19 December 2005

Blair gives up rebate

Tony Blair's spokesman said: "The rebate is fully justified, full stop."

Thursday, 19 May, 2005


Mr Blair said the rebate was the result of a "distortion of expenditure" and "if we remove the rebate, we have to remove the reasons for its existence".

Tony Blair, Saturday, 18 June, 2005


"It is no way that we will give up rebate without a fundamental agricultural reform,"

Tony Blair, Friday, 2nd December, 2005


Trust me, I'm Tony Blair...

16 December 2005

Quote of the day: CAP

Kudos to Charles Crawford, British ambassador to Poland, who called the Common Agricultural Policy;
"the most stupid, immoral state-subsidised policy in human history, give or take communism".

09 December 2005

27 November 2005

An open letter to the apathetic

Many people do not so much disagree with the anarcho-capitalist analysis of the defects and injustices of the state, so much as care to little about it, contented as they are with their own lives. In a reply to one such person I wrote, roughly, the following and thought it was worth publishing here.

One of the problems with the 'I'm alright jack' attitude is that it may well be true now for some individuals, but as the financial services waivers warn; past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns. In less vague terms the trend for those past sixty years has been an ever increasing tax burden with the requisite bureaucracy and increasing intrusion into our lives. In the case of the UK, the tax burden in 1900 was around 13% of GDP, whilst by 2000 it was over 40% and has seen significant rises since. (I took these statistics from a parliamentary paper as it is always good to use the states own publications against it!).

As the state consumes more and more of a country's wealth that country becomes commensurately poorer. Furthermore I would suggest that there is a tipping point a little way over the 50% taxation mark where the private sector begins to collapse under the pressure. This is not merely a failure of whichever political party happens to be in control (although they certainly play their part), it is an inherent structural failure of any statist institution. This view is clearly born out by every conceivable statistic tracing our personal and economic liberty over the past hundred years.

I hope those of you apathetic about politics (in its wider sense) find that disturbing and at least worthy of some consideration and this is the least of it, but I have said plenty elsewhere about the lack of justification for the state or how the majority of people would be personally better off without it. Whether you are an anarcho-capitalist or not I find it naive to believe that the welfare-warfare state can just carry on its merry way, it is a dangerous if popular way to think.

23 November 2005

How depressing!

Apparently I am an insignificant microbe in the The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem. Well, all I can say is microbes are an important part of any ecosystem, so there!

19 November 2005

More books to read

I was persuaded to go along to a reading by the author Neil Gaiman a week last Wednesday, and I was pleasantly surprised. Mr Gaiman is very funny and articulate, a good public speaker, which seems surprising in someone who pursues such a generally (at least I imagine) solitary career.

After he did a reading from his new book Anansi Boys I was convinced he was someone worth reading. Once I have had a chance to read some his books you can be sure will give my opinion here!

None of this has much to do with Anarcho-Capitalism (although maybe his books have hidden depths!), Mr Gaiman's only real reference to politics, an area he says he prefers not to get actively involved in, was to suggest (obviously humourously!) that governments should simply be selected at randomn from the population. I am not sure this is necessarily any worse a system than we have today, but would we really want people like this ruling the country?! I think I will stick to ancap, thanks.

03 November 2005

Blair needs a bit of education, education, education

When asked about the government's trampling of civil liberties in it's supposed pursuit of terrorists Mr Blair told today told the BBC that the

"...civil liberties of the majority who need protection should come first,"

Now, quite apart from the fact that this and previous governments have significantly contributed to the terrorist threat in this country and proved stupendously inept at doing anything sensible about such threats, Mr Blair has shown his complete inability to grasp even the most rudimentary political concepts. The arguments surrounding this so called 'anti-terror' legislation have nothing to do with the civil liberties of terrorists, why would anyone care about such things other than those addicted to human rights legislation. Obviously the arguments are about the liberties of innocent individuals. However, what is more important than even this willful misunderstanding is the implication of the above quote, namely, he is not talking about civil liberties at all with regard to the 'majority' if indeed he could be considered to be talking any sense what-so-ever.

