Monday, April 18, 2011

A Response to Whoplanswhom

What up folks.

Some of you may have seen a video I made a few weeks ago titled "People who Piss me off: Free Market Anarchists." Apparently I've rubbed somebody's rhubarb so much they've decided to write a big huge long response. They were courteous enough to inform me about it.

I was about to say some naughty things here, but maybe not. Maybe Justin Lee is just being polite and really truly believes in this political philosophy and wants to address what he sees as untruths. I shouldn't judge people so quickly.

I take it you all read that? Good, here then is my response to his response.

Justin starts off by disagreeing with my definition of a state. In the video I define the state as a hierarchical society with division of labor and a clear authority which arbitrates disputes and maintains order. I mention that the authority historically has been an institution or organization capable of using violence to enforce such order. No where do I say that violence is actually necessary to the definition of the state, merely an observation as to how states have been set up in the past. I am comparing human hierarchical structures here to the same type of hierarchies which exist in a troop of gorillas or chimpanzees, hence the picture of the gorilla at 1:47, and just as the alpha male of a chimpanzee troop uses violence to maintain order so do our societies. The more sophisticated we think we are, the more primitive we remain, eh folks? I suppose I could envision a state that has no capability to use violence to enforce rules or laws. I realistically can't see that state lasting too long, or being a very nice place to live.

In the second paragraph Justin has beef specifically with the fact that I ignored the territorial aspect of a state, that is the idea that a state has to have some sort of territory that it claims as it's own (i.e. you can't be a country without some land.) I notice Justin likes to point out various logical fallacies I made throughout the video, like the Ad hominem attacks I did towards the beginning - which is absolutely true. I called Free Market Anarchists a bunch of arrogant, self centered, idiotic, dogmatic, stupid, stingy, haughty, insolent, cocky, puffed-up, pompous, whining, complaining, know-nothing, superficial, two-faced, cheap-ass hypocritical crybabies who don't give a fuck about anybody but themselves and would kick an old lady in the street to save five cents on a half-eaten welfare donut, and I stand by every word of it. But anyway, I would also like to point out that Justin makes his own logical fallacy here, that of Argument from authority, when he cites Barrack Obama as supporting his own definition of a state. See, now we've both learned how to debate better.

So anyway, I left out territory in my definition of the state. Yes, I did this on purpose, because it then opens up the state to include organizations that fall outside of the city/country/nation-state milieu, such as terrorist organizations, religious institutions, and corporations. Most specifically corporations, for what is a corporation except a kingdom in miniature? I've always wondered why exactly arachno-capitalist people distrust nation states so much but bend over backwards when multinational corporations engage in the same kind of unethical behavior. And yes, corporations are capable of using violence to further their goals and/or enforce order. The scale may be different but the result is the same, and I see no reason why a corporation would not resort to more violent measures to achieve their goals in a world without central governments. What, the Free Market is somehow gonna stop that? Yeah, ok.

A little further on the textbook definition of Anarchy is given, along with the view that "statists" like myself (yeah, I suppose I am a statist) equate anarchy with failed states like Afghanistan. This is true, I did do that - because by the same definition that was provided by Justin himself, that is an anarchist state is a "state with no ruler," then such states can be called "anarchist." No one rules the whole of Afghanistan, Hamid Karazai is essentially the mayor of Kabul. No one rules all of Somalia, there is not much of a central government in Chad. If you want to see modern examples of countries without rulers then these are it. My argument however is that even in these "anarchist" countries, there is some form of authority which enforces rules and order through violence, in this case regional warlords. Why? Because that seems to be the natural state humans beings organize themselves into (see above.) What would be one large stable central state is instead broken up into dozens of little mini-states, all of which enforce their own rules and often times contend with each other through violence. That was the point, that the places on Earth without rulers are ruled anyway, and this would be the real world result of implementing your anarchist paradise. When there are no rulers people fight amongst themselves. I would like to think human beings are evolved enough to rise above this type of tribal warfare, but I would be wrong.

The next paragraph Justin once again maintains that I somewhere said that governments are justified in using violence to maintain power with some freakish ice cream analogy that shows he misunderstands how I used the word "natural." To quote Justin,

"After all, just as a good majority of people naturally like ice cream, I hardly think that would justify “natural hierarchical structures” enforcing the consumption of ice cream."

Nowhere do I imply that if people do things "naturally" then we should force them to do such things. I don't see where I said anywhere in the video it's natural for hierarchal structures to use violence (I said it was a coincidence, not a natural law of human behavior to use violence at 1:38.) But since I've been asked the question, do I think is is in fact, natural? I would have to conclude yes. I can't name very many examples of large societies that don't have some sort of enforcement mechanisim. You may think this contradicts my earlier comparison of corporations as mini-states, but it doesn't. The only reason a corporation doesn't use violent tactics more often is because, most of the time, it can defer to the actions of it's governing nation state. But if you simply think getting rid of a government is going to remove unjust violence in a society then you are sadly naive.

