What Is Politics?

A friend of mine recently told me that politics escapes her. Given that we recently had a presidential election in the United States, I thought it would be appropriate to take a stab at trying to explain the concept because it is clearly lost on many people.

The first thing we have to understand is that politics is the end of a much longer and more in-depth train of thought that begins with morality. I am going to define three concepts that all build upon each other, and I will start with morality.

Morality- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of an action based upon a universal standard of value. (See my discussion on morality here.)

Ethics- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of enforcing morality.

Politics- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of a system designed to enforce ethics in order to achieve justice.

These may seem esoteric and possibly difficult to conceptualize in these terms. So, allow me to simplify with an example. Murder is one of the most commonly cited morally wrong and universally banned actions, and as such, I will use it to explain how the action fits into my definitions.

When discussing morality, we ask, “Is murder right or wrong?” I think every person can agree that murder is wrong. Why murder is wrong is also something discussed in morality, and let me put it simply that murder is wrong because it violates the self-ownership of the victim. (Again, see my blog here for more.)

Now that we have accepted that murder is morally wrong, we must ask, “Is enforcing a ban on murder right or wrong?” As an aside here, you may be wondering if we should ask, “Should we ban murder?” The answer may seem a self-evident “Yes!” but for any detractors I will say this. What would be the point in determining if murder is right or wrong if you weren’t going to ban it on some level? Even restricting you own actions against murder because you know it is morally wrong is a ban on the act. If murder is wrong, and a ban on it is something we should support, even if only on a personal level, would it be acceptable to tolerate a murderer living amongst us? This would be a contradiction of morality. If a ban on murder is good, then people violating that ban are bad and must be dealt with. Thus, we establish that enforcing a ban on murder is right.

We know that murder is morally wrong and enforcing a ban on murder is ethically right, but how do we implement our ethical determination? This is where politics comes in. Politics is the engineering in a world where morality is the physics. What works neatly in theory does not always work with the materials available. Bridges used to be built with stone and wood, then brick and mortar, then steel, and now with steel, titanium, concrete, and computers. The materials improved and thus so did the bridges. The physics was always the same, but the engineering adapted to the materials. In politics, our materials are individual people. The physics is still the same; morality remains unchanged. The only way to improve our materials is to improve people’s understanding of morality and enhance their capacity to act upon that understanding.

Politics is like bridge building with rocks, bricks, wood, steel, titanium, and the occasional computer design; you never have enough of any one input to build a bridge perfect for your material, so you cobble together what you can where you can. This is pretty much why politics sucks. Imagine you are a piece of steel trying to justify the building of a bridge that you are capable of supporting, but you are talking to a bunch of timber, bricks, and rocks. Are the rocks going to be able work with you on that bridge? Most likely not. To dispel the idea that I am calling stupid people rocks in this analogy, think of it this way. How hard is it to build a bridge of rocks and stones compared to a bridge made of steel? When building with steel, the complexity increases considerably. With rocks, you just stack rocks until you get your bridge. Both are applying physics to meet a desired end, and one does it with far less complication. When discussing politics, you want to be the rock, not the steel.

To our idea of murder, how do we enforce a ban on murder in a way that does not violate morality while simultaneously achieving justice? Answering that question is the purpose of politics. The system devised is limited by the people devising it, implementing it, and to which it applies.

If the people devising the system believe that, while murder is wrong, forcible imprisonment is right, they might devise a system in which every single person is in solitary confinement all the time. Murder would certainly be stopped, but so too would anyone’s will to live.

If you lived on a world where the intelligent people were three feet tall and blind, while the aggressive and violent were six feet tall and had no compunction against murder, the implementation of any system the intelligent people designed would fail.

If all of the animals of the jungle were to try to devise a plan in which murder was banned, the entire ecosystem would collapse. The predators such as lions, cheetahs, and tigers would all die off as they would not be able to eat, and all of the prey species would overpopulate and decimate the vegetation, thus killing themselves off in the process. Trying to apply politics to that scenario would undoubtedly fail.