I shall explain it slowly for Mr Blair, civil liberties are our protection from government. I can't put it any more bluntly than that, and since that is the case it makes Mr Blair's comments incoherent gibberish. For his further enlightenment:

One's freedom to exercise one's rights as guaranteed under the laws of the country.
Fundamental individual right protected by law and expressed as immunity from unwarranted governmental interference

(From Wordnet at Princeton)

19 October 2005

The 'Big Beast' is slain

Thank goodness Ken Clarke is out of the Tory leadership contest, at the very least Britain will not have three totally pro-european-integration parties. It would seem Liam Fox has the best credentials for rolling back the state, but I predict that the Tories will go for style over content and Cameron will be in - I would love to be proved wrong.

08 October 2005

A tribal animal?

The conception of the human mind as a blank slate, so beloved of those of socialist bent during the twentieth century, has been thoroughly discredited by modern scientific analysis. Academics such as Stephen Pinker through his book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, have brought the fallacies of the blank slate view of human development to public attention. This being generally accepted, an arguably opposite point of view has re-emerged, more closely allied with the conservative conception of human nature, something akin to the idea that humans have their natural station in life. It seems reasonable to contend that the truth is somewhere in the middle of the nature-nurture debate and that the exact percentage influence of either is relatively un-important in any analysis of human behaviour.

With that preamble, it is interesting to examine the question of whether humans possess an innate tribal instinct derived from our socio-evolutionary past? This does seem pertinent to the functioning of an anarcho-capitalist society, for if humans are indeed more tribal when unconstrained by the divisive policies of the state then Hoppe's analysis of communities formed along 'tribal' lines being more prevalent than today does appear to stand up.

Personally I feel little tribal loyalty and see myself as a radical individualist, obviously not shunning friends or family in a hermit like manner, but in so far as denying any particular need to belong to a collective social entity greater than my immediate social circles. Others, however, clearly feel differently; the supporting of sports teams, political party loyalty, patriotism, all betray a need to belong to the greater (tribal) collective. Whether tribalism is inherently widespread or not, it does not affect the basic economics of anarcho-capitalism, which stand up regardless of the social arrangements any individual or group of individuals pursue. What it would affect is the social character of society. I would argue that anarcho-capitalism encourages heterogeneity as there is no centralised homogenisation, but, if tribalism were prevalent, then it seems likely that society would evolve towards homogenous enclaves in a heterogeneous network.

My personal opinion, as in the nature-nurture debate, is that society would exist as a mixture of both, as indeed it appears to have done historically. On the fringes homogeneity will increase as like minded (or otherwise alike) individuals group together to reinforce their own set of values and beliefs, whilst the urban dynamos will remain, where heterogeneity is demanded by the complex networks of a modern economy.

30 September 2005

Quote of the day

You do have to wonder what free speech actually means to some people today, certainly the government does not believe it means one should be able to say what one likes. I sometimes think it is a blessing that I am uninfluential enough not to have my comments generally monitored for any possible cause of offence.
Perhaps that old boy who mumbled “nonsense” at Jack Straw was thrown out because organisers thought he was being offensive to the foreign secretary community.

Mick Hume in The Times

17 September 2005

BBC News 24: Your Quackery Channel!

It beggars belief what the BBC will use the money exhorted from us for, the latest useless piece of misinformation was a set piece on ‘bioresonance’. THis morning BBC News 24 reported what is, according to them, an amazing new treatment to help smokers quit. A British Bioresonance page explains the 'technical details':
The underlying theory behind this is that all matter has a resonant frequency and every cell in the body resonates at a particular frequency. This takes the form of an electromagnetic field and groups of cells In an organ or system have multiple frequency patterns which are unique. Hence, the whole body has a complex frequency make up which can change or become distorted when affected by illness. If you accept that the cells are controlled by electromagnetic fields then it is possible to introduce healthy frequencies to re-balance the whole body and provide an environment where the body cures itself.
The key sentence here seems to be 'If you accept that the cells are controlled by electromagnetic fields", well no I don't, as far as I know there is no evidence to support this anywhere and clearly the proponents of 'bioresonance' want people to take their proclamations on faith. If it were true that this machine could alter our 'electromagnetic' field at will, which in turn affected all the regulartory interactions of our cells, surely this would make it terrifyingly dangerous and not to be used for something as comparitively trivial as smoking addiction?

