Tag Archives: libertarian

growing stages

WANTED: Liberty entrepreneurs

Money is a dirty word in the liberty movement.  Ironic, for a pro-free-market and free trade ideology.  But when theory becomes reality, many recoil at the idea of bloggers doing sales or advertising.  Why?

Spending time to make content or technology means taking time away from other activities, whether business or leisure.  That time has to be compensated.  Yet some act like entitled socialists, expecting this work to be provided for free!

To be fair, some monetization strategies are obnoxious or spammy.  But all that means is we need better monetization options.  Better technologies.  Better feedback and suggestion from audiences of what works and what doesn’t.

For the liberty movement to survive, much less thrive and change the world, it must be economically self-sufficient.  If you can’t feed yourself, you can’t change the world.  If our activities in pursuit of liberty are not profitable, but only financial drains, we will never grow and advance.

We need more business models around advancing liberty.  We need more content, more media platforms, more technologies.  With the fake news media collapsing before our eyes, there has never been a better opportunity than now.  There is so much pent up demand and very little supply.

We need more liberty entrepreneurs.

Not just from an economic perspective, but from a psychological one as well.  It can get depressing focusing only on what the poweful are doing to us.  Who wants to be on a constantly losing team, with a victim mentality?  It’s time we recognize our own power, take responsibility, and become agents of change.

I am working on several media technology projects with a group of liberty-minded developers and creators.  Want to join the effort?  Email me at apollo at apolloslater dot com and let’s get to work!

three pirates fighting

Trump split libertarians

The Trump phenomenon has splintered the libertarian movement into three distinct groups.  The massive political realignment taking place has exposed fractures that have existed for a long time.  How will these factions reconcile and will they constitute a unified movement in the future?

Left-libertarians – Typically DC beltway libertarians and wannabe respectable types.  The biggest of the three groups, they are best represented by Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.  They value left social issues and are animated by anti-racism, gay marriage, and baking of cakes.  They also think Trump is racist and hates women.  Any good that may come from Trump’s challenge of the establishment is overshadowed by his being Pure Evil.

Paleo-conservatives – People like Lew Rockwell and Jeff Deist.  They value nationalism and traditional right views on culture, immigrants, and political correctness.  There is a silver lining to every one of Trump’s totalitarian or economically destructive proposals.

Voluntarists – The smallest faction, with people like Robert Wenzel and James Corbett.  They see Trump as not much different from Hillary or any of the other candidates, and a potential disaster for the country and the libertarian brand.    They tend to point out both the good aspects and terrible aspects of Trump’s proposals.

gary_johnson_libertarian

Gary Johnson’s collapse helped Trump win

Back in August, I concluded my last post with the following prediction:

However, as the clock ticks towards the election, it is likely that the race will be forced into a Trump-Hillary binary, diminishing the third parties, and giving Trump a much-needed small boost.

Sure enough, this is exactly what happened.  Gary Johnson’s collapse helped push Trump over the top in a highly competitive race, as you can see from the RealClearPolitics chart below.

election-2016-gary-johnson-effect

In the end, third parties may not affect the narrative of the election much, but they do have an effect on who is perceived to be winning or losing, especially in a tight race.  This has an outsized effect on the race, compared to the raw vote totals, and should be further studied and exploited by future campaigns.

Steemit logo

Steemit, a fresh breath of hot air

This post is an edited collection of my responses to James Corbett’s presentation on the social bookmarking site Steemit.

A new social bookmarking site, Steemit, has been taking off recently, in libertarian and anarchist circles, promising decentralized, uncontrolled publishing via blockchain technology.  However, on closer analysis, Steemit does not look decentralized at all. It looks like a standard social bookmarking site, with the added feature of paying for tokens to increase your post/comment ranking. It seems like interest groups with deep pockets could easily game the ranking system, moreso than other sites. In fact, this operation seems more like a scheme to sell digital currency than a publishing platform.

As for the blockchain, besides the nice buzzword, I’m not sure what it solves in terms of preventing censorship, besides providing a public cache. This function is performed now by image-hosting sites, private websites, archive.org, as well as the social network platforms themselves. The big problem is discovery and ranking, how people actually communicate and find out about stuff, which Steemit is still very vulnerable to.

It’s very odd that Steemit requires a Facebook or Reddit account to function, with plans to add SMS verification, but no stated plans to remove these restrictions. I’m not sure what permissions they ask for, since I haven’t signed up, but it certainly opens the possibility of those social networks reading your Steemit posts and punishing you on their platform. In any case, it’s a big hint that this is not a decentralized system and is doubly strange because most platforms do not have such a restrictive requirement. A truly decentralized system would not have a spam/fake account problem, except as DDoS, since it would not rely on a central index.

