Libertarians are Starry-Eyed Idealists

purelyspeculationFreedom is often lauded as the most integral value of any developed nation. In fact, the notion of the ‘free world’ does much to inform us of the fundamental value that we place on personal liberty, and well it should. Freedom is among the key human rights, but it must be pointed out that at times, people get a little bit carried away with their interpretation of what exactly ‘freedom’ entails.

One need not wade too far into the depths of social-media to find the rants and raves of disenfranchised citizens so bitter about a parking ticket, or a sales-tax, or perhaps a pesky ‘no-loitering’ sign, that they’re ready to hoist the black flags and hop aboard the good ship ‘Anarchy’.

‘Freedom’, they will argue, is the birthright of man—the inalienable and righteous destiny of all people brave enough to seek it! But there are sorry few building their own boats to follow this urge, and fewer still running off to the lonely mountains to live a ‘free’ life. I suppose it’s an easy thing to moan about the comfortable confines of society as you daydream about weening yourself off its teat, but it does beg the question of what exactly true ‘freedom’ is, and if it can exist at all.

I would argue that perfect freedom is an illusion—a starry-eyed dream more befitting whatever afterlife you prefer than the life you live. In fact, I believe that power and control are unavoidable, and there is no conceivable ‘system of naught’ sufficient to maintain the vacuous void left if all authority is stripped away.

Perfect freedom would mean no laws, no control, no taxes—but it would accordingly mean no safety, no opportunity, and no infrastructure. In our article ‘On the Concept of Society’ (Link) we discussed how a society is the product of all its members, past and present. That remains entirely true. Society has never been about freedom—if anything that is the antithesis of society. In truth, ‘society’ is meant to be a foundation of cooperation among its citizens.

In the societal sense then, total freedom—much like anarchy—is a myth. It may perhaps exist for a single person, but once a second person enters the picture, the illusion will die. Power hierarchies will be formed, and one’s wishes will ultimately infringe upon the freedom of the other. We are not free to kill for the very reason that we do not wish to be freely killed. The same applies to property rights, safety issues, and so on. While loitering laws may perhaps be a hard concept to defend (Black Flags ahoy!), the need for a significant proportion of civil laws can be most easily discerned by asking oneself not ‘do I wish to follow this’ but ‘do I wish for others to follow this’.

Those who support total anarchy then, are either misunderstanding the basic tenets of life, suffering from a sadomasochistic urge to regress back to the days of pre-tribal man, or simply mad.

Libertarians, on the other hand, may accept some laws, while rejecting the notion of many others. This rejection most often applies to rules around the free-market. However, as we have already established that a power-void cannot remain unfilled, we should have little trouble applying this observation to the marketplace as well.

If you wander into the woods, claim them as your own, and insist on living a lawless life, it may prove less glamourous than you imagine—especially when the next lawless rogue shows up to strangle you in your sleep and make off with your supplies. So much for freedom!

The marketplace is little different. Without control, corporations are wont to seize public goods and resources, create monopolies, underpay workers, and wreak general havoc however they please. People will starve, or toil like slaves—yet this will be defended and redefined as the justly exercised freedom of those very corporations. In truth, this notion of marketplace-freedom is no better than economic anarchy—and its supposed virtue quickly diminishes as the strongest take control and run our system like a tyrannical oligarchy. Meanwhile, the citizens cheer blindly about the merits of freedom.

To claim to be an anarchist or full-on libertarian is naïve, and the ultimate result is little different from the sort of systemic madness we have now. Freedom has been given out too freely—sadly, only to the corporations at the head of the markets, and rarely to the citizens. The powerful will always feed upon the less powerful, and this is a demonstrable loss of freedom for the latter.

In order to have liberty for ourselves, there must at the very least be laws restricting others from infringing on that liberty. Anything less would be Mad Max-style anarchy. Control is needed, and must be imposed justly. As discussed in our article ‘On the Fear of Big Government’ (Link), the ultimate purpose of government is to ensure that the power which inevitably arises is a fair and just one.

This must not be taken to mean that I believe the current governments of the world are doing much to uphold these standards—indeed there is a great need for improvement on nearly all fronts. Simply put however, the raging masses squalling for ‘total liberty’—or its ugly cousin ‘anarchy’—are naïve at best. The line between liberty and domination is a difficult one to draw. If drawn too close to total freedom, a void arises, and we end up dominated. It’s circular in a sense, and requires an insightful and informed balance. This is the purpose of society and the governments which it employs, and we must pay heed to avoid being so brash as to throw the baby of equal opportunity out with the bathwater of social order.

