Human Action!

By Kyle Rearden

“The origin of money is…entirely natural and thus displays legislative influence only in the rarest instances. Money is not an invention of the state. It is not the product of a legislative act. Even the sanction of political authority is not necessary for its existence. Certain commodities come to be money quite naturally, as the result of economic relationships that were independent of the power of the state.”

Carl Menger

Four and a half years ago, a reader of mine commented that I should study praxeology, which is the science of human action. As a skeptical empiricist, facts and evidence are important to me, yet, they cannot tell the entirety of the truth about a particular topic. Sometimes, logical deductions are more valuable than spending large and inordinate amounts of time and effort conducting never-ending research and studies that mostly tell you what is already knowable about the world, not just through hard-won personal experience, but also an extrapolated understanding of humanity through a truthful evaluation of one’s own values and actions.

Much like Ayn Rand’s fictional magnum opus, examining Ludwig von Mises’ non-fiction magnum opus could go in a lot of different directions, and it’s not just due to the sheer length of it. For my purposes of this report, I will focus on those highlights that really illuminated my understanding of economics more so than it already has been. Much like his other work Liberty & Property, Mises never fails to impart to me the dangers of economic illiteracy insofar as it impacts the human condition (such as it is).

Mises’ regression theorem is a further development upon Carl Menger’s logical deductions regarding the origins of money. By combining subjective value theory and the law of diminishing marginal utility, Mises wonderfully explains why money is not some devious tool of special interests, but rather, an expression of the market’s spontaneous order. As such, Mises debunks socialism by plainly illustrating how central planning is a lame attempt to resolve the economic calculation problem, which has only been truly solved through prices, thereby necessitating the use of money in order to calculate the allocation of resources, hence Mises’ particular fondness for double-entry bookkeeping as one of the finest inventions from Western civilization to date.

Austrian business cycle theory masterfully details why and how economic booms and busts are completely artificial, given that they have nothing to do with the market process of creative destruction. Simply put, central banks (like the Federal Reserve) cause malinvestment due to artificially low interest rates and fractional reserve lending, which in turn gives misleading price signals to entrepreneurs and investors. This necessitates a market correction (the “bust”) that many individuals misinterpret as a calamity when the truth of the matter is that it is the “boom” which sows the seeds for its future destruction, and is thus completely avoidable right from the get go, yet the central planners desire business cycles because it gives them a cover for their parasitism of the producers vis-à-vis Frédéric Bastiat’s concept of legal plunder.

Sexuality was the last thing I’d expect in a treatise on economics, yet it’s relevance becomes palpable once you consider its natural consequences. As Mises said:

“Man integrates the satisfaction of the purely zoological impulses, common to all animals, into a scale of values, in which a place is also assigned to specifically human ends. Acting man also rationalizes the satisfaction of his sexual appetites. Their satisfaction is the outcome of a weighing of pros and cons. Man does not blindly submit to a sexual stimulation like a bull; he refrains from copulation if he deems the costs – the anticipated disadvantages – too high.”

Volitional consciousness, as Rand herself explained, necessitates the use of free will. Attraction may very well not be subject to individual choice, but acting on such impulses is a choice, even if rashly or recklessly done so. Interestingly enough, Mises observed one fascinating result of human sexuality:

“The mutual sexual attraction of male and female is inherent in man’s animal nature and independent of any thinking and theorizing…[f]amily life is not merely a product of sexual intercourse. It is by no means natural and necessary that parents and children live together in the way in which they do in the family. The mating relation need not result in a family organization. The human family is the outcome of thinking, planning, and acting…[a]s there are in present-day Europe no pure stocks, we must conclude that between members of the various stocks which once settled in that continent there was sexual attraction and not repulsion. Millions of mulattoes and other half-breeds are living counterevidence to the assertion that there exists a natural repulsion between the various races…racial hatred is not a natural phenomenon innate in man. It is the product of ideologies.”

I must admit – this is probably the single best rebuttal of racial bigotry ever. Given the apriori logical deduction here, Mises’s observation clearly debunks racial supremacy forever. Hybrid vigor is a reality that is often ignored by those vested special interests who demonize romances between individuals, which have often been proclaimed by the State as so-called miscegenation. Mises also observed that:

“Rationalization of sexual intercourse already involves the rationalization of proliferation. Then later further methods of rationalizing the increase of progeny were adopted which were independent of abstention from copulation. People resorted to the egregious and repulsive practices of exposing or killing infants and of abortion. Finally they learned to perform the sexual act in such a way that no pregnancy results. In the last hundred years the technique of contraceptive devices has been perfected and the frequency of their employment increased considerably. Yet the procedures had long been known and practiced.”

He goes onto describe how in civilizations with secured property rights, the birthrate tends to stabilize, given that the private production of contraceptive technologies is only made possible by free markets, so authoritarian “progressives” might herald womens’ rights, but when it comes down to making it practically happen in the real world, they loudly condemn the very mechanism of womens’ “liberation” because they are socialists first who couldn’t centrally plan the manufacturing of pencils, much less condoms or contraceptive pills.

Entrepreneurship is seldom understood by Good Americans who typically imagine themselves as noble “workers” who are, in reality, just biased when you consider the grandiose portraits they paint of themselves, which are largely due to their economic illiteracy. Time preference, in my not-so-humble opinion, was beautifully laid out by Mises. He wrote:

“Time preference is a categorical requisite of human action. No mode of action can be thought of in which satisfaction within a nearer period of the future is not – other things being equal – preferred to that in a later period. The very act of gratifying a desire implies that gratification at the present instant is preferred to that at a later instant. He who consumes a nonperishable good instead of postponing consumption for an indefinite later moment thereby reveals a higher valuation of present satisfaction as compared with later satisfaction. If he were not to prefer satisfaction in a nearer period of the future to that in a remoter period, he would never consume and so satisfy wants. He would always accumulate, he would never consume and enjoy. He would not consume today, but he would not consume tomorrow either, as the morrow would confront him with the same alternative.”

In other words, individuals who have deferred gratification have a longer time preference, as opposed to those who partake in instant gratification who have a shorter time preference. Elsewhere, Mises details how the profitability of interest is justified because lenders have a longer time preference who take on the risk of nonpayment by borrowers who, in turn, have a shorter time preference; that is, borrowers prefer to use credit in order to acquire something now instead of waiting until later when they would’ve simply used their own capital stock to make said purchases. Mises also said:

“It is not the business of the entrepreneurs to make people substitute sound ideologies for unsound. It rests with the philosophers to change people’s ideas and ideals. The entrepreneur serves the consumers as they are today, however wicked and ignorant.”

This is a rather bitter pill for many Americans to swallow; however, I believe it to be the truth. Mises’ explanation says why vices will always be profitable to those entrepreneurs who willing to serve particular market demands. It also reveals just how atrocious it was for Edward Bernays and his fellow social engineers to trick consumers through manipulative advertising (such as convincing women to begin smoking cigarettes because they were allegedly “torches of freedom”); no wonder Bernays and company decided to artificially create their own market demand by selling lifestyle imagery to hapless customers who honestly didn’t know what they wanted. Mises also observed that:

“Education, whatever benefits it may confer, is transmission of traditional doctrines and valuations; it is by necessity conservative. It produces imitation and routine, not improvement and progress. Innovators and creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely the men who defy what the school has taught them.”

So much for the alleged claim that education is always the answer, huh? Mises here, I think, is implying that “education” produces individuals who have a shorter time preference; thus, regardless of whether entrepreneurs are born or made, what is certain is that colleges and universities tend to regurgitate intelligentsia automatons who are just smart enough to shuffle papers around and speak “large” words, but not intelligent enough to reason out how badly they’ve been manipulated into going into debt via student loans that they pay interest on to the fascist Big Banks. Mises further said:

“An entrepreneur cannot be trained. A man becomes an entrepreneur in seizing an opportunity and filling the gap. No special education is required for such a display of keen judgment, foresight, and energy. The most successful businessmen were often uneducated when measured by the scholastic standards of the teaching profession. But they were equal to their social function of adjusting production to the most urgent demand.”

This is probably the most insightful observation of Mises’ entire book. The big secret of learning about the Austrian school of economics in the first place, I think, is to encourage Americans to become more entrepreneurial. Historical (and even contemporary) examples abound of individuals who were “drop-outs” initially struggling and then eventually succeeding as real entrepreneurs with their start-up businesses, often becoming the nouveau riche with their newly acquired wealth.

Speaking of justly acquired wealth, Mises does not shy away from the evils of taxation. He says:

“The ability-to-pay principle has been raised to the dignity of a postulate of social justice. As people see it today, the fiscal and budgetary objectives of taxation are of secondary importance only. The primary function of taxation is to reform social conditions according to justice. Taxation is a method of government interference with business.”

Similar to how Frank Chodorov explained the income tax, Mises criticizes the “progressive” leftist notion of the so-called “ability-to-pay,” which was ostensibly a tax the rich scheme, but turned out to be a legal plundering of the productive (for instance, ~ 20% of my own “gross income” is currently subject to withholding). Mises fabulously pointed out that:

“The government has no more ability than individuals to create something out of nothing. What the government spends more, the public spends less. Public works are not accomplished by the miraculous power of a magic wand. They are paid for by funds taken away from the citizens. If the government had not interfered, the citizens would have employed them for the realization of profit-promising projects the realization of which they must omit because their means have been curtailed by the government.”

I’d think it’s more than fair to say that this debunks the whole repulsive “public goods” argument pretty succinctly. Given the reality of private roads like the Dulles Greenway in Virginia, statist vitriol demonizing the privatization of “public utilities” is more akin to a temper tantrum than any genuine exploration for the truth. Mises continues:

“Yet, the true crux of the taxation issue is to be seen in the paradox that the more taxes increase, the more they undermine the market economy and concomitantly the system of taxation itself. Thus the fact becomes manifest that ultimately the preservation of private property and confiscatory measures are incompatible. Every specific tax, as well as a nation’s whole tax system, becomes self-defeating above a certain height of the rates.”

This is exactly why libertarians have been screaming bloody murder that all taxation is theft. Outright denials about this form of legal plunder are evocative of those individuals who are not only economically illiterate, but also suffering from Stockholm Syndrome with the State. I’m truly pleased that Mises was unapologetically defending capital accumulation as the material source of personal liberty (not to mention infrastructure development).

Unfortunately, Mises gave an undue amount of credit to the notion of a hypothetically “limited” government, going even so far as to criticize living without rulers. He said:

“Anarchism believes that education could make all people comprehend what their own interests require them to do; rightly instructed they would of their accord always comply with the rules of conduct indispensable for the preservation of society. The anarchists contend that a social order in which nobody enjoys privileges at the expense of his fellow-citizens could exist without any compulsion and coercion for the prevention of action detrimental to society…[t]he anarchists overlook the undeniable fact that some people are either too narrow-minded or too weak to adjust themselves spontaneously to the conditions of social life…[a]n anarchistic society would be exposed to the mercy of every individual. Society cannot exist if the majority is not ready to hinder, by the application or threat of violent action, minorities from destroying the social order. This power is vested in the state or government.”

This is a rather unfair characterization, and reveals that Mises, as an academic, was unacquainted with the realities of using force. Although there are individuals who are, as Mises put it, too narrow-minded or otherwise weak to adjust themselves to market dynamics, that doesn’t therefore mean that a social institution which enjoys a unique monopoly on the initiation of the use of force must continue to exist (non sequitur fallacy, much?). Mises also said:

“State or government is the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion. It has the monopoly of violent action…[f]or the sake of domestic peace liberalism aims at democratic government. Democracy is therefore not a revolutionary institution. On the contrary, it is the very means of preventing revolutions and civil wars. It provides a method for the peaceful adjustment of government to the will of the majority. When the men in office and their policies no longer please the majority of the nation, they will – in the next election – be eliminated and replaced by other men espousing different policies.”

Here, Mises admits that government enjoys a monopoly on coercion, and so as an openly avowed liberal, I guess his affectation for democracy shouldn’t be too surprising. He continues:

“State and government are not ends, but means. Inflicting evil upon other people is a source of direct pleasure only to sadists. Established authorities resort to coercion and compulsion in order to safeguard the smooth operation of a definite system of social organization. The sphere in which coercion and compulsion is applied and the content of the laws which are to be enforced by the police apparatus are condition by the social order adopted. As state and government are designed to make this social system operate safely, the delimitation of governmental functions must be adjusted to its requirements. The only standard for the appreciation of the laws and the methods for their enforcement is whether or not they are efficient in safeguarding the social order which it is desired to preserve.”

So, let me get this straight – Mises seriously wants me to believe that coercive monopolies facilitate orderly market transactions? If anything, I believe that Mises is attempting here to marry democratic governance with free markets, which for me is a bit of a hard sell. This would seem to contradict would Mises said elsewhere regarding government interference in the market, and taxation specifically. Furthermore, Mises said:

“The philosophy of law and political science are at a loss to discover any reason why government should not control prices and not punish those defying the price ceilings decreed, in the same way it punishes murderers and thieves…there is need to emphasize once again that the only purpose of the laws and the social apparatus of coercion and compulsion is to safeguard the smooth function of social cooperation. It is obvious that the government has the power to decree maximum prices and to imprison or to execute those selling or buying at a higher price. But the question is whether such a policy can or cannot attain the ends which the government wants to attain by resorting to it. This is a purely praxeological and economic problem. Neither the philosophy of law nor political science can contribute anything to its solution.”

Again, I think Mises is playing with fire here. It’s almost as if he completely ignored Belgian economist Gustave de Molinari’s realization that the private production of security services is preferable to those aberrations provided by monopoly or communism. When combined with legal plunder, then the justifications for a hypothetically “limited” government simply vanish into the ether.

Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action: A Treatise on Economics is an awe-inspiring defense of private property and free markets, albeit from a strictly utilitarian perspective. There is also an audiobook narrated by the legendary Jeff Riggenbach, which I highly recommend, because I doubt anybody is going to fully understand Mises’ magnum opus on a first read, and Riggenbach’s audiobook is something you can listen to while you exercise, commute, or lounge around. Also invaluable is Robert Murphy’s study guide, which greatly simplified Mises’ verbose language at times.

I’m truly glad I took the time to read, reread, and listen to Mises’ Human Action, for it truly impressed upon me the imperative for increasing economic literacy (not to mention how he and the Austrian School were heavily referenced in the #agora novella). At this juncture, I would really only disagree with Mises regarding his affectation for democracy as a hypothetically “limited” government, yet given the fact that he was promoting the free market in Austria at the exact same time the German National Socialists marched into Vienna with open arms, I am reluctant to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, so to speak; and as such, I will let Mises have the last word here regarding the study of human action:

“Praxeology as a science cannot encroach upon the individual’s right to choose and to act. The final decisions rest with acting men, not with the theorists. Science’s contribution to life and action does not consist in establishing value judgments, but in clarification of the conditions under which man must act and in elucidation of the effects of various modes of action. It puts at the disposal of acting man all the information he needs in order to make his choices in full awareness of their consequences. It prepares an estimate of cost and yield, as it were. It would fail in this task if it were to omit from this statement one of the items which could be of influence in people’s choices and decisions.”

The post Human Action! appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

Permanent TAZs (1994)

By Kyle Rearden

Today’s article by Hakim Bey develops the concept of a Permanent Autonomous Zone (PAZ). It is an evolutionary step based upon Bey’s earlier idea of Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ). Any mistakes are solely that of the author himself.

TAZ-theory tries to concern itself with existing or emerging situations rather than with pure utopianism. All over the world people are leaving or “disappearing” themselves from the Grid of Alienation and seeking ways to restore human contact. An interesting example of this – on the level of “urban folk culture’ – can be found in the proliferation of hobby networks and conferences. Recently I discovered the zines of two such groups, Crown Jewels of High Wire (devoted to the collection of glass electrical insulators) and a journal on cucurbitology (The Gourd). A vast amount of creativity goes into these obsessions. The various periodic gatherings of fellow-maniacs amount to genuine face-to-face (unmediated) festivals of eccentricity. It’s not just the “counter-culture” which seeks its TAZs, its nomad encampments and nights of liberation from the Consensus. Self-organized and autonomous groups are springing up amongst every “class” and “sub-culture”. Vast tracts of the Babylonian Empire are now virtually empty, populated only by the spooks of MAssMedia, and a few psychotic policemen.

TAZ-theory realizes that THIS IS HAPPENING – we’re not talking about “should” or “will be” – we’re talking about an already-existing movement. Our use of various thought-experiments, utopian poetics, paranoia criticism, etc., aims at helping to clarify this complex and still largely undocumented movement, to give it some theoretical focus and self-awareness, and to suggest tactics based on coherent integral strategies – to act the midwife or the panegyrist, not the “vanguard”!

And so we’ve had to consider the fact that not all existing autonomous zones are “temporary”. Some are (at least by intention) more-or-less “permanent”. Certain cracks in the Babylonian Monolith appear so vacant that whole groups can move into them and settle down. Certain theories, such as “Permaculture”, have been developed to deal with this situation and make the most of it. “Villages”. “communes”, “communities”, even “arcologies” and “biospheres” (or other utopian-city forms) are being experimented with and implemented. Even here however TAZ-theory may offer some useful thought-tools and clarifications.

What about a poetique (a “way of making”) and a politique (a “way of living-together”) for the “permanent TAZ (or “PAZ”)? What about the actual relation between temporariness and permanence? And how can the PAZ renew and refresh itself periodically with the “festival” aspect of the TAZ?

