Kurt is interviewed by Jeff Berwick on Anarchast, and is asked Jeff’s favourite question, “How did you become an anarchist?” Kurt explains how he put the pieces of liberty together – understanding social or personal liberty, understanding economic liberty, understanding the philosophical and legal aspects, and finally having the “click”, realising that a state is unnecessary and undesirable.
When you know that nobody can make demands of you. When you know that you are the greatest authority in your life. When you know you get to choose what you can do, and others can choose what is right for them. How does it feel to be free?
When you can travel the world without asking permission, without having to pay to pass an imaginary line. When the skies and the world are open like a great big adventure. When you can cross a continent, without having to prove to anybody who you are. When your face is your passport. How does it feel to be free?
When you can work for whom you like, and whoever likes can work for you, in the way you both choose. When you know your life is your own responsibility, and you know it’s your responsibility to take care of those around you. When you never say “Someone (else) should do something about it.” How does it feel to be free?
When your projects grow like spearmint on a wild and open plain. When you don’t need a licence to innovate. When you know you can make it, because the evidence is all around you. How does it feel to be free?
When everyone you love, you do so not because you’ve been trained to do so, not because you’ve been forced to do so, but because you choose it. When everything you hold dear sits in that purest place of your heart. When your beliefs are aligned with your spirit. How does it feel to be free?
There is a principle of law that is acknowledged and often enforced all around the world, that if someone interferes with another’s person or property, they will be punished. For example, if you break down someone’s door without a damned good reason, such as the prevention of harm to an innocent, if you are caught and proven guilty, you will be punished. Likewise, if I approach someone and threaten them into giving me money, if I am caught, I will be punished. Of course, if it is found that I was in a very desperate situation such as having to feed my family, this will be treated as mitigating circumstances and the sentence will be reduced. However, I will still be punished.
Given the choice, would you prefer to live in a society where everyone who broke down doors without a very good reason were punished, and everyone who threatened others into giving them money were punished? Or would you prefer to live in a society where certain classes of people had an exemption, where they could break down doors indiscriminately, without good reason, and threaten people into giving them money without being punished at all?
If a person doesn’t give the question its full consideration, most people will say, of course they would prefer to live in a society where the law is applied evenly. But what is the full extent of this proposition?
Police, having no right to arrest anybody whom they didn’t reasonably suspect of harming someone or their property, will decide to keep mostly to themselves, or find productive ways of maintaining the peace, by establishing ties with the community and gaining its trust. Instead of demanding someone pull over for driving too fast, they would calmly and politely ask, and attempt to persuade them that their actions exposed themselves and others to undue risk.
Judges, knowing that they will be liable for any command they make, will be unwilling to enact any punishment against peaceful people, for example, for buying or selling drugs.
Politicians would be scared to pass any legislation punishing anyone who hadn’t harmed another – making the job of politician almost completely unnecessary. And they certainly wouldn’t call for acts of war which endangered the lives of innocent civilians, because every innocent killed could be a charge of manslaughter. Likewise, soldiers would refuse to attack unless they could be certain they were only attacking a legitimate threat.
Tax collectors would decide to change tactics, knowing they couldn’t threaten anybody into getting their money, and so they would instead canvas for donations, or turn to charging for individual services.
If you agree with the premise that those who injure, threaten or steal from others should be punished, you might have to rethink what the problems with the world are, and what your idea of an ideal world might be. If you disagree, and believe that certain classes of people should be free to attack, threaten and steal from others, and even commit mass murder, then again I would suggest you reconsider where your ideas might lead, what kind of ideal world they imply, and whether that is really the kind of thing you want to support, in your heart or in your actions. Do you really want to be a detractor of civilisation, welcoming violence as necessary, along with all of the abuses of power that come with it?