Now, contrary to the BBC report, this quackery is not a new invention, it is simply old pseudo-science being applied to the most recently news-worthy sector of gullible people. According to Quackwatch this 'technique' has been being used for years as a supposed cure for cancer of all things! Seems then that since it didn't really work on something as deadly as cancer (quell surprise), its 'practioners' have turned to something a bit easier to use their expensive fancy machines on, something where they can be guaranteed a good wholesome placebo effect with at least a few of thei victims. Someone named Martin Keymer is credited with this brilliant advance in bullshiting the general public, although bizarrely such a 'brilliant researcher' in biophysics is nowhere to be found in the peer-reviewed, published articles of PubMed.

Now there is indeed a lot of pseudo-science out there to entice gullible (and unfortunately often vulnerable) people, but the issue here is that my money is being used to promote this rubbish and I am incredulous that even the BBC could fall to this level of abismally uncritical reporting. Now I don't usually get as worked up about the BBC as these people, but it sickens me (pun intended) that the BBC still claims to exist as a 'public service' whilst reporting this drivel as fact.

09 September 2005

Free advertising for Anarcho-Capitalism!

Thanks to SilasXdX at anti-state.com for pointing out the free advertising over at Wikipedia (as of today, 09.09.05). There had been a lot of hassle over the Anarcho-Capitalism article being included as part of anarchist history, mainly by 'anarcho'-communists spoiling for a fight, but I tend to think it isn't worth bothering with this particular breed of socialists anyway. The Ancap article stands up as an informative and unbiased account on its own. Well done to all those who researched and constructed the article and for getting it featured on Wikipedia's front page!

06 September 2005

Housekeeping

I had changed the comments to registered users only as I was getting annoyed at the obvious spam, but I have no discovered the joy of trying to decipher wiggly words made up by blogger.com! This simple pleasure does now mean that any real human can once again comment without necessarily having a blogger account (although why wouldn't you want one?). Apologies for those who wanted to comment recently.

17 August 2005

Seven-year-olds hooked on drink

A fantastic headline from Monday's Metro, if somewhat of a bare-faced lie. Firstly the article implies there are huge swathes of the under-eight population attending AA meetings, when it in fact turns out that an Edinburgh hospital reported a single incident of a seven-year-old that had been persuaded to drink by older children. Even for this one, admittedly concerning, case, it hardly follows from a visit to hospital that the child is "hooked on drink" as the Metro so graphically puts it. I realise newspapers need gripping stories, but it belittles real issues when the truth is stretched so far as to be trivial.

The Times has a rather less hysterical article on 7-year-olds treated for alcohol intoxication, although even here I take issue with some of the implications. The article states that a "quarter of school-age children admitted drinking alcohol every week". Now, as a child from I young age I drank alcohol; given to me by my parents. What terrible parents they must have been? Well, no, I had watered down wine with my meals and the occasional beer as I got older. See, the social issue is that when you make things taboo you positively encourage rebellious teenagers to indulge in such behaviour. The much beloved continental attitude to drink is to do with a culture where drink is not a taboo, but is integral to wider social patterns. This means that what we need is more personal responsibility from parents; they need to act as positive role models with regard to drink. The government cannot and never will be able to legislate culture.

Lastly, I'd like to see these advertisments for drink aimed at seven-year-olds and the proof for how going on at young children about drink and drugs has made a blind bit of difference to the rates of consumption of either. The light at the end of the tunnel of the 'teach them when they're younger' education programs is that there is only so young a child can be, before the whole idea has to be given up as nonsense.

08 August 2005

An anarchic anomaly

I recently came accross a site about Kowloon Walled City which was a hugely dense settlement (claimed to be the most densely populated location in the world at the time) that had a limbo like existence in Hong Kong until it was torn down in 1993. Britain and China disputed who should control and govern the land, the upshot of which was that neither did, effectively leaving the area free of state interference. The website says:

Basically the indecision and ignorance between the two countries over the occupation of KWC lead to the city's lack of government, and its inevitable self-organization [my italics] and problems with crime and drugs.
Without knowing any of the political background of the authors of this site I thought it interesting that they thought the self-organisation of the Walled City was inevitable without government. Perhaps they meant it in a derogatory way, in so far as the people of the city were forced to self-organize, but even if that was their intention it does show that humans have a remarkable capacity for self-organization as a community without government having to tell them how.