  1. The question of publicity. Recent events in the US and Europe have shown that self-organized/autonomous groups strike fear into the heart of the State. MOVE in Philadelphia, the Koreshites of Waco, Deadheads, Rainbow Tribes, computer-hackers, squatters, etc. have been targeted for varying intensity-levels of extermination. And yet other autonomous groups go unnoticed, or at least unpersecuted. What makes the difference? One may be the maligning effect of publicity or mediation. The Media experience a vampiric thirst for the shadow-Passion play of “Terrorism”. Babylon’s public ritual of expiation, scapegoating, and blood-sacrifice. Once any autonomous group allows this particular “gaze” to fall upon it, the shit hits the fan: – the Media will try to arrange a mini-armageddon to satisfy its junk-sickness for spectacle and death.

Now, the PAZ makes a fine sitting target for such a Media smart-bomb. Beseiged inside its “compound”, the self-organized group can only succumb to some sort of cheap pre-determined martyrdom. Presumably this role appeals only to neurotic masochists??? In any case, most groups will want to live out their natural span or trajectory in peace and quiet. A good tactic here might be to avoid publicity from the Mass Media as if it were the plague. A bit of natural paranoia comes in handy, so long as it doesn’t become an end in itself. One must be cunning in order to get away with being bold. A toucn of camoflage, a falir for invisibility, a sense of tact as a tactic….might be as useful to a PAZ as a TAZ. Humble suggestions: – Use only “intimate media” {zines, phonetrees, BBSs, free radio and mini-FM, public-access cable, etc.) – avoid blustering-macho-confrontationalist attitude – you don’t need five seconds on the Evening News (“Police Raid Cultists”) to validate your existence. Our slogan might be: – “Get a life, not a life-style.”

  1. Access. People probably ought to choose the people they live with. Open-membership” communes invariably end up swamped with freeloaders and sex-starved pathetic creeps. PAZs must choose their own membership mutually – this has nothing to do with “elitism”. The PAZ may exercise a temporarily open function – such as hosting festivals or giving away free food, etc. – but it need not be permanently open to any self-proclaimed sympathizer who wanders by.
  1. The emergence of a genuinely alternative economy. Once again, this is already happening – but it needs a huge amount of work before it comes into focus. The sub-economies of “lavoro nero”, untaxed transactions, barter, etc. tend to be severely limited and localized. BBSs and other networking systems could be used to link up these regional/marginal economies (“household managements”) into a viable alternative economy of some magnitude. “P.M.” has already outlined something like this in bolo’bolo – in fact a number of possible systems already exist, in theory anyway. The problem is: – how to construct a true alternative economy, i.e. a complete economy, without attracting the IRS and other capitalist runningdogs? How can I exchange my skills as, say, a plumber or moonshiner, for the food, books, shelter, and psychoactive plants I want – without paying taxes, or even without using any State-forged money? How can I live a comfortable (even luxurious) life free of all interactions free of all interactions and transactions with CommodityWorld? If we took all the energy leftists put into “demos” and all the energy Libertarians put into playing futile little 3rd-party games, and if we redirected all that power into the construction of a real underground economy, we would already have accomplished “the Revolution” long ago.
  1. The “World” came to an end in 1972. The hollowed-out effigy of the Absolute State finally toppled in “1989”. The last ideology, Capitalism, is no more than a skin-disease of the Very Late Neolithic. It’s a desiring-machine running on empty. I’m hoping to see it deliquesce in my lifetime, like one of Dali’s mindscapes. And I want to have somewhere to “go” when the shit comes down. OF course the death of Capitalism needn’t entail the Godzilla-like destruction of all human culture; this scenario is merely a terror-image propagated by Capitalism itself. Nevertheless it stands to reason that the dreaming corpse will spasm violently before rigor mortis sets in – and New York or LA may not be the smartest places to wait out the storm. (And the storm may have already begun.) (On the other hand NYC and LA might not be the worst places to create the New World; one can imagine whole squatted neighborhoods, gangs transformed into Peoples Militias, etc.) Now the gypsy-RV way of life may be one way to deal with the on-going melt-down of Too-Late-Capitalism – but as for me, I’d prefer a nice anarchist monastery somewhere – a typical place for “scholars” to sit out the “Dark Ages”. The more we organize this NOW the less hassle we’ll have to face later. I’m not talking about “survival” – I’m not interested in mere survival. I want to thrive. BACK TO UTOPIA.
  1. Festivals. The PAZ serves a vital function as a node in the TAZ-web, a meetingplace for a wide circel of friends andn allies who may not actually live fulltime on the “farm” or in the “village”. Ancient villages held fairs which brought wealth to the community, provided markets for travelers, and created festal time/space for all participants. Nowadays the festival is emerging as one of the most important forms of the TAZ itself, but can also provide renewal and fresh energy for the PAZ. I remember reading some-where that in the MIddle Ages there were one hundred and eleven holidays a year; we should take this as our “utopian minimum” and strive to do even better. (Note: the utopian minima proposed by C. Fourier consisted of more food and sex than the average 18th century French aristocrat enjoyed; B. Fuller proposed the term “bare minimum” for a similar concept”.)
  1. The Living Earth. I believe that there exist plenty of good selfish reasons for desiring the “organic” (it’s sexier), the “natural” (it tastes better), the “green” (it’s more beautiful”, the Wild(er)ness (it’s more exciting). Communitas (as P. Goodman called it) and conviviality (as I. Illich called it_ are more pleasurable than their opposites. The living earth need not exclude the organic city – the small but intesne conglomeration of humanity devoted to the arts and slightly decadent joys of a civilization purged of all its gigantism and enforced loneliness – but even those of us who enjoy cities can see immediate and hedonic motives for fighting for the “environment”. We are militant biophiles. Deep ecology, social ecology, permaculture, appropriate tech,…we’re not too picky about ideologies. Let 1000 flowers bloom.
  1. PAZ typology. A “weird religion” or rebel art movement can become a kind of non-local PAZ, like a more intense and all-consuming hobby network. The Secret Society (like the Chinese Tong) also provides a model for a PAZ without geographic limits. But the “perfect case scenario” involves a free space that extends into free time. The essence of the PAZ must be the long-drawn-out intensification of the joys – and risks – of the TAZ. And the intensification of the PAZ will be….Utopia Now.

The post Permanent TAZs (1994) appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

The Agorist Cookbook (2011)

By Kyle Rearden

Today’s article is a parody of the lame and inaccurate so-called Anarchist Cookbook. It was written by privateer, of the real-life #agora IRC channel. For more information on agorism, please feel free to read An Agorist Manifesto in 95 Theses,” “Fifty Things to Do Now,” “An Agorist Anecdote,” “#agora,” and of course,Alongside Night.”

The Agorist Cookbook Introduction

This site is a place for Documenting: Tips, Tricks, Tools, Systems, Methods related to Operating in the Agorist Second Realm of Meatspace and Cyberspace. You will find a proverbial Wiki of Recipes for Agorist Markets and Living. A decent brief description from the Wikipedia Agorism entry describes Agorism as:

A political philosophy founded by Samuel Edward Konkin III and developed with contributions by J. Neil Schulman that holds as its ultimate goal bringing about a society in which all “relations between people are voluntary exchanges – a free market.” The term comes from the Greek word “agora,” referring to an open place for assembly and market in ancient Greek city-states. Ideologically, it is a term representing a revolutionary type of free-market anarchism. Schulman integrated the idea of counter-economics into Konkin’s libertarian philosophy, which is the advocacy of untaxed black market activity.

Philosophy

There are many existing sites covering homesteading, farming. But most are State cooperative, they follow “laws” given to them from men in silly costumes whom like to scribble things on papers and claim obligation of enslavement to their dictates.

The Agorist Cookbook focus is based upon free association along with many concepts described in some of the following topics:

The Agorist Cookbook vs. The Anarchist Cookbook

Example on the subject of Banking

  • Destruction: The infamous Anarchist Cookbook would give you information on how to blow up the Federal Reserve. If you are interested in that, go read the anarchist cookbook and blow yourself up. You are not wanted here, neither will there be anything here for you. If you bother us, we would consider reporting you to the FBI but they would already know about you since you most likely are FBI. Your track record is well known. Don’t you have some P2P domain name to seize somewhere? Go away.
  • Construction: Positively, toward building a new Second Realm, The Agorist Cookbook tells you how to Mint your own gold holdings, use alternative currencies and money systems. It gives you HOWTO’s on Creating, Running and Using your own Hawala networks for money transfer.

Agorist Cookbook Recipes

Table of Contents

Brewing

Contributors wanted. Please send us suggestions/links/ideas even if they can’t be written up right now, we can put them in this section for pondering and authoring. Here are a few of the ideas cooking up:

  1. Agorist exchange/trade gatherings and clubs.
  2. International federation of those local clubs in knights of templar network fashion.
  3. Cooking clubs ‘underground roving restaurants’
  4. Making/selling your own liquour, moonshine, beer.
  5. Making/selling your own fuel for tractors/cars/trucks.
  6. Gobar Gas stoves → gas produced from compost/biodegradable products that is great for cooking. very easy setup with 50gallon drum and food scraps. Really big in india and other places.
  7. Community wireless networks, shared net, mesh networking.
  8. Growing and selling medicines, pharmaceuticals, remedies, treatments etc.
  9. Tribal/Community eco-style home barn raising, like the amish do with some twists, to allow for alternative housing to the standard downpayment/bankloan/30 year morgtage dance with the Banksters.

Contact

Email: admin@agoristcookbook.com

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Agora Homesteading

Overview

We follow the agorist philosophy and believe in absolute freedom to be, do and think what we want. We grow, sell, trade and barter in a wide range of organic products of which some are considered illegal by all U.S. jurisdictions.

We have a business that requires us to keep a low profile. Our business has no name but a symbol. We have no telephone to take orders from outside network. We have no email account for you to complain or praise us. We have no pretty little numbers posted on the road identifying a house even exists here nor a mail box for the USPS. What we do have is a symbol carved in wood attached to the gate. We use this symbol for identification and labeling purposes. We have elegant signs that say “No Trespassing” all around our property. We never receive shipments here from Fed-ex or UPS.

We are currently moving completely off-grid with the exception of the Internet by early 2012 and will be able to produce year round. We only trade, barter and sell to a select few who have been vetted by no fewer than three people and known for a certain amount of time. I use the MLM (multi-level-marketing) strategy and limit the maximum number of clients to 500. We keep our business records on an external encrypted hard drive that is always kept in a safe place.

Rules

The core customer base is allowed to sell to other people but we have certain requirements that must be met:

  1. No more than 3 family or friends whom have been known for a minimum of 5 years. Use common sense and choose carefully.
  2. First level client must pick up and deliver directly to their network.
  3. No strangers are ever to be brought onto my property.
  4. Keep your mouth shut about our business.
  5. All orders are to be made in person at time of pick-up. If you need something added to an existing order or for immediate use please call the number you were given using the correct code word.
  6. If you are ever asked by a stranger to buy something illegal like raw milk or where to find it be polite, tell them nothing except that you cannot help them. Call us immediately.

I know it may seem harsh but it is for everyone’s benefit to abide by these basic rules. There have been numerous SWAT raids on farms and even in some cases not even making the news. I will discuss my security procedures under a different topic at a later date.

History

We started in 1998 moving towards self-sufficiency and reliance with the specific intention of living off-the-grid and relying on no one. As noble as this was it is still expensive to bring our plans into fruition. We started small at first paying cash for everything and eliminating all debt. We kept our day jobs to have a steady cash flow and reserves for building our dreams. We set up a detailed plan of what we wanted to accomplish and when while remaining flexible. This is the most important thing to have is a realistic plan to implement ideas in stages.

The another important aspect of our business was the accumulation of knowledge. I spent my summers as a youth working on my uncle’s farm and my wife grew up on a ranch so we had no preconceived ideas it would be easy. We originally started raising food for ourselves and preserving it for storage. We gained knowledge one subject at a time while learning all we could through books and workshops.

We wanted to start small so chickens were the first thing. We thought since they were small it would be easy….well we were so fucking wrong and it wouldn’t be the last time either. We went from chickens to bees and from there to expanding the gardens. Keep in mind that in the midst of learning to homestead we had several projects going on all the time. We went from 60 acres in 1998 to 180 acres present day and are still learning new things. We bought two smaller neighboring farms to increase our holdings.

The reason I set the cap to 500 clients is what I am willing to sustain at the moment. I encourage them to start businesses of their own and some do. I absolutely love it when they do and succeed. If I can trade or barter for something I had to go outside the network to buy than we are becoming a more self-contained network.

When we set out to purchase land it had to meet the following requirements;

  • Minimum of 30 miles from city
  • Minimum of 25 acres
  • Defensible
  • Wells with quality water as well as plentiful
  • Healthy pond or lake stocked with fish
  • Old growth woodlands & orchard
  • Fenced parcels
  • Barn & buildings in good repair
  • No neighbors within ½ mile
  • Long driveway
  • House secluded from road
  • Property secluded & removed from main roads
  • Cleared tillable land
  • Jurisdiction with low taxes
  • Not near large corporate farms, highways, airports and railroad tracks
  • Accessible from different routes

Benefits

The great thing about building a network like this is you can expect a certain amount of trust and loyalty. I also love the fact that we are always willing to help a family in need. One family lost their father in Iraq a few years ago and the mother of 3 children could not find a job. She used to buy milk, butter and eggs from us but could no longer afford to do so. A beautiful person found out this happened and called an impromptu meeting with my wife to discuss options. I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I tell this story. Every family in the network helped them and she didn’t have to rely upon the government. Mom got a job from a lawyer. A teacher began homeschooling the children. We employed the oldest child to help around here with the horses and such as well as donated supplies until they got back on their feet.

I told this story, one of many because doing business this way benefits the planet, humans and animals without government intervention or regulation.

Production

We offer completely organic produce, meat and other products.

We currently grow 280 different varieties of historical heirloom seeds(many from Thomas Jefferson’s collection). We grow what our customers like and ask for. We also have a 10 acre orchard that produce apple, pear, peach, cherry, maple, black walnut & something no one knows what it is though it is quite tasty.

Animals and Meat We Sell

  • Rabbits
  • Chickens
  • Pigs
  • Cows
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Pheasant
  • Buffalo (coming soon)

Products We Sell

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Cider
  • Wine (gifts only)
  • Beer (gifts only)
  • Whiskey (gifts only)
  • Eggs
  • Raw milk
  • Raw cheese
  • Raw honey
  • Honey comb
  • Beeswax candles
  • Soaps
  • Herbs
  • Oils
  • Wool
  • Compost
  • Bio-fuel(we make bio-diesel for use in the tractors, trucks and generators for us as well)
  • various arts & crafts(knitted goods, pottery,bird houses)

Services We Provide

  • Welding
  • Blacksmithing
  • Wood Working
  • Gun Smithing
  • Machine Tooling

Payment Methods

Money

We prefer cash, gold and silver but you have to be flexible.

Bartering

We trade or barter for just about anything we need or may need or that can be turned into a profit. Here are a few things we bartered in the past:

  • Homemade clothing (I love wool knit sweaters & socks, blankets etc).
  • Firewood
  • Rabbits
  • Deer
  • Turkey
  • Guns
  • Tractors
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Farm equipment
  • Seeds
  • Various crops like alfalfa & barley
  • Feed
  • Various animal breeding (like bringing a bull or goat in to do his business)

The above list may seem overwhelming but we grew slowly and never take on more than we can handle. I currently have 2 full time and 6 part-time seasonal employees (these are mostly teens from clients). We keep only enough animals that can be sustained naturally by the land. One other reason for the client cap.

Outsourcing

We have to sell some things outside the community when we have too much of something. This is pretty simple to do by following the above rules. An example would be produce. 2010 was a bumper year for us, we canned, dried, froze and ate our fill while being able to meet client needs. All you do is contact a store or restaurant with some samples. They always pay cash and nothing gets wasted. Craft stores will always take stuff if they can make a profit as well. We live near a large Mennonite clan who have a general store. I sell to them and they relabel it. We also trade quite a bit which suits us both just fine. We do have our animals butchered & frozen at a local reputable store. Somethings are to time consuming for me to do.

Security

Personal Security

I see personal security encompassing mental, physical and emotional well being. We stay in shape around here with plenty of exercise and eating a clean natural diet. The mental/emotional is helped by meditation.

  • I have had extensive combat training from hand to hand, knives and guns. I trained my wife.
  • We have a shooting range here on the property and use it often. We practice firing from supine, prone, lateral recumbent, standing, crouched & sitting positions.
  • We carry a firearm everywhere we go. We carry bear spray & knives on our person.
  • We have code words indicating a myriad of things like location, safe, hurt, in danger and kidnapped.
  • We always plan where we are going and when we are due back including which routes we would take. This lets someone back track in case phones are out.
  • We keep a cache in our vehicles which include food & water for a week in case we have to walk, ammo, flashlights, camping gear for all seasons, seasonal items like shovels & ice melt, clothing, hazardous breathing apparatus, medication and first aide kits. Everything fits into a backpack with easy access to important items.
  • Detailed topographical map that includes dirt roads, rivers, tracks…etc.(places to avoid like housing projects and bad places in the city)
  • We have HD cameras with audio installed in out vehicles that have a one mile clear view.
  • We also keep portable video and still cameras inside vehicle.
  • We keep scanners for weather, ESDA, police & fire. This is so we can find alternate routes if roads are closed.
  • Hand-held GPS.
  • Prepaid cell phones with spare batteries, car chargers & solar charger that charges phones, gps and scanners.
  • The best investment so far were night-vision goggles and scopes for the rifles.
  • When traveling into the city or stores we wear hats and sunglasses to conceal our faces.
  • We also have our automobile windows tinted to the maximum darkness allowed by law. We choose to do this out of wanting our privacy.
  • We also keep several caches of gold and silver for emergencies. This is a must in the times we live.
  • We recently bought a small tract of land far removed that is will stocked in case we have to leave the homestead.

