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Rave

Libertarianism/ Geolibertarianism / Anarchy

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I've just had an enjoyable exchange with a chap on Twitter, Rothbardian @Sebastian_JKT (I'm @RuudGit ). We were tweeting each other fast and live for about 15 minutes so I guess the 'timeline' is a complete mess, but search us if you're interested. I only have Twitter on my smartphone and I still don't really understand its complexities if I'm honest.

Anyway I've enjoyed the guy's Libertarian tweets but I had to take exception to a claim he posted about private ownership being good for Scottish shooting and fishing estates. I asked him if he supported a land value tax so that I could share in the bounty of the fish in the rivers, and he replied "no, all tax is theft".

And so of course I asked how his philosophy of Libertarian non-violence squares with how those estates of thousands of acres came to be privately owned, which must have been as a result of someone violently excluding others from the use of the land? His response was an article about native American Indians, and their claim to their traditional territories.

I'm extremely attracted to the idea of GeoLibertarianism, and my fundamental belief is that every human being born on this planet has an equal right to his own 1/7billionth of it. But obviously not all of the landmass of the earth is created equal, and so ultimately someone has to adjudicate between the value of an acre of Argentinian Steppe, and an acre of Central London. And so, there has to be some sort of authority taking money from someone and giving it to someone else in whatever form...and then you're back to the problem of corruptible elected officials going on a land, money, and power grab!

Anyone got an idea to square the circle?!

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Much as I like the idea of a world without a state, I don't believe it is possible.

A fundamental error in most libertarian thinking is that the state is the only power that you have to be worried about. Privately owned corporations are assumed to be all equal, Goldman Sachs on a par with the newsagent's shop at the end of the street. Which of course is not true.You need a strong state to keep private interests in line, otherwise you have those private interests dominating and making life hell for everyone else.

A strong state is not the same as a state that interferes in everything. You could have a fairly minimalist state that intervenes to stop, say, private slave trading, but which doen't have agencies that pry into every aspect of private citizens' lives.

What we have in Britain and America at the moment is, arguably, the obverse - a weak state that can't keep private banking corporations in line but which interefres in everything to no good end.

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You need a strong state to keep private interests in line, otherwise you have those private interests dominating and making life hell for everyone else.

Uh, no. A 'strong state' creates those dominating private interests. Where would big banks be without bloated governments to keep out competition, allow them to create money from nothing and bail them out when they screw up?

Big business and big government are symbiotic organisms; Big Business collects taxes and gives them to Big State which hands them back in government contracts. Neither can exist long without the other.

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A fundamental error in most libertarian thinking is that the state is the only power that you have to be worried about. Privately owned corporations are assumed to be all equal, Goldman Sachs on a par with the newsagent's shop at the end of the street. Which of course is not true.You need a strong state to keep private interests in line, otherwise you have those private interests dominating and making life hell for everyone else.

That's simply not true. I have no idea where you would get that from. A libertarian would never believe Goldman Sachs has the same power as the newsagents - they would say Goldman Sachs was only able to get so big in the first place because there was a powerful government there to be corrupted.

I'm convinced Goldman Sachs love receiving fines from the government - makes it look like the government is keeping them in line whereas the truth is that the government support they get is enormous.

The banks and government found something they agree on that would screw the common person with them loving it the whole time - get-rich-quick house price inflation. The perfect triangle.

The large banks - special relationship with the government.

Microsoft - copyright enforced by government.

Media conglomerates - copyright enforced by government (they really will break your door down on their behalf).

etc. etc.

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That's simply not true. I have no idea where you would get that from. A libertarian would never believe Goldman Sachs has the same power as the newsagents - they would say Goldman Sachs was only able to get so big in the first place because there was a powerful government there to be corrupted.

I'm convinced Goldman Sachs love receiving fines from the government - makes it look like the government is keeping them in line whereas the truth is that the government support they get is enormous.

The banks and government found something they agree on that would screw the common person with them loving it the whole time - get-rich-quick house price inflation. The perfect triangle.

The large banks - special relationship with the government.

Microsoft - copyright enforced by government.

Media conglomerates - copyright enforced by government (they really will break your door down on their behalf).

etc. etc.

Where do I get that from? - Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Alex Jones - oh, and Nozick in his 'Anarchy, State and Utopia.'