-Brad OH Inc.

On Bernie Sanders and Changing Economic Systems

purelyspeculation

These days, ‘Socialism’ is a word bandied about like a knife in the dark. Even as society yearns for sustainable solutions to its present malaise, the red dread of Socialism lingers from years long past, and hearts are turned away from any consideration that is not entirely beholden to the dominant theory of Capitalism.

Capitalism alone has long been held as the only acceptable means of governing fiscal policy. With its general ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, it has often proven over the years to stimulate the growth of businesses big and small, acting for the benefit of all consumers.

But it must also be noted that Capitalism is strictly a consideration of economic affairs. More specifically, it is not concerned with managing social affairs. Rather, it is (as the name implies) concerned strictly with the managing of Capital. This system made perfect sense when there was so much building and work to be done that there was enough work for all—work and be paid, take part!

But such is no longer strictly the case. In a world of ever increasing automation of labour, combined with scarcities of non-renewable resources, the system of Capitalism works only to strangle out the ‘excess’ in humanity, not to foster anything new. This is why it behooves us to consider changing to a system which more accurately reflects our present situation.

It’s not an easy thing to consider however. As discussed in our article ‘The Constitution is America’s Bible’ (Link), society harbours a terrible reticence to ever change what has worked for it in the past—even if it clearly no longer functions as intended. In a world where more and more people are falling below the poverty line—where infrastructure is failing, and where the rich take an ever growing portion of domestic product, it may well be that the aims of Capitalism are as outdated and ineffectual as many of the clauses in the constitution itself.

As established, the domain of Capitalism is relegated to Capital alone—money, and the making thereof. But when the woes of the world are increasingly tied to the misappropriation of wealth—a policy fully enabled by Capitalism in its present form—it shouldn’t be such a stretch to see the inherent value in the notion of Socialism, which places its value rather on society and social balance. That is, of course, if you can take off your red-tinted glasses long enough to consider our need.

True, Communism doesn’t make sense in a system with countless jobs, but nobody motivated to do them. Conversely, Capitalism once made sense in a system where jobs needed to be created for the expansion of a nation. There were bridges and roads to build, cities to design, etc. So it made sense that the opportunities should be open to all, and that the hardest working and most innovative and industrious should be justly rewarded. This was a situation of natural opportunity and abounding incentive.

Now, with populations swelling worldwide and the increase of technology reducing available jobs, this system simply no longer seems quite so pragmatic. Our society must be retooled to allow for anyone working a job—be it CEO of a Corporation or shoveling snow off the streets—to be provided for sufficiently to raise a family with another stay-at-home partner. This would allow for true growth in society: smarter, healthier, better behaved children, less crime, better/ happier citizens, and far greater hope for the future than the current approach of shovelling all of societies spoils into the coffers of the elites—as set up through the dated Capitalist system—and allowing the rest to starve or rot.

If Capitalism, and the assumptions it entails, no longer fit, then there is a clear and pressing need for a radical paradigm shift not only in politics, but in our fundamental assumptions about society in a global world. This notion has already been discussed in some detail in our article, ‘On Saving the World 101’ (Link).

But this is not a new idea by any stretch, and an attentive viewer can already see the desire for change growing in the disenfranchised masses the world over. At the head of this charge is one man who stands out from all other politicians…the justifiably lauded Bernie Sanders (Link).

Risking the wrath of the socially-entrenched, Bernie pulls no punches…openly labelling himself a ‘Democratic Socialist’—a term which to many seems a contradiction at best, and often something more akin to a full on assault of social-normative values.

But Bernie sets himself apart from so many others wailing atop their soapboxes about change and hope (this writer notwithstanding). First of all, among politicians he is a rarity by the sole virtue of his sterling voting record (Link), which shows a long history of voting in favour of his constituents on issues ranging from access to Healthcare, to promoting peaceful resolutions of conflict, to increasing social supports for society’s most disadvantaged. Further still, Bernie raises his money from the independent contributions of actual voters—taking little to no money from banks, lobbyists, ‘think-tanks’, or others of their ilk.

On top of this, Bernie’s platform (Link) reveals the truth of his definition of ‘Democratic Socialism’. The focus here is on improving access to resources for all, on creating greater equity in our world, and preventing the powerful from emptying the pockets of society through market manipulation and lobbying for changes which benefit only themselves. Bernie seeks to put an end to the bastardized system which Capitalism has slowly morphed into, and design instead a system which represents the current needs of our waning culture.