As you can see I am paranoid by nature most arising from my younger days. We are not wanted and do not condone violence unless threat of death or physical harm of persons and property. We desire to live in a peaceful world in our little place.

I will create a resource page with links to various items.

Property Security

  • My specialty is not just agriculture. We have added and made changes as the different threats whether real or perceived are made known to us.
  • We carry weapons at all times and have them placed in several strategic locations.
  • Property is removed from 3 roads giving us privacy via isolation.
  • Front of property is lined with old growth trees denying views from the road.
  • Driveway is one mile long with sharp curves going into a valley crossing a stream.
  • Front driveway gate is attached to steel pylons sunk in the ground 6′.
  • Gate is electric with large steel spike welded on exterior facing on coming vehicles.
  • Gate has day/night camera with remote opening from house as well as infrared sensors that give advance warning if we are not near the video.
  • No mailbox or numbers.(We use P.O. Boxes for mail)
  • No Fed-Ex or UPS shipments come here and are picked up off site.
  • Warning signs covering perimeter with solid fencing.
  • Trained attack guard dogs.
  • Infrared sensors placed at locations on perimeter that I would infiltrate if I wanted to come unnoticed. (These are cheaper than the ground sensors used by corporations and government but a PIA in winter if covered in ice or snow. Ground sensors are triggered by wildlife roaming thus creating too many false alarms. Most infrared sensors are set to the height of a man.)
  • Several day/night cameras watching the house & buildings. ( These can be bought at a reasonable cost nowadays and are easy to install.)
  • Alarm systems on house & buildings.

Legal Security

  • The estate is owned by an legal off shore trust. (The only utility service we have is electric and is registered by the Trust. Soon we will terminate this service). We had excellent legal help establishing this set-up but it was not cheap.
  • We live here as tenants legally.

Natural, Nuclear, Electronic Disaster Planning

  • We built a Earth Home out of concrete and steel that is impervious to tornadoes and most earthquakes. We can secure interior against biological and nuclear attacks. We have been told it will protect us from EMP as well but I do not really desire to test this theory.
  • We own older vehicles and farm machinery with spare parts in case of EMP.
  • The vehicles and generators run on bio-diesel fuel which we produce.

Backups

  • We have several rain harvesting systems with purification abilities and spare filters.
  • We keep 5k gallons of fuel and 10k gallons of water for emergencies.
  • We have several caches buried around the property with a assortment of supplies in case we have to leave or come home to unexpected trouble.
  • We have an adequate supply of everything to last extended periods of time with enough to help others.
  • We are adding heated geo dome greenhouses in 2011 allowing us to grow throughout the year.

Closing Comments

Contrary to popular belief we are not tethered to this farm. We have great trustworthy help and can leave for extended periods without worry or fear. We are extremely busy in spring & fall but we still have time for some fun. This is true freedom.

There are many small farms for sale out there by retired farmers looking to get out. When I was driving a truck from coast to coast I saw things that made me pause and contemplate. As a nation [the USA] we are to dependent upon a system that is unsustainable. When this nation [the USA] falls there will be much pain, violence and death. Agorist systems may be a social structures able to better survive and thrive outside of a collapsed centralized interdependent government centered system.

On a side note, when I drove a truck I made deliveries to the mythical FEMA camps on three separate occasions that were alive with activity in 1999. I also saw how fragile the food supply is here, everything is just-in-time deliveries. Stores have no more than 72 hrs stock. Food that is processed and bad for consumption.

The keys to being safe are proper planning, training, preparedness and maintaining a low profile.

I am pessimistic for the future of the USA and the world for that matter. Things are disintegrating at an alarming pace. We are not millionaires by far but have sacrificed the big televisions, cars that cost as much as a house in 1985 and non-essential material items we really did not need or desire. I am eternally grateful for being surrounded by honest neighbors who are aware of what is happening in the world. I put out flyer’s with the goods, containing links and an assortment of facts. What I feel is coming is not something to endure by oneself. Most all I am grateful for my wife who keeps my head out of the clouds most of the time.

Contact Information

I will communicate privately by encrypted communications only. Contact me for Questions, Comments, Contributions etc.

Email

Encrypt your messages to me and remember to send me your key also.

Email: privateer @ metropipe.net

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IRC + OTR

I can be found as nick privateer hanging out with the good folks in the IRC #agora channel on the anarplex network. Connection instructions are here.

Of Curious or Related Interest


Agorist Food Selection

This is not about recipes, nor the health benefits or risks of various foods. It is about information to help Agorists make better fod selection decisions based upon Agorist and Counter-Economic ideas.

Why does a salad cost more than a Big Mac?

Modern “capitalists” like to use the markets choice of ‘better price’ to seek out value, while possibly ignoring other issues that may be as important in price when considering the purchase of an item. The reason something may be cheaper, may be because it actually is not cheaper. Its just different people are paying for it, rather than the end consumer.

Best example of this is ‘Free Healthcare’. It’s ‘Free’, can’t get much cheaper than that. TINSTAAFL. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone is paying for it. As in health care, it goes with many ‘Cheap Foods’. This is why a salad costs more than a Big Mac. Federal and State intervention into the markets through subsidies, monopolies through regulation and other state tactics.

Remember, a Subsidy is not something that comes from Government money. A subsidy is when the government through force: regulation and taxation, takes large amounts of money and gives it to an industry. One of the Cornerstones of modern American Capitalism otherwise known as Mercantilism. The participants in this system comprise the same “Republicans” whom are openly against income Redistribution to individuals. Income distribution at Corporate Industry levels is nothing less than Income Redistribution.

“Commodity Foods” USA Subsidies: $180.8 Billion USD

Farm subsidies are direct transferring of income from the general tax payers to farm owners.

The United States currently pays around $20 billion per year to farmers in direct subsidies as “farm income stabilization”[9][10][11] via U.S. farm bills. These bills date back to the economic turmoil of the Great Depression with 1922 Grain Futures Act, the 1929 Agricultural Marketing Act and the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act creating a tradition of government support. A Canadian report claimed that for every dollar U.S. farmers earn, 62 cents comes from some form of government, with total aid in 2009 from all levels of government adding up to $180.8 billion.

The beneficiaries of the subsidies have changed as agriculture in the United States has changed. In the 1930s, about 25% of the country’s population resided on the nation’s 6,000,000 small farms. By 1997, 157,000 large farms accounted for 72% of farm sales, with only 2% of the U.S. population residing on farms. In 2006, the top 3 states receiving subsidies were Texas (10.4%), Iowa (9.0%), and Illinois (7.6%). The Total USDA Subsidies from farms in Iowa totaled $1,212,000,000 in 2006.[13] From 2003 to 2005 the top 1% of beneficiaries received 17% of subsidy payments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy#United_States

From Sourcewatch:

In May 1998, Dan Glickman announced that his agency had purchased 8 million pounds of beef and pork commodities at a cost of approximately $9 million. [9] These purchases are part of the USDA’s $30 million pork and $30 million beef bonus annual buyouts. At the same time, the USDA announced plans to purchase up to $8 million of lamb products to offset that industry’s surplus. “These bonus buys support the livestock industries by bolstering producer prices”, announced Glickman. The beef, pork and lamb were to be distributed to the National School Lunch Program and other food assistance programs to increase “high-quality protein”. [10] The USDA purchases 73 million pounds of cheese annually to help boost sagging dairy prices. [11]

Under the Dairy Price Support Program, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC, a division of the USDA) buys surplus butter, cheese, and nonfat dry milk from processors to support the dairy industry and maintain market prices. These purchases totaled 500 million pounds in the fiscal year 2000 and 400 million pounds in fiscal year 2001. [12]

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=U.S._Government%27s_War_on_Animals#.22Commodity_foods.22_subsidies

General Principles

  • The Commercial meat and dairy industries receive massive amounts of government subsidies
  • For every $1 you spend at the grocery store the tax-victims might be spending as much as $40
  • Subsidies also include:
    • The Government environmental regulation monopoly: Leads to tremendous property damage that the free market would never allow
    • The quality assurance monopoly: Leads to consumers being fooled into buying some really nasty stuff
    • The education monopoly: Hides or downplays the scientific studies that animal products are bad for you

Animal Products

Agorist Meat

Benefits

  • Supporting your own Agorist network ecosystem
  • Easier to find Organic meat without checmicals/hormones etc.
  • See Agora Homesteading for information and references for doing your own farm.

Issues

  • Animal ownership is also becoming increasingly regulated, even having your own, 100% organic fed animals can upset Terrorcrats. They may raid your property, and seize the animals, and extort cash out of you under the pretext of:
    • Lack of obtaining a license from them to own the animals or ‘Health Certificates’ issued by the state.
    • City/Municipal Zoning Laws not permitting certain types of animals.
  • Strategy: Use the land for farming fruits and vegetables.
    • You may be able to feed 5-10 times more people on the same area of land used for meat production.
    • It is possible to grow anything in a heated greenhouse, obviously, but that space would be best used for nutritional superfoods like year-round fresh spinach and avocados. Think wheat instead of rice, other legumes instead of soy, carrots instead of bananas, lemons instead of oranges, honey or maple sugar instead of cane sugar, and so on.

Commercially Imported & Transported Food Issues

  • The farther away the source of your food originates, the greater amount Taxes the Terrorcrats feed off:
    • Fuel Taxes
    • Import Tarriffs by the Border Nazis
    • Income Taxes on those Transporting
    • Sales Taxes over the counter
    • Many more taxes that are recursive to the entire Import/Transportation ecosystem.

Packaged/Manufactured Foods/Drinks

  • These foods are often produced by large corporations. Economy of scale has allowed them to usually provide for a cheaper product, but at the same time it leaves a greater % of the price that is actually taxation. This is aside from sales tax, fuel taxes and includes corporate taxes, and income taxes on everyone involved with the corporation. This is no trivial amount of taxation.
  • If you grew your own wheat, would you go through the expense of making Wheaties cereal, complete with all the artificial flavors and preservatives, or would you make whole-grain fresh-baked bread and so on? I think the last thing that I bought that had a label on it was salt, pepper, and other spices – everything else I either buy fresh (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms) or in bulk (root vegetables, legumes, nuts, etc).
  • Purify your own well Water, if you must paid City water is still better than buying bottled water.
  • Other Liquids: There are loads of tariffs on tea, coffee and soda, etc.
  • Make your own Beer/Alcohol rather than purchase commercially. No need to explain this sector and the taxes governments feed off.
  • Tobacco – if you must smoke grow your own leaf or buy from other Agorist farmers. Tobacco/Cigarette taxes are also a *massive* source financing for the state.

Counter-Economic Restaurant

We here at no name farms launched a underground restaurant that is a first of its kind anywhere in the world. We are using this method not only for profit but to educate people about Agorism while keeping an air of mystery. Here are the main points of our business.

  1. Only the best food will be served right from our farm 100% organic and cooked by one of my partners who is a five star chef. We intend on running one dinner per month depending on turnout.
  2. The restaurant has no name and is in a secret location that was leased via a third party for cash and no documents signed except via a agorist law firm who will act as arbitrators if needed.
  3. The events will include all drinks a person can desire from wine to scotch with some even made right here on the farm. A delicious 6-8 course meal served over a 4-6 hour period.
  4. Live entertainment and the building has a dance floor. We have some great blues lined up for our first dinner in March/April.
  5. All contacts are done via PGP and no exceptions. This is for reservations, payments and notice of event 12-24 hours before and other pertinent information.
  6. All patrons will be picked up at various locations around the city in a blacked out party bus to hide our location and dropped back off at their vehicles or we will rendezvous with a taxi in the case of intoxication. I am the driver of the bus. Only 3 people know the location. Even the bands and waitresses have to agree to be blind folded and picked up one hour before event.
  7. All patrons must leave cell phones home or surrender them to be locked in a Faraday cage to keep location secret. you will be given a bag to seal your phone inside with your code name on it. We have a jammer on site in case someone tries to be cute. Patrons will be given a phone number that they can give to babysitters or family to notify you in case of an emergency. If an emergency happens you will be driven by private vehicle to your destination most ricky tick. You still have to be blind folded leaving the location and entering the vehicle.
  8. All patrons must agree to be blind folded when leaving the bus and upon returning to it.
  9. All patrons must pay by cash ($250-350) to designated drop-offs with code worded pick up 2 weeks prior to event. No refunds except in special circumstances, we can apply it to the next event of your choice. Patrons will be told what dates the event is most likely to occur and it is up to them to be available.
  10. We advise patrons not to have someone follow the bus or the consequences will be most severe. I have methods in place to safe guard tailing.
  11. All patrons will receive a short introduction into agorism and counter-economics along with details on where to find reliable information to peruse at their leisure.
  12. All patrons must notify us of any food allergies prior to attending so we can make sure you are safe.
  13. We well give code words to patrons when referring friends and they will be changed at random with notification via pgp email.

Some of the Events we have planned are themed based.

  • Classical- This will include live classical music with dancing. This is a black tie event as well. Men must were jacket & tie and women dress/gown.
  • Grunge/Punk- Same as above but with a little bit mellower music ;). No dress code here we just ask you to keep your clothes on please.
  • Roaring 20’s- This is a period event with dress appropriate for period. We have one of the best swing bands scheduled to play late summer. This gives our patrons time to take dancing lessons.
  • Shakespeare(To Be or Not to Be & What the fuck am I doing here)- We are trying to book a local acting guild for evening entertainment.

We three partners put up a total of 50K capital to get the show on the road. We expect to earn upwards of 25k per event. We are looking into other locations to lease to add to the mystery.

If you have any theme suggestions please email me. Well I think that about covers it.

The post The Agorist Cookbook (2011) appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

Temporary Autonomous Zones (1991)

By Kyle Rearden

Today’s article by Hakim Bey is about carving out tiny pockets of freedom wherever you can. Bey seems to argue that such pockets are more likely to be mobile than stationary. Any mistakes are solely that of the author himself.

speakeasies & raves

“…this time however I come as the victorious Dionysus, who will turn the world into a holiday…Not that I have much time…”

–Nietzsche (from his last “insane” letter to Cosima Wagner)

Pirate Utopias

THE SEA-ROVERS AND CORSAIRS of the 18th century created an “information network” that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands supported “intentional communities,” whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life. Some years ago I looked through a lot of secondary material on piracy hoping to find a study of these enclaves–but it appeared as if no historian has yet found them worthy of analysis. (William Burroughs has mentioned the subject, as did the late British anarchist Larry Law–but no systematic research has been carried out.) I retreated to primary sources and constructed my own theory, some aspects of which will be discussed in this essay. I called the settlements “Pirate Utopias.”

Recently Bruce Sterling, one of the leading exponents of Cyberpunk science fiction, published a near-future romance based on the assumption that the decay of political systems will lead to a decentralized proliferation of experiments in living: giant worker-owned corporations, independent enclaves devoted to “data piracy,” Green-Social-Democrat enclaves, Zerowork enclaves, anarchist liberated zones, etc. The information economy which supports this diversity is called the Net; the enclaves (and the book’s title) are Islands in the Net.

The medieval Assassins founded a “State” which consisted of a network of remote mountain valleys and castles, separated by thousands of miles, strategically invulnerable to invasion, connected by the information flow of secret agents, at war with all governments, and devoted only to knowledge. Modern technology, culminating in the spy satellite, makes this kind of autonomy a romantic dream. No more pirate islands! In the future the same technology– freed from all political control–could make possible an entire world of autonomous zones. But for now the concept remains precisely science fiction–pure speculation.

Are we who live in the present doomed never to experience autonomy, never to stand for one moment on a bit of land ruled only by freedom? Are we reduced either to nostalgia for the past or nostalgia for the future? Must we wait until the entire world is freed of political control before even one of us can claim to know freedom? Logic and emotion unite to condemn such a supposition. Reason demands that one cannot struggle for what one does not know; and the heart revolts at a universe so cruel as to visit such injustices on our generation alone of humankind.

To say that “I will not be free till all humans (or all sentient creatures) are free” is simply to cave in to a kind of nirvana-stupor, to abdicate our humanity, to define ourselves as losers.

I believe that by extrapolating from past and future stories about “islands in the net” we may collect evidence to suggest that a certain kind of “free enclave” is not only possible in our time but also existent. All my research and speculation has crystallized around the concept of the TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONE (hereafter abbreviated TAZ). Despite its synthesizing force for my own thinking, however, I don’t intend the TAZ to be taken as more than an essay (“attempt”), a suggestion, almost a poetic fancy. Despite the occasional Ranterish enthusiasm of my language I am not trying to construct political dogma. In fact I have deliberately refrained from defining the TAZ–I circle around the subject, firing off exploratory beams. In the end the TAZ is almost self-explanatory. If the phrase became current it would be understood without difficulty…understood in action.


Waiting for the Revolution

HOW IS IT THAT “the world turned upside-down” always manages to Right itself? Why does reaction always follow revolution, like seasons in Hell? Uprising, or the Latin form insurrection, are words used by historians to label failed revolutions–movements which do not match the expected curve, the consensus-approved trajectory: revolution, reaction, betrayal, the founding of a stronger and even more oppressive State–the turning of the wheel, the return of history again and again to its highest form: jackboot on the face of humanity forever.

By failing to follow this curve, the up-rising suggests the possibility of a movement outside and beyond the Hegelian spiral of that “progress” which is secretly nothing more than a vicious circle. Surgo–rise up, surge. Insurgo–rise up, raise oneself up. A bootstrap operation. A goodbye to that wretched parody of the karmic round, historical revolutionary futility. The slogan “Revolution!” has mutated from tocsin to toxin, a malign pseudo-Gnostic fate-trap, a nightmare where no matter how we struggle we never escape that evil Aeon, that incubus the State, one State after another, every “heaven” ruled by yet one more evil angel.