I am not sure that over-powerful corporations rely on state power too enhance their position. John D Rockefeller and his oil wealth did not rely too much on state power. He bullied competitors. used ethically and legally dubious methods but above all relid on the fact that he was among the first to develop a particular technology. From there he and his family spread their tentacles into other spheres of the economy.

If America had been a stateless society and Rockefeller deemed it within his interest to invent the state, he would have done so, and without a state to stand up to him, would have got away with it.

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Had Lizzie managed to overturn 'democracy' in 1952, I reckon that she would have done a far better job than any of the PMs we have had since then.

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I don't think any but the most extreme libertarians are saying no state at all. Most would say keep the state as small as possible consistent with enforcing the rule of law.

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Libertarianism with property ownership is an oxymoron.

Suppose you "own" the Cairngorms, suppose I go and build a hut there in the middle of nowhere beside a salmon river and live in it eating the salmon I have caught. What are you going to do about it?

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Libertarianism with property ownership is an oxymoron.

Suppose you "own" the Cairngorms, suppose I go and build a hut there in the middle of nowhere beside a salmon river and live in it eating the salmon I have caught. What are you going to do about it?

Forcibly evict you à la highland clearances.

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Where do I get that from? - Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Alex Jones - oh, and Nozick in his 'Anarchy, State and Utopia.'

I am not sure that over-powerful corporations rely on state power too enhance their position. John D Rockefeller and his oil wealth did not rely too much on state power. He bullied competitors. used ethically and legally dubious methods but above all relid on the fact that he was among the first to develop a particular technology. From there he and his family spread their tentacles into other spheres of the economy.

If America had been a stateless society and Rockefeller deemed it within his interest to invent the state, he would have done so, and without a state to stand up to him, would have got away with it.

Ron Paul:

It is big government that misdirects economic productivity into bankrupt businesses that they consider to be too big to fail.

To me that reads that governments shouldn't prop up big organisations that would otherwise fail. They have put more effort into propping up the banks than they ever did with corner shops.

Rockefeller had all sorts of help from the government - ask why he incorporated Standard Oil and used all sorts of other government granted structures such as trusts to get to where he did.

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Libertarianism with property ownership is an oxymoron.

Suppose you "own" the Cairngorms, suppose I go and build a hut there in the middle of nowhere beside a salmon river and live in it eating the salmon I have caught. What are you going to do about it?

It depends what you mean by property

There's a difference impo between something you've made and claiming to own natural resources that were just there.

A common weasly argument employed by the landed gentry is that, oh no, they don't claim to own the land they've appropriated, they're just custodians for future generations (of landed gentry, presumably)

I find the development of mining camps in the 19th century interesting case histories of groups of people figuring out how to run things in isolated communities, outside of the control of established states. The deal with claims was no-one could claim a patch larger than any one person could work (cf. wiki homesteading) and if they didn't work it the claim was forfeit.

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Where do I get that from? - Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Alex Jones - oh, and Nozick in his 'Anarchy, State and Utopia.'

I am not sure that over-powerful corporations rely on state power too enhance their position. John D Rockefeller and his oil wealth did not rely too much on state power. He bullied competitors. used ethically and legally dubious methods but above all relid on the fact that he was among the first to develop a particular technology. From there he and his family spread their tentacles into other spheres of the economy.

If America had been a stateless society and Rockefeller deemed it within his interest to invent the state, he would have done so, and without a state to stand up to him, would have got away with it.

The first historical example of a rapacious, autonomous corporation as a state, complete with army, that comes to mind is the East India Company. However, even that relied on the state to facilitate its existence and to enforce its monopolies.

There was also a fair bit of that in the US in the age of the Rockefellers and the other robber barons in the 19th/ early 20th century. The biggest pitched battle between private armies and ordinary folk I'm aware of was the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. Brought to an end by ... the US government, in favour of the landlords

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The first historical example of a rapacious, autonomous corporation as a state, complete with army, that comes to mind is the East India Company. However, even that relied on the state to facilitate its existence and to enforce its monopolies.

There was also a fair bit of that in the US in the age of the Rockefellers and the other robber barons in the 19th/ early 20th century. The biggest pitched battle between private armies and ordinary folk I'm aware of was the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. Brought to an end by ... the US government, in favour of the landlords

I'm sure you could make a case for this phenomenon appearing much earlier - in the medieval banking corporations of Italian city states for example.

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generally when it comes to land ownership, libertarians seem to go for the lockian idea of 'homesteading'

ie once you invest labour into the land to change its nature, it becomes yours.

