Achieving a mutualist society through decentralisation

Adam Kokesh, controversial anarcho-capitalist celebrity and anti-war activist, is planning to run for President of the United States on the platform of an orderly dissolution of the state.
As far as I can tell, he plans to do this by slowly privatising or abolishing each and every agency of the government throughout his term, and then fully dissolving the entire government as he leaves office.
I have a very similar yet radically different proposal. As I am not an anarcho-capitalist, but a left-libertarian, I figure that a similar plot may be used to replace the state with a mutualist social order.

Instead of immediately setting about privatising the government, we should instead build up a robust social-democratic system, akin to Jeremy Corbyn's vision for the UK.
Our first step should be to create a workable universal healthcare system, a Medicare for All. We should also create a free college system similar to Bernie Sanders' proposal.
As for our current welfare systems, they are in dire need of substantial reform. Unemployment benefits can be replaced with a guaranteed minimum income or universal basic income scheme. The latter can also replace retirement benefits.
The energy, water, and other utilities industries should be fully nationalised. The energy industry in particular should be transitioned as quickly as is possible to using clean, renewable power sources as opposed to fossil fuels and other pollutants.
Certain regulations should also be enacted: for instance, all workplaces should be required to unionise, overly-complex financial arrangements and actions (such as credit default swaps) should be restricted, and net neutrality should be implemented and strictly enforced.
At the same time, civil liberties must be restored. The USA PATRIOT Act and the USA FREEDOM Act should be repealed, along with the Controlled Substances Act, the Espionage Act of 1917, and any other law which infringes on the right to privacy, freedom of speech, or any other fundamental right.
The Department of Homeland Security should be abolished and the Department of Defense shrunk to only the minimum required to defend against foreign attack. At the same time, the state should adopt an open-borders policy. As I have suggested before, the state should not penalise immigrants nor penalise employers for simply hiring immigrants, but should rather penalise employers for not paying immigrants the same wage as native-born workers doing the same job.

Once this order is implemented, more radical measures must be taken. Taxation should be reduced to a land value tax, a capital gains tax, and a progressive general wealth tax. These have two functions:
  1. These taxes should be more than enough to fund all state functions; see Joseph Stiglitz' work on the land value tax.
  2. The taxes, combined with the social programmes, have the effect of restoring land and capital to their rightful places as common property to a certain extent.
A rule should be instated mandating that a failed or bankrupt business hand over its ownership to its workers to be managed as a cooperative; the same rule should apply immediately to any business directly or indirectly receiving government benefits. Extensive financial reform should be undertaken to remake each bank into a credit union.

As soon as this programme is running smoothly, the functions of the state must be not privatised but decentralised. Social welfare agencies and nationalised industries should be transformed into mutual aid networks. Regulatory agencies can be replaced by consumer watchdog collectives. The police and the military can be substituted for people's militias (such as the YPG/YPJ or EZLN). And so on.

For further elaboration on the relationship between anarchy and democracy, please refer to Gabriel Amadej's excellent piece for the Center for a Stateless Society, 'The Regime of Liberty'.
In the meantime, let us practise mutual aid and exercise compassion toward the aim of a fairer, freer world.

Patreonomics

I'm utterly baffled, to be honest, about the economic mechanisms at play in Patreon (here's mine, by the way).
The normal mechanisms of the market to achieve equilibrium don't apply; indeed, I don't think there's such a thing as equilibrium when it comes to Patreon.
So here's an analysis of labour when it comes to Patreon, using as case studies two accounts: the funny, brilliant podcast Chapo Trap House and the pseudointellectual right-wing YouTuber Sargon of Akkad.

As of time of writing, Chapo Trap House is making $65,601.00 per month (meaning $787,212.00 per year), which amounts to approximately $15,098.00 per week (the average number of weeks in a month is approx. 4.345, so $65,601.00 ÷ 4.345 = approx. $15,098.00).
The average length of each episode, which I assume is equivalent to the time it takes to record, is 1 hour. I'm only guessing, but I assume the time spent in preparation and pre-production and the time spent in editing and other forms of post-production are 2 hours and 1 hour respectively. 2 episodes are released per week.
Adding up the hours spent in the creation of each episode (4 hours) and multiplying that number by that of episodes released per week, we get 8 hours of labour per week. Dividing the Dry Boys' weekly income by this number yields an hourly wage of $1,887.25.

