I came across three interesting ideas on the Internet. They are anarcho-capitalism, agorism, and fasco-capitalism.
The economic system in the USA right now cannot be described as capitalism. Most people define "capitalism" as a "free market". The USA is not a free market; the USA is actually a communist dictatorship. Money is intrinsically worthless. Income taxes are a huge disincentive against working. Interest rates are artificially fixed rather than determined by the free market. The Federal Reserve, income tax, and government regulations prevent the USA from being a free market.
The Federal Reserve provides a massive government subsidy to the financial industry and large corporations. The Federal Reserve causes the Compound Interest Paradox to enslave everyone under a crushing debt burden. The income tax converts everyone into government slaves. The income tax forces everyone to use worthless Federal Reserve Notes instead of real money. Government regulations make it very hard for an individual to start a profitable business.
Extensive government regulations are a disincentive to small businesses. The cost of compliance with a regulation is typically fixed. For example, a $1 billion company might not be able to afford to spend $3 million on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. A $100 billion company can easily afford it. Large corporations like regulations, because they squeeze out smaller competitors. Regulations create a government-endorsed monopoly or oligopoly.
The term fasco-capitalism describes the US economy, rather than true capitalism. There is some competition and trade occurring, but it's heavily dampened by the government. Laws are determined by lobbyists from large corporations. Corporations standardize their treatment of employees using the same defective policies. If you don't like a corporation's practices, you aren't going to see much improvement by switching jobs, because they're all pretty much the same. People say "if you don't like it, start your own business", but there are lots of legal and practical obstacles to forming your own business. A small business owner is typically forced to work really long hours, to compensate for his overhead costs and his handicap relative to large corporations.
I started thinking about the US Constitution. What amendments would I add, given the opportunity? It was a very interesting exercise. The list I came up with was disturbingly long, and I realized that I wasn't even half done. There was no way to come up with a list of amendments that could patch a fundamentally flawed system.
I was never given the opportunity to sign the US Constitution. Taking a strict view, the Constitution was only a valid contract for the people who signed it. The people alive then had an opportunity to indirectly ratify it via their state legislatures. Everyone who voted for the Constitution is long dead. How is it still a valid contract?
Of course, all the people working for the government act as if the Constitution is completely valid. They'll even use force to make you comply, if you violate one of the laws. Does that make what they're doing right? You might say "If you don't like the US Constitution, then move." The defect is that other countries have systems that are just as bad or worse. I don't have the opportunity to move to another country and then vote on what its Constitution should be. There's no unoccupied space that I can move to and set up a government that suits my desires, even if I could find some like-minded people to go with me.
What Constitution is optimal? Are there any rules that can be unilaterally imposed on everyone without their informed consent? After thinking about it for awhile, the only valid Constitution is a NULL Constitution. People can form contracts with each other, but there's no valid contract than can be imposed on someone before they are educated enough to decide.
That brings me to anarcho-capitalism and agorism. They both say that the only valid Constitution is a NULL Constitution. All that really matters is property ownership and people forming contracts. All the functions of a government could be performed better by the free market. The only valid forms of law are common law and contract law. Common law says you can do whatever you want as long as you don't injure someone else. Contract law says that when you freely enter a contract without coercion or trickery, you should keep your promise.
Why should the government have a monopoly on justice? If I don't like the government's courts, I can't shop around for a better court. There's no incentive for government courts to be efficient. Actually, the incentive is for inefficiency, because that maximizes their budgets and influence. The government courts are run by lawyers. Lawyers want the legal system to be complicated and expensive, because that's more money for them. Further, large corporations like a complicated and expensive legal system, because it discourages people from suing them. A large corporation can effectively bankrupt a smaller competitor by dragging it into a lawsuit. Red market workers can effectively bankrupt any individual by pressing frivolous criminal charges and confiscating their property without a trial. If the government files frivolous criminal charges, you still lose your time and legal fees, even if you get acquitted.
What right does a court have to use force to impose its will on me? I never consented to that. Why does the government have a monopoly on violence? Why can't a group of people hire a private police force to protect themselves? This private police force would protect them both from crime and from the government's illegitimate police force. A private police force would be much more accountable. If it didn't perform, people would start seeking alternate vendors.
