Saturday, January 27, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Democracy for Dummies (statists, that is)
1. You need a ruling class. People who write laws as they want, own the guns and enforce their arbitrary rules by the gun, and extort you constantly to get the resources they need. A gang of criminals, then. But that's not all. You also need that ruling class to be smart enough to realize that they can rule over everyone without the need for violence or rebellions. As long as you can make people believe that they are in control, they will do whatever you want. This is the beauty of democracy.
Now hopefully you are engineering this democratic system, so if you are, let's continue.
2. You need to set a date where people will come to designated stations all over the country to check little boxes on pieces of paper.
3. You need to either motivate people to vote through propaganda, or pass a law saying they have to vote or they are criminals. Remember that you can make up whatever laws you want. Now, people know very well that their individual vote makes no difference whatsoever, so you need to use moral arguments to fool them into believing this is not the case. "Vote and make a difference", "if you don't vote, you can complain", or when you get more desperate, "vote or die", are all good choices.
4. You decide what choices they have and make sure that they can't choose between real alternatives, through bogus "election laws" and gerrymandering. And unless you're a complete idiot, you certainly don't give them any hope of a smaller government! You don't want to lose any power over this system. And you don't have to.
5. You want this process to select the best exploiter- which means the best smooth-talker and the best liar. So you set up a period where popular people in the parties you allow can compete against each other for popular acclaim. This long and expensive process also ensures that only people who have been corrupted and paid for will rise to the top.
6. You shouldn't pay a thing. The whole cost of this process should be put on the shoulders of the people. All the bribes ("campaign contributions") coming from big corporations are paid by the people in higher prices. The money given to them by your ruling class comes from taxation. And people will themselves work for your puppet candidates and volunteer their own time- simply because they believe they must get someone who represents their own values in power instead of other people's representants. Of course, they don't know that it doesn't matter one bit who gets elected, as the incentives of any politician are the same. They don't need to know that.
7. At the end of the process, people need to go to the voting booths and check little boxes on pieces of paper. The winner of the post is the person who got the most checkmarks. You may have a more complicated system, such as an "electoral college" which makes your democracy even more stable by ensuring that all regions are represented and you can't win just by appealing to a small area of the country. This not only makes the process more expensive, but also prevents unrest.
8. They say you need an educated population to have a good democracy. This is a total myth. The best population for your democracy is a stupid population. Intelligence is only necessary when actual dialogue is going on. Your system is based on social warfare and ability to deceive, therefore you need to bank on the stupidity of your population in order to succeed.
9. Over time, these elements may be dimly revealed to your population, and they may begin to doubt your democratic system. The most important thing to remember at this juncture is that at no moment can you permit open criticism of democracy itself. Your propaganda efforts must be turned towards constantly reaffirming the legitimacy of democracy. As long as people do not doubt democracy, they will continue to believe that their country's system can be overhauled "if we just get the right people in". So this change in popular opinion will in fact turn to your advantage.
10. If anyone actually does not believe in democracy and realizes that it is an absurd system of mob rule, social warfare and self-exploitation, they are lost to you. But don't worry, there'll probably never be enough of them to be a threat to you, as long as you keep points 1 to 9 above.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Much has been written in some quarters about Christianity and libertarianism/Market Anarchy, whether they conflict in some way or are harmonious. Christians, of course, contend that there is no contradiction, in direct defiance of the strongly-worded Romans 13, written by the founder of their own religion. Atheists argue that Christianity's emphasis on authoritarianism and submission does not jibe well with the notion of personal freedom.
Let's clear one thing out right away. There is no direct contradiction between being a Christian and being a libertarian or an Anarchist. Christianity makes no claims about what political system should be in place, and libertarianism makes no claims as to what religion should be about.
Let's also make a difference between religion and theology. Theology concerns itself with all sorts of supernatural or magical fantasies. Religion, on the other hand, is mostly a tool of social cohesion and moral cohesion. It has very little to do with "god," "angels" or "salvation." People are religious because they want to be a part of their society and they want to be moral people. So we should analyze Christianity and religion in general from those two aspects.
We all know the moral position of libertarianism in general, and Market Anarchy in particular. Both put a strong emphasis on helping other people be free to fulfill their value systems, be free from coercion and arbitrary authority, restoring justice to society, and healing society from group warfare and aggression.
What is the moral position of Christianity? There we see the exact opposite. Christianity puts a strong emphasis on preventing people from being free to fulfill their value systems. In fact, one could say that this is the whole point of Christianity: sacrifice and repression. Let's see how well it fares:
1. Christianity is anti-freedom. Its supposed summits of morality, the "ten commandments" are all concerned with telling people what they cannot do and what they must be killed for doing. Like any other religion, Christianity preaches that people who fail to conform to the group standards, even for non-victim actions, must be punished. In their very behaviour, Christians demonstrate that they are irresponsible towards others.