Next the question is asked if governments are needed to shield a society from the actions of corporations, which Justin admits are not always in the public interest. To quote, "However, should the blame rest with corporations or also with their architects (governments) that created them and shield them from accountability?" I agree, the blame does lay with both. It's no secret that all western governments are essentially the enforcement arms of large multinational corporations (especially the American government after eight years of the Bush people letting the corporations write the damn laws and staff the damn regulatory agencies. Thanks a lot assholes.) However the same governments can be a useful tool in curbing the actions of said corporations, especially in cases where the "Free Market" doesn't seem to do very much. Want an example? The National Do not call Registry. I rest my case.

So yes, this is why I posted a picture of Rosa Parks, which Justin pointed out was disobeying segregationist policies enforced by a government. The point is that same government which enforced those racist segregationist laws now enforces laws which do not permit segregation in public life. "The government" was never racist to begin with, it's the people within the government who passed such laws. Now the people in the government (officially) do not permit such behavior in public and most private institutions. Because a government is a tool, and if it's used well you get good results.

The next paragraph I'm afraid is just completely full of shit. First off Justin expresses gratitude that racist government policies like slavery and Jim crow laws have been removed. He fails of course to mention there are now laws on the books against these things. The "Free Market" didn't end Jim crow, people did, by getting together and organizing and marching and demanding and getting shot and dying. And you know slavery, we had that whole thing called the civil war and all, and yes it was actually about slavery for the most part, despite what the conservatives tell you.

This next bullshit about "government preventing wealth creation," just what does that mean exactly? There's a lot of things out there which are highly profitable but are also illegal, so what exactly are you talking about Justin? What are these "creative hustling" enterprises which the poor victims of government forced poverty are prevented from engaging in? DVD piracy? Prostitution? White slavery? Human organ trafficking? Crack dealing? And what is this shit about "government forced poverty?" You make it sound like if a poor person gets a job and makes a little cash the poverty police show up and take it all at gunpoint. What the fuck are you talking about?

Man, as this goes on.. just more and more bullshit.. "Governments are not responsible for ending child labor." Yeah I guess the Fair Labor Standards act didn't really do much. One may argue that child labor was already on the way out by 1938, which is true. This also however ignores the decades long fight against child labor in the United States. It did not just happen because suddenly employers had more wealth to pay breadwinners more, it happened because people fought for it long and hard and finally got it outlawed. Another example of the government stepping up when the free market failed.

Next paragraph, Justin tires to trap me once again with his unfounded ice-cream analogy. Nowhere do I maintain that racism and discrimination is "natural," and nor do I imply in the video at all that a hierarchical structure should use violence to enforce it even if it was. The fact that racism, sexism, and slavery was considered the "natural order" by people in the past is irrelevant. And where exactly in the video did I say the use of violence is "just?" Nowhere. I didn't say it was "just," I observed that it was a "coincidence."

In the next paragraph Justin reinforces my point about child labor. He states governments caused it by enacting "mercantilist and protectionist Robber Baron economic policies." Well, thanks for making my point for me, that is the government is a tool which in this case was used incorrectly to protect the upper class and exploit children. See if the government was instead used to (gasp!) regulate these industries and ensure decent wages and safe working conditions instead of allow regulations to be tailor written by the industries they're supposed to regulate and allow the Rockefellers or JP Morgans of the world to make 150,000 times the salary of their workers then maybe we wouldn't have a century of child exploitation on our history books. You'll notice a lot of parallels between the Guilded age and today if you even pay half of an attention. How long before these assholes are forcing kids out of schools and back into the factories?

Oh wait, it's already fucking happening. Thanks assholes. Kinda blows away your dumbshit contention that the "free market ended child labor" when the fucking conservatives are trying to bring that shit back. Is there not enough wealth today to keep kids in school? Do you really expect me to believe that?

The next five or six paragraphs has something to do with some dude who wrote a book that reinforces some shit that Justin thinks is true, blah blah blah, yeah maybe one day I'll read it but not likely. I'm sure there's all kinds of awesome points that will definitely show me the error of my evil communist treehugger ways but I've already spent way more time on this bullshit than I should have so skip to the end.

The next section titled "Making more Trouble" goes over a couple of points that I made and attempts to repudiate them, so I should address these. God dammit Justin, why you gotta make this shit so long?

1) Food Prices - What I said about food prices is true, that is that we do not have a Laissez-faire policy towards food production, and thankfully Justin acknowledges that. He however does not address the fact that government subsidies are a highly successful policy and consistently lead to higher yields and surpluses to export, but instead chooses to engage in a little Ad hominem attacking of his own. The fact that it could be done more efficiently or that there is less organic agriculture than there should be is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it's an example of a highly successful government policy which wouldn't be half as such if left to the free market.