Making a more peaceful world isn’t easy. There will be challenges along the way, inventing new ways of solving problems with less and less violence, or no violence, when previously we believed they were only solvable with violence. And maybe we’ll never achieve such a thing in our lifetimes, or in any lifetime. But when you look back on your life, with your dying breath, will you be content in knowing that your entire life you supported the status quo, that violence is a requirement? Or would you be more content knowing that you dared to dream, to imagine a world without war, without police brutality and abuses of power, where the word “civilisation” is not a euphemism for a society dominated by the threat of violence, but, through an entire population becoming civil, is a literal fact.
I’m not asking much. I’m not asking you to do or say anything, or even exert any effort. I’m just asking you to let go of one idea, the idea that “violence is necessary” – the conviction that even an ideal world must include threats of violence – because whatever happens, the thought of dominating your fellow man out of necessity can never make you happy. To liberate yourself from this idea is to open up new possibilities, to open yourself to compassion for your fellow man, and to embrace the innocent as worthy of your protection.
What do you value? What’s important to you in life? I can name a few things that are important to me: liberty, peace, respect, human rights. Some people don’t value those things, or at least, they’re lower down on their list of values. Instead they value things like certainty, convenience, and even feeling good, and their own ignorance.
Now a lot of people will say that they value liberty, but once you get into it a little more closely, you can see it’s not quite so true. So let me as k you: did you ever value liberty enough to say “Free Irwin Schiff”, a man who was in prison because of his belief in property rights – his belief that his money and other people’s money, shouldn’t be taken from them by force, and used as collateral to fund central banks, and fund expansive, endless wars.
Did you ever value liberty enough to say – at least just say the words – “Free Ross Ulbricht” – a man who provided a service for hundreds of thousands of people, a man who provided a service that was very much in demand, the service of allowing people to buy and sell drugs on the Internet.
The thing is, if you value certainty over liberty, then you must either value your ignorance, pretending that humans rights abuses don’t happen, because of institutions such as taxation – or, you must value the certainty that human rights abuses are going to happen, because that’s exactly what does happen, when you give people the power to rule over others.
Liberty is dirty; you don’t get any guarantees in liberty. Sometimes liberty is even violent. But you know, liberty also gives you personal responsibility – that’s the thing. That’s the great lie; that’s the great trick. Because what they’ve told you is, by giving up some of your liberty, you’re actually going to limit your personal responsibility, which is something that can never, ever be true. Nobody can ever take that power from you – nobody can ever take the fact that you are captain of your own soul, that you are architect of your own destiny. And any responsibility that you have, for the rest of humanity, can never be delegated to someone else. It cannot.
Whether you choose the certainty of domination, the certainty of people abusing their power, or you choose liberty – that beautiful chaos, that beautiful space that allows the human race to transform, to transcend, to create something new and different – whatever you choose, I advise you to choose. Because people may call you many things. They may call you delusional, a pinko, an idealist, a fool, a warmonger, a violent sociopath. They might even call you a freedom fighter. But, as long as you choose, they will never call you the worst of all insults. They will never call you wishy-washy, they will never call you vague, and they will never call you indecisive.
Ever since the peaceful anarchist event, Anarchapulco, in 2015, many people from the US and Canada have decided that moving to Acapulco, Mexico might improve their lives. Many found ways to make money off the Internet or to transfer their existing jobs to a new location, and start a new life where they didn’t have to worry so much about any government interfering their lives, threatening them for operating their business in a way that the state didn’t like, or getting their dogs shot by police officers for no apparent reason.
They may face many obstacles on their journey, including their friends and family warning them to stay away from the city which is run by drug cartels, where the police periodically go on strike, and which is reputedly the fourth most dangerous in the world. Nevertheless, these brave soldiers journey on, and many of them are willing to share their expatriation wisdom experience with the world. It takes one man to document the evolution of this community of liberty-minded individuals, this Latin American “Galt’s Gulch”, and his name is Juan Galt.