If History IS “Time,” as it claims to be, then the uprising is a moment that springs up and out of Time, violates the “law” of History. If the State IS History, as it claims to be, then the insurrection is the forbidden moment, an unforgivable denial of the dialectic–shimmying up the pole and out of the smokehole, a shaman’s maneuver carried out at an “impossible angle” to the universe. History says the Revolution attains “permanence,” or at least duration, while the uprising is “temporary.” In this sense an uprising is like a “peak experience” as opposed to the standard of “ordinary” consciousness and experience. Like festivals, uprisings cannot happen every day–otherwise they would not be “nonordinary.” But such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. The shaman returns–you can’t stay up on the roof forever– but things have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred–a difference is made.

You will argue that this is a counsel of despair. What of the anarchist dream, the Stateless state, the Commune, the autonomous zone with duration, a free society, a free culture? Are we to abandon that hope in return for some existentialist acte gratuit? The point is not to change consciousness but to change the world.

I accept this as a fair criticism. I’d make two rejoinders nevertheless; first, revolution has never yet resulted in achieving this dream. The vision comes to life in the moment of uprising–but as soon as “the Revolution” triumphs and the State returns, the dream and the ideal are already betrayed. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change–but I distrust the word Revolution. Second, even if we replace the revolutionary approach with a concept of insurrection blossoming spontaneously into anarchist culture, our own particular historical situation is not propitious for such a vast undertaking. Absolutely nothing but a futile martyrdom could possibly result now from a head- on collision with the terminal State, the megacorporate information State, the empire of Spectacle and Simulation. Its guns are all pointed at us, while our meager weaponry finds nothing to aim at but a hysteresis, a rigid vacuity, a Spook capable of smothering every spark in an ectoplasm of information, a society of capitulation ruled by the image of the Cop and the absorbent eye of the TV screen.

In short, we’re not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can “occupy” these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves–because they never intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation.

Babylon takes its abstractions for realities; precisely within this margin of error the TAZ can come into existence. Getting the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense, but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility–the State cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it. As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies. And because the TAZ is a microcosm of that “anarchist dream” of a free culture, I can think of no better tactic by which to work toward that goal while at the same time experiencing some of its benefits here and now.

In sum, realism demands not only that we give up waiting for “the Revolution” but also that we give up wanting it. “Uprising,” yes–as often as possible and even at the risk of violence. The spasming of the Simulated State will be “spectacular,” but in most cases the best and most radical tactic will be to refuse to engage in spectacular violence, to withdraw from the area of simulation, to disappear.

The TAZ is an encampment of guerilla ontologists: strike and run away. Keep moving the entire tribe, even if it’s only data in the Web. The TAZ must be capable of defense; but both the “strike” and the “defense” should, if possible, evade the violence of the State, which is no longer a meaningful violence. The strike is made at structures of control, essentially at ideas; the defense is “invisibility,” a martial art, and “invulnerability”–an “occult” art within the martial arts. The “nomadic war machine” conquers without being noticed and moves on before the map can be adjusted. As to the future–Only the autonomous can plan autonomy, organize for it, create it. It’s a bootstrap operation. The first step is somewhat akin to satori–the realization that the TAZ begins with a simple act of realization.


The Psychotopology of Everyday Life

THE CONCEPT OF THE TAZ arises first out of a critique of Revolution, and an appreciation of the Insurrection. The former labels the latter a failure; but for us uprising represents a far more interesting possibility, from the standard of a psychology of liberation, than all the “successful” revolutions of bourgeoisie, communists, fascists, etc. The second generating force behind the TAZ springs from the historical development I call “the closure of the map.” The last bit of Earth unclaimed by any nation-state was eaten up in 1899. Ours is the first century without terra incognita, without a frontier. Nationality is the highest principle of world governance–not one speck of rock in the South Seas can be left open, not one remote valley, not even the Moon and planets. This is the apotheosis of “territorial gangsterism.” Not one square inch of Earth goes unpoliced or untaxed…in theory.

The “map” is a political abstract grid, a gigantic con enforced by the carrot/stick conditioning of the “Expert” State, until for most of us the map becomes the territory- -no longer “Turtle Island,” but “the USA.” And yet because the map is an abstraction it cannot cover Earth with 1:1 accuracy. Within the fractal complexities of actual geography the map can see only dimensional grids. Hidden enfolded immensities escape the measuring rod. The map is not accurate; the map cannot be accurate.

So–Revolution is closed, but insurgency is open. For the time being we concentrate our force on temporary “power surges,” avoiding all entanglements with “permanent solutions.”

And–the map is closed, but the autonomous zone is open. Metaphorically it unfolds within the fractal dimensions invisible to the cartography of Control. And here we should introduce the concept of psychotopology (and -topography) as an alternative “science” to that of the State’s surveying and mapmaking and “psychic imperialism.” Only psychotopography can draw 1:1 maps of reality because only the human mind provides sufficient complexity to model the real. But a 1:1 map cannot “control” its territory because it is virtually identical with its territory. It can only be used to suggest, in a sense gesture towards, certain features. We are looking for “spaces” (geographic, social, cultural, imaginal) with potential to flower as autonomous zones–and we are looking for times in which these spaces are relatively open, either through neglect on the part of the State or because they have somehow escaped notice by the mapmakers, or for whatever reason. Psychotopology is the art of dowsing for potential TAZs.

The closures of Revolution and of the map, however, are only the negative sources of the TAZ; much remains to be said of its positive inspirations. Reaction alone cannot provide the energy needed to “manifest” a TAZ. An uprising must be for something as well.

  1. First, we can speak of a natural anthropology of the TAZ. The nuclear family is the base unit of consensus society, but not of the TAZ. (“Families!–how I hate them! the misers of love!”–Gide) The nuclear family, with its attendant “oedipal miseries,” appears to have been a Neolithic invention, a response to the “agricultural revolution” with its imposed scarcity and its imposed hierarchy. The Paleolithic model is at once more primal and more radical: the band. The typical hunter/gatherer nomadic or semi- nomadic band consists of about 50 people. Within larger tribal societies the band-structure is fulfilled by clans within the tribe, or by sodalities such as initiatic or secret societies, hunt or war societies, gender societies, “children’s republics,” and so on. If the nuclear family is produced by scarcity (and results in miserliness), the band is produced by abundance–and results in prodigality. The family is closed, by genetics, by the male’s possession of women and children, by the hierarchic totality of agricultural/industrial society. The band is open–not to everyone, of course, but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of love. The band is not part of a larger hierarchy, but rather part of a horizontal pattern of custom, extended kinship, contract and alliance, spiritual affinities, etc. (American Indian society preserves certain aspects of this structure even now.)

In our own post-Spectacular Society of Simulation many forces are working–largely invisibly–to phase out the nuclear family and bring back the band. Breakdowns in the structure of Work resonate in the shattered “stability” of the unit-home and unit-family. One’s “band” nowadays includes friends, ex-spouses and lovers, people met at different jobs and pow-wows, affinity groups, special interest networks, mail networks, etc. The nuclear family becomes more and more obviously a trap, a cultural sinkhole, a neurotic secret implosion of split atoms–and the obvious counter-strategy emerges spontaneously in the almost unconscious rediscovery of the more archaic and yet more post-industrial possibility of the band.

  1. The TAZ as festival. Stephen Pearl Andrews once offered, as an image of anarchist society, the dinner party, in which all structure of authority dissolves in conviviality and celebration. Here we might also invoke Fourier and his concept of the senses as the basis of social becoming–“touch-rut” and “gastrosophy,” and his paean to the neglected implications of smell and taste. The ancient concepts of jubilee and saturnalia originate in an intuition that certain events lie outside the scope of “profane time,” the measuring-rod of the State and of History. These holidays literally occupied gaps in the calendar–intercalary intervals. By the Middle Ages, nearly a third of the year was given over to holidays. Perhaps the riots against calendar reform had less to do with the “eleven lost days” than with a sense that imperial science was conspiring to close up these gaps in the calendar where the people’s freedoms had accumulated–a coup d’etat, a mapping of the year, a seizure of time itself, turning the organic cosmos into a clockwork universe. The death of the festival.

Participants in insurrection invariably note its festive aspects, even in the midst of armed struggle, danger, and risk. The uprising is like a saturnalia which has slipped loose (or been forced to vanish) from its intercalary interval and is now at liberty to pop up anywhere or when. Freed of time and place, it nevertheless possesses a nose for the ripeness of events, and an affinity for the genius loci; the science of psychotopology indicates “flows of forces” and “spots of power” (to borrow occultist metaphors) which localize the TAZ spatio-temporally, or at least help to define its relation to moment and locale.

The media invite us to “come celebrate the moments of your life” with the spurious unification of commodity and spectacle, the famous non-event of pure representation. In response to this obscenity we have, on the one hand, the spectrum of refusal (chronicled by the Situationists, John Zerzan, Bob Black et al.)–and on the other hand, the emergence of a festal culture removed and even hidden from the would-be managers of our leisure. “Fight for the right to party” is in fact not a parody of the radical struggle but a new manifestation of it, appropriate to an age which offers TVs and telephones as ways to “reach out and touch” other human beings, ways to “Be There!”

Pearl Andrews was right: the dinner party is already “the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the old” (IWW Preamble). The sixties-style “tribal gathering,” the forest conclave of eco-saboteurs, the idyllic Beltane of the neo-pagans, anarchist conferences, gay faery circles…Harlem rent parties of the twenties, nightclubs, banquets, old-time libertarian picnics–we should realize that all these are already “liberated zones” of a sort, or at least potential TAZs. Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party, or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always “open” because it is not “ordered”; it may be planned, but unless it “happens” it’s a failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial.

The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss– in short, a “union of egoists” (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form–or else, in Kropotkin’s terms, a basic biological drive to “mutual aid.” (Here we should also mention Bataille’s “economy of excess” and his theory of potlatch culture.)

  1. Vital in shaping TAZ reality is the concept of psychic nomadism (or as we jokingly call it, “rootless cosmopolitanism”). Aspects of this phenomenon have been discussed by Deleuze and Guattari in Nomadology and the War Machine, by Lyotard in Driftworks and by various authors in the “Oasis” issue of Semiotext(e). We use the term “psychic nomadism” here rather than “urban nomadism,” “nomadology,” “driftwork,” etc., simply in order to garner all these concepts into a single loose complex, to be studied in light of the coming- into-being of the TAZ. “The death of God,” in some ways a de-centering of the entire “European” project, opened a multi-perspectived post- ideological worldview able to move “rootlessly” from philosophy to tribal myth, from natural science to Taoism– able to see for the first time through eyes like some golden insect’s, each facet giving a view of an entirely other world.

But this vision was attained at the expense of inhabiting an epoch where speed and “commodity fetishism” have created a tyrannical false unity which tends to blur all cultural diversity and individuality, so that “one place is as good as another.” This paradox creates “gypsies,” psychic travellers driven by desire or curiosity, wanderers with shallow loyalties (in fact disloyal to the “European Project” which has lost all its charm and vitality), not tied down to any particular time and place, in search of diversity and adventure…This description covers not only the X-class artists and intellectuals but also migrant laborers, refugees, the “homeless,” tourists, the RV and mobile-home culture–also people who “travel” via the Net, but may never leave their own rooms (or those like Thoreau who “have travelled much–in Concord”); and finally it includes “everybody,” all of us, living through our automobiles, our vacations, our TVs, books, movies, telephones, changing jobs, changing “lifestyles,” religions, diets, etc., etc.

Psychic nomadism as a tactic, what Deleuze & Guattari metaphorically call “the war machine,” shifts the paradox from a passive to an active and perhaps even “violent” mode. “God”’s last throes and deathbed rattles have been going on for such a long time–in the form of Capitalism, Fascism, and Communism, for example–that there’s still a lot of “creative destruction” to be carried out by post-Bakuninist post-Nietzschean commandos or apaches (literally “enemies”) of the old Consensus. These nomads practice the razzia, they are corsairs, they are viruses; they have both need and desire for TAZs, camps of black tents under the desert stars, interzones, hidden fortified oases along secret caravan routes, “liberated” bits of jungle and bad-land, no-go areas, black markets, and underground bazaars.

These nomads chart their courses by strange stars, which might be luminous clusters of data in cyberspace, or perhaps hallucinations. Lay down a map of the land; over that, set a map of political change; over that, a map of the Net, especially the counter-Net with its emphasis on clandestine information-flow and logistics–and finally, over all, the 1:1 map of the creative imagination, aesthetics, values. The resultant grid comes to life, animated by unexpected eddies and surges of energy, coagulations of light, secret tunnels, surprises.


The Net and the Web

THE NEXT FACTOR CONTRIBUTING to the TAZ is so vast and ambiguous that it needs a section unto itself. We’ve spoken of the Net, which can be defined as the totality of all information and communication transfer. Some of these transfers are privileged and limited to various elites, which gives the Net a hierarchic aspect. Other transactions are open to all–so the Net has a horizontal or non-hierarchic aspect as well. Military and Intelligence data are restricted, as are banking and currency information and the like. But for the most part the telephone, the postal system, public data banks, etc. are accessible to everyone and anyone. Thus within the Net there has begun to emerge a shadowy sort of counter-Net, which we will call the Web (as if the Net were a fishing-net and the Web were spider-webs woven through the interstices and broken sections of the Net). Generally we’ll use the term Web to refer to the alternate horizontal open structure of info- exchange, the non-hierarchic network, and reserve the term counter-Net to indicate clandestine illegal and rebellious use of the Web, including actual data-piracy and other forms of leeching off the Net itself. Net, Web, and counter-Net are all parts of the same whole pattern-complex–they blur into each other at innumerable points. The terms are not meant to define areas but to suggest tendencies.

(Digression: Before you condemn the Web or counter-Net for its “parasitism,” which can never be a truly revolutionary force, ask yourself what “production” consists of in the Age of Simulation. What is the “productive class”? Perhaps you’ll be forced to admit that these terms seem to have lost their meaning. In any case the answers to such questions are so complex that the TAZ tends to ignore them altogether and simply picks up what it can use. “Culture is our Nature”– and we are the thieving magpies, or the hunter/gatherers of the world of CommTech.)

The present forms of the unofficial Web are, one must suppose, still rather primitive: the marginal zine network, the BBS networks, pirated software, hacking, phone- phreaking, some influence in print and radio, almost none in the other big media–no TV stations, no satellites, no fiber- optics, no cable, etc., etc. However the Net itself presents a pattern of changing/evolving relations between subjects (“users”) and objects (“data”). The nature of these relations has been exhaustively explored, from McLuhan to Virilio. It would take pages and pages to “prove” what by now “everyone knows.” Rather than rehash it all, I am interested in asking how these evolving relations suggest modes of implementation for the TAZ.

The TAZ has a temporary but actual location in time and a temporary but actual location in space. But clearly it must also have “location” in the Web, and this location is of a different sort, not actual but virtual, not immediate but instantaneous. The Web not only provides logistical support for the TAZ, it also helps to bring it into being; crudely speaking one might say that the TAZ “exists” in information- space as well as in the “real world.” The Web can compact a great deal of time, as data, into an infinitesimal “space.” We have noted that the TAZ, because it is temporary, must necessarily lack some of the advantages of a freedom which experiences duration and a more-or-less fixed locale. But the Web can provide a kind of substitute for some of this duration and locale–it can inform the TAZ, from its inception, with vast amounts of compacted time and space which have been “subtilized” as data.

At this moment in the evolution of the Web, and considering our demands for the “face-to-face” and the sensual, we must consider the Web primarily as a support system, capable of carrying information from one TAZ to another, of defending the TAZ, rendering it “invisible” or giving it teeth, as the situation might demand. But more than that: If the TAZ is a nomad camp, then the Web helps provide the epics, songs, genealogies and legends of the tribe; it provides the secret caravan routes and raiding trails which make up the flowlines of tribal economy; it even contains some of the very roads they will follow, some of the very dreams they will experience as signs and portents.

The Web does not depend for its existence on any computer technology. Word-of-mouth, mail, the marginal zine network, “phone trees,” and the like already suffice to construct an information webwork. The key is not the brand or level of tech involved, but the openness and horizontality of the structure. Nevertheless, the whole concept of the Net implies the use of computers. In the SciFi imagination the Net is headed for the condition of Cyberspace (as in Tron or Neuromancer) and the pseudo-telepathy of “virtual reality.” As a Cyberpunk fan I can’t help but envision “reality hacking” playing a major role in the creation of TAZs. Like Gibson and Sterling I am assuming that the official Net will never succeed in shutting down the Web or the counter-Net–that data-piracy, unauthorized transmissions and the free flow of information can never be frozen. (In fact, as I understand it, chaos theory predicts that any universal Control-system is impossible.)

However, leaving aside all mere speculation about the future, we must face a very serious question about the Web and the tech it involves. The TAZ desires above all to avoid mediation, to experience its existence as immediate. The very essence of the affair is “breast-to-breast” as the sufis say, or face-to-face. But, BUT: the very essence of the Web is mediation. Machines here are our ambassadors–the flesh is irrelevant except as a terminal, with all the sinister connotations of the term.

The TAZ may perhaps best find its own space by wrapping its head around two seemingly contradictory attitudes toward Hi- Tech and its apotheosis the Net: (1) what we might call the Fifth Estate/Neo-Paleolithic Post-Situ Ultra-Green position, which construes itself as a luddite argument against mediation and against the Net; and (2) the Cyberpunk utopianists, futuro-libertarians, Reality Hackers and their allies who see the Net as a step forward in evolution, and who assume that any possible ill effects of mediation can be overcome–at least, once we’ve liberated the means of production.

