Wednesday, August 03, 2011

And in Libertopia...

people are starving. Because, see, in Somalia -- Libertopia, which hasn't had a functioning government in twenty years -- there is no government to protect farmers from having their crops confiscated by local thugs with guns ("warlords"). There is no government to buy food from overseas or accept food aid from overseas then oversee its distribution to people who need it. So while food does make it into the country or gets grown by the local people, it gets confiscated by whoever the local warlord is and distributed only to his supporters. Combine that with drought, and you have disaster.

Libertarian theory holds that government is not necessary, that all functions of government could be privatized with no loss of services that people like, paid for voluntarily by people rather than via extracting money at gunpoint in taxes. "Taxation is slavery!" is the Libertopian chant. But without taxation, you don't have a government. And if you don't have a government, what you have is... Somalia, where the only people who are truly free are the thug warlords who terrorize the populace and steal what little wealth they have at gunpoint. Because, see, thugs have a big advantage over people like you and me. They *like* violence, while violence makes normal people queasy. So thugs will *always* have the advantage over ordinary people in Libertopia. *Always*. That's just reality, and you can no more change that than you can change the fact that you get wet if you stand out in the rain with no umbrella or clothes on.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin


  1. Good summary of Somalia... and Libertopia. I feel for the citizens of Somalia, but there's nothing I can do; there's no real infrastructure in place that would let aid get to those who need it most.

  2. Dude, you're trolling, aren't you? Putting out something to enrage the Glibertarians who are for some reason drawn to your site. It's like what I used to do with my neighbour in Florida who had five pit bulls fenced up, and I'd occasionally go up and bang on the fence to piss 'em off.

    The guy actually had his fence repossessed, I shit you not. He was a sporadically employed carpet layer, and when his marriage broke up (he shot his wife's son from a previous marriage with a BB gun to show him that shooting birds with a BB gun was wrong, and things went downhill from there) he started drinking/stopped working. One afternoon, a couple guys in a work truck rolled in, quickly dug the fence poles and concrete bases out of the dirt, rolled up the chain link and zipped away. The pit bulls had been relocated beforehand. I've never heard of a FENCE being repo'ed. The South -- you gotta love it!

  3. *sigh*

    Again with the Libertarians want all government to go away falsehood. Truth of the matter is that want limited gov't, not anarchy like you keep claiming they desire.

    Reminds me of the FoxNews crowd that say Democrats want to do away with every aspect of private businesses and have government perform all the services that are needed. The only difference is I can't decide if our host is actually as naive/ignorant as those Dittoheads are or if he just takes great delight in stirring people up, no matter how many lies have to be said in order to do it.

    Seriously...if Libertarians want no gov't at all, then what do you think it is that anarchist are seeking?

  4. Purple, it doesn't matter what Libertarians *say* they want. The moment you chant "taxation is slavery!", you basically become an anarchist, because without taxation there is no government, there is just armed bands of thugs doing whatever they want to do -- i.e., Somalia.

    Most people who call themselves "anarchists" are anarcho-socialists, as vs. anarcho-capitalists. Anarcho-capitalists believe in private property ownership and capitalism and the Free Market Fairy (and her close companion the Universal Gun Ownership Fairy) that will somehow make everything okay even in the absence of government as redress for fraud and theft. Anarcho-socialists believe that property is slavery because the concept of property restricts what the individual can do (I cannot, for example, spot a piece of unused land and simply start farming it, because that land is "owned" by someone), and that collective "ownership" of the means of production via voluntary "syndics" or "communes" is the way to go forward. (Anarcho-socialists are basically Communists without the government part). Frankly, I don't have much truck with anarchism of either sort, because the history of the world is that if you don't have an effective government, your land is going to get overrun by thugs either domestic or foreign who are going to do Bad Things to the ordinary non-thug smallfolk who just want to live their lives without violence and drama.

    - Badtux the Practical Penguin

  5. Small quibble - Somalia is not absent a government. Those warlords you mention are a form of government. They are what happens when you don't have a strong enough central government to control things like property rights.

    Power has a tendency to concentrate into the hands of a few in every form of government. But if you have an anarchy, it doesn't take long for those with the means to dominate others to do it. Then you have some kind of quasi-feudal system where people seek the protection of warlords to protect them from other warlords.

    I sometimes think that some of the people I know who are libertarians don't really understand this. They really are nice people. I think they envision a world where no has to pay any taxes so they get to spend more money on cool stuff and there won't be any social problems because all of the criminals and lazybones people will rush out to get one of the plentiful jobs that will be available to everyone. Those jobs will be available because the businesses will be hiring since they don't have to pay taxes. Every road will be a toll road so it will always be in good repair. The free market will solve every single problem in the world!