From this, we may extract a general formula for determining the hourly wages of an audio or video content producer on Patreon:
Let Im = monthly income,
Iw = weekly income,
L = the length in hours of the audio or video product,
P = the hours spent in preparation and pre-production + the hours spent in editing and other forms of post-production,
Q = the number of products released per week,
W = the hours spent in labour per week, and
Ih = the hourly wage of the producer.
To derive W, we must apply the following formula: Q(L + P) = W.
To derive Ih, the following formula works: Iw/W = Ih.
Thus, in expanded form, the formula for the hourly wage of a given audio or video content producer on Patreon is: Im/4.345 = Iw/Q(L + P) = W = Ih.

Now let's apply this to Carl of Swindon Sargon of Akkad. He makes $5,637.00 per month for regurgitating right-wing garbage, which amounts to a rather nice $67,644.00 per year. His average video is approximately half an hour (0.5 hours, for calculation purposes), and I'll guess he spends 1.5 hours in preparation and pre-production, while I'll also guess he spends 1 hour in editing and post-production. He tends to release 3 videos per week.
So let's apply the formula:
$5,637.00/4.345 = $1,297.00 (approx.)/3(0.5 + 2.5) = 9 = $144.11.

Given that Sargon puts more time into production than the Dry Boys, this may cast some doubt on the labour theory of value. But two factors must be taken into consideration before any conclusions may be drawn:
  1. These are estimates, drawn from my own experience podcasting and making videos. As well, the labour involved in the creation of the equipment must be taken into account. Not only that, but the quality and effort put into the creation of Chapo Trap House may be more than that put into Sargon's videos.
  2. Patreon is different from your average market in multiple ways. I can't explain the differences in detail, but they're obvious.
I'd love to see an analysis of this from a Marxian, neo-Ricardian, mutualist, New Classical, or any sort of interesting perspective, but this is what we've got for now.

In conclusion, donate to my Patreon.
Thank you.

'They terk er jerbs!' Do immigrants really drive down wages?


I'll say this just to make my point clearer: I'm talking about the United States and its Latin American immigration, not Europe, and I'm focusing on the economic effects of immigration, so I'll be avoiding any discussion of the usual Trumpian rhetoric and xenophobic canards about drugs, crime, rapists, and whatnot. The Sentencing Project has already released a report demonstrating that 'foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens', simple observation and deduction show that with any population transfer, the absolute crime rate may increase, but the relative crime rate will probably stay the same (and this is an important distinction to understand), and frankly, if you were an immigrant, wouldn't you have an incentive to avoid deportation by, say, not committing crimes, which generally increase your likelihood of being deported?
And what about immigrants being lazy? That stereotype is rooted in age-old ethnic stereotypes of Hispanics, and especially Mexicans, which can be refuted easily by studies showing that immigrants on average work harder than native-born citizens.
So these two myths are instantly busted.
But do they, as the 'pissed-off white redneck conservatives' like to say, 'take our jobs'? Or, as a slightly more economically literate nativist might say, 'drive down our wages'?
Let's apply a little economic reasoning here:
As I've shown, immigrants are, by and large, labourers. And since wealth is derived from labour (Kevin Carson has an excellent defence of this position in Chapter 1 of his Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, which can be read here), additional labour means additional wealth. Furthermore, as immigrants are necessarily, as with all of us, consumers of goods, they create additional demand, and where there is more demand, as any economist will tell you, more supply comes to meet it. This additional supply means that prices go down to achieve equilibrium. It should be clear that these prices don't lower just for immigrants, but for everyone across the board. So right off the bat, we have immigrants making things better for everyone!
So whence the idea that immigrants 'steal' jobs and depress wages?
Employers, generally seeking to maximise profits, see immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, as a source of cheap labour. They can pay documented immigrants minimum wage, as most immigrants are glad to even have a job, and that's equally true for undocumented immigrants, who they can pay even less than minimum wage, as the lack of documentation puts them outside of regulation. Hence the effect of wages in general being depressed and native-born workers being fired.
But is this the immigrants' fault, or is it the employers' fault?
Ultimately, it's the employers' decision to pay these lower wages and fire native-born workers. (Mainstream neoclassical economics seems to have a tendency to treat questions of unemployment, low wages, and poverty as matters of personal responsibility, but then treat employers mistreating their workers as helpless subjects of uunbreakable 'laws' of economics. I wonder why that is...)
There's no gun being held at employers' heads forcing them to pay lower wages. The only reason for that happening is the desire to get higher profits in the short term.
Trump wants to punish immigrants for seeking jobs over here and punish employers for simply hiring immigrants. This is not a policy that will keep citizens' wages high. The real solution is to punish employers for not paying immigrants, documented or undocumented, the equivalent of a native-born citizen's wages for the same amount of work.
It's worked in the past numerous times in various countries during nearly each major immigration wave of the last century. What's so special about the present that it can't work now?