For humans, if we were all perfectly rational, well informed, and had a strong grounding in morality, we would have no problem building a political system out of rocks. Ideally, anarchy is a world in which the rocks work freely together with the rocks, the steel works with the steel, and whoever wants to build whatever wherever is perfectly free to do so because every participant is doing so voluntarily. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world, and few of the materials in our political metaphor understand politics, let alone anarchy. So, we are stuck building the best bridge we can with the inputs we have.

Is Social Media Engineered Distraction?

Humans are social beings by nature and by evolution. As an individual, humans are not particularly well suited to survive. We don’t have sharp claws, massive amounts of strength, and we aren’t particularly fast. What we have is a cognitive frontal lobe that allows us to problem solve and create abstractions to better understand our environment. This alone, though, does not give us any advantage over a predator unless we can plan in advance a way to defeat the predator. What do we have then?

Humans are excellent at cooperating with each other. Together we can build traps and walls to keep out predators, cultivate land for a consistent food supply, and build houses and structures to protect us from nature. Effectively, we built civilization out of cooperating with each other. This cooperation requires us to be informed about the other members of our community as well as our own standing within that community. We have to know who is reliable and who is going to not shirk their responsibilities. We must also know how others perceive us; are we liked, do others find us dependable and trustworthy or are they going to kick us out of the group? Out of the necessity to be informed about the other members of the group and our standing within it, we have developed a hypersensitivity to social life.

In today’s world, we have the internet and social media; effectively social life on steroids. Not only can we keep up on the lives of everyone we went to high school with but on the lives of celebrities, politicians, and complete strangers. We are socially so well connected that our capacity to process and function in life is inundated at times. How much of your life have you wasted scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed? While it can provide necessary distraction from time to time, largely it distracts us from more productive activities. We could be improving our relationships with our friends, family, or significant other; we could be improving our knowledge base; we could be discovering virtue within our own lives and impacting the world. Instead, we are all consumed with what Suzie did on her last vacation, or if Terry from high school is doing as well as we are in social standing. The negative impacts of this on our life are evident, but I want to know if this detriment is intentional.

What if Facebook was designed to distract us from a failing economy, worsening race relations, international conflict, a European migrant crisis, potential currency collapse, chronic unemployment, and an international cabal of governments and corporations intent on constructing a supranational governmental body that supersedes national sovereignty and therefore individual sovereignty? I don’t think the original intent of any social media platform was to do just this. I think they were designed as a way to improve communication and provide a form of entertainment for internet users. I do, however, believe that the various platforms have been coopted for just the purpose of distraction and obfuscation of the truth.

When you see Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube actively policing posts or content providers for reasons that are clearly intended to silence their voices, and Google limits search results, the question of motives comes into play. When you have the owners of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Apple all encouraging and supporting the United Nations, a supranational governmental body not beholden to any sovereign people, taking over the internet, you must ask why. Are these people technocrats that honestly believe they can use technology to reshape the thinking of humans? Do they believe they can control you if they limit the information to which you are exposed?

Yes they do. These people are no different from any other authoritarian in the past that has believed humans are flawed and must be reshaped into something better. Socialists, Communists, and Marxists all believed this. Proponents of the public education system believe this as indoctrination is the sole purpose of public education. If the government can control the information you are taught for twelve years, they can control how you approach any topic or idea for the rest of your life. Unfortunately for them, the human spirit desires to be free. Fortunately for humanity, those of us that desire freedom above all else are endeavoring to use every means necessary to fight back.