The TAZ agrees with the hackers because it wants to come into being–in part–through the Net, even through the mediation of the Net. But it also agrees with the greens because it retains intense awareness of itself as body and feels only revulsion for CyberGnosis, the attempt to transcend the body through instantaneity and simulation. The TAZ tends to view the Tech/anti-Tech dichotomy as misleading, like most dichotomies, in which apparent opposites turn out to be falsifications or even hallucinations caused by semantics. This is a way of saying that the TAZ wants to live in this world, not in the idea of another world, some visionary world born of false unification (all green OR all metal) which can only be more pie in the sky by-&-by (or as Alice put it, “Jam yesterday or jam tomorrow, but never jam today”).

The TAZ is “utopian” in the sense that it envisions an intensification of everyday life, or as the Surrealists might have said, life’s penetration by the Marvelous. But it cannot be utopian in the actual meaning of the word, nowhere, or NoPlace Place. The TAZ is somewhere. It lies at the intersection of many forces, like some pagan power- spot at the junction of mysterious ley-lines, visible to the adept in seemingly unrelated bits of terrain, landscape, flows of air, water, animals. But now the lines are not all etched in time and space. Some of them exist only “within” the Web, even though they also intersect with real times and places. Perhaps some of the lines are “non-ordinary” in the sense that no convention for quantifying them exists. These lines might better be studied in the light of chaos science than of sociology, statistics, economics, etc. The patterns of force which bring the TAZ into being have something in common with those chaotic “Strange Attractors” which exist, so to speak, between the dimensions.

The TAZ by its very nature seizes every available means to realize itself–it will come to life whether in a cave or an L-5 Space City–but above all it will live, now, or as soon as possible, in however suspect or ramshackle a form, spontaneously, without regard for ideology or even anti- ideology. It will use the computer because the computer exists, but it will also use powers which are so completely unrelated to alienation or simulation that they guarantee a certain psychic paleolithism to the TAZ, a primordial-shamanic spirit which will “infect” even the Net itself (the true meaning of Cyberpunk as I read it). Because the TAZ is an intensification, a surplus, an excess, a potlatch, life spending itself in living rather than merely surviving (that snivelling shibboleth of the eighties), it cannot be defined either by Tech or anti-Tech. It contradicts itself like a true despiser of hobgoblins, because it wills itself to be, at any cost in damage to “perfection,” to the immobility of the final.

In the Mandelbrot Set and its computer-graphic realization we watch–in a fractal universe–maps which are embedded and in fact hidden within maps within maps etc. to the limits of computational power. What is it for, this map which in a sense bears a 1:1 relation with a fractal dimension? What can one do with it, other than admire its psychedelic elegance?

If we were to imagine an information map–a cartographic projection of the Net in its entirety–we would have to include in it the features of chaos, which have already begun to appear, for example, in the operations of complex parallel processing, telecommunications, transfers of electronic “money,” viruses, guerilla hacking and so on.

Each of these “areas” of chaos could be represented by topographs similar to the Mandelbrot Set, such that the “peninsulas” are embedded or hidden within the map–such that they seem to “disappear.” This “writing”–parts of which vanish, parts of which efface themselves–represents the very process by which the Net is already compromised, incomplete to its own view, ultimately un-Controllable. In other words, the M Set, or something like it, might prove to be useful in “plotting” (in all senses of the word) the emergence of the counterNet as a chaotic process, a “creative evolution” in Prigogine’s term. If nothing else the M Set serves as a metaphor for a “mapping” of the TAZ’s interface with the Net as a disappearance of information. Every “catastrophe” in the Net is a node of power for the Web, the counter-Net. The Net will be damaged by chaos, while the Web may thrive on it.

Whether through simple data-piracy, or else by a more complex development of actual rapport with chaos, the Web- hacker, the cybernetician of the TAZ, will find ways to take advantage of perturbations, crashes, and breakdowns in the Net (ways to make information out of “entropy”). As a bricoleur, a scavenger of information shards, smuggler, blackmailer, perhaps even cyberterrorist, the TAZ-hacker will work for the evolution of clandestine fractal connections. These connections, and the different information that flows among and between them, will form “power outlets” for the coming-into-being of the TAZ itself- -as if one were to steal electricity from the energy- monopoly to light an abandoned house for squatters.

Thus the Web, in order to produce situations conducive to the TAZ, will parasitize the Net–but we can also conceive of this strategy as an attempt to build toward the construction of an alternative and autonomous Net, “free” and no longer parasitic, which will serve as the basis for a “new society emerging from the shell of the old.” The counter-Net and the TAZ can be considered, practically speaking, as ends in themselves–but theoretically they can also be viewed as forms of struggle toward a different reality.

Having said this we must still admit to some qualms about computers, some still unanswered questions, especially about the Personal Computer.

The story of computer networks, BBSs and various other experiments in electro-democracy has so far been one of hobbyism for the most part. Many anarchists and libertarians have deep faith in the PC as a weapon of liberation and self-liberation–but no real gains to show, no palpable liberty.

I have little interest in some hypothetical emergent entrepreneurial class of self-employed data/word processors who will soon be able to carry on a vast cottage industry or piecemeal shitwork for various corporations and bureaucracies. Moreover it takes no ESP to foresee that this “class” will develop its underclass–a sort of lumpen yuppetariat: housewives, for example, who will provide their families with “second incomes” by turning their own homes into electro-sweatshops, little Work-tyrannies where the “boss” is a computer network.

Also I am not impressed by the sort of information and services proffered by contemporary “radical” networks. Somewhere–one is told–there exists an “information economy.” Maybe so; but the info being traded over the “alternative” BBSs seems to consist entirely of chitchat and techie-talk. Is this an economy? or merely a pastime for enthusiasts? OK, PCs have created yet another “print revolution”–OK, marginal webworks are evolving–OK, I can now carry on six phone conversations at once. But what difference has this made in my ordinary life?

Frankly, I already had plenty of data to enrich my perceptions, what with books, movies, TV, theater, telephones, the U.S. Postal Service, altered states of consciousness, and so on. Do I really need a PC in order to obtain yet more such data? You offer me secret information? Well…perhaps I’m tempted–but still I demand marvelous secrets, not just unlisted telephone numbers or the trivia of cops and politicians. Most of all I want computers to provide me with information linked to real goods–“the good things in life,” as the IWW Preamble puts it. And here, since I’m accusing the hackers and BBSers of irritating intellectual vagueness, I must myself descend from the baroque clouds of Theory & Critique and explain what I mean by “real goods.”

Let’s say that for both political and personal reasons I desire good food, better than I can obtain from Capitalism– unpolluted food still blessed with strong and natural flavors. To complicate the game imagine that the food I crave is illegal–raw milk perhaps, or the exquisite Cuban fruit mamey, which cannot be imported fresh into the U.S. because its seed is hallucinogenic (or so I’m told). I am not a farmer. Let’s pretend I’m an importer of rare perfumes and aphrodisiacs, and sharpen the play by assuming most of my stock is also illegal. Or maybe I only want to trade word processing services for organic turnips, but refuse to report the transaction to the IRS (as required by law, believe it or not). Or maybe I want to meet other humans for consensual but illegal acts of mutual pleasure (this has actually been tried, but all the hard-sex BBSs have been busted–and what use is an underground with lousy security?). In short, assume that I’m fed up with mere information, the ghost in the machine. According to you, computers should already be quite capable of facilitating my desires for food, drugs, sex, tax evasion. So what’s the matter? Why isn’t it happening?

The TAZ has occurred, is occurring, and will occur with or without the computer. But for the TAZ to reach its full potential it must become less a matter of spontaneous combustion and more a matter of “islands in the Net.” The Net, or rather the counter-Net, assumes the promise of an integral aspect of the TAZ, an addition that will multiply its potential, a “quantum jump” (odd how this expression has come to mean a big leap) in complexity and significance. The TAZ must now exist within a world of pure space, the world of the senses. Liminal, even evanescent, the TAZ must combine information and desire in order to fulfill its adventure (its “happening”), in order to fill itself to the borders of its destiny, to saturate itself with its own becoming.

Perhaps the Neo-Paleolithic School are correct when they assert that all forms of alienation and mediation must be destroyed or abandoned before our goals can be realized–or perhaps true anarchy will be realized only in Outer Space, as some futuro-libertarians assert. But the TAZ does not concern itself very much with “was” or “will be.” The TAZ is interested in results, successful raids on consensus reality, breakthroughs into more intense and more abundant life. If the computer cannot be used in this project, then the computer will have to be overcome. My intuition however suggests that the counter-Net is already coming into being, perhaps already exists–but I cannot prove it. I’ve based the theory of the TAZ in large part on this intuition. Of course the Web also involves non-computerized networks of exchange such as samizdat, the black market, etc.–but the full potential of non-hierarchic information networking logically leads to the computer as the tool par excellence. Now I’m waiting for the hackers to prove I’m right, that my intuition is valid. Where are my turnips?


“Gone to Croatan”

WE HAVE NO DESIRE to define the TAZ or to elaborate dogmas about how it must be created. Our contention is rather that it has been created, will be created, and is being created. Therefore it would prove more valuable and interesting to look at some TAZs past and present, and to speculate about future manifestations; by evoking a few prototypes we may be able to gauge the potential scope of the complex, and perhaps even get a glimpse of an “archetype.” Rather than attempt any sort of encyclopaedism we’ll adopt a scatter-shot technique, a mosaic of glimpses, beginning quite arbitrarily with the 16th-17th centuries and the settlement of the New World. The opening of the “new” world was conceived from the start as an occultist operation. The magus John Dee, spiritual advisor to Elizabeth I, seems to have invented the concept of “magical imperialism” and infected an entire generation with it. Halkyut and Raleigh fell under his spell, and Raleigh used his connections with the “School of Night”–a cabal of advanced thinkers, aristocrats, and adepts–to further the causes of exploration, colonization and mapmaking. The Tempest was a propaganda-piece for the new ideology, and the Roanoke Colony was its first showcase experiment.

The alchemical view of the New World associated it with materia prima or hyle, the “state of Nature,” innocence and all-possibility (“Virgin-ia”), a chaos or inchoateness which the adept would transmute into “gold,” that is, into spiritual perfection as well as material abundance. But this alchemical vision is also informed in part by an actual fascination with the inchoate, a sneaking sympathy for it, a feeling of yearning for its formless form which took the symbol of the “Indian” for its focus: “Man” in the state of nature, uncorrupted by “government.” Caliban, the Wild Man, is lodged like a virus in the very machine of Occult Imperialism; the forest/animal/humans are invested from the very start with the magic power of the marginal, despised and outcaste. On the one hand Caliban is ugly, and Nature a “howling wilderness”–on the other, Caliban is noble and unchained, and Nature an Eden. This split in European consciousness predates the Romantic/Classical dichotomy; it’s rooted in Renaissance High Magic. The discovery of America (Eldorado, the Fountain of Youth) crystallized it; and it precipitated in actual schemes for colonization.

We were taught in elementary school that the first settlements in Roanoke failed; the colonists disappeared, leaving behind them only the cryptic message “Gone To Croatan.” Later reports of “grey-eyed Indians” were dismissed as legend. What really happened, the textbook implied, was that the Indians massacred the defenseless settlers. However, “Croatan” was not some Eldorado; it was the name of a neighboring tribe of friendly Indians. Apparently the settlement was simply moved back from the coast into the Great Dismal Swamp and absorbed into the tribe. And the grey-eyed Indians were real–they’re still there, and they still call themselves Croatans.

So–the very first colony in the New World chose to renounce its contract with Prospero (Dee/Raleigh/Empire) and go over to the Wild Men with Caliban. They dropped out. They became “Indians,” “went native,” opted for chaos over the appalling miseries of serfing for the plutocrats and intellectuals of London.

As America came into being where once there had been “Turtle Island,” Croatan remained embedded in its collective psyche. Out beyond the frontier, the state of Nature (i.e. no State) still prevailed–and within the consciousness of the settlers the option of wildness always lurked, the temptation to give up on Church, farmwork, literacy, taxes– all the burdens of civilization–and “go to Croatan” in some way or another. Moreover, as the Revolution in England was betrayed, first by Cromwell and then by Restoration, waves of Protestant radicals fled or were transported to the New World (which had now become a prison, a place of exile). Antinomians, Familists, rogue Quakers, Levellers, Diggers, and Ranters were now introduced to the occult shadow of wildness, and rushed to embrace it.

Anne Hutchinson and her friends were only the best known (i.e. the most upper-class) of the Antinomians–having had the bad luck to be caught up in Bay Colony politics–but a much more radical wing of the movement clearly existed. The incidents Hawthorne relates in “The Maypole of Merry Mount” are thoroughly historical; apparently the extremists had decided to renounce Christianity altogether and revert to paganism. If they had succeeded in uniting with their Indian allies the result might have been an Antinomian/Celtic/Algonquin syncretic religion, a sort of 17th century North American Santeria.

Sectarians were able to thrive better under the looser and more corrupt administrations in the Caribbean, where rival European interests had left many islands deserted or even unclaimed. Barbados and Jamaica in particular must have been settled by many extremists, and I believe that Levellerish and Ranterish influences contributed to the Buccaneer “utopia” on Tortuga. Here for the first time, thanks to Esquemelin, we can study a successful New World proto-TAZ in some depth. Fleeing from hideous “benefits” of Imperialism such as slavery, serfdom, racism and intolerance, from the tortures of impressment and the living death of the plantations, the Buccaneers adopted Indian ways, intermarried with Caribs, accepted blacks and Spaniards as equals, rejected all nationality, elected their captains democratically, and reverted to the “state of Nature.” Having declared themselves “at war with all the world,” they sailed forth to plunder under mutual contracts called “Articles” which were so egalitarian that every member received a full share and the Captain usually only 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 shares. Flogging and punishments were forbidden– quarrels were settled by vote or by the code duello.

It is simply wrong to brand the pirates as mere sea-going highwaymen or even proto-capitalists, as some historians have done. In a sense they were “social bandits,” although their base communities were not traditional peasant societies but “utopias” created almost ex nihilo in terra incognita, enclaves of total liberty occupying empty spaces on the map. After the fall of Tortuga, the Buccaneer ideal remained alive all through the “Golden Age” of Piracy (ca. 1660-1720), and resulted in land-settlements in Belize, for example, which was founded by Buccaneers. Then, as the scene shifted to Madagascar–an island still unclaimed by any imperial power and ruled only by a patchwork of native kings (chiefs) eager for pirate allies–the Pirate Utopia reached its highest form.

Defoe’s account of Captain Mission and the founding of Libertatia may be, as some historians claim, a literary hoax meant to propagandize for radical Whig theory–but it was embedded in The General History of the Pyrates (1724-28), most of which is still accepted as true and accurate. Moreover the story of Capt. Mission was not criticized when the book appeared and many old Madagascar hands still survived. They seem to have believed it, no doubt because they had experienced pirate enclaves very much like Libertatia. Once again, rescued slaves, natives, and even traditional enemies such as the Portuguese were all invited to join as equals. (Liberating slave ships was a major preoccupation.) Land was held in common, representatives elected for short terms, booty shared; doctrines of liberty were preached far more radical than even those of Common Sense.

Libertatia hoped to endure, and Mission died in its defense. But most of the pirate utopias were meant to be temporary; in fact the corsairs’ true “republics” were their ships, which sailed under Articles. The shore enclaves usually had no law at all. The last classic example, Nassau in the Bahamas, a beachfront resort of shacks and tents devoted to wine, women (and probably boys too, to judge by Birge’s Sodomy and Piracy), song (the pirates were inordinately fond of music and used to hire on bands for entire cruises), and wretched excess, vanished overnight when the British fleet appeared in the Bay. Blackbeard and “Calico Jack” Rackham and his crew of pirate women moved on to wilder shores and nastier fates, while others meekly accepted the Pardon and reformed. But the Buccaneer tradition lasted, both in Madagascar where the mixed-blood children of the pirates began to carve out kingdoms of their own, and in the Caribbean, where escaped slaves as well as mixed black/white/red groups were able to thrive in the mountains and backlands as “Maroons.” The Maroon community in Jamaica still retained a degree of autonomy and many of the old folkways when Zora Neale Hurston visited there in the 1920’s (see Tell My Horse). The Maroons of Suriname still practice African “paganism.”

Throughout the 18th century, North America also produced a number of drop-out “tri-racial isolate communities.” (This clinical-sounding term was invented by the Eugenics Movement, which produced the first scientific studies of these communities. Unfortunately the “science” merely served as an excuse for hatred of racial “mongrels” and the poor, and the “solution to the problem” was usually forced sterilization.) The nuclei invariably consisted of runaway slaves and serfs, “criminals” (i.e. the very poor), “prostitutes” (i.e. white women who married non-whites), and members of various native tribes. In some cases, such as the Seminole and Cherokee, the traditional tribal structure absorbed the newcomers; in other cases, new tribes were formed. Thus we have the Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp, who persisted through the 18th and 19th centuries, adopting runaway slaves, functioning as a way station on the Underground Railway, and serving as a religious and ideological center for slave rebellions. The religion was HooDoo, a mixture of African, native, and Christian elements, and according to the historian H. Leaming-Bey the elders of the faith and the leaders of the Great Dismal Maroons were known as “the Seven Finger High Glister.”

The Ramapaughs of northern New Jersey (incorrectly known as the “Jackson Whites”) present another romantic and archetypal genealogy: freed slaves of the Dutch poltroons, various Delaware and Algonquin clans, the usual “prostitutes,” the “Hessians” (a catch-phrase for lost British mercenaries, drop-out Loyalists, etc.), and local bands of social bandits such as Claudius Smith’s.