For compassion-based politics, or: a proposal for anarcho-Mohism

I.

The Chinese philosopher Mozi postulated that the primary ill of humanity is too much partiality in compassion. (A further argument can be made that (post)modern society suffers from a deficit in compassion all around.)
Human beings have a bias toward the members of their ingroup. This bias can be exploited in horrific ways: when the Germans accepted themselves as the 'ingroup' and the Jews, Roma, LGBTQ+ people, etc. as the 'outgroup' in the 1930s-40s, the Nazis were able to provoke them to unprecedented levels of evil and cruelty. This rested entirely on the ingroup-outgroup classification.
(For a much more in-depth discussion of this same topic, please see Scott Alexander's now-(in)famous post at Slate Star Codex.)
The ingroup-outgroup bias can be benign, in the sense that a tumour can be benign, or it can reach the level of fascist atrocity.
Mozi's philosophy, known as Mohism, says that one would need to overcome this crude bias in order to become a truly ethical person; an ethical person will have compassion for all and act accordingly.

II.

We can see how this applies to modern politics on the macro scale with attitudes on immigration.
Note this tweet about a young woman who is supposed to be protected under the DREAM Act (although ICE under Trump is trying to deport her):
Now the response from a self-proclaimed Christian and conservative:
For Natasja, undocumented migrants—even those who were brought to the United States as young children—are the outgroup.
Even if they had no real choice.
Even if they have lived their entire life as Americans.
Her rationale, when confronted with that fact, is that this Dreamer's parents made a choice.
For a Christian, she is surprisingly ignorant of her own Bible. For it is written:

'The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father with him, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son with him; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.'

Ezekiel 18:20, JPS Tanakh 1917.

I must note that I do not consider illegal immigration 'iniquity'; rather, I consider it iniquity that we have a system which leaves many with no other choice but to risk life and limb to come here and I consider it iniquity the way we treat undocumented migrants:

'And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'

Leviticus 19:33-34, JPS Tanakh 1917.


Were not Natasja's ancestors strangers in the land of America when they came here?
Was my own father not a stranger when he came here, and my great-grandparents before him?
Show me in the Holy Bible, or indeed the Holy Qur'an, or the Bhagavad Gita, or indeed any sage text, where it says that only sojourners or strangers who have had to pass through invasive security theatre are worthy of compassion.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word 'iniquity' comes ultimately 'from Latin iniquitas, from iniquus, from in- ‘not’ + aequus ‘equal, just’.' The etymology of 'inequity' is the same.
What, if any, distinction can be made between the two? For this is the truth that has been understood for so long, and which has levelled great empires and laid barren the noblest of republics: Inequity is iniquity, and iniquity can never remain unpunished.

III.

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus Christ says that '[t]he kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:21, Lamsa.) And as Charlie Chaplin expanded in The Great Dictator, 'within you' means 'not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men.'
It is in this spirit, and in recognition of the above principle, that Nikolai Berdyaev, the great Russian philosopher and mystic, wrote:

'There is absolute truth in anarchism and it is to be seen in its attitude to the sovereignty of the state and to every form of state absolutism.…The religious truth of anarchism consists in this, that power over man is bound up with sin and evil, that a state of perfection is a state where there is no power of man over man, that is to say, anarchy. The Kingdom of God is freedom and the absence of such power…the Kingdom of God is anarchy.'

—Nikolai Berdyaev, trans. R. M. French, Slavery and Freedom, New York, Charles Scribners, 1944, p. 147.



IV.

Mozi 'advocated a form of state consequentialism, which sought to maximize three basic goods: the wealth, order, and population of the state' (P. J. Ivanhoe and B. W. van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2005, p. 60). By 'order', Mozi does not necessarily mean hierarchy, but rather the prevention of violence and the avoidance of warfare, which he saw as destructive and pointless; and by 'material wealth', he meant wealth for all, and not merely for a few.
But taking into consideration that we are embarking upon a fundamentally libertarian project, we must reject the idea of the state as part of our ethic. It also does not seem obvious to us that population growth is an inherent moral good.
Let us now turn to the words of the philosopher himself:

'It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.'