Social media is useful at distracting and controlling the sheeple, but it is also incredibly useful in waking them up. The phenomena of “Red Pilling” is something that was made famous in the movie The Matrix, and it has been overwhelmingly adopted across the internet thanks to freedom fighters and their use of social media platforms. People are waking up every day thanks to the internet and the moral virtue of individual freedom. Freedom is good and it is the best virtue to fight for. That is why it will win. The entirety of the world’s armies cannot adequately oppose men with morality on their side. Moral conviction is the strongest motivator within human action, so I ask you to take up the cause of freedom with me. Let us stand together as we wage the war for freedom all across the internet. No longer shall we let Suzie’s vacation pictures or Terry’s new car distract us. Let us be the content providers for how the future should be. Let us fill everyone else’s feeds the ideas of freedom, liberty, and anarchy. Let us espouse moral virtue as our guiding light so that others may find it and join us on this journey.  Together, we will achieve anarchy, we will achieve freedom!

What I Would Like to Know

We know that religions evolved all across the world in different cultures as a way to describe the things that could not be easily understood and as a way to codify morality among the people. We know that the races are biologically different. We also know that religions evolved to some extent along racial lines. We know that IQ has a biological component, although we do not fully understand what it is. What I want to know is to what degree genetics influences our cultures and our religions. Is religion an outward projection of our values based upon evolutionary pressures, is it an internal understanding of who we are as a race of people, is it some combination, or is it something else entirely?

We know that cultures are defined entirely by the people that inhabit them. Europe and the United States are very different from China and Japan, and different still from sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Christianity is different from Buddhism, which is different from Hinduism, which is different still from Islam. Christianity permeated Europe and subsequently the world from the proliferation of Western civilization across the globe, but when you look at pre-Christian religions in Europe, you find a different representation of the White man. Without getting into those specifics too much, I want to know to what degree are the Gods of these religions representations of the ideals of the specific races that created them. I also want to know to what degree the values of each of these religions reflect the innate or biological characteristics of the races that value them.

A recurring theme in all religions seems to be an idea of transcendence. Some religions describe it as the soul, and others describe it as a state of nothingness. While there are many different descriptions of this idea, its consistency across the races is indicative of our underlying unifying traits as humans. I want to know if there are biological underpinnings of this idea as they are so prevalent across the different races.

The last thing I want to know is the impact of IQ on religion and culture. We know there is a biological component to IQ, and given that the races have very distinct cultures and race is an effect of biology, to what extent does intellectual capacity impact the complexity, adherence to, and enforcement of religion. Take for instance that in Christian nations in the West there is large tolerance for other religions and even atheism, while in Muslim countries in the Middle East non-believers are put to death. How does intellectual capacity affect this, as well as if there is a biological component is something I find profoundly intriguing. We know the average IQ in the West is 100, while it is 85 in the Middle East. This clearly indicates that the intellectual capacity of citizens in the West on average is greater than it is in among the citizens of the Middle East. Is this entirely biological, cultural, religious, a combination, or something else entirely?

These are challenging and controversial questions, and I feel comfortable asking them because of the degree of freedom I have where I live. I know that if I am ever going to find the answers to these questions, I will have the easiest time in a society in which challenging ideas are not shunned or people that have them are not black listed. That is a society in which individual freedom and pursuit of the truth are the greatest ideals. That society is a state of anarchy. It is my hope in answering these questions I can understand what will be the most likely vehicles for bringing about a state of anarchy. Perhaps it is that anarchists are simply a different subspecies of people. It feels like it at times. Regardless, it is my hope that all of humanity can unite behind the ideal of human flourishing!

The Precarious Proposition of Procedures

Procedures, we deal with them on a daily basis. Anything from a four-way stop to ordering food at a restaurant to opening or closing a business for the day, procedures are designed to help individuals streamline their actions. When you know how someone else is going to act, it makes your decision making process easier and more streamlined. This is the purpose of having a procedure. It allows for you to anticipate the actions of other people without knowing them personally as well as transfer information without having to do it directly. Procedures can also stifle creativity and innovation. As with all things, there are pros and cons, so let’s have a look at the pros and cons of procedures.