An African-Islamic origin is claimed by some of the groups, such as the Moors of Delaware and the Ben Ishmaels, who migrated from Kentucky to Ohio in the mid-18th century. The Ishmaels practiced polygamy, never drank alcohol, made their living as minstrels, intermarried with Indians and adopted their customs, and were so devoted to nomadism that they built their houses on wheels. Their annual migration triangulated on frontier towns with names like Mecca and Medina. In the 19th century some of them espoused anarchist ideals, and they were targeted by the Eugenicists for a particularly vicious pogrom of salvation-by-extermination. Some of the earliest Eugenics laws were passed in their honor. As a tribe they “disappeared” in the 1920’s, but probably swelled the ranks of early “Black Islamic” sects such as the Moorish Science Temple. I myself grew up on legends of the “Kallikaks” of the nearby New Jersey Pine Barrens (and of course on Lovecraft, a rabid racist who was fascinated by the isolate communities). The legends turned out to be folk-memories of the slanders of the Eugenicists, whose U.S. headquarters were in Vineland, NJ, and who undertook the usual “reforms” against “miscegenation” and “feeblemindedness” in the Barrens (including the publication of photographs of the Kallikaks, crudely and obviously retouched to make them look like monsters of misbreeding).

The “isolate communities”–at least, those which have retained their identity into the 20th century–consistently refuse to be absorbed into either mainstream culture or the black “subculture” into which modern sociologists prefer to categorize them. In the 1970’s, inspired by the Native American renaissance, a number of groups–including the Moors and the Ramapaughs–applied to the B.I.A. for recognition as Indian tribes. They received support from native activists but were refused official status. If they’d won, after all, it might have set a dangerous precedent for drop-outs of all sorts, from “white Peyotists” and hippies to black nationalists, aryans, anarchists and libertarians– a “reservation” for anyone and everyone! The “European Project” cannot recognize the existence of the Wild Man– green chaos is still too much of a threat to the imperial dream of order.

Essentially the Moors and Ramapaughs rejected the “diachronic” or historical explanation of their origins in favor of a “synchronic” self-identity based on a “myth” of Indian adoption. Or to put it another way, they named themselves “Indians.” If everyone who wished “to be an Indian” could accomplish this by an act of self- naming, imagine what a departure to Croatan would take place. That old occult shadow still haunts the remnants of our forests (which, by the way, have greatly increased in the Northeast since the 18-19th century as vast tracts of farmland return to scrub. Thoreau on his deathbed dreamed of the return of “…Indians…forests…”: the return of the repressed).

The Moors and Ramapaughs of course have good materialist reasons to think of themselves as Indians–after all, they have Indian ancestors–but if we view their self-naming in “mythic” as well as historical terms we’ll learn more of relevance to our quest for the TAZ. Within tribal societies there exist what some anthropologists call mannenbunden: totemic societies devoted to an identity with “Nature” in the act of shapeshifting, of becoming the totem-animal (werewolves, jaguar shamans, leopard men, cat-witches, etc.). In the context of an entire colonial society (as Taussig points out in Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man) the shapeshifting power is seen as inhering in the native culture as a whole– thus the most repressed sector of the society acquires a paradoxical power through the myth of its occult knowledge, which is feared and desired by the colonist. Of course the natives really do have certain occult knowledge; but in response to Imperial perception of native culture as a kind of “spiritual wild(er)ness,” the natives come to see themselves more and more consciously in that role. Even as they are marginalized, the Margin takes on an aura of magic. Before the whiteman, they were simply tribes of people–now, they are “guardians of Nature,” inhabitants of the “state of Nature.” Finally the colonist himself is seduced by this “myth.” Whenever an American wants to drop out or back into Nature, invariably he “becomes an Indian.” The Massachusetts radical democrats (spiritual descendents of the radical Protestants) who organized the Tea Party, and who literally believed that governments could be abolished (the whole Berkshire region declared itself in a “state of Nature”!), disguised themselves as “Mohawks.” Thus the colonists, who suddenly saw themselves marginalized vis-·- vis the motherland, adopted the role of the marginalized natives, thereby (in a sense) seeking to participate in their occult power, their mythic radiance. From the Mountain Men to the Boy Scouts, the dream of “becoming an Indian” flows beneath myriad strands of American history, culture and consciousness.

The sexual imagery connected to “tri-racial” groups also bears out this hypothesis. “Natives” of course are always immoral, but racial renegades and drop-outs must be downright polymorphous-perverse. The Buccaneers were buggers, the Maroons and Mountain Men were miscegenists, the “Jukes and Kallikaks” indulged in fornication and incest (leading to mutations such as polydactyly), the children ran around naked and masturbated openly, etc., etc. Reverting to a “state of Nature” paradoxically seems to allow for the practice of every “unnatural” act; or so it would appear if we believe the Puritans and Eugenicists. And since many people in repressed moralistic racist societies secretly desire exactly these licentious acts, they project them outwards onto the marginalized, and thereby convince themselves that they themselves remain civilized and pure. And in fact some marginalized communities do really reject consensus morality–the pirates certainly did!–and no doubt actually act out some of civilization’s repressed desires. (Wouldn’t you?) Becoming “wild” is always an erotic act, an act of nakedness.

Before leaving the subject of the “tri-racial isolates,” I’d like to recall Nietzsche’s enthusiasm for “race mixing.” Impressed by the vigor and beauty of hybrid cultures, he offered miscegenation not only as a solution to the problem of race but also as the principle for a new humanity freed of ethnic and national chauvinism–a precursor to the “psychic nomad,” perhaps. Nietzsche’s dream still seems as remote now as it did to him. Chauvinism still rules OK. Mixed cultures remain submerged. But the autonomous zones of the Buccaneers and Maroons, Ishmaels and Moors, Ramapaughs and “Kallikaks” remain, or their stories remain, as indications of what Nietzsche might have called “the Will to Power as Disappearance.” We must return to this theme.


Music as an Organizational Principle

MEANWHILE, HOWEVER, WE TURN to the history of classical anarchism in the light of the TAZ concept. Before the “closure of the map,” a good deal of anti- authoritarian energy went into “escapist” communes such as Modern Times, the various Phalansteries, and so on. Interestingly, some of them were not intended to last “forever,” but only as long as the project proved fulfilling. By Socialist/Utopian standards these experiments were “failures,” and therefore we know little about them.

When escape beyond the frontier proved impossible, the era of revolutionary urban Communes began in Europe. The Communes of Paris, Lyons and Marseilles did not survive long enough to take on any characteristics of permanence, and one wonders if they were meant to. From our point of view the chief matter of fascination is the spirit of the Communes. During and after these years anarchists took up the practice of revolutionary nomadism, drifting from uprising to uprising, looking to keep alive in themselves the intensity of spirit they experienced in the moment of insurrection. In fact, certain anarchists of the Stirnerite/Nietzschean strain came to look on this activity as an end in itself, a way of always occupying an autonomous zone, the interzone which opens up in the midst or wake of war and revolution (cf. Pynchon’s “zone” in Gravity’s Rainbow). They declared that if any socialist revolution succeeded, they’d be the first to turn against it. Short of universal anarchy they had no intention of ever stopping. In Russia in 1917 they greeted the free Soviets with joy: this was their goal. But as soon as the Bolsheviks betrayed the Revolution, the individualist anarchists were the first to go back on the warpath. After Kronstadt, of course, all anarchists condemned the “Soviet Union” (a contradiction in terms) and moved on in search of new insurrections.

Makhno’s Ukraine and anarchist Spain were meant to have duration, and despite the exigencies of continual war both succeeded to a certain extent: not that they lasted a “long time,” but they were successfully organized and could have persisted if not for outside aggression. Therefore, from among the experiments of the inter-War period I’ll concentrate instead on the madcap Republic of Fiume, which is much less well known, and was not meant to endure. Gabriele D’Annunzio, Decadent poet, artist, musician, aesthete, womanizer, pioneer daredevil aeronautist, black magician, genius and cad, emerged from World War I as a hero with a small army at his beck and command: the “Arditi.” At a loss for adventure, he decided to capture the city of Fiume from Yugoslavia and give it to Italy. After a necromantic ceremony with his mistress in a cemetery in Venice he set out to conquer Fiume, and succeeded without any trouble to speak of. But Italy turned down his generous offer; the Prime Minister called him a fool.

In a huff, D’Annunzio decided to declare independence and see how long he could get away with it. He and one of his anarchist friends wrote the Constitution, which declared music to be the central principle of the State. The Navy (made up of deserters and Milanese anarchist maritime unionists) named themselves the Uscochi, after the long- vanished pirates who once lived on local offshore islands and preyed on Venetian and Ottoman shipping. The modern Uscochi succeeded in some wild coups: several rich Italian merchant vessels suddenly gave the Republic a future: money in the coffers! Artists, bohemians, adventurers, anarchists (D’Annunzio corresponded with Malatesta), fugitives and Stateless refugees, homosexuals, military dandies (the uniform was black with pirate skull-&-crossbones–later stolen by the SS), and crank reformers of every stripe (including Buddhists, Theosophists and Vedantists) began to show up at Fiume in droves. The party never stopped. Every morning D’Annunzio read poetry and manifestos from his balcony; every evening a concert, then fireworks. This made up the entire activity of the government. Eighteen months later, when the wine and money had run out and the Italian fleet finally showed up and lobbed a few shells at the Municipal Palace, no one had the energy to resist.

D’Annunzio, like many Italian anarchists, later veered toward fascism–in fact, Mussolini (the ex-Syndicalist) himself seduced the poet along that route. By the time D’Annunzio realized his error it was too late: he was too old and sick. But Il Duce had him killed anyway–pushed off a balcony–and turned him into a “martyr.” As for Fiume, though it lacked the seriousness of the free Ukraine or Barcelona, it can probably teach us more about certain aspects of our quest. It was in some ways the last of the pirate utopias (or the only modern example)–in other ways, perhaps, it was very nearly the first modern TAZ.

I believe that if we compare Fiume with the Paris uprising of 1968 (also the Italian urban insurrections of the early seventies), as well as with the American countercultural communes and their anarcho-New Left influences, we should notice certain similarities, such as:–the importance of aesthetic theory (cf. the Situationists)–also, what might be called “pirate economics,” living high off the surplus of social overproduction–even the popularity of colorful military uniforms–and the concept of music as revolutionary social change–and finally their shared air of impermanence, of being ready to move on, shape-shift, re-locate to other universities, mountaintops, ghettos, factories, safe houses, abandoned farms–or even other planes of reality. No one was trying to impose yet another Revolutionary Dictatorship, either at Fiume, Paris, or Millbrook. Either the world would change, or it wouldn’t. Meanwhile keep on the move and live intensely.

The Munich Soviet (or “Council Republic”) of 1919 exhibited certain features of the TAZ, even though–like most revolutions–its stated goals were not exactly “temporary.” Gustav Landauer’s participation as Minister of Culture along with Silvio Gesell as Minister of Economics and other anti- authoritarian and extreme libertarian socialists such as the poet/playwrights Erich Mªhsam and Ernst Toller, and Ret Marut (the novelist B. Traven), gave the Soviet a distinct anarchist flavor. Landauer, who had spent years of isolation working on his grand synthesis of Nietzsche, Proudhon, Kropotkin, Stirner, Meister Eckhardt, the radical mystics, and the Romantic volk-philosophers, knew from the start that the Soviet was doomed; he hoped only that it would last long enough to be understood. Kurt Eisner, the martyred founder of the Soviet, believed quite literally that poets and poetry should form the basis of the revolution. Plans were launched to devote a large piece of Bavaria to an experiment in anarcho-socialist economy and community. Landauer drew up proposals for a Free School system and a People’s Theater. Support for the Soviet was more or less confined to the poorest working-class and bohemian neighborhoods of Munich, and to groups like the Wandervogel (the neo-Romantic youth movement), Jewish radicals (like Buber), the Expressionists, and other marginals. Thus historians dismiss it as the “Coffeehouse Republic” and belittle its significance in comparison with Marxist and Spartacist participation in Germany’s post-War revolution(s). Outmaneuvered by the Communists and eventually murdered by soldiers under the influence of the occult/fascist Thule Society, Landauer deserves to be remembered as a saint. Yet even anarchists nowadays tend to misunderstand and condemn him for “selling out” to a “socialist government.” If the Soviet had lasted even a year, we would weep at the mention of its beauty–but before even the first flowers of that Spring had wilted, the geist and the spirit of poetry were crushed, and we have forgotten. Imagine what it must have been to breathe the air of a city in which the Minister of Culture has just predicted that schoolchildren will soon be memorizing the works of Walt Whitman. Ah for a time machine…


The Will to Power as Disappearance

FOUCAULT, BAUDRILLARD, ET AL. have discussed various modes of “disappearance” at great length. Here I wish to suggest that the TAZ is in some sense a tactic of disappearance. When the Theorists speak of the disappearance of the Social they mean in part the impossibility of the “Social Revolution,” and in part the impossibility of “the State”– the abyss of power, the end of the discourse of power. The anarchist question in this case should then be: Why bother to confront a “power” which has lost all meaning and become sheer Simulation? Such confrontations will only result in dangerous and ugly spasms of violence by the emptyheaded shit-for-brains who’ve inherited the keys to all the armories and prisons. (Perhaps this is a crude american misunderstanding of sublime and subtle Franco-Germanic Theory. If so, fine; whoever said understanding was needed to make use of an idea?)

As I read it, disappearance seems to be a very logical radical option for our time, not at all a disaster or death for the radical project. Unlike the morbid deathfreak nihilistic interpretation of Theory, mine intends to mine it for useful strategies in the always-ongoing “revolution of everyday life”: the struggle that cannot cease even with the last failure of political or social revolution because nothing except the end of the world can bring an end to everyday life, nor to our aspirations for the good things, for the Marvelous. And as Nietzsche said, if the world could come to an end, logically it would have done so; it has not, so it does not. And so, as one of the sufis said, no matter how many draughts of forbidden wine we drink, we will carry this raging thirst into eternity.

Zerzan and Black have independently noted certain “elements of Refusal” (Zerzan’s term) which perhaps can be seen as somehow symptomatic of a radical culture of disappearance, partly unconscious but partly conscious, which influences far more people than any leftist or anarchist idea. These gestures are made against institutions, and in that sense are “negative”–but each negative gesture also suggests a “positive” tactic to replace rather than merely refuse the despised institution.

For example, the negative gesture against schooling is “voluntary illiteracy.” Since I do not share the liberal worship of literacy for the sake of social ameliorization, I cannot quite share the gasps of dismay heard everywhere at this phenomenon: I sympathize with children who refuse books along with the garbage in the books. There are however positive alternatives which make use of the same energy of disappearance. Home-schooling and craft-apprenticeship, like truancy, result in an absence from the prison of school. Hacking is another form of “education” with certain features of “invisibility.”

A mass-scale negative gesture against politics consists simply of not voting. “Apathy” (i.e. a healthy boredom with the weary Spectacle) keeps over half the nation from the polls; anarchism never accomplished as much! (Nor did anarchism have anything to do with the failure of the recent Census.) Again, there are positive parallels: “networking” as an alternative to politics is practiced at many levels of society, and non-hierarchic organization has attained popularity even outside the anarchist movement, simply because it works. (ACT UP and Earth First! are two examples. Alcoholics Anonymous, oddly enough, is another.)

Refusal of Work can take the forms of absenteeism, on-job drunkenness, sabotage, and sheer inattention–but it can also give rise to new modes of rebellion: more self- employment, participation in the “black” economy and “lavoro nero,” welfare scams and other criminal options, pot farming, etc.–all more or less “invisible” activities compared to traditional leftist confrontational tactics such as the general strike.

Refusal of the Church? Well, the “negative gesture” here probably consists of…watching television. But the positive alternatives include all sorts of non-authoritarian forms of spirituality, from “unchurched” Christianity to neo- paganism. The “Free Religions” as I like to call them– small, self-created, half-serious/half-fun cults influenced by such currents as Discordianism and anarcho-Taoism–are to be found all over marginal America, and provide a growing “fourth way” outside the mainstream churches, the televangelical bigots, and New Age vapidity and consumerism. It might also be said that the chief refusal of orthodoxy consists of the construction of “private moralities” in the Nietzschean sense: the spirituality of “free spirits.”

The negative refusal of Home is “homelessness,” which most consider a form of victimization, not wishing to be forced into nomadology. But “homelessness” can in a sense be a virtue, an adventure–so it appears, at least, to the huge international movement of the squatters, our modern hobos.

The negative refusal of the Family is clearly divorce, or some other symptom of “breakdown.” The positive alternative springs from the realization that life can be happier without the nuclear family, whereupon a hundred flowers bloom–from single parentage to group marriage to erotic affinity group. The “European Project” fights a major rearguard action in defense of “Family”–oedipal misery lies at the heart of Control. Alternatives exist–but they must remain in hiding, especially since the War against Sex of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

What is the refusal of Art? The “negative gesture” is not to be found in the silly nihilism of an “Art Strike” or the defacing of some famous painting–it is to be seen in the almost universal glassy-eyed boredom that creeps over most people at the very mention of the word. But what would the “positive gesture” consist of? Is it possible to imagine an aesthetics that does not engage, that removes itself from History and even from the Market? or at least tends to do so? which wants to replace representation with presence? How does presence make itself felt even in (or through) representation?

“Chaos Linguistics” traces a presence which is continually disappearing from all orderings of language and meaning- systems; an elusive presence, evanescent, latif (“subtle,” a term in sufi alchemy)–the Strange Attractor around which memes accrue, chaotically forming new and spontaneous orders. Here we have an aesthetics of the borderland between chaos and order, the margin, the area of “catastrophe” where the breakdown of the system can equal enlightenment.

The disappearance of the artist IS “the suppression and realization of art,” in Situationist terms. But from where do we vanish? And are we ever seen or heard of again? We go to Croatan–what’s our fate? All our art consists of a goodbye note to history–“Gone To Croatan”–but where is it, and what will we do there?