—Mozi, Mozi, 5th century a.e.v.; Mozi et al., Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, trans. Prof. B. Watson, New York, Columbia University Press, 1967, p. 110.


From this summation of Mozi's moral philosophy, we may deduce that the state is not a necessary part of the ethic of universal compassion; rather, it is the effect upon the world that determines what is right or wrong.
Let us finally turn to the moral philosophy of St. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, of St. Karl Barth, who wrote much of the Barmen Declaration, which laid the cornerstone for the Christian German resistance to the Hitler regime, and of Paul Tillich, who summarised this philosophy, known as situation ethics, in his statement that 'Love is the ultimate law.' (P. Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 152.)
The ideas of situation ethics harmonise with those of Mohism, as situation ethics demands only those actions which produce the most love, the most agapé, and nothing more. Any laws, any norms, any dictates or decrees which inhibit love are to be broken.
Here we see a clear return to that truth which Berdyaev stated so clearly: namely, that 'the Kingdom of God is anarchy.' The law of Love, of universal compassion, being the highest—no, the only law, has profoundly radical implications. The state, being an inherently violent institution, is an impediment to compassion, as is capitalism, which utterly negates compassion in its inhuman logic of profit and growth for the sake of growth ('the ideology of the cancer cell', as environmentalist Edward Abbey put it).
'Think globally, act locally', the slogan of social ecology, is a guide for a Mohist anarchy. Whatever action increases the well-being of a given community will, in a holistic manner, increase the well-being of the whole world.

V.

Only through universal compassion can an anarchist order be maintained and even created, and only through anarchy can compassion be realised.
It finds its purest expressions in the reemerging mutual aid movement, in the credit union, and in the cooperative. Though times are dark, and wars and genocides are raging, and it appears that all promises of a better future are lost, the hope of ages, which guided the Israelites to the Promised Land, which guided the Diggers and the Quakers to endure brutal repression in order to spread a Gospel of love and generosity, which led the Parisians, the Ukrainians, and the Spanish to establish free territories in the face of authoritarian assault, which led the Partisans of Warsaw and Vilna to rise up even when they knew they faced certain defeat, which led millions of black Americans to march against brutal segregation, which led the unemployed and the homeless to camp in Zuccotti Park to demand justice for the poor and destitute, which still leads the poor of Chiapas and Rojava to fight against their oppression, still burns in the hearts of human beings, and if I squint hard enough, I can see the Sun on the horizon ready to rise—but only when we reject all fear and hatred and hold on to compassion.

Solving the problem of transgender pronouns with discourse ethics

I. Background.

Discourse ethics is a metaethical theory developed by Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel that states that moral truths may be known by examining the presuppositions of discourse or debate. (A bastardised version developed by neo-feudalist anarcho-capitalist philosophaster and fascist sympathiser Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who studied, oddly enough, under Habermas, is known as argumentation ethics, and aims to demonstrate the truth of the right-libertarian conception of self-ownership, but fails by confusing the idea of a liberty right with a claim right.) The theory is as follows: When two or more people engage in discourse, there are certain norms that everyone is obliged by necessity to presuppose. For instance:

  • The participants are engaging in the same language-game.
  • No relevant argument is being suppressed or excluded by the participants.
  • The only force used is that of the superior argument.
  • All participants are motivated solely by a concern for the better argument.
  • Everyone agrees to the universal validity of the thematic claim.
  • Everyone capable of communication and action is entitled to participate.
  • Everyone is equally entitled to introduce new topics.
  • Everyone is equally entitled to express their attitudes, their needs, or their desires.
  • No claim to validity is categorically or uniquely exempt from critical evaluation through argumentation.

Following from these presuppositions is the universally binding obligation to maintain impartial judgement when engaged in discourse, which requires each participant to adopt the perspective of every other participant.

Now, an important notion in discourse ethics is that of the performative contradiction; that is, when asserting a proposition, the proposition contradicts the very presuppositions of asserting it. For instance, if I were to state that I do not exist, then that would be a performative contradiction, since in order to assert that I do not exist, I must exist. The very action of asserting that one does not exist presupposes that the one who asserts it exists.