Obviously as an Anarcho-Capitalist I am not particularly concerned about the 'drug problem', I'm sure the biggest issue in the Walled City was drug-lords created by the very government policies that are supposed to eliminate them. As to the crime rate without state police to help out (and excluding 'drug problems') the website goes on to say:

Chan Pui Yin arrived in Hong Kong from Chiu Chow [China] county in 1947, opening his own herbal medicine store in KWC eight years later.

"Once I'd settled here I found that there was less crime in it than outside. Although the police were not around there was a volunteer group to help keep the peace. It is a bit like back home in the villages of China - a harmonious state of anarchy. I don't really want to move."
The inhabitants were mainly poor migrants, especially dispossesed Chinese, and so had limited resources yet they managed to collectively create this impressive structure. Kowloon Walled city obviously had its fair share of problems, poor rubbish disposal systems being a major one and the lack of natural light in some areas, although this is a general feature of a lot of Hong Kong's high density living. However, the point remains, essentially a city of up to 50,000 people peacefully existed in a state of anarchy for over 100 years until the do-gooder government decided to tear it down and throw these people out of their homes.

06 August 2005

A belated quote...

"By definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber."

John Howard
Australian Primeminister

You're right there, John!

31 July 2005

Species of forum threads

As you work your way through various forums and comments pages on the internet you begin to see similar patterns emerge. Two that I have most recently encountered go along the following lines:

Type 1 - A new user posts a torrent of mindless drivel, usually under the pretext of being so sophisticated and above the grasp of the other forum members. The forum regulars then, quite rightly, deride the post for being an inane stream of nonsense. Then up pops the original spammers knight in shining armour, who points out to the forum regulars that they should stop being so snobbish and engage the spammer. The thread is then usually abandoned, as there was never coherent point to it in the first place.

Type 2 - The classic grammar/spelling attack. Now I have some sympathy with this as it is annoying when someone cannot be bothered to make their posts generally conform to some kind of comprehensible English, however this type of response is usually nitpicking and there are situations where posters are either very young or are afflicted by dyslexia and the like. The entire thread then degenerates into an argument about spelling, grammar and punctuation, which is not particularly interesting to anyone except pedants.

Type 1 really annoys me, but I could be prey to being involved in Type 2 as some people could really do with brushing up on their English. If anyone else has noticed threads with recurrent themes, post them here!

24 July 2005

The benefits of subjective morality

Just to clarify the last entry, it would seem to me that subjective morality is an advantage to ancap for two reasons. Firstly it makes the idea of positive claims on others impossible as there is no objective standard by which to judge such moral claims between individuals. Secondly ancap does not need a moral framework, as such, to be valid since no individual is bound to abide by anothers subjective judgement on moral issues.

Obviously the area is more intricate than I can state in a couple of blog posts and I know a great issue of contention is the definition of positive and negative rights. Perhaps the term 'negative rights' is misleading and it would probably clarify the issue to say that they are not a type of right at all, but simply a lack of postive rights.

With reference to lawmaking the distinction between positive rights and their absence should be clear. As Murray Rothbard states:

"It is not the business of the law to make anyone good or revant or moral or clean or upright."

20 July 2005

When is a right not a right?

Well, when you are a moral relativist for one. The arguments for and against natural rights theory are long and intricate, so for this piece of commentary I will assume one is a moral relativist and explore how this would affect holding Anarcho-Capitalist principles.
The essence of moral relativism is that morality is subjective and hence an individual creation, be it through the prism of genetics and/or upbringing. Since all morality is derived from an individual perspective it follows that there can be no objective moral definition outside of the individual, in other words there are ethical systems intrinsic to us as subjective beings, but no independently verifiable moral code that we should follow. This point of view has some immediate benefits, the most obvious being that if morality is subjective there is no right to impose your version of morality on others. At first glance this all ties in well with the general consensus of Anarcho-Capitalist ethics, i.e. the principle of non-coercion and/or non-aggression.
Unfortunately it is not as straightforward as this. For example if morality is subjective an individual can, from their point of view, quite self-coherently create what they consider a set of moral absolutes. Then we are back to the situation of the potential imposition of morals with force, one of the hallmarks of the state. However, this situation can be avoided. This is so because it is still a logical truism to say that positive hypothesis need proving whilst negative hypothesis stand until a positive hypothesis can be verified to counter the negative situation. In more simple terms, the Anarcho-Capitalist does not need to acquire absolute rights to go about his or her business, but only to take the logically sound position that no such right exists to impinge upon their business until such time as a positive right can be objectively verified.
To my knowledge no one has ever conclusively verified a positive right and, as such, Anarcho-Capitalists can be moral relativists without accepting either the 'ethics' of those who wish to impose an absolute morality or those who in any other way act as if they held positive rights to another's liberty.