Everyone talks about change and hope—such words are little more than devalued political currency to be cast about to the naive masses in exchange for votes. But among all of the traits which make Bernie an exemplar among political figures is not only the evidence of his true character, but his unyielding belief that the world can truly be a better place if we only work together.

Still, no measure of earnest intention can quell the fears so closely associated with Socialism, and more specifically, Communism. The media is quick to paint Bernie as a devilish red commie—determined to strip us of all we own and hold dear. He’ll take our money, take our Gods, and take our self-worth, spreading it all so thin as to somehow leave everyone worse off than they started. It’s a twisted view of his platform (and math) to be sure, and even a cursory consideration of facts would reveal the falsity of these fears (Link). In fact, Bernie’s ideas are not wholly unique, and many countries in the world have already found great reprieve by turning their own values away from Capital, and towards Society.

But we would be remiss to ignore the entirely justified fear of Socialism. Collectivist paradigms in the past have certainly proven to be a dangerous precipice to cross over. But no matter the danger of the journey, when we are pressed by dire need, more dangerous still is the risk of inaction.

The most common attack on Communism is that if a comfortable life is provided for all citizens, then no one would ever be motivated to do anything. This is a fallacy. People are naturally, biologically driven to produce and achieve. To provide not just for their children, but for their community. This is an evolutionary trait, which is not switched off based on societal circumstances.

The drive is natural and insatiable, like our biological drive towards sugars and fats which are now counterproductive yet ongoing even in this unnatural environment. If the basics of life were assured, and none were prevented from contributing according to their talents and proclivities, the benefit would surely be to society and civilization as a whole. Arts and the humanities would flourish, and the human spirit, unbounded to the threats of poverty and death, would finally be able to realize its highest potential.

To clarify, what I am talking about here—and what Bernie proposes—is far from the Communism of old. Money would still be earned, and not all wages would be entirely equal. Jobs would not be done away with entirely, but rather revalued regarding their need and impact. Rather than a CEO seeing unlimited riches from selling an increasingly insufficient and potentially hazardous product (such as evidenced in the fast food or tobacco industries), we would find a wealth of jobs created in areas of healthcare, infrastructure, education, arts and myriad other opportunities to better society.

There is, even now, no shortage of work to be done or of people willing to do it. What exists instead is a devaluation of any work which does not benefit a table of shareholders—no matter what the social impact of their product is. This is because current priorities for labour are not aimed at satisfying the needs of the many, but rather the pocketbooks of the few.

This is modern Capitalism—and that is precisely what needs to change. It is a shift in values, not in ambition. For despite the tired times we find ourselves in, we must hold to the promise of morning, when light shall come again and illuminate a world better than any we have before imagined.

With all the present hype and cynical gusto around the reality TV show called ‘politics’—Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who rises above the din. He has passion, honesty…and most importantly, an actual plan for saving the world. While candidates such as the infernal Donald Trump bellow hollow promises about making America great again to boisterous applause, Bernie alone offers the actual tools to do so. And if we were smart, we would take them happily, and work with his momentum to achieve what we must all surely hold to be our ultimate goal—the betterment of society, of culture and of our shared lives on this Earth.

-Brad OH Inc.

Saving the World: 101

purelyspeculationSupply and demand is the driving force behind any effective economy. Since the Industrial Revolution (Link) however, the face of the ‘supply’ end has been changing. As reliance on machines began to increase in the production of goods, the number of workers required has reduced correspondingly. Materials and goods are now produced more efficiently, and at lower costs to the producers.

Of course, like all things technologically driven, this process only tends to speed up exponentially over time. With the dawn of automation in factories, and technologies like 3D-Printing reinvigorating the revolutionary process begun in the 1800’s, the balance between supply and demand may never have seen such a radical shift. In fact, it’s entirely plausible that within a decade or two, we could produce the vast majority of our goods with little to no human investment.

As discussed in our article ‘On the Concept of Society’, the advancements of society are a cumulative process, and their rewards must therefore be shared equally amongst its constituents. Sadly, this is seldom the case.