    I've actually had one of these people recently tell me that he thinks that although things are hard in Somalia now, they would be worse if they had a strong central government! No kidding.

  6. Lynn, yeppers, I had one of those conversations recently too. From a geek who would be prey in Libertopia.

    There are currently no (zero) functioning Libertarian states anywhere on the face of planet Earth. Could it be that Libertarianism simply isn't a viable philosophy for governing a nation in today's world? Nawwww, couldn't be!

    - Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  7. It's long been my theory that Watership Down is a libertarian utopia for rabbits. Penguins are most welcome.

  8. Of course, the "warlords" are simply the remnants of the last government that tried to impose itself on the Somalis. They are still behaving like a government- thus the crime and aggression.

    Anarchist- Libertarian with all the inconsistencies stripped away. Or, as I often say "Rules, not Rulers". Self-government (self control) is the only kind of government that has ever worked. Statists have had thousands of years to "get it right", but The State always leads right back to the same place- tyranny, genocide, cronyism/mercantilism, and economic disaster. Blaming the current mess on "the free market" is like blaming sasquatch for killing your chickens- it wasn't present at the scene, if it exists at all. Nope, the impending "interesting times" are all the result of The State and Keynesian "economics".

  9. Now you've done it Tux. I don't know who this Kent guy is, but you drew him with your Libertard magnet.

    Lynne, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. As I was reading the post, I was thinking about 14th century France. No effective central government, many local war lords, roving bands of thugs - and, to Kent's point - no free market.

    Of course, there were no unicorns, dragons, Marxists, nor even Keynesians, either.

    Funny how that works.

    Oh - Kent - if you think that anything in this post or comments blames the impending times on the mythical "free market," (snicker) you can enroll in that remedial reading comprehension class I recommended to Purple recently.

    When that is complete, maybe you can go learn about straw men.


  10. Welcome, JzB. Been busy this evening doing penguin things, but now I'm back and my dinner is in the oven cooking.

    Kent, I can't make heads or tails of your comment. It's as if you just started spurting out cum all over the furniture without, like, actually addressing the target or even looking for it. Then there's the things you say that are utter nonsense. For example:

    Of course, the "warlords" are simply the remnants of the last government that tried to impose itself on the Somalis.

    Uhm, no. Somalia hasn't had a government in twenty years. The current crop of warlords, with the exception of the Islamists, are just common gutter thugs. The Islamists have the unpleasant attribute of being true believers, organized true believers, which is why they were winning out over the common thug warlords and the Ethiopians, alarmed, invaded and tried to impose a government. It didn't work.

    Anarchist- Libertarian with all the inconsistencies stripped away.

    Pretty much what I've been saying. The issue with capito-anarchists ("Libertarians") is that they haven't a clue as to the fundamental issue of anarchism: The problem of power. Capito-anarchists believe that government is the source of all power. No. It's not. Guns in the hands of thugs is the source of all power. In the hands of thugs because thugs will always win in a gunfight with ordinary people, because ordinary people have morals and thugs do not. I guarantee you that if I drop you into one of the places in the 4th Ward of Houston where I once knew some of the local warlords personally, you will *not* win a gunbattle with them. You'll be dead. D.E.A.D. Because they do not view anybody outside their own clan to be human, even their children gleefully kill without remorse.

    Or, as I often say "Rules, not Rulers". Self-government (self control) is the only kind of government that has ever worked.

    What color are the unicorns in that universe you live in? Is the sky purple, or just a fine shade of puce?

    Meanwhile, in *this* universe, everywhere that there hasn't been government of some sort -- even if it is just a communal village democracy whose only real power is to kick someone out of the village if they refuse to comply with village mores -- has been a Hobbesian hellhole where life is nasty, brutish, and sort. Because power grows from the barrel of a gun. And thugs *love* their guns.

    the impending "interesting times" are all the result of The State and Keynesian "economics".

    Given that the U.S. has not practiced Keynesian economics since the 1970's in this universe, except barely (less than 5% of GDP stimulus) during the 1st year of the Obama administration, I have to ask: does cotton candy grow on trees in that alternate universe you live in? Meanwhile, in *this* universe, we have grifters running our major corporations who've accumulated more power than our government and puppet our supposed representatives and who continue to enrich themselves via fraud and theft at our expense. The only solution that has *ever* worked, however imperfectly, is democracy -- which *is* self-government, in case you haven't figured that out.

    - Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  11. You obviously need to learn a lot about the law of the Somalis, Islam as practiced by Somalis, libertarianism, economics, reality, etc.

    But if your goal is just to produce "snark" you are doing great!