19 July 2005

Anarcho-Capitalists, one and all... maybe

I have just added several links to Anarcho-Capitalist blogs, at least they all seem to be anarcho-capitalist to me, but if anyone feels they are not I will be happy to revise my link structure!
The good thing about Anarcho-Capitalists is they generally are happy to call themselves such, at least if not in a room full of bloodthirsty statists. It does seem that humans work the best together when they have something fundamental to hate, and the state is pretty fundamentally hated around these parts. There would of course be disagreements on how best to live ones life in an Anarcho-Capitalist society, it is simply that no one would be in the position to use the state apparatus to dictate the outcome of those debates.

17 July 2005

A good start to making poverty history...

Make Socialism History



A nice little logo for all of you who were annoyed at the SSP's anit-freedom propaganda campaign. Just to let them know, we can doctor logos too.

In a very perceptive post, idlejimbo puts across the 'anarchists' side of the story in the regards the Edinburgh 'protests' and their aims and objectives.

With regards the comments on this blog, they are now open to all and since I know 'at least' two people have read this blog I await further enlightenment!

08 July 2005

Confirmed: ID cards will not prevent terrorism

The BBC reports what we have been saying all along, specifically ID cards 'wouldn't stop attacks' like the ones in London. When asked if ID cards would have prevented Thursday's atrocity the repugnant, spineless Charles Clarke answered:

"I doubt it would have made a difference. I've never argued ... that ID cards would prevent any particular act."

So we should be sure to remind Mr Clarke of this statement repeatedly in the future.

07 July 2005

Terrorists can always find a target

It looks very much like Al Qaeda have struck London in a sickening attack on the Capital's infrastructure. Currently four bombs have been confirmed and there seems to be some possibility of more that were not detonated.

Tony Blair made a statement at midday and claimed that we would defend our way of life against such terrorists. It would be relieving to think that he was sincere in defending our freedom, however it would be a manipulative ploy to use this as an excuse for such un-liberal measures as ID cards. It can only be hoped that such blatant opportunism will not be forthcoming. At this moment we would do well to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin;

"Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve
neither security nor liberty."

I can only hope that there are no more bombs and the number of casualties are few. Like everyone I hope friends and colleagues in London have not been affected by this tragedy and for the people who have, my heartfelt condolences. Samizdata is currently covering events in London where I think the sentiments expressed here are generally echoed.

29 June 2005

Quis Custodiet ipsos custodes

The Adam Smith Institute blog has a good concise post about the heinous Identity Database Scheme, which points out that identity cards failed to stop the Madrid bombings, will not apply to illegal immigrants (especially since if the don't have a passport how would they magically get an identity card?!) and finally bear little relation to benefit fraud (which is mainly to do with claims whilst working not false identities).

As the Adam Smith Institute accurately observes the biggest threat to civil liberties is in fact the database itself. Numerous points need noting:

  • If MI5 et al already can access this information why do we need to implement an incredibly expensive and complicated new system.
  • Once such a system is implemented it is infinitely expandable and as with all statist projects, it will be expanded.
  • Finally, who will guard the guards. This objection goes back to antiquity and is as sound now as it was then - Quis Custodiet ipsos custodes


If you are not already convinced check out NO2ID and Sean Gabb on detailed reasons to oppose identity cards.

Since this blog is concerned with the Anarcho-Capitalist meme it seems very fitting that there has been talk on the web of the identity card bill becoming 'Blair's poll tax'. I am more than happy to spread this meme, so I hereby release it into the internet wild!