First: We’re not talking here about literally vanishing from the world and its future:–no escape backward in time to paleolithic “original leisure society”–no forever utopia, no backmountain hideaway, no island; also, no post- Revolutionary utopia–most likely no Revolution at all!– also, no VONU, no anarchist Space Stations–nor do we accept a “Baudrillardian disappearance” into the silence of an ironic hyperconformity. I have no quarrel with any Rimbauds who escape Art for whatever Abyssinia they can find. But we can’t build an aesthetics, even an aesthetics of disappearance, on the simple act of never coming back. By saying we’re not an avant-garde and that there is no avant- garde, we’ve written our “Gone To Croatan”–the question then becomes, how to envision “everyday life” in Croatan? particularly if we cannot say that Croatan exists in Time (Stone Age or Post-Revolution) or Space, either as utopia or as some forgotten midwestern town or as Abyssinia? Where and when is the world of unmediated creativity? If it can exist, it does exist–but perhaps only as a sort of alternate reality which we so far have not learned to perceive. Where would we look for the seeds–the weeds cracking through our sidewalks–from this other world into our world? the clues, the right directions for searching? a finger pointing at the moon?

I believe, or would at least like to propose, that the only solution to the “suppression and realization” of Art lies in the emergence of the TAZ. I would strongly reject the criticism that the TAZ itself is “nothing but” a work of art, although it may have some of the trappings. I do suggest that the TAZ is the only possible “time” and “place” for art to happen for the sheer pleasure of creative play, and as an actual contribution to the forces which allow the TAZ to cohere and manifest.

Art in the World of Art has become a commodity; but deeper than that lies the problem of re-presentation itself, and the refusal of all mediation. In the TAZ art as a commodity will simply become impossible; it will instead be a condition of life. Mediation is harder to overcome, but the removal of all barriers between artists and “users” of art will tend toward a condition in which (as A.K. Coomaraswamy described it) “the artist is not a special sort of person, but every person is a special sort of artist.”

In sum: disappearance is not necessarily a “catastrophe”– except in the mathematical sense of “a sudden topological change.” All the positive gestures sketched here seem to involve various degrees of invisibility rather than traditional revolutionary confrontation. The “New Left” never really believed in its own existence till it saw itself on the Evening News. The New Autonomy, by contrast, will either infiltrate the media and subvert “it” from within–or else never be “seen” at all. The TAZ exists not only beyond Control but also beyond definition, beyond gazing and naming as acts of enslaving, beyond the understanding of the State, beyond the State’s ability to see.


Ratholes in the Babylon of Information

THE TAZ AS A CONSCIOUS radical tactic will emerge under certain conditions:

  1. Psychological liberation. That is, we must realize (make real) the moments and spaces in which freedom is not only possible but actual. We must know in what ways we are genuinely oppressed, and also in what ways we are self- repressed or ensnared in a fantasy in which ideas oppress us. WORK, for example, is a far more actual source of misery for most of us than legislative politics. Alienation is far more dangerous for us than toothless outdated dying ideologies. Mental addiction to “ideals”–which in fact turn out to be mere projections of our resentment and sensations of victimization–will never further our project. The TAZ is not a harbinger of some pie-in-the-sky Social Utopia to which we must sacrifice our lives that our children’s children may breathe a bit of free air. The TAZ must be the scene of our present autonomy, but it can only exist on the condition that we already know ourselves as free beings.
  2. The counter-Net must expand. At present it reflects more abstraction than actuality. Zines and BBSs exchange information, which is part of the necessary groundwork of the TAZ, but very little of this information relates to concrete goods and services necessary for the autonomous life. We do not live in CyberSpace; to dream that we do is to fall into CyberGnosis, the false transcendence of the body. The TAZ is a physical place and we are either in it or not. All the senses must be involved. The Web is like a new sense in some ways, but it must be added to the others– the others must not be subtracted from it, as in some horrible parody of the mystic trance. Without the Web, the full realization of the TAZ-complex would be impossible. But the Web is not the end in itself. It’s a weapon.
  3. The apparatus of Control–the “State”–must (or so we must assume) continue to deliquesce and petrify simultaneously, must progress on its present course in which hysterical rigidity comes more and more to mask a vacuity, an abyss of power. As power “disappears,” our will to power must be disappearance.

We’ve already dealt with the question of whether the TAZ can be viewed “merely” as a work of art. But you will also demand to know whether it is more than a poor rat-hole in the Babylon of Information, or rather a maze of tunnels, more and more connected, but devoted only to the economic dead-end of piratical parasitism? I’ll answer that I’d rather be a rat in the wall than a rat in the cage–but I’ll also insist that the TAZ transcends these categories.

A world in which the TAZ succeeded in putting down roots might resemble the world envisioned by “P.M.” in his fantasy novel bolo’bolo. Perhaps the TAZ is a “proto-bolo.” But inasmuch as the TAZ exists now, it stands for much more than the mundanity of negativity or countercultural drop-out-ism. We’ve mentioned the festal aspect of the moment which is unControlled, and which adheres in spontaneous self- ordering, however brief. It is “epiphanic”–a peak experience on the social as well as individual scale.

Liberation is realized struggle–this is the essence of Nietzsche’s “self-overcoming.” The present thesis might also take for a sign Nietzsche’s wandering. It is the precursor of the drift, in the Situ sense of the derive and Lyotard’s definition of driftwork. We can foresee a whole new geography, a kind of pilgrimage-map in which holy sites are replaced by peak experiences and TAZs: a real science of psychotopography, perhaps to be called “geo-autonomy” or “anarchomancy.”

The TAZ involves a kind of ferality, a growth from tameness to wild(er)ness, a “return” which is also a step forward. It also demands a “yoga” of chaos, a project of “higher” orderings (of consciousness or simply of life) which are approached by “surfing the wave-front of chaos,” of complex dynamism. The TAZ is an art of life in continual rising up, wild but gentle–a seducer not a rapist, a smuggler rather than a bloody pirate, a dancer not an eschatologist.

Let us admit that we have attended parties where for one brief night a republic of gratified desires was attained. Shall we not confess that the politics of that night have more reality and force for us than those of, say, the entire U.S. Government? Some of the “parties” we’ve mentioned lasted for two or three years. Is this something worth imagining, worth fighting for? Let us study invisibility, webworking, psychic nomadism–and who knows what we might attain?

The post Temporary Autonomous Zones (1991) appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

Financial Independence: The Utility of Import-Export

By Kyle Rearden

“I often encourage folks who are preparedness-minded to develop a second income stream with a home-based business. Once you have that business started, then start another one…[a] successfully recession-proof home-based business is likely to be one in which the demand for your goods and services is consistent – even in a weak economy…[k]eep in mind that if you choose publishing or another mail-order venture selling something compact and lightweight, then you can take advantage of a national or even global market. But if you are selling a service or a relatively bulky or heavy hand-crafted item, then your market will be essentially local, so choose your venture wisely.”

James Rawles

Good Americans within the servile society typically “commute” five days a week in order to work eight hours per day. These “workers” often stop by grocery stores or similar businesses on their way home from work so as to pick up dinner every other day, or at least a few times a week. The problem with such a lifestyle is that the frequency of traveling to and fro on the government’s “public” roads increases the vulnerability to coercion of said motorists due to traffic stops.

Imagine, if you will, a noticeably different lifestyle whereby you travel once a week to a job site and work overtime while you’re there, and by the end of the week you go home. Similarly, you only shop for groceries once every few weeks or even several months out. Notice, too, that it’s not just the frequency of exporting labor and products relative to importing knowledge and supplies, but also the context of how you’re doing it.

Financial independence (FI) could be defined as making a livelihood without a steady employer. Absent a nine-to-five Just Over Broke (a “JOB”), many Good Americans literally wouldn’t know what to do with themselves, sadly because they are often indoctrinated to believe that their sense of self-worth is tightly bound to the consumerist fantasy of developing a “career,” an idea that has little to do with survivability and much to do with Stockholm Syndrome with the servile society itself. Often, FI can take the form of freelancing (working for a variety of clients on a per assignment basis) and/or intensive saving (a form of frugality whereby you save 50% – 80% of your take-home-pay).

In 1971, Rayo discussed whether it was possible, or even desirable, to achieve personal freedom through wealth accumulation. He said:

Freedom through wealth? Some have said that the best way to achieve personal freedom is to first become wealthy. Here are some contrary points: Someone pursuing wealth tends to get caught up in associated status games and neglect his real objective. Psychological paralysis sets in. Of freedom-seekers I have known who tried to get rich, most have not been successful, perhaps because they know too much to play the games with the same dedication and intensity as do the Middle Amerikan strivers. The few wealthy libertarians of who I know first became wealthy, then libertarian. One is more apt to be successful, and perhaps even get rich, doing something he enjoys doing which he can do without contradicting his values, than he is doing supposedly high-income activities which he doesn’t enjoy.”

As is with everything else involved with vonuence, function determines form, means determine endshow you go about achieving something is just as important as what that something is. If accumulating wealth were done in such as a manner as to make you less vonuer, then it’s not vonu, plain and simple. Rayo went on to observe that:

“At present there is relatively little vonu to be purchased; it’s mostly do-it-yourself. Most high-income professions are narrowly specialized: dependent upon an economy of tens of millions of people. But only a relatively few people (thousands, at most) are apt to vonu themselves in the foreseeable future; the demand in a small market is for broad skills. Most of the relatively free people in North America today have relatively low incomes: ‘hippies,’ hobos, some Indians, some Blacks. Historically, Jews have been more successful than Gypsies at surviving and maintaining heterodox cultures, despite their greater emphasis on wealth. (For what it’s worth, Gypsies have enjoyed better ‘public relations’.)”

What this suggests is that FI is not synonymous with being “rich.” Some individuals who could be said to enjoy FI are “wealthy,” whereas others who are truly financially independent are not millionaires. FI is less concerned with how much disposable income you have than with how dependent you are upon others for your livelihood; frequently, a single source of income does make you more vulnerable to coercion than having multiple sources of income, for if one source dries up, you can fall back on the others until you get that one replaced. Rayo admitted:

“Personal experience: I have only moderate savings; I’m not wealthy by most standards. But my achievement of vonu has been limited much more by time and personal skills than by money. There are many products and services which I could and would purchase if they were available; they aren’t. Of course someone already into a skill or business whereby they can earn much money easily may well be advised to keep at it for a few years and build a nest-egg. But, for most vonuists, I don’t think wealth is worth much effort.”

Nest eggs, simply put, are batches of accumulated capital. Granted, building up a nest egg is usually proof of intensive saving, yet capital accumulation wasn’t done here so as to eventually get to the point of building your own investment portfolio, which Rayo didn’t address. The takeaway here is that wealth does not equal freedom; you cannot buy your way to freedom in much the same way you cannot buy yourself into romance, as it were.

A year later in 1972, Rayo explicated upon import-export, particularly as it related to FI. Just to reiterate, when conducting import-export, vonuans import supplies and knowledge while exporting labor and products back out to the servile society. Rayo remarked that:

“A vonu home seems essential for psychological wellbeing. And domestic activities are relatively easy to vonu; they do not require elaborate equipment or deep involvement with outsiders. In contrast, earning money takes up only a relatively small part of one’s life. At $2 per hour clear, 300 hours of city labor – one month with overtime – will pay for eight months of vonu living. And earning money usually requires export – difficult to accomplish without interference. So vonu should begin at home…[w]hile it’s nice for a vonu home to be financially productive, this isn’t essential.”

Given the annual inflation percentage rate between 1972 and 2017 was 4.01%, then that would mean that $2 in 1972 would be equivalent to about $11.75 today (still above minimum wage, but not by much); so, if you pulled 80 hours per week for about a month (or 40 hours per week for seven and a half weeks), you’d rake in around $3,525 these days. Even as expressed in today’s “ferns,” living on ~ $3,500 for eight months is mighty impressive for proving that it’s possible to survive below the federal poverty threshold, and thus not incur an income tax liability. Rayo advised:

Have savings before moving. During your first year or two in a wilderness or vonu environment, expect to be occupied developing shelter and learning vonu-living skills. You will have little time for money earning even if opportunities are at hand.”

This is to encourage those becoming vonuer to initially develop nest eggs before trying their hand at strategic relocation. Rayo continues:

Earn money by exporting labor at first. Don’t expect to earn money immediately gathering herbs or dredging gold if you have time left from home development. What opportunities are there may be for wilderness income require considerable skills to pay off. Scrounging for jobs in a small town is a bad scene. Get jobs in cities (if that is what you have done); preferably temporary employment which fits your living patterns. If you have a freemate or children, let them remain at your vonu home while you ‘commute’ weekly or seasonally. Why subject them to bludg, smog and chance of nuclear incineration?”

Again, this is the significance of import-export with the servile society, which would entail some degree of interfacing with city rats. Thankfully, due to the growth and expansion of the Internet, conducting import-export through the freighting and communication services of the servile society have never been easier (think e-commerce like eBay or Amazon), yet the issue of dealing with the transportation of personnel is still at large and unresolved. Truth of the matter is that FI increases mean-time-to-harassment (MTH) by deprogramming Good Americans of the very antiquated notion known as so-called “job security” in the first place, which is nothing more than a consumerist fantasy.

The connection between freelancing and intensive saving becomes quite pronounced as Rayo further described it:

Don’t change vocations until you achieve a vonu home. If you can clear $2 or more per hour in your present (non-vonu) job, you will probably achieve vonu quickest by staying with it until you have enough capital to cut loose for two years. Don’t spend time getting into a slightly better non-vonu occupation still dependent on that society if you expect to live most of your life out of that society. A do-at-home vocation such as freelance writing or mail-order selling is best developed after you have a vonu home.”

Yet again, $2 back then became approximately $11.75 in 2017, so Rayo isn’t insisting that you earn $40,000 a year (~ $20/hr), because he’s presuming you’re not spending most of it even on the costs of living; in other words, Rayo’s suggestion for achieving FI relies more upon living close to the bone rather than “hustling,” as it were. His recommendation that an individual could become vonuer by initially saving $10,575 as a nest egg to live on for two years removes the age-old excuse that freedom or liberty is unachievable because it costs too many ferns to accomplish it. He goes on to say that:

Be wary of get-rich-easy schemes. ‘If he’s so smart, why ain’t he already rich? If he is rich, why does he want my pocket change?’ Not all such schemes are conscious swindles; many a promoter sincerely believes he has found a unique way to financial independence. But, unless he is already affluent, you don’t know that it worked. Even if it worked for him it may not for you – opportunities change. But even if you could make it work, it probably requires a heavy psycho-investment/involvement with the coerced economy; more than would a work a-day job.”

Not only does Rayo explicitly refer to FI, but he also stresses why infomercial claims are no reliable path to FI, for actual FI relies more upon earning more income while also cutting expenses over a period of time more so than anything else (in much the same way there are no “get-fit-easy” products that reliably work, for achieving physical fitness relies more upon exercising more while also eating less over a period of time more so than anything else; both FI and good physical fitness require consistent discipline). Rayo further said:

“Tactics for saving: Make a ‘crash’ program of it – save a high proportion of income for a short time. Take savings off the top – a certain percentage of income – and live on what is left. Concentrate on big or continuing expenses – usually shelter, transportation and food, but also be careful that ‘small luxuries’ don’t get big. Double up with others to save rent. Drive little…[m]ake part of your monetary savings untouchable until required capital is accumulated. Don’t rationalize that such-and-such item is really preparation for vonu (unless you already have much experience in your intended life-style and know exactly what equipment and supplies you will need). Start outfitting at a local dump (discarded blankets, clothes, utensils), then try Salvation Army Stores, etc. You can gradually replace with better equipment after you are vonu, as you learn what you really need.”

Naturally, he’s describing how to both cut expenses and save greater proportions of your take-home paycheck here. Also, Rayo is describing how to begin scrounging for salvageable equipment, for sometimes, the line between window shopping and dumpster diving can become quite blurry at times. Revealingly, he explicates to:

Keep money in simple, safe forms. If your savings are small and short-term (under $2000, under two years) the best form for North Americans (all factors considered including ease of conversion) is probably U.S. or Canadian $20 bills well-hidden in several places. Currency will suffer inflation losses but, for small amounts, any other form is apt to be more trouble than it is worth. For a larger amount or a longer time, investigate gold and silver (bars, or coins priced at close to metal value only), Swiss banks, etc. Avoid savings bonds or savings accounts in U.S. institutions. Don’t speculate in stocks, real-estate, commodities, rare coins, etc. (unless you are already a full-time professional at one of these).”

Obviously, substitute $10,575 for $2,000 but otherwise his recommendations here are consistent with the goldbug perspective. Granted, there are those within the alternative media who dislike anti-inflation investment because precious metal bullion cannot be used as money (they rationalize) if the SHTF, yet this is just one more example of why I disregard the veracity of doom porn, since it’s usually employed as a lame excuse for why not to do something (and often, to reinforce the servile society in someway; typically, in the form of political crusading).

Consider for a moment two individuals who practiced frugality to the degree that it could be said they pursued, or even achieved, FI. Henry Thoreau detailed in Walden what the costs of his one-room cabin were, and he often expressed how the mindless pursuit of wealth harmed one’s spirit (or in less mystical terms, how consumerism hurts an individual’s freedom). Alex Ansary still lives what could be described as a “minimalist” lifestyle for the past several years, ranging from living out of a teardrop camper pulled by a pickup truck and then later RV living to now his off-grid homestead.