2) Low wages - In the video I mention that Free Market anarchists blame the government for low wages. Justin responds to this by citing the Wagner act of 1935, which legalized certain unions and curbed some of the more radical like the IWW. I would counter this by saying that this is another example of the tool of government used to the public's advantage. This act which regulated unions lead to a large growth of union membership and large economic benefits for the whole country for decades to come. Even today when a a mere 9% of public workers are unionized, said workers still enjoy a union wage premium of 15 - 20%. So sorry, your big evil government conspiracy to drive down wages actually increased them.

3) Colleges - Ahh, the ol' "College is expensive because the government provides guaranteed loans" line. First off why exactly is it the governments fault for providing the loans, but not the college's fault for jacking up prices? That's like saying McDonalds is responsible for fat people, sorry that's a bullshit argument. If the college jacks up it's prices to match the maximum amount of the loan then the problem lies with the college for taking advantage, not the government. Second the government does not provide 100% of all the financing for every college student in the country. So how come you people never blame Bank of America or Citibank for runaway college tuition? "Oh no we can't blame them, they be private institutions and by my idiotic free market dogma can do no wrong!" Third most states actually run their own university systems, so if you morons truly want to eliminate all government assistance to colleges then kiss the UC, State, and Community colleges nationwide goodbye. No, you can not have it both ways. Yeah it'll be real easy to get a higher education when the only colleges left are prohibitively expensive ivy league schools or dumbshit Christian diploma mills. Fuck college, who needs it anyway? We're all gonna be too busy working alongside twelve year olds in a sweatshop for 17 hours a day making tennis shoes for you assholes to prance around your free market paradise exclaiming how great it is that no government exists to "steal" taxes from you.

4) Environmental conservation - I'm not really sure how relevant environmental regulations in the 19th century are to the discussion today, as most of what we have couldn't be handled in such a fashion. Example: A local town outlaws a company from dumping toxic waste in their river, so said company just moves upstream and makes a deal with another town to legally dump it in their portion of the river. The river ends up polluted for everyone. What's the first town gonna do, sue them? Would be nice except there is no court system - don't forget, you people got rid of the government. So now what? Declare war on the polluters?

This would be funny if it weren't actually happening.

5) Drug safety - Justin puts forward the argument that a drug like crack (because that's the drug I mention in the video) would in fact be more safe if the government did not outlaw it. Well, it would be safer in the respect that people would not be shooting each other over it, so I agree to that much.

You know what would make it even safer? If it were regulated by the FDA as to purity, potency, and usage. That would make it a lot safer then just letting any random yahoo sell the shit on the streets.

6) Terrorism - For the most part, governments tend to use terrorists as a tool to indirectly achieve political aims, however they can also be as much victims of terrorists as enablers. My point is that our government was on 9-11 (hence the picture of Osama) just as much a victim of terrorism as anyone else. Is every single terrorist act out there the direct result of government meddling? No. A lot of the stuff that I'm seeing above tends to be of the government "enabling" said problems. Well when exactly does it stop becoming the CIA's fault and start becoming Mohammed Atta's fault for crashing the plane into the World Trade Center? Never?

Alright, it's already almost midnight, and I have to work in the morning. There's lots of more herping and derping about important sounding shit as well as attempts to make me look stupid, most of which is bullshit. The last point Justin makes is that Public goods become harder to achieve with a government in place. I would agree except there is very little precedent for any type of public good ever being developed by the private sector ever in the history of mankind. I can't really think of very much of our infrastructure which is wholly and has always been privately owned from it's inception. Pretty much all of it had public funding or government involvement at some point - the roads, the railroads, the television networks, the phone system, the internet, the hospitals, the schools, the national parks, the telecommunications industry, and so on. Is there really any public good we have today that is not the result of government spending to some degree? There has to be something.

Nevermind the fact that if a private company creates it, then it's not exactly "public" then, is it? Imagine a road where only people who own Chryslers are allowed to drive upon, or a nationwide intranet system that only users of a certain operating system can access. That is what a "public" good looks like when a private company makes it. And like I asked in the video, why should they create public infrastructure, if they're not solely allowed to profit from it? What's in it for them?

Am I saying that everything should be run by the government? No. What I am saying though is that Free Market Anarchists tend to forget that there is no such thing as a free market. All markets are manipulated in some way, always have been and always will be. The idea that all these problems will go away if we just get rid of governments is, to be frank, fucking idiotic. People do not do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, most people do what they feel they can get away with. Yeah maybe in a perfect universe where unicorns fart rainbows and marijuana jellybeans fall from the sky I could envision a world without governments that isn't a total post apocalyptic Roadwarrior-esque cluster fuck, so please come get me when that happens.