As far as I can tell, that is the principle of the anarcho-capitalist and the agorist. The only valid Constitution is NULL. All governments are merely a group of people conspiring to take away my property and my rights. There is no legitimacy to the government, because I never specifically consented to it. Government is merely a mass hallucination. People use force to keep up the illusion. For individuals, all that really matters is common law, property ownership, and contracts. Individuals should be able to hire their own police force to ensure their property is protected and their contracts are enforced.
Government is a huge Distributed Costs and Concentrated Benefits scam, imposed by force on everyone else. Many government employees have lucrative salaries and pensions. Many corporations have government-endorsed monopolies or oligopolies. They wouldn't want to lose their perks if the government lost its violence monopoly.
The distinction between agorism and anarcho-capitalism is blurry. I consider agorism to be a more refined version of anarcho-capitalism. Anarcho-capitalists say that government is bad and there should be a free market without coercion. Some people with "academic credentials" as anarcho-capitalists argue for less government intervention, without coming to the conclusion that government needs to be completely abolished. I consider anarcho-capitalism to be a wimpy, watered-down version of agorism. Agorists have specific plans for implementing a new economic and political system. Most publicity of anarchists is negative, when they are shown protesting and rioting, which is a waste of time. The word "anarchist" is dirty in many people's minds. A lot of people falsely assume "not government" is "total chaos". The word "agorist" invokes a different meaning than "anarchist" in most people's minds.
The difference between the anarcho-capitalist and the agorist is implementation details. The anarcho-capitalist says that all government is inherently evil. The agorist has specific ideas for systems that replace what government currently performs. Many anarchists says that private property and contracts are inherently evil. The agorist says that private property and contracts are perfectly acceptable. It's the government monopoly on enforcement of property rights and contracts that is wrong. Any monopoly tends to behave in an exploitative manner. The monopoly of government is no different.
The agorist has a concrete plan for how to develop a stable society without government. The agorist actually has a workable plan for realizing his goal. People need to develop their own private monetary system. People need to develop their own private justice system and contract enforcement system. People should do work and not report it to the government for taxation, confiscation, and regulation. The agorist community wants to create a pool of wealth outside the control of the government. An agorist revolution would be about creating wealth, not destroying wealth via rioting or violence.
Why didn't agorism dominate instead of the governments we have now? I explain this in "History - What Really Happened". Basically, a group of people managed to use force to impose their will on everyone else. They constructed a really elaborate control system that disguised what is really happening, and called it "government". They tell people that government is a great idea, when in fact it's a humongous Distributed Costs and Concentrated Benefits scam.
Nowadays, hopefully there are enough educated and informed people to sustain an agorist economy, if only existing governments would let them. If the systems were set up intelligently, an agorist economy would be easy for the average person to use. Electronic communication allows enough information to be distributed to set up an agorist economy. Thousands of years ago, people didn't have the expectation of property ownership and enforcement of contracts. Thousands of years ago, there wasn't a system for effective information sharing. Currently, the duplication cost for information is practically zero. Property ownership and contracts are a great idea. The problem is that the government shouldn't have a monopoly on enforcement of property rights and contracts.
The hope of the agorist is that someday government would be weakened enough that several private organizations would replace it. From time to time, people have formed profitable businesses busting up monopolies. The more complacent and inefficient the monopoly is, the more there is to be gained by competing with it. I don't recall anyone trying to set up an organization whose goal is to break up the government's monopoly on violence and justice.
Imagine you're trying to start a business whose goal is replacing government. What properties would it need? First, there would have to be immediate benefits for the participants. This would allow it to begin operations with 1000 or fewer participants. Second, it would have to be a decentralized organization. A pyramidal organizational structure would be easily infiltrated. A pyramidal organization could be halted by killing its leaders. The leaders of an organization that wants to replace government would *DEFINITELY* be targets for assassinations. A distributed organizational structure would allow it to survive.
The goal of the organization would be to avoid being noticed by the red market until it was powerful enough to win a direct confrontation. Having a goal of compliance with existing laws is too difficult. The taxation system would make this organization's successes turn into government subsidies. Therefore, one goal should be to avoid taxation as much as possible. Regulation wastes resources. A second goal should be to avoid regulations. The organization should facilitate productive economic activity without having it reported for taxation, confiscation, and regulation. Avoiding taxation is something that yields concrete benefits to participants, because tax rates of 40-50% or more are so confiscatory. The ability to avoid government regulations would be a further benefit, adding another reduction of 5-45% in expenses. People could reduce their risk by only conducting some economic activity in this grey economy and conducting some economic activity in the standard taxable economy.