Some though (adam smith?) think all land should be nationalized, a tax paid on land occupied, but any proceeds are untaxed.

Thus the man who builds a very productive power plant pays no more tax than the hillbilly who uses it to store a bunch of rusty old cars he's too lazy to scrap.

I like that Idea (a straight forward LVT) but poor old granny miggins with the acre of land in leafy surrey would be taxed the hell out of and the tabloids would express outrage. Of course, the negative externalities of this plus NIMBYs mean the cost society has to bear so granny miggins can live in some time warp and pretend its still 1928 is far greater than her tax liability, but expecting rich old farts to pay even part of the costs of their anti-social behaviour is just evil, apparently.

The real problem is democracy. The idea that because a bunch of idiots who happen to be the largest bunch of idiots say something is right (usually because of their own damn short sighted selfishness. I cringe every time I hear some ******* neo-con/neo-liberal warmonger saying we want to bring 'democracy' to some poor unsuspecting part of the world.

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Without a state who enforces the rules? However with a state it's easy to corrupt the rules for the elites. It's a catch 22.

Clearly, we need a state because ordinary people can't be relied on to play fair.

And the best way to run that state is by asking the majority of those unfair, unreliable people how they'd like it to be managed.

Hmmm...

I don't consider myself a full-blown libertarian and feel vaguely nauseated by the deification of 'entrepreneurs' by rightist libertarians. However, I was taught, in state schools as it happens, and still believe that initiation of violence and coercion are morally wrong. I can't shrug the suspicion that any system underpinned by violence and coercion licks nuts, no matter how many or how few people vote for it.

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Thanks for the replies all.

Rave - follow @AndyWightman and @arrest_bankers. Both politically active and knowledgable geoists.

@andywightman has many debates with owners and sympathisers of Scottish estates on these matters.

He wrote the book "The Poor Had No Lawyers" which maps out the thefts inScotland. A strong advocate of much more locally devolved administration.

@arrest_bankers campaigns on land tax and geoism within the Liberal Party.

Followed, cheers. May well also buy the book which looks very interesting.

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I'm sure you could make a case for this phenomenon appearing much earlier - in the medieval banking corporations of Italian city states for example.

Go back far enough and I suspect you'd end up with semi-nomadic tribes within which political and economic power would be indivisible.

My fundamental problem with Libertarians is that they seem to want to wish political power - which is basically the power to force people to do things - out of existence. Which to me seems like wishing you could breathe underwater.. sure it would be nice, it would have all kinds of safety and economic benefits and you never know, in 100 years technology may make it possible. But that doesn't mean you can go walk into the sea..

Likewise, the power to coerce will exist for the foreseeable future. It would be nice if it didn't.

What we should be looking at is practical ways to separate political and economic power - stopping the revolving door between large banks and government may help for a start.

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I'm sure you could make a case for this phenomenon appearing much earlier - in the medieval banking corporations of Italian city states for example.

I mentioned the East India Company as the first example of a corporation functioning as a state that came to my mind. I didn't mean to imply it was the first example chronologically.

As you say, the roots of corporate entities such as the East India and Hudson Bay companies, which ruled chunks of the globe as if they were governments, arguably lie in medieval Italy.

[Webster Tarpley argues that the origins lie specifically in Venice and that the Venetian System was transplanted to the UK during the Restoration...

The Venetian Conspracy

Unfortunately, that Webster Tarpley article was written by Webster Tarpley and is therefore verbose and very hard going (and a teensy weensy bit conspiratorial)]

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Go back far enough and I suspect you'd end up with semi-nomadic tribes within which political and economic power would be indivisible.

My fundamental problem with Libertarians is that they seem to want to wish political power - which is basically the power to force people to do things - out of existence. Which to me seems like wishing you could breathe underwater.. sure it would be nice, it would have all kinds of safety and economic benefits and you never know, in 100 years technology may make it possible. But that doesn't mean you can go walk into the sea..

Likewise, the power to coerce will exist for the foreseeable future. It would be nice if it didn't.

What we should be looking at is practical ways to separate political and economic power - stopping the revolving door between large banks and government may help for a start.

I can't divorce the idea of homesteading libertarians from that of gun-toting frontiersmen (& women) in my mind, and perhaps there is something rather fundamental in that? I think that you're absolutely right to assert that wishing away 'power' is absurd, but what is (arguably) wrong in the relationships of states to individuals is that we have been placed in a hierarchy of power over which we have little control.