First up, we will talk about the benefits of having a procedure or a standard operating procedure. I use traffic examples often as I will assume most people have driven a car in America, plus I have spent a great deal of time driving. If you approach a four way stop at the same time as three other cars all coming from the other three directions, how do you know who goes first? Procedure would indicate that the first person to arrive crosses the intersection first. If you all arrive at the exact same time, you then proceed in a clockwise direction around the intersection until all vehicles have cleared. This allows you the opportunity to get through the intersection quickly without any confusion. Likewise, traffic lights provide a valuable procedure; stop on red, go on green, and caution on yellow as vehicles in the intersection clear. If people thought the proper procedure was to go on red, while others only went on yellow, everyone that went on green would be in a world of hurt. Procedures clearly enhance our driving practice.

Likewise, if you work in a business that has multiple shifts, you undoubtedly have a procedure for the beginning and end of your shift so you are able to take over from the previous person easily and leave the station primed for the next person. The same is true for accounting and book keeping practices. Ledgers are kept consistent within the business and they meet a uniform standard so others outside of the business can understand the accounting process of the business in order to evaluate the assets of the company. If we really think about it, procedures surround us in every facet of our lives. Most are good, but what happens when procedures are bad?

The ill effects of bad procedures are pretty straight forward; anything from a loss of efficiency to a disservice of justice can result. Perpetuation of poor government programs, such as welfare that creates a permanent under-class, or excise taxes on cigarettes and booze that hurt most the poor, are a direct result of poor procedures. Taxation in all of its forms are procedures, and the entire United States Code is a system of procedures and how to implement them. By delegating powers to government agencies, Congress institutionalizes the procedures that make the laws that affect all of our lives without any legislative oversight whatsoever. As bad as these are, the worst part about procedures is not their direct effect on us.

It is the indirect impact of discouraging critical thinking that makes procedures so incipient in their degradation of our society. When you no longer have to think about whether or not what you are doing is right, you stop doing it. You rely on the procedure to tell you what to do, and you rely on the judgement of the procedure creator to determine if the procedure is in fact just. This separation of judgement from action that results from following procedures degrades our personal capacity to evaluate our own actions and the actions of others. You cannot hold the cashier responsible for not being able to credit your debit card instead of give you cash back; that’s the procedure. You cannot hold the cop responsible for giving you a ticket for following too closely, even though you didn’t cause an accident; that’s the procedure. You cannot hold the concentration camp guard responsible for beating the inmates; that is what the procedure dictates when the inmates demand freedom. This may be a slippery slope argument, but the point is valid. If we lose the capacity to evaluate our actions in the here and now, that degradation will perpetuate and permeate into larger and more significant facets of our lives.

Additionally, when we rely on procedures, we lose the capacity to adapt quickly to changing environments. If the procedure is to write up a report and send it to Stan in HR, have him review it, and then forward it to accounting, it makes it really difficult to get our addressed changed in the system. However, if the system is open source, and we can change our address on our own when it’s needed, the system constantly evolves and grows as we change and grow. This system of constant evolution and adaptation to the ever changing needs of humanity can only come from a state of total freedom, from a state of anarchy.

In order for us to flourish as individuals, we must live in a civilization that has the capacity to adapt to our ever changing needs and desires. A civilization is a group of people that have chosen to live together freely and only voluntary exchanges are permitted, but a civilization is not an abstract concept. A civilization is the people that comprise it. Those people will necessarily be able to adopt the procedures that work and adapt to situations in which the procedures do not apply. Those people will be capable of critically thinking and acting upon their own sound judgement. Those are the kinds of people I want to be around because that is the kind of person I am. I buck the trend of blind conformity to the norm as often as I believe it is necessary and just, and I do it because it is the right thing to do. I want to demonstrate a better way to live, and most importantly, I want individuals to think critically for themselves. Will you join me in my pursuit for anarchy so together we can all flourish?

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?

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.

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!