While the supply end of the market grows ever easier, demand remains moreover the same, and the essential balance between the two becomes very different from what was initially intended. Rather than setting a price based on the amount of a good available contrasted against the demand for that good, we see a more methodical approach: With an unlimited quantity of a given commodity available to be produced at extremely low cost, what is the greatest amount that can be charged for that product without alienating consumers?

Therefore, the maximum amount is charged for all goods and services, while the financial gains resulting from improved means of production tend to filter only into the pockets of the business owners.

The final result is that the vast majority of the citizenry continues to struggle to meet their basic needs. Clearly, this system is no longer an acceptable form of management, but where do we go from here?

Let us consider the original need for economic systems such as the ‘free-market’ and its inherent reliance on ‘supply and demand’. The world—and moreover society—has always been in need of guidance, of a helping hand to direct us in the choices we need to make. In its historical absence, humans have spent the greater part of our existence inventing our own, then fighting over the results.

Usually, the established political system is intended to reign in the ambitions of the market place, but here too we have found ourselves struggling. Voters find themselves muzzled by corporate control of government, false-choice party politics, and the impossibility of getting any legitimate populist issue to the table past the corporate watchdogs.

So the economic systems can no longer function, and the political system won’t. There’s good news however. We may finally be at a point technologically where there is no longer any excuse not to begin work on a real solution to these co-morbid failings. A ‘God Program’, if you will. Its basis is already established in the internet, and certainly the tools are there to build towards an effort at human consensus through the ability to share ideas uncensored worldwide. This would benefit all people: both in the economic forum, and the political one.

Currently, the internet—with examples such as Reddit, Anonymous, Occupy Wall St. etc.—represents the incredible brilliance and diversity of our population. However, this brilliant spread of people have next to no representation in electoral politics. The political view is dominated by the opinions of crusty old business men who care only for their own profit margins.

Tapping into the full potential of the internet represents an incredible shift in our conceptions of democracy and political participation. In a return to something closer to Athenian Democracy (Link),this program would give the power of voice back to the electorate.

By fundamentally altering the existing architecture of the internet to handle these lofty ambitions, we could establish not only international, uninhibited communication on key political topics, but also a database of all fact and knowledge—with Wikipedia likely acting as a fine foundation for that concept.

The program would not only increase the political voice of all people, but fully manage the economic considerations outlined in our discussion of supply and demand. Its considerations would need to include population size and the balances therein, crop yield, required sources of work and how such might be distributed. Essentially, with a computer program evaluating all available supply and existing demand, society would largely be engineered rather than controlled—with science, math, and humanity acting as the fundamental drives, rather than money or power.

To be sure, this isn’t a new idea by any stretch—as far back as the founding of Technoracy Inc. (Link) in 1931, the notion of a society driven by logic and engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of all has been floating around. It just hasn’t gained much traction.

Why is that?

The society we have in mind would be ideal for everyone alive. With a perfect balance of resources, a deep understanding of social needs, and a computer program capable of predicting these needs and social shifts well in advance, we could hone our efficiency, while creating a Golden Age in regards to leisure time and cultural advancement.

Balancing all needs and efforts, and focussing a calculated portion of all proceeds towards scientific research that is not limited by the profit margins of corporate priorities, our overflow of resources could be harnessed to solve any new problem which might spring up—certainly not excluding the ultimate and near-inevitable need to begin mining and colonizing beyond Earth.

There would be room for businesses to thrive and continue to both produce and profit from innovative consumer goods in a truly free-market (un-manipulated by large-scale corporate interests), while government institutions and human resources would focus clearly on the benefit of all mankind.

With an extremely small and efficient active workforce, and the needs of all met by this program, opportunities would be available for anyone to pursue their passions, and these would directly benefit all. The idea of job shortages leading to poverty or starvation would be unheard of. Mothers or Fathers would stay home to take care of their children rather than greeting people at Walmart, and all people would be free to choose a pursuit which serves them the best.

The program would allow for balance and bounty, while increasing our leisure time and guiding us into a new era of economic and cultural prosperity.

So then, what might be standing in the way of such an idyllic solution? I suppose you’d have to ask yourself another question. Specifically—when we consider utilizing the internet as a salvation for society: controlling profits, balancing production, lowering costs, increasing personal freedom and social supports, improving unilateral political participation, and using excess profits for the betterment of all—exactly who could possibly stand to lose?

If you can answer that question, you’ll see the reason that society has not yet begun to take these easily available steps towards a more utopian ideal. But in the end, it’s not their hearts or minds upon which real change depends, but our own.

-Brad OH Inc.