The government and its affiliate gangs have all the guns, real and metaphorical, and we have been completely disarmed. Sure, the Wild West may not be a model for social harmony, but there is something profound in the idea of ultimate violence being in the hands of every good law-abiding citizen and thus society as a whole (within a fairly standard set of common laws) rather than only in the hands of criminals and agents of the state (some may not distinguish here!) being something that would tend to maintain a balance of power amongst all members of a society and dissuade certain individuals, be they state or other private individuals, from taking the proverbial p!ss.

Modern America is perhaps a powerful case against why everybody should have access to deadly firearms, but I believe that there are many other variables that contribute to that particular mess - many other countries where guns are legal seem not to share these problems to nearly the same extent.

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Where do I get that from? - Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Alex Jones - oh, and Nozick in his 'Anarchy, State and Utopia.'

I am not sure that over-powerful corporations rely on state power too enhance their position.

they rely on lobby groups and legalities to stack the deck in their favour.

it's still the same "false weight and measures"

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I can't divorce the idea of homesteading libertarians from that of gun-toting frontiersmen (& women) in my mind, and perhaps there is something rather fundamental in that? I think that you're absolutely right to assert that wishing away 'power' is absurd, but what is (arguably) wrong in the relationships of states to individuals is that we have been placed in a hierarchy of power over which we have little control.

The government and its affiliate gangs have all the guns, real and metaphorical, and we have been completely disarmed. Sure, the Wild West may not be a model for social harmony, but there is something profound in the idea of ultimate violence being in the hands of every good law-abiding citizen and thus society as a whole (within a fairly standard set of common laws) rather than only in the hands of criminals and agents of the state (some may not distinguish here!) being something that would tend to maintain a balance of power amongst all members of a society and dissuade certain individuals, be they state or other private individuals, from taking the proverbial p!ss.

Modern America is perhaps a powerful case against why everybody should have access to deadly firearms, but I believe that there are many other variables that contribute to that particular mess - many other countries where guns are legal seem not to share these problems to nearly the same extent.

Arguably the armed stand-off in the last few eeks at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy involving an out-of-control Bureau of Land Managment is an excellent reason for having an armed citizenry.

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Arguably the armed stand-off in the last few eeks at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy involving an out-of-control Bureau of Land Managment is an excellent reason for having an armed citizenry.

Had to look that one up. If he hadn't had the support of those militiamen it could all have gone a bit Waco quite quickly. And over a ridiculous $1m fine for letting his cows eat some federally owned grass! I certainly find it hard to see the govt as the injured party here.

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Had to look that one up. If he hadn't had the support of those militiamen it could all have gone a bit Waco quite quickly. And over a ridiculous $1m fine for letting his cows eat some federally owned grass! I certainly find it hard to see the govt as the injured party here.

There's a strong case to be made that some state agencies in the US and elsewhere are becoming increasingly militarised and OTT in the way they present themselves

but...

An alternative point of view in this particular case might be that Bundy is no hero either. Rather, he's a wealthy welfare sponger who's not prepared to pay even the heavily subsidised costs of maintaining state-controlled lands he's grazing his cattle on.

John Stewart's, or John Stewart's handlers', take on the case...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1SUt7Y7FSA

Highlights include a Bundy supporter talking about using women as human shields and Bundy noncing around on a horse waving a huge flag of a government he denies exists.

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An alternative point of view in this particular case might be that Bundy is no hero either.

"If they're gonna start shooting it's gonna be women who are televised all over the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers". Hahaha, too funny!

I chuckled along with Jon, but all the "produce will tend to be cheaper when you steal the raw ingredients" and "it's too bad surfer dude isn't a cow or otherwise Hannerty (?) would be fine with the government paying for his meals" reveal the underlying bias in his comedic coverage.

I don't know the detials, but presumably if the land were valuable or being put to some use then it would have been fenced or otherwise monitored over that 20 year period. The fact that it wasn't suggests it was simply a chunk of unused open prairie, and thus the cattle grazing there was doing no harm to anybody, and was simply making use of an available resource to nobody's detriment (a sensible course of action that no one should object to imo).

My personal bias is that no just law can be claimed to have been broken if there is nobody who can claim a harm from the action. Not sure exactly what the BLM's beef was in this particular situation (no bun intended).

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