Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Time to Steal

Anarchism, in contrast to its caricature in the popular imagination, is a deeply moralistic philosophy.

Anarchist theory is also "chaotic" in the mathematical sense in which cellular automata are chaotic. A single principle, a single rule, is applied, and after a ton of extrapolating and reasoning, what results is a beautiful labyrinthine forest of principles. 


Our single starting point is this: "Thou shalt not use force."

That's it. "OH! No problem!" (People with PhDs tell me), "I'm an anarchist too, then! Anyways, we need to raise taxes on cigarettes and usher in the 30-hour work week!"

People are as oblivious to the fact that the enforcement of these mandates involves the use of costumed men, guns, and cages as they are to the fact that their bacon comes from something that screams while it dies. Cognitive dissonance is the foundation of our violent, smiling civilization.

But anyways, the other day I was reading something about John Maynard Keynes.

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Keynes is the father of the current globally dominant economic model, where people print a lot of money, halving the value of grandma's savings, so our central banks can loan out more and more money for as cheap as possible and prop up new businesses and more goods and services: AKA, economic growth.

Ron Paulians call modern economics "Keynesian Economics", but you'll never hear than phrase anywhere else. In the world of practice, there is nothing but Keynesian economics. It's like saying "water-breathing fish." Is there any other kind?

But Keynes is the devil in the Ron Paul world, and he should be. The Keynesian system steals. It takes someone's money and devalues it without their consent. If they want to use another currency, they face tasers and cages, because rival currencies are illegal. It's a coercive system. It uses force. It breaks the first and only commandment.

But last week, I came to see Keynes in a different light.

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What I discovered (reading some awful boring stuff) is that Keynes knew the perpetual growth system was bad, and didn't like it. He didn't like capitalism. He advocated it anyways.

The growth machine had losers, yes, but it also drove insane progress in technology and health and wealth. Keynes set his sights on a post-capitalist workless eschaton that justified all the bad parts of his economic scheme. This was like Mao's Great Leap Forward. A necessary brutality, with paradise as its end goal.

Keynes's utopia actually sounds like a weakly imagined version of the Kurzweilian technological singularity, and I wonder if he won't achieve his goal of getting us there faster and saving billions of lives.

Obviously, anarchists aren't keen on this kind of thinking.

. . . in theory.


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A thought occurred to me. Let us suppose, as a thought experiment, that you are twenty miles northwest of Zapata, Texas on highway  I-35. You are without a car, standing in the desert, and accompanying a child who has just been bitten by a rattlesnake.

There is (for reasons I know not), a 1980 blue El Camino with leather seats on the side of the road. It has the keys inside. It is not yours.

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People use coercion and theft to save lives. When governments try, they seem to usually kill more people than they save.

I find myself wanting to re-jig the whole ideational architecture of anarchism to accommodate for the situations where I have to steal a car because of a rattlesnake, but when I do I always come out with Stalin.

I don't know the answers. For now, I'll subvert the government, but steal cars.

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