If you take into account the effect of taxes and regulations, you arrive at a total taxation rate of 50-95%. With such a high cost of taxation and regulation, there would be huge benefits for participants in an agorist economy.
Most laws are designed to discourage free enterprise rather than encourage it. As long as both parties agree that the corrupt legal system is invalid, they can pursue contracts more efficiently in private.
That would have to be one of the unbreakable rules of the agorist community. No matter what happens, people may not complain to the red market. All disputes must be resolved within the agorist community.
Such an organization would be voluntary for its participants. Anyone could join or leave at any time. People could be partial members, conducting some activity in the "grey" market and some activity in the regular market. The "rules" of the organization would merely be a set of voluntary practical guidelines. Anyone who followed these guidelines would benefit.
Ironically, the agorist has the best chance of implementing a true one world government. The agorist says that all governments are illegitimate. There would be a unified world government because no governments are legitimate at all. The current path towards globalization is a global fasco-capitalist government. There will be resistance to a global government from current governments, because the current leaders don't want to give up their perks. I suspect that the huge government spying apparatus are designed to prevent an agorist movement from getting started.
There have been two implementation approaches that seem interesting. The first is a geographically distributed approach. People try to make progress in anonymity. The second is a geographically concentrated approach. A group of like minded people move to the same area and vote for the government to be less intrusive and less powerful. A geographically concentrated approach is risky, because success would make a tempting target for suppression via force. A geographically concentrated approach is useful, because if people want to trade they have to do it in person. Besides, the agorist's goal is complete independence from forced taxation. Only a group of people living together self-sufficiently can achieve this. They would also need to be able to defend themselves from invasion.
Many people say a collapse of the dollar is imminent. A hyperinflationary crash of the dollar would be both a disaster and an opportunity. During hyperinflation, the power of the government is substantially reduced. Who would be willing to work for the government in exchange for worthless paper money and a worthless pension? People might be forced to form private organizations to perform functions formerly performed by the government. If an agorist movement gets started when the government is weak, it might be able to challenge the government successfully later. Perhaps, instead of starting in the USA, the agorist should move to countries where the government is weak.
On the other hand, the USA offers more protections than other countries. The average person in the USA believes that what you do in private is none of the government's business. As long as you stay away from black market activities, such as growing marijuana, it might be hard for the red market to get a conviction in a jury trial. On the other hand, trial by jury has been pretty much completely repealed. The judge won't permit you to remind the jury of their jury nullification privilege, and biased jury selection methods weed out qualified jurors. Even if you get an acquittal, you don't get back the time spent in jail, plus the money spent on legal fees. (Of course, an agorist says that the red market has no right to forbid you from growing marijuana. On the other hand, possession of marijuana is considered evidence you have committed a crime, so growing marijuana is more risky than grey market work. You're free to do whatever you want, but if you're engaging in black market activity I don't want to know about it.)
That seems like a reasonable plan. Develop tools and guidelines that an agorist can use. The act of developing the tools and guidelines would not be a crime itself! Participation would be voluntary. If people develop better guidelines, they are free to switch. The more economic activity that is conducted without taxation, the weaker the government becomes. At some point, an efficient agorist economy might be strong enough to replace the government.
A lot of websites I read are philosophizing and speculating. I am ready to start writing tools and start using them. I would like to be a participant in an agorist economy, if only I knew other trustworthy participants! My primary skill is writing software. That's the skill I'd be offering in trade. Initially, I'll just write the code I think is needed and release it into the public domain.
Trust is extremely important in an agorist economy. You need to make sure that the people you trade with aren't going to tip off or complain to red market agents. As long as both parties to the transaction agree to do their best to protect each other from red market agents, it's workable. Unfortunately, I am in a difficult position. I don't trust anybody!
The philosophy of the agorist and the anarcho-capitalist can be summarized in one sentence. "I want to do useful work, get paid for it, and not have to report it to the government for taxation, confiscation, and regulation." The only difference between the two is that the agorist has more concrete implementation ideas. The easiest way to get such a system started is to set it up in a way that people can participate for 5-10 hours/week, until they get enough income to quit their regular jobs.
An agorist revolution would be self-sustaining, because the participants would be profiting from their activity! The productivity gains realized by the participants would cause exponential growth, once it got started.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I came across three interesting ideas on the Internet. They are anarcho-capitalism, agorism, and fasco-capitalism.
Posted by FSK at 10:17 AM