In this episode, Kurt interviews Juan and talks about the ways that cryptocurrency might be used in the near future to replace government property registry systems, his documentary (renamed since the interview as “Seeking Freedom: The Acapulco Files”), and ways to break down borders using Bitcoin and smart contracts. Join us on a jet-setting, freedom-fighting, border-bounding episode of … The Paradise Paradox!
You tell me that the system works, that things are going well, that the government feeds the poor, that their regulations prevent people taking advantage of us, that we are safe, and presumably, that we can put our trust in them. You tell me that phasing out governments (and the central banks that back them) might cause chaos, and why should we take a risk when everything is fine right now? You tell me that the system works. I’m inclined to disagree.
Yesterday, I sent my friend in Venezuela a few dollars’ worth of bitcoin. Far away from your mind, people are suffering because of a more-corrupt-than-usual central bank, and a more-corrupt-than-usual government. Many lives have been ruined, and many people are confused, because their fiat currency is collapsing. The official rate for the Bolívar, for bankers and government officials in denial, is 6.35 Bs to the dollar. The real rate of Bolívares to the dollar, is 841.67, and as the value of the currency slips away into the night and into Madero’s buddies’ pockets, laying the foundations of Chavez’s daughter’s three-storey mansion, the remainder of the country dives into poverty.
It’s easy not to think about that, and justify social programs for the poor, that are funded with money from central banks, and believe that these programs do good – without thinking about the real consequences. These programs may have continued for your lifetime, and so, in your mind, you expect them to always be there – these programs which, at best, provide help in a difficult time, and at worst, incentivise people to become trapped in a cycle of poverty or dependency. These things are fine, for now. The poor don’t scream in the streets, for now, because they are well-fed, though every year the old-aged pension of $200 a fortnight is worth less and less, and you don’t hear the cries of the old because they’re too old to cry out. The system feeds those whom it has disenfranchised, and so, you assume that everything is fine. The system works, you say.
The system works, until one day when it doesn’t. The system works until one day when you wake up to find out that it’s a bank holiday, and the government has authorised the bank to take everything over $1,000 in your account, and limit your withdrawals to $50 a day, leaving you unknowing if there will still be money there tomorrow to withdraw. The system works until one day the Deutschmark slips over the fiscal cliff, leaving you wondering how you’re going to find that last billion marks to buy a loaf of bread to feed your family, while central bankers in their country villas sleep on beds of gold ingots. What becomes of the poor then?
The system works if you pretend that there aren’t millions of young men in prison for victimless crimes, a ridiculously high murder rate in Ciudad Juárez, kids killed by stray bullets in Medellín, farmers in Antioquia extorted into growing coca by paramilitaries, made profitable by the War on Drugs, funded by the Federal Reserve.
Tell me that the system works, and all we need to do is take more money from the rich, and everything will be fine, apparently without realising that there has never existed yet a tax system which isn’t built to favour the rich and powerful, and without realising that any tax system will invariably be used to provide collateral for a central bank, which will invariably be used to kill.
The system works as long as the media don’t publish pictures of those wars which central banks have funded. They don’t show you the dead bodies, and they don’t show you the radicalised veterans who have cast the scales from their eyes with anger, who repeat those words “War is a racket.” They don’t show you the millions of dead civilians, the children who only ever wanted to play in peace, suffering from white phosphorous fume inhalation, the images of a father holding his dead babies in his arms and asking God why? Oh no, they don’t show you that.
And as long as they don’t show you that, and as long as you don’t look for yourself and put the pieces together, you can come here and tell me without irony: the system works.
No, the system doesn’t work. And what you don’t realise is, the system is already finished. We already have the technology to solve all of these problems. The system is a dead man walking, and for those of us that see it, when we observe the extreme force that it uses over the coming years in an attempt to maintain dominance, we can take solace in the fact that what we are watching, are the death throes of a millenia-old beast.
Kurt reposted this article on his Steemit account here.