Steemit does not look like any better of a solution than Facebook or Twitter at this point, except to the extent that you trust the people running it more. The links to the User Agreement and Privacy Policy are broken and there is no ownership information about the company on their website. Caution!

Lucy and Charlie Brown play football

The practical failure of libertarians (and what to do about it)

I was floored by the sheer inanity of Walter Block going back on his word to disband “Libertarians for Trump” after the convention.  This nonsensical shilling for a would-be tyrant by a smart, prominent libertarian, based on nothing more than a willful naivete around a politician’s lies, is very discouraging.

Remember candidate George W. Bush’s claim to be against nation-building?  Boy, did that work out well.  Now we are supposed to believe Trump is a non-interventionist, even though his psychology and history clearly do not point to that conclusion.  It’s like the last 16 years never happened and no lessons were learned about believing presidential candidates’ words.

Walter Block isn’t the only libertarian with googly-eyes for Trump;  Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, and others as well.   Maybe they are more paleocons than libertarians after all?  Who can tell.  But if these libertarian leaders can be so taken in by the emotional con game, what hope is there for the masses?  Can education and spreading ideas really result in a voluntary society?  Do we not have the right ideas yet and that’s why we’re falling into error?  What are we missing?

Here are a few suggestions of what I think we need, that we’re missing.

#1, devise ways to measure how much progress we’re making toward the goal of a voluntary society.  We need to be able to tell which tactics work and which don’t, which are more effective and less effective.  We clearly don’t have a good handle on this, judging by the constant debates on the merits of voting.

#2, create an institutional alternative to the Libertarian Party, focused on non-political means of achieving a voluntary society.  There are plenty of options already on the table; they should be catalogued, nurtured, promoted, and funded at an institutional level.  Right now, most people assume that electoral politics is the only way to effect change.  A non-political action organization would help break this paradigm.

#3, develop self-reinforcing systems of advancing liberty.  The problem with relying on education to advance liberty is that it’s a constant struggle, and only a few will have the motivation, time, patience, curiosity, resources, etc. to understand the issues and go against their emotional instincts.  Even with this education, as we’ve seen with “Libertarians for Trump”, it’s easy to go off the rails.

Just as the market functions regardless of the personal opinions of its participants, we need to devise systems that inherently advance liberty by their very nature.  Ideally, such systems would align people’s financial interests with advancing liberty.  It’s hard to stay in the fight if you have to scrape by to survive.  A focus on systems of coordination, not just the ideas of liberty per se, is needed to make the liberty movement an effective social force.

Hillary Clinton Crazy Eyes

Hillary Clinton: dangerous overachiever

As with my previous comments on Donald Trump, I think it’s more useful to look at these candidates’ psychological states in order to predict their behavior, rather than evaluate their policy positions, which are a mess of contradictions, change constantly, and are mostly lies.

Although he has no clear agenda, Trump could be goaded into certain actions, due to the nature of his personality.  On the other hand, Hillary does have an agenda.  She is a driving force who does not need to be goaded into anything.  It’s hard to know which personality is more dangerous.

Think about all the pent-up frustration Hillary must feel, having waited decades for her turn.  It’s a cliche at this point.  She must have reams of ideas, notebooks and binders full of ideas for growing government and running our lives.  She absolutely knows what she wants to do and is chomping at the bit to impose her plans on the country.  She will no longer be in the back seat, looking on while a man does the job she was destined to do.  This alone suggests an activist president.

Speaking of these men, Hillary can’t just be yet another president.  She will naturally be viewed as merely a shadow of her husband, a pale imitation of his glory days, and a limp-wristed followup to the Obama reign.  She will definitely feel the need to differentiate herself, to surpass these two men and show what she can really do.  Remember, she’s a woman in a historic role — and you can bet she will act accordingly.

The woman issue is a big one.  In order to live up to the hype, she has to get the job done.  Remember when they let that first woman into the Marines and she flunked out?  That’s not an option for Hillary.  She will be facing what she believes to be sexism and will try to overcompensate for her sex accordingly.  That screams activism, especially in a foreign policy setting, where masculine strength and gravitas are traditionally valued.  Look for more wars and adventurism, which she has proven she is very much able and willing to execute.

Although Trump is explicitly activist in his policy proposals for infrastructure and spending, it’s clear that Hillary has the psychological constitution for equal or more activism.  And in the foreign policy realm, where Trump has expressed some skepticism of adventurism, Hillary may be downright catastrophic.