2. God is the ultimate coercive agent: it can force you to do literally anything, even if it needs to remove your free will in order to do so (such as with the Pharaoh in Exodus). Furthermore, the Bible advocates violent punishment for all sorts of actions, most of which are widely accepted in our society, while advocating some which are NOT widely accepted (such as child sacrifice, abandoning your family, or incest). Christians want to establish a society where fear of the Lord and its Earthly authorities reigns, not a society based on respect.
3. Far from removing arbitrary authority, Christianity crowns the ultimate arbitrary authority: God. The fact that God is an arbitrary authority is always ignored. But there is no reason for anyone to consider God to be a moral authority over himself or herself. Let us assume for a second that Christianity is true, insofar as that makes any sense. Why should we consider God, a being that is supposedly wholly different from us and "thinks" and "exists" wholly differently, if it does at all (even hypothetically), a moral authority on how we, limited material beings, should live our lives? Because God created us? Actually, my parents created me, but few people would consider them moral authorities. Being able to create does not indicate any special moral ability: what it takes to create is very different from what it takes to judge, although some judgment is needed in creation.
4. Talking about judging, on the issue of justice Christianity also strongly promotes injustice over justice. Christians believe that we are all guilty of the crimes of our ancestors (Original Sin) and that we should be judged by our beliefs, not by our actions (salvation).
5. All religions promote group warfare and aggression, and Christianity is no exception. It creates a dichotomous view of reality, where there are two kinds of people: the saved ("us") and the unsaved ("them"). The saved are superior people and deserve infinite happiness; the unsaved are inferior and deserve infinite suffering. By subscribing to his particular church or sect, the Christian isolates himself from society as a whole and aligns his thinking with the groupthink prevalent within it. By doing so he is able to detach himself from the interests of his society and align himself with the interests of his group.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Gene Callahan wishes us Welcome to Fascist America!
Consider what the point of classifying these programmes was in the first place, and who they were being kept secret from. The jihadists no doubt already knew about the secret prisons – their friends are in them! They surely knew that the war in Iraq has been helping their recruiting – it’s their recruiting! ("Praise be to Allah, Abdul, I read in The NY Times that it is the Iraq War that is sending us these thousands of new recruits – who knew?") They no doubt suspect they may be wiretapped – what they didn’t know was that all the rest of us are, as well. No, not one of these leaks helps terrorists, nor was one of them classified to stop terrorists from finding them out. We were the ones who weren’t supposed to find out about them.
The Center for Consumer Freedom gives us a little lesson in "Food Scares: Why They Get Away With It"
The basic reason for this cognitive disconnect is the way the human mind is organized. As the experts told TIME, we disproportionately fear "catastrophic risks ... Unfamiliar threats are similarly scarier than familiar ones ... [We] misjudge risk if we feel we have some control over it ..."
Friday, January 12, 2007
Let's make a big conceptual leap here and assume that our country was ruled by an evil mafia. Well, come to think of it, the leap does not actually appear that vast, but never mind. So they tried the dictatorial thing for a while, but people rebelled, or they got into terrible civil wars.
So now this mafia has to figure out a way to get people involved in the system, or at least give the appearance of involvment without actually relinquishing power. What would such a process look like? I tried to make a list of points without inspiring myself from what we actually have as much as possible, impartially then. Here is what I have so far.
1. Obviously, you do not want the population to have any actual power. You want to keep that power. So you will not let the population decide any real issue, or offer them any real choice. You want to offer them the choices which you can tolerate, while keeping your power intact.
2. Since you have to involve the people, you might as well make it to your best advantage. You want to let people choose, through a popularity contest, who will be their chief exploiters for a certain duration of time. That way, the best exploiters and the most popular will rise to the top, and your mafia will be as efficient as possible, and keep its legitimacy high.
3. You should use the system to divert attention from your evil policies as much as possible, and divert blame as well. To do so, your system must promote social warfare. That way, people will come to believe that their enemies are different races/classes/genders/social positions, not you. Divide and conquer.
4. The participation of the public must be ritualized and accompanied by high-sounding rhetoric. That way it will actually seem as though they are doing something important, even though they are doing absolutely nothing important.
5. Given that you still yield more or less absolute power, just cloaked in rituals and procedures, you can force people to participate in this process, or at least threaten those who don't. Since the legitimacy of your system depends on participation, people who refuse to participate are really your only threat, and then only if they refuse to do so en masse. If you find yourself unable to do either of these things, rhetoric of the type "those who don't participate have no reason to complain" would work nicely (even though it is the polar opposite of the truth).
6. You want the process to have the appearance of fairness, but you also want it to depend on how much money and support you get from big companies and activist organizations. You will naturally get this money and support because of all the people who will want you to change the laws in their favour. Of course you don't NEED this support, since you can just raise taxes anyway, but people who submit to you voluntarily is a nice bonus.
7. You will pay people (the "intellectual elite") to praise your policies. You will pay other people to come up with non-existing "issues" that divert attention from your bad policies.
8. People are perfectly free to complain about superficial issues, as long as they can't do anything about it.
So... I guess we're seeing some parallels here eh?
Feel free to add any in the comments, and I'll add them here also.