For years now, you have been able use fiverr.com and freelancer.com to hire people all over the world to do work for you. You can check their qualifications, their proposal for the task, haggle over the price, ask if they’re available for future projects. But would you bother asking which country they’re from? Does it matter?
Today, people can register companies online, on the blockchain, possibly using Bitnation or Next. Their companies can exist independently of any nation. To do business with them, do you need to know who they are? Do you need to be able to put a pin on their office in an atlas?
The world we’re heading into is a world where companies operate in cyberspace – outside the jurisdiction of any government. They have no head office, keep all their records in the cloud, and transact purely in cryptocurrencies. Maybe there are banks which can compete with international banking cartels, because having no country means they don’t have to comply with the protectionist regulation which has been installed for many years. Maybe they don’t pay any taxes, because they’ve decided that the Internet is the best tax haven. Of course this way of doing businesses may start to raise many potential issues, such as problems with dispute arbitration, and innovative solutions may have to be developed to address them. The future is a fascinating and unpredictable place.
In this interview, Kurt discusses the potential of some of these types of organisations with Alex Colorado, a software developer for the Apache OpenOffice project, and we talk about the implications of these ideas for a borderless world. Join us in the next frontier-defying chapter of … The Paradise Paradox!
A lot of people assume that without a minimum wage law, businesses will give their employees pennies, because they’re looking to increase their profits. I’m going to present a case using a slightly different scenario, involving a character we all know and love: pizza. This is Pizzanomics.
Are there price controls on pizza in your town? A maximum pizza price mandate? No? The last time you bought a pizza, did it cost one million dollars? Two million, three million? Even if you didn’t pay a million, you must have seen an ad for a pizzeria charging that much – right? The business owner has a profit motive. Why doesn’t he charge a cool milly for a pizza?
Instead of paying a milly, you probably paid a price that was more or less consistent with the quality and convenience of the pizza. You probably paid a little more if you got it after 10pm, and you probably paid a little more if it was a gourmet pizza.
Let’s say you find a pizza place, and it’s the only one open. They have a pizza for $30 delivered. If you really want a pizza, maybe you buy it. What if the price is $50? You know an Indian place where you can get two curries and coconut rice delivered for $25, so you call them up instead. Maybe the price of the pizza is so high that everyone ordering in decides they will opt for Indian or Thai instead. In the coming weeks or months, will the pizzeria change their prices? What will happen to them if they don’t change their prices?
The next weekend it’s 2 a.m. and you’re feeling in the mood for a pineapple eggplant supreme. You call up the pizzeria and they say their price is still $50. Then you check your mail and realise there is a place that will deliver a supreme for $20. Assuming the quality of the pizza is similar, how do you think the first pizzeria will react when they find out their prices are being undercut? Maybe they will match the price if you mention it. Maybe they will beat it. Maybe they will bring their advertised price down to $25, considering they still have an established name. One thing they will most likely not do, is keep their prices the same and refuse to negotiate.
Why is this important? Are there price controls on labour where you live? A mandatory minimum wage statute, or a union agreement which is backed up by the force of law? The last time you started a job, or in your current employment, did you or do you get paid minimum wage? Most likely you get paid more than minimum wage. Only 2.5% of workers in the USA earn the minimum wage or less. Why do businesses pay more, even though they’re not forced to? The same reason a pizzeria won’t charge a million dollars for a pizza.
Instead of being paid a dollar a day, or being paid the minimum wage, you’re probably paid something that’s consistent with your skill level and convenience of your job. If you do something that requires little training, you probably get paid minimum wage. If you have more experience at it, you probably get paid more than minimum wage. If you do something that requires a lot of training or many years of practice, or if you do shift work, if your work is dangerous or you work away from home, you probably get paid significantly more.
There are less people who are willing to work a dangerous job, willing to do shift work, less people who have certain specialised skills. The decreased supply means the price must increase to match it. All of the employers are competing for the labour, just as the pizzeria is competing for your custom.