In discourse ethics, the performative contradiction takes a central role in deducing moral rules. As an example, one of the presuppositions of discourse is that, unless the participants have already mutually consented to a fight, violence should not be used to resolve a dispute. Thus, to argue for the use of violence to resolve a dispute is a performative contradiction, and the moral rule 'Do not use violence to resolve a dispute' can be deduced.

The fundamental principle of discourse ethics may be paraphrased as such:

The only norms that may be claimed to be valid are those which have the ability to meet with the approval of everyone in a practical discourse affected by them.

This principle presupposes Habermas' conception of universalisation, again paraphrased:

Everyone who is affected by the anticipated consequences of the general observance of a given norm can accept said consequences for the satisfaction of everyone's interests, and said consequences are preferred to those of alternative possibilities.

II. The argument.

The presuppositions of discourse listed in Part I are not the only ones; rather, they are simply initial examples. By further examining the necessary obligations of discussion and referencing the initial examples, I may derive some additional presuppositions, which I will justify and use in my argument:

  • Everyone capable of communication and action must be made to feel that they are equally welcome to participate, as an atmosphere in which anyone is discouraged from participation hinders discourse.
  • Each participant's needs or desires which are necessary for their participation must be satisfied.

From all of these presuppositions, I'm pretty sure I can construct a damn fine argument.

Premise I. To make a person feel that they are not equally entitled to participate in discourse or to dismiss a person's stated needs or desires contradicts the presuppositions that everyone is equally entitled to participate in discourse and that everyone is equally entitled to express their needs and desires by implicitly establishing a hierarchy of participants and their needs and desires in opposition to the principle of universalisation. (Hence the two additional presuppositions listed in this part.)
Premise II. To use pronouns inconsistent with those preferred by a person can make them feel uncomfortable and alienated; these feelings of discomfort and alienation may make them feel that they are not equally entitled to participate in discourse. If they express the need or desire for others to use their preferred pronouns, then, given that failure to satisfy this need or desire may make them feel that they are not equally entitled to participate, this need or desire must be satisfied.
Conclusion I. To use pronouns for a person inconsistent with those preferred by that person or to argue against using any given person's preferred pronouns contradicts the presuppositions that each person must be made to feel equally entitled to discourse and that each person's desires and needs necessary for them to equally participate in discourse must be satisfied.
Conclusion II. Given that any argument against using any given person's preferred pronouns is a performative contradiction, then to use others' preferred pronouns, even if reluctantly, is a universally binding obligation.


III. Afterthoughts.

This whole argument can really be applied to any form of misgendering or invalidation, including the use of a trans person's dead name, not just in the case of preferred pronouns, and not even specifically limited to trans people.

Engaging in this argument has left me with an even more intense curiosity about Jürgen Habermas' work. As I write, I have three Habermas-related tabs open in my browser. Both his earlier work developing critical theory with the Frankfurt School and his later work on communicative rationality and pragmatics interest me.

If you find a flaw in my argument, please let me know in the comments. I'm always happy to learn from my mistakes and improve my knowledge of philosophy!

Profile

Eva Gnostiquette

Eva Gnostiquette
Hi!
My name is Eva Gnostiquette.
I'm a multimedia artist, podcaster, game developer, programmer, and aspiring physicist and neuroscientist. I'm a Gnostic druid.
I enjoy reading, music, and various other things. I write about nerd stuff, spirituality, and conspiracy theories, alongside more mainstream politics and science.
I am also a queer trans girl of Jewish, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish descent with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, OCD, and PTSD.
Please enjoy my blog!

Social

Friend me on FC2

Donate
Latest posts
Archive
Latest FreqRes episodes
Latest comments
Categories
Search
RSS
Links
Blogroll
Bookshelf
Radical Second Things №1,edited by Michael Orion Powell-Deschamps
Buy in Print and/or Digital
Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right by Angela Nagle
Buy in Print
Fringe Knowledge for Beginners by Tom Montalk
Buy in Print | Buy for Kindle | Free PDF | Free ePub
Chasing Phantoms by Carissa Conti
Buy in Print | Free PDF
How I Got Rid of My Recurring UTI Problem: And Reclaimed My Health and Comfort by 'Shaney Taylor'
Buy for Kindle
Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
Buy in Print (paperback) (hardcover) | Buy for Kindle | Free Audiobook (with 30-day Audible trial)