    Sorry you took offense.

  12. So how well's that working out for the Somalis, that not having a government thing I mean?

    Your problem is that your philosophy does not work in the real world, has never worked in the real world, and never will work in the real world because it assumes things about human nature that are not true and never will be true. You are like the Communists who proclaim Communism did *not* fail because "true Communism was never tried", i.e., attempts at Communism simply weren't pure enough, it woulda worked if they'd just tried a little harder, honest! Or at least that's the argument that Communists make to me when I point out that their economic theories are utter balderdash in a modern economy because modern economies are simply too complex to model with even the amazing computing power we have today, leaving the neural networking equivalent token economy to match supply and demand of the many, many inputs into any modern gizmo...

    But hey, I could be wrong. Show me. Show me one (1) single functioning Libertarian society on planet Earth today. Don't point me to some bullshit historical revisionism of things that happened tens of thousands of years ago, show me a society I can go look at *TODAY* and see for myself *with my own two eyes* that Libertarian philosophy works.

    You can't. Because it doesn't work. Too bad, eh?

    - Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

  13. "...your philosophy does not work in the real world, has never worked in the real world, and never will work in the real world..."

    That's odd. Based on my experiences in my life, here in the real world, every single day of my existence, it works a lot better than The State ever has.

    I have never had any problem with living my philosophy. The reason it works so well is that it doesn't require the cooperation of the bad guys in order to work. They can do what they want, and I know where my rights end in dealing with them. No problem.

    The flip side of your challenge is this: Show me a single example of a State that has "worked". And, I suppose, define what you mean by "worked". I have never seen even one successful State anywhere in the world at any point in history. They all devolve into tyranny of some sort, then fail. Often spectacularly, with lots of suffering and death.

    Of course, libertarians wouldn't forbid you from pursuing your State ambitions. But once you coerce one person into being a part of your State, or only "allow" him to opt out by abandoning his home, family, and friends, then you have crossed the line.

  14. Dude. You don't live in a Libertarian society. Not in *this* universe, anyhow. I asked you to point out to me one Libertarian society on this planet. I will delete every single post you make extolling Libertarian philosophy UNTIL YOU POINT ME TO ONE SOCIETY CURRENTLY EXISTING ON PLANET EARTH WHERE IT RESULTS IN A FUNCTIONING SOCIETY.

    Meanwhile, I can point you to plenty of social democracies that work quite well. I'm sure that the people of Sweden or Norway will be quite surprised to find out that they live in tyrannies. Here they were, thinking they lived in clean safe cities places with good government services and were happy and shit, and they're actually living in some dismal dreary Communist reality of grey concrete tyranny and secret police busting down the doors of subversives? Wow. How'd the State accomplish that -- mind control beams?

    - Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  15. This discussion has been making me think of an article I read in Cracked of all places. It was about how humans have a finite number of other people they can comprehend in their brains in any kind of concrete way. Anyone outside of that clan of around 200 individuals is seen in a much more abstract way. And when humans lived in tribal communities where everyone was seen as a full human, things like pure communism and self governance worked pretty well.

    I mean who is going to let someone they know suffer? In a tribal community, you don't have to worry that the sick will be taken care of because people will take care of other people they know. You don't have to have formal laws governing people's behavior because regular social pressure and group dynamics will typically keep people in line. And so on and so forth. Tribal cultures are very communist in a sense but also very libertarian at the same time. They work because of their size.

    Problems seem to arise when groups get larger. If you are dealing with a large population of millions, other people become abstract concepts such as "The Government" and "Big Business". Combine this issue with a large population that simply isn't taught to think about abstract concepts and you will have conflict and blame because people just can't think of "The government" as being actual real people even though of course they are. Even President Obama is just a man.

    Libertarianism is probably something that can work on a small scale. Similarly pure communism can work on a small scale. But it is futile to think that either can work for a large nation. The real question then, is what *does* work for a large nation.

    I like to think that the sort of free market socialism one sees in Europe and to a lesser degree, the United States is the system that works best. The markets are mostly free but with some regulation and citizens are taxed to create a social safety net along with some infrastructure and other government spending proven to create an environment that is good for business.

  16. Kudos for citing Cracked, Lynne. I'm old enough to remember when Cracked was created. I spent a lot of time in front of drug store magazine stands reading Cracked, but only after I had perused Mad, because the humour in Cracked was always second-rate compared to Mad. I'm not sure where Mad is at now -- can't be bothered to Oogle it -- but Cracked has turned out to be an excellent funny truth-teller along the lines of Jon Stewart. Their "investigative journalism" about why it would be scientifically impossible for zombies to survive is brilliant, for example.


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

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