Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stream of Consciousness: Things Are Looking Up

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

So I haven't posted much in the past week. I'd normally be feeling pressure to do so but not this time. Elsewhere, my progress has been really good. I managed to upload a YouTube video, I got another song onto my AxyssTV channel, I've learned a whole lot more, I got my 1st subscriber on this blog, and, most importantly of all, after over 3 months of job hunting, I finally have an interview. As of now, I feel great.

First I'll talk about the video. It's called "A Stateless Society", and it was far better received than "Taxation Is Not Theft". There was still plenty of disagreement, don't get me wrong, but this time round I covered a more substantial issue, and as a result, this generated more discussion. There are a few relatively insubstantial things I want to address before I get to the substantial stuff. First, if I say something you don't agree with, I WANT you to call me out on it. A few people seemed apologetic about their response to the previous video, but the apology isn't necessary. The incredibly vast majority of people on both videos were very civil in their disagreements, and the fact that many were passionate about their beliefs doesn't detract from that. Secondly, 17 hours of no response from me is not long enough to conclude that I've left the discussion. In that amount of time someone could've been out, sleeping, at work, or any number of things, although probably not 1 thing on its own. It did come up so I feel I need to mention it.

As to the substantial stuff, I think there was really only 1 thing I can address without looking at further resources provided by people in the comment section. I addressed Stefan's slavery analogy relating to how a stateless society might work, that if an action or policy is immoral, it is not necessary to show that an alternative works before you outlaw it. The analogy goes that that was the case with slavery. I responded by saying that it is literally impossible that the first human society to exist had slaves, as non-slavery is the default position, and that there were already suitable examples of how non-slavery would work, as many were already practising it. One thing I didn't address was Stefan's example of a currently working stateless society: individual interaction. This came up in the comment section and proved highly contentious.

I disagree with Stefan in that I don't see his example as an example at all. In the slavery example, a non-slave, assuming (s)he isn't a slave master, is unaffected by slavery. They might know about it, but it doesn't impact the day-to-day activity of their life. A slave-free society, then, is simply a generalisation of the lives of all applicable non-slaves to everyone in society, and so, in a society with slaves, even if there is no significant prior example of a slave-free society, there is enough information provided by the non-slaves to suggest this society can work. Critics of my video pointed to Stefan's example of individual interaction as being generalisable in the same way to a stateless society. The problem I have with this is that individual interactions ARE affected by the state. The state imposes laws on us, telling us that we can't kill, rape, steal, do certain kinds of drugs, that we must pay tax etc. These are all legitimate criticisms of the state made by anarchists, but the fact that the state does this skews the "data" regarding the success of individual interactions. For the critics of my video to have a convincing argument, we need "data" on individual interaction in a state-free context. It's also not a case of generalising individual interactions anyway, the interactions can become very complex, and many of the interactions necessary in a stateless society don't and can't occur in our current societies. Hence why I encouraged someone to try to set up a DRO (Dispute Resolution Organisation) as outlined in Stefan's book.

There is another thought I've had and it's to do with the morality of the state. My main criticism of current anarcho-capitalist views was that the moral basis of their position seemed limited to taking the immorality of state violence, and violence against innocent people in general, as an absolute. I'll use Stefan's own slavery example to make my point, although it's unlikely that you'll agree if you don't share my more utilitarian approach to morality.

Stefan said that slavery should be outlawed on the basis of its immorality first and foremost. Now, let me be absolutely clear. I do not condone slavery. However, let's take a hypothetical slavery-legal society. What if the slaves themselves felt that their life was better under the slave master? What if the vast majority of slave owners were benevolent, and treated their slaves well? Now, you might say "it doesn't matter, they still don't have any freedom beyond that which the slave master chooses to grant them, and that's still wrong". But what if the slaves were aware of this argument but didn't value freedom that highly? At that point their decision is suitably informed. Now if the slave genuinely doesn't want to be freed from his slavery, who would anyone be to tell them that that slavery is immoral when even the victims of such slavery have come to an informed decision (this particular part is very important) that they disagree? Certainly, in such a society, anti-slavery politicians wouldn't have been very popular with these particular slaves.

The previous paragraph is how I feel about the state. Yes, my choices are follow the laws of the state, or live like a hermit, not participating in modern society. Yes, the state does enforce those laws through violent means. But, as things currently stand, I don't mind. If I'm a slave, I'm happy to be 1 for the time being. The moment when I think a stateless society could work, either when technology is sufficiently advanced enough to eliminate scarcity, or when I come across a convincing blueprint for a stateless society that can work today, I will change my mind. As things currently stand, I view the state as a net positive moral entity, simply because the moral opportunity cost of proposed alternatives I've come across, due to my assessment that they can't currently work, is too high. I appreciate the attempts anarchists have provided so far, and I will continue to look into the resources, but now I think anyone reading this has the clearest portrayal of my views on the issue I've ever given.

I now want to move onto drugs. I saw a documentary about cocaine: how and where it's produced and how it gets to the consumers. It focused on production in Colombia by farmers who would be in horrible poverty otherwise, how they sold it to the cartels to refine it, how it was trafficked to Mexico through their cartels, what law enforcement officials in Mexico and the USA are doing to combat it, and how the cartels adapt to new prevention strategies. After watching the documentary I saw a stunningly idiotic comment in the comment section. It said that the documentary was state propaganda. If anything, it was 1 of the strongest arguments for legalisation I've ever encountered. Despite raids on farmers and cartel labs in the jungle, and near-Orwellian border controls, they are still failing miserably to win the "war on drugs". The documentary clearly showed their utter failure, and 1 official even admitted that the problem was never going to go away.

Here's why I think legalising cocaine in all 3 countries can solve these problems. I'll look at everything mentioned in the documentary. First, the farmers, who are only trying to provide for their family, will not be raided. Now, what happens then is likely to be a trade-off of the process, because if it is legalised in all 3 countries, cocaine could be grown in either of the 3 countries (thanks to hydroponics and indoor farming, a warm climate is no longer necessary). Since the farmers mainly supply other countries, their business is likely to decrease, as it would most likely be cheaper to grow cocaine intended for American consumers in the USA. If demand for Colombian cocaine decreases, the prices will, and so the farmers would most likely need to find some other cash crop. However, the money formerly used by the Colombian government to raid the farmers could instead be used to fund projects which may ultimately help them.

The picture is far rosier elsewhere. Legal cocaine vendors in the USA, as it would then be legal to grow it there, would not need to do business with the Mexican and Colombian cartels. Since the incentive to deal drugs is money, this is likely to kill them off, unless they can find some other profitable black market to serve as their source of revenue.

The money that all 3 governments lose by fighting drug proliferation can now be money gained by taxing the newly legalised drug. Setting the level too high could keep the black market alive, if significantly weakened, as they could still undercut the legal businesses, but if set responsibly, it would be an excellent investment.

Finally, if Portugal is anything to go by, usage will actually decrease. It's important to pay attention to the nuances of Portugal's legislation as 1 detail different could change the outcome, but there is a lot to be learned from their approach to the issue as well as the approach of the Netherlands.

Well I think that's enough for today. Hopefully, things will continue to look up, and I hope they do for you too.


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