26 June 2005

Privacy is a right not a privilege

I hope people will make a pledge against ID cards here. This is the most insidious and authoritarian bill this facist government has yet embarked upon. I call them facist in a literal sense, this government is militaristic and contemptuous of individual freedoms and civil liberties. A compulsory ID card allows the government to track your life, centralising, collating and cross-referencing information on all aspects of your existence. The idea of 'nothing to fear, nothing to hide' is facetious at best and downright dangerous at worst. Only those with a total lack of imagination are unable to see how personal information can be used to manipulate enemies of the politcal elite and their cronies. With such intrusive tracking of our lives it would be simple to concoct stories based on circumstantial evidence to discredit opponents. Anyone who is aware of current affairs knows how easy it is to discredit people with mere accusations of wrong-doing or questionable associations.

ID cards will do nothing to prevent terrorist or criminal actions as ANY system is open to forgery, corruption and circumvention, what they will do is shift the balance of power towards the state, whereby citizens will have to continually prove their innocence or be excluded from modern society. Privacy is not a luxury handed out by the state, it is a right only to be rescinded on the basis of the stongest evidence of guilt handled through a transparent judicial process.

This is a heinous bill and anyone with any shred of respect for liberty and justice should oppose it absolutely.

When words become deeds

It was interesting watching Jonathan Dimbleby this morning where it was suggested several times that lifting trade barriers to Africa might actually be a better way of alleviating poverty than simply throwing more money at the problem. This is to be encouraged as free trade (free trade IS fair trade) is what is really needed in Africa, which will itself encourage the toppling of corrupt dictatorships. Interestingly enough in Somalia where western interference was bloodily put down there are areas of increasing wealth with no effective government. People often suggest that Anarcho-Capitalists might like Somalia, well although I would not personally like to live there, it is interesting to note that Somalia has a flourishing mobile phone network without any government to control the airwaves. Many more 'stable' African countries have nothing like it. A provisional conclusion might be that what Somalia needs is not more government, but less impediment to trade with the west.

Unfortunately all this good work on Dimbleby was undone by the usual socialist 'pie in the sky' economics where privatisation was an evil forced upon African countries in return for debt cancellation and liberalisation is used as a dirty word.

Over on the BBC libertarianism was even mentioned in connection with the Conservative party, although frankly I am sceptical. I seem to remember being told of other Conservatives claiming to be libertarians whilst simultaneously clamouring for more state intervention. The media love to lump Libertarians together with Conservatives as 'the right', but, if those terms mean anything, then Libertarians are most emphatically not right-wing (as a previous essay on cuthhyra makes clear). Having said that one of the commentators was correct in saying there is a large libertarian streak in the British people that is woefully under-represented, but if the Conservatives are going to make any inroads into it they must be much more forceful. Schemes like school vouchers should be non-negotiable and implemented as soon as the Conservatives are in government, tax cuts should really be cuts, 1% of tax returns is pitiful it should be along the lines of 10% if they expect to be taken seriously (with more cuts in the long term). Privatisation and closing down of civil 'service' bureaucracies should be a priority.

There are some interesting noises in the media today, which I wholey support, however, I don't hold my breath that words will translate to deeds.

22 June 2005

Moneyed socialists; Their intellectual error

It just seems that whenever one is berated for being too concerned with money it comes from a 'socialist' who has no money troubles themselves. Money is merely a convenient method of exchange and it is only those confused about the purpose and use of money who believe it to be inherently evil (or, equally wrong, but more sophisticated, that money in and of itself is morally destructive). Money allows us to convey value, often through complex chains of transactions, via many people we may never even meet. What is clear is that for any given monetary unit, it's value will decrease with the increase in supply. This is true as much for the individual as it is the true cause of inflation in an economy. Of course in the case of the individual the objective value of the monetary unit remains constant and only the subjective value varies.

Some basic understanding of what money is and why it is necessary may clear up the misconception that capitalist activity is merely the accumulation of money and show how without money complex transactions are impossible making us all worse off.

18 June 2005

A blog too far

To complement my website I have decided to start a blog. This will allow people to comment on both the website and any posts, which will hopefully be of interest to anarcho-capitalists and libertarians, especially those in the UK.