Interestingly enough, Rayo provided additional considerations regarding both women specifically and the exporting of labor generally. As he put it addressing the women-folk:

“Don’t feel that you should provide half the capital or income; you offer your own values and talents (and not just erotic ones). By analogy, silver has no more uses than aluminum, but it has different ones and it is scarcer, so it doesn’t exchange for aluminum, one-for-one. Why should you? Most women adapt easier to vonu living than do most men, perhaps because they are more self-sufficient psychologically; their self-esteem depends more on personal and home activities, less upon a ‘career’ involved with that society.”

Remember, he also thought women were invaluable for purchasing and owning private land because he considered them as being less likely targets for military conscription or for losing said land to the State due to lawsuits, taxation, or regulations. Gendered social norms aside, I think Rayo’s observation that women more easily become vonuans is largely due to the fact that women are not targeted by the State as much as men are, because the bludgies typically assume that most “law-breakers” are men, and even when there are lady “criminals,” these women receive lighter sentences than their male counterparts usually because they are assumed to be not as “criminal” or less likely to become repeat offenders; therefore, women automatically enjoy a higher MTH than men. Rayo went onto say that:

Second thoughts: Reading this, I’m not entirely satisfied with my treatment of export…[r]egardless of proportion of time spent, some will value vonu in export more than vonu at home. So let’s concentrate on what we value most – succeed at our own thing – and trade; then we’ll always have more vonu everywhere.”

Here, Rayo appears to revise his earlier statements about how vonu should begin at home, largely through a combination of shelter development and the importing of knowledge and supplies. Generally speaking, I think it’s a little hard to import much of anything if you don’t export first, because to do so otherwise would be to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. Ergo, the utility of import-export as a balanced approach to exercising that one-directional isolation becomes rather quite significant, for much like any other true duality, each yin needs their own yang.

Finally, Rayo also made brief mention of how FI (as well as import-export) could be utilized in a broader context. He wrote:

“Some people talk of developing a ‘parallel economy’ producing all essential supplies and spare parts, before concerning themselves much with physical invulnerability. But this supposes involvement of millions of people. And what would a non-vonu alternate economy be, anyway? An enterprise vulnerable to the State must operate under State rules. This, not the rhetoric of its founders, will determine the way it operates, assuming it is a ‘success.’ Function determines form. A real alternate economy requires vonu (though not necessarily wilderness forms exclusively). A vonuan can minimize dependence upon the coerced economy by stockpiling essentials.”

In terms of MTH, Rayo has described E-level vonumy as being the minimum for an alternative economy, not to mention that the minimum profitable viability for E-level activity would be a small workshop or laboratory with a 10 year MTH (put another way, a comfortable home or tiny house is not good enough). Yet, what could facilitate individuals becoming vonuer by establishing a functional parallel economy? Rayo proposes that:

“A vonu association of a few dozen to a few hundred will likely be only a little more self-sufficient than one family. A remote (non-vonu) town of this size probably has a welder, dairy, nurse – maybe even a small machine shop. But most goods and many services are more economical to import than to produce there. Even in a country of 100,000 people, such as the Bahamas, most items are imported. The major advantage of a vonu association compared to a lone family: easier/better import-export.”

If true, then it begs the question of what would such a vonu association look like, exactly? Since a vonuum requires a skillful blend of concealment and deception, plus perhaps some elements of mobility and deterrence, vonumers might have to specialize in conducting import-export on behalf of other vonuans, given the reality that is the division of labor as well as the law of comparative advantage. All in all, when it comes to pursuing vonuence, you have to be able to walk before you can run a marathon, and similarly, if you aren’t frugally disciplined, then you have no business lecturing to others about developing a Second Realm.

The post Financial Independence: The Utility of Import-Export appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

The Philosophy of Vonu (TVP Season 1 Overview)

By Kyle Rearden

“The ethical principal of non-coercion can be stated: One should not initiate the use of physical force against a volitional being or against property created or acquired through voluntary consent. Many people espouse this principle.”

Rayo

For this first season of The Vonu Podcast, Shane Radliff and I focused on the ideological pillars of vonu. The list of articles covering topics mentioned during season one of TVP are as follows:

Philosophically, vonu is inherently anti-political. Much like agorism, vonu outright rejects political crusading and collective-movementism, as well as the controlled schizophrenia underpinning both of them. The servile society incorporates all three of these phenomena so as to keep individuals trapped into being vulnerable to coercion, especially by the State.

Distinguished from freedom and liberty (the absence of, or, general exemption from, coercion), vonu is uniquely known as the condition or quality of an invulnerability to coercion. Unlike playing games of legal interstices, vonu is rooted in practicality, not legality. The efficacy of vonu can be measured in terms of how long it would take for a vonuan (one who has an invulnerability to coercion) to be discovered by the bludgies.

Conducting import-export with the servile society is rather quite important, because until vonuums (the place or situation of an invulnerability to coercion) are mostly self-sufficient, doing so will continue to be necessary for survivability. Increasing competency through pursuing vonuence (the process of achieving an invulnerability to coercion) will not only elongate MTH (mean-time-to-harassment, which is the strength of vonu), but also comfort in one’s lifestyle as well. As undesirable as legal interstices are, they are a rearguard action or stopgap mitigation unlike vonumy (the art of achieving an invulnerability to coercion) is better developed.

Most controversial about vonu, perhaps, lies in its critique about modern political “activism.” Controlled schizophrenia is a form of experiencing Stockholm Syndrome with the State; collective-movementism is simply controlled schizophrenia on a larger scale. Political crusaders are the worst collective-movementists because as authoritarians they declare that their strategy (reformism) is the only path to liberty since it’s so “practical,” when the truth of the matter is that political crusading is itself the most highly impractical of all known strategies when examined closely.

Of course, what distinguishes libertarians from authoritarians is that the former advocates for a general exemption from coercion whereas the latter supports coercive force. Statists are worse than private criminals because they refuse to bear the responsibility for initiating the use of force, preferring instead for the State to shoulder said responsibility. Cowardice of this variety is rampant throughout the servile society, and is encouraged through the democratically republican form of a hypothetically “limited” government.

Strategically speaking, it is probably better to think of vonu not as a libertarian ideology, but rather, as a libertarian strategy. Vonu is not an anarchic school of thought, and as such, it is less concerned with mere theorizing than it is with strategizing. Facilitating direct action, in addition to measuring the efficacy of its particular techniques, is of prime importance to vonuists (those who advocate for an invulnerability to coercion).

What vonu is unafraid to show us is that most “activists” are indeed political crusaders, and as such, will never advocate for an invulnerability to coercion, because if they were to do so, they’d put themselves out of business, figuratively and literally. This disingenuousness of these wannabe politicians truly undermines most efforts at “organizing,” well, whatever. If anything, this hard won realization that vonu demonstrates for us is that lifestyle changes are the most potent and far-reaching in their ability to protect individuals from the rampages of Leviathan.

Fundamentally, vonu is a manifestation of the DIY ethic. Servile status games, city psychological pressures, and most significantly, the sanction of the victim, are ultimately antithetical to vonu, for vonumy encompasses developing methods for resisting these manipulative tricks against individual autonomy. The value of integrity is foundational for ends-means consistency, for as Rayo himself observed:

“Function determines form. Means determine ends.”


Postscript: For those of you who are interested in listening to Season One of The Vonu Podcast, the hyperlinked bibliography is located on the “Episodes” page.

The post The Philosophy of Vonu (TVP Season 1 Overview) appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

[URGENT] LIBERTY OF THE PRESS IS STILL UNDER ATTACK: Federal Marshals Arrest a Journalist

By Kyle Rearden

Please Share & Re-Post on Your Blogs

By: Kyle Rearden

March 30th, 2017

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should be not highly rated.”

Thomas Paine

It has come to our attention that there has been a development regarding the prosecution (persecution) of journalist Gary Hunt. This past January, the documented use of lawfare was proven through judicial transparency thanks to the release of court documents. These documents show that United States Attorney Pamala Holsinger tried to convince Judge Anna Brown that Hunt was in possession of what she considered to be contraband, which was actually discovery evidence.

Since then, Hunt has been visited by FBI Special Agent Matthew Catalano multiple times, as documented in his Freedom of the Press article series. During these face-to-face meetings, Agent Catalano and Hunt enjoyed polite discussions as Hunt refused service of the court order demanding his appearance in the federal Oregon District Court. Hunt explained to Agent Catalano that he did not think this order applies to him.

The latest development is that as of today on March 30th of 2017, at approximately 12:30 pm PST, Gary Hunt was arrested by federal marshals at his home in Los Molinos, California. He was reported to have been transported to Sacramento, yet his extradition to Oregon is still under question. According to the Sealed Order Granting Government’s Request for Arrest Warrant as to Gary Hunt & Order Sealing Arrest Warrant, which was filed back on March 10th:

“On March 10, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., the Court convened the show-cause hearing, but Hunt failed to appear for that hearing, did not make a filing as directed, and has not otherwise contracted the Court. The Court, therefore finds it necessary to issue a warrant for Hunt’s arrest in order to bring him before this Court for his failure to appear at the show-cause hearing and to adjudicate civil contempt proceedings for violation of the Court’s Protective Order (#342) and Supplement to Protective Order (#1692). On this record, therefore, the Court GRANTS the government’s request for an arrest warrant as to Gary Hunt, and the Court will issue the warrant without delay.”

Notice that although Judge Brown signed this arrest warrant back on the 10th, it wasn’t executed until today on the 30th. Were the marshals backlogged with all the fugitives they’ve been hunting, or were they spending almost two weeks scouting Los Molinos in order to prevent a journalist from escaping their clutches?

Gary Hunt has been spending the truth about the corruption within the American governance structure for almost 30 years. An attack on any member of the free press is an attack on the entire free press. If this is the treatment that journalists can expect from exposing informants who may very well have contributed to the death of LaVoy Finicum and certainly to the persecution and convictions of many of the individuals who took part in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge event.

The post [URGENT] LIBERTY OF THE PRESS IS STILL UNDER ATTACK: Federal Marshals Arrest a Journalist appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

Taking a Hard Stand: The Unauthorized Biography of LaVoy Finicum

By Kyle Rearden

[Download a PDF of this article]

“The informed resister in crisis situations is not surprised by the occurrence of brutalities against the nonviolent group. In reaction, either to halt the defiance or to resort to violence would have serious negative consequences. To be effective, the resisters must persist through the brutalities and suffering and maintain their fearlessness, nonviolent discipline, and firmness. Some time and considerable suffering may be required to demonstrate to the opponents that brutalities will not crush the movement.”

Gene Sharp

From 2014 – 2016, the late LaVoy Finicum made his foray into the alternative media as a vlogger. During this period within 2015, he also managed to get his novel published as a way to finance his mounting legal costs that were incurred thanks to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Although most people remember Finicum as that member of Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF) known as the #TarpMan, who really was LaVoy Finicum and what did he actually believe in?

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was born on January 27th of 1961 in Kanab, Utah. He worked on a drilling rig in his early twenties, and later in a sawmill within the town of Fredonia, Arizona. Finicum was a teetotalerprepper” as well as a Mormon.

Aside from these manual labor jobs and being a one-time novelist, Finicum was also a professional foster parent and hobby rancher. Finicum himself told Oregon Public Broadcasting in January of 2016 that:

“My ranch has been a great tool for these boys. It has done a lot of good…[w]e are very successful (foster parents). Our track records are good, it’s been a good relationship…[t]hat was my main source of income. My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch. If this means rice and beans for the next few years, so be it. We’re going to stay the course.” [emphasis added]

When you combine this admission with Finicum’s eyewitness statements regarding the 2014 Bundy Affair, a new shade of meaning begins to emerge. In Finicum’s very first vlog on April 26th of 2014 (a mere two weeks after the Cattle Unrustling), he began by saying:

“Hello, everyone. My name is LaVoy Finicum. I’m a neighboring rancher to Cliven Bundy on the Arizona side of the border. I rode with his boys on April 12th when we went to go get his cows…”

This is quite revealing, for it means that Finicum didn’t just spring out of nowhere as part of C4CF, but had actually been known by at least some individuals within the patriot movement, if only as a relatively minor figure. On August 14th of 2015, Finicum said that:

“We have been here prior to the BLM being formed; these grazing rights were established, and I’ll explain it to you. This particular grazing right, right here, that we’re sitting on – all this green grass, all this acreage here. I bought this here grazing right from the ranching family by the name of Ballards – Ballards bought it from the ranching family called the Heatons; the Heatons were some of the first settlers in this country here…[i]t’s not theirs! I didn’t buy it from them! I bought it from the Ballards, Ballards from the Heatons, Heatons established it; it’s not theirs, it never was theirs and they’re forbidden from having it!”

Grazing rights are, in truth, a consequence stemming from the tragedy of the commons that is known as “public” lands. What Finicum has done here is engage in “befuddlement” by confusing grazing on “public” fields as if it were an action that is justified by the homestead principle. This is nothing more than an obfuscation of the private property ethic, for the Heatons never “established” any “rights” by simply having their cattle graze on non-privately owned lands. In this same vlog, Finicum admits that:

“Now, how will I graze off all this grass that is mine, that I pay for, that I fight every year to make my mortgage payment on? Everything I have is tied up into this – my home, my life; I’ve spent my lifetime trying to obtain a ranch, to live like…I loved as a young boy riding with my dad chasing some cows on the weekend. I always wanted to raise my family out here, and raise them like this, so I am putting everything on the line, my home, my dreams, my ranch.”

Yeah, that’s right – Finicum’s hobby ranch that he “bought” was, in fact, mortgaged. This is further elaborated on September 7th of 2015, when he said:

“I have mortgages on my house here, got a mortgage on my ranch, there’s my trucks out there, got payments on my trucks I gotta make; just like most Americans, workin’ hard, trying to make payments, trying to afford my family, put food on the table.”

In other words, Finicum was a debtor to lenders for (at least) his trucks and his ranch. Thus, in order to pay all these debts, he eventually became a foster parent, which required him to be licensed and regulated by the Arizona government. To further complicate matters, Finicum also claimed:

“I’ve acknowledged Mohave County and the state of Arizona as the rightful owners of this land…I’m acknowledging Kingman, our county seat in Mohave County, as the closest government to We the People. I am going to pay a production tax off my cattle to Mohave County. I will no longer pay my mandatory grazing fees to the BLM.”

Wait a damn minute! Didn’t Finicum just say the previous month that the Heatons “established” his grazing “rights”? How in the hell does that jive with the Arizona government being the “rightful owners of this land”? Is there some difference between who owns the land versus who has the “right” to graze on it, regardless of ownership?

Let’s recap the story so far, shall we? LaVoy Finicum is a neighboring rancher to the Bundys, but since his mortgaged ranch is only profitable enough to pay for its own operating costs, his livelihood is made by providing foster care. Based solely off of his own statements, the incentive that Finicum would have to promote grazing “rights” in order to lower his own operating costs so that he may finally pay off his debts and eventually become a truly independent rancher should be obvious to everyone by now (and what the production tax on his cattle Finicum said he was paying to Mohave County has to do with any of this is, quite frankly, beyond me).

The BLM decided to penalize Finicum to the tune of about $1,400 for “trespass cattle,” which by November 13th of 2015, had increased by another $5,000. Meanwhile, Finicum accused the BLM of stealing his water, and then depriving him of his half interest in Coyote Springs, which he claimed is in the deed to his ranch. Obviously, “trespass cattle” is a victimless crime and thus is a use of lawfare, and yet, am I also to assume that Finicum’s alleged grazing “rights” are in the deed to his mortgaged ranch, too?

In response to this paper chase, Finicum attended several meetings, the first of which was with Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe on September 23rd of 2015. A few days later, Finicum met with both county bureaucrats and state representatives, including county supervisor Gary Watson, head of the grazing board Merlin Esplin, head of Fish & Game Luke Thompson, cattle brand inspector Raymond Christenson, chief deputy treasurer Bill Barker, and legislators Regina Cobb and Margaret Nyberg. Later in November, Finicum met with a bunch of ranchers in his native south central Utah.

Although he outright denied it to MSNBC correspondent Tony Dokoupil, I happen to think Finicum really did have a death wish, because as early as May 31st of 2014, he declared:

“At some point, you have to say that my freedom is worth more than my life…I’m glad that they’re people who are starting to draw a hard line. They are beginning to value their freedom more than their life…I just want to say that I think it’s time that those who love freedom begin to draw a hard line, that they begin to love freedom even more than they love their life. Those who gave us this freedom, loved it more than they loved their life.”

Honestly, how is this anything fundamentally different from the myth of the line in the sand? I’m a Texan, so believe me when I say that such imagery is quite overwrought of dying for this, and dying for that; just, dying, dying, dying constantly (whatever happened to living freedom?). Finicum also thought that the prosecution of the ATV protest riders in Recapture Canyon was retaliatory for the Cattle Unrustling, but I can’t help thinking whether the county commissioner Phil Lyman’s conviction is sufficient evidence to Finicum that Lyman loves freedom more than his own life?

The lead-up to C4CF’s sit-in at the wildlife refuge is significant too, for it shows that perhaps Finicum was a true believer rather than a “conspirator” in much of anything. Finicum mentioned the Hammonds for the first time publicly in October of 2015, saying:

“…I’ve been following what’s been happening over in Bend [Burns], Oregon with that ranching family over there – the Hammond family. I’m pretty upset with what the BLM has done to them. Actually, I’m really angry…they threw’em in jail, they fined’em tremendous amount of fines, and now it looks like they’re facin’ five more years in prison. These are real lives, these are real people, and by dang, I’m angry about it. America, how long are we gonna put up with this type of stuff? It’s time to stop.”

About two weeks into the sit-in, Finicum admitted that the Hammonds being sent back to prison was the flashpoint for C4CF:

“It’s the right of the individual we’re lookin’ at, not the right of the collective. You know, if there’s just one rancher sayin’, ‘Please help me! Please don’t go!,’ what about him? What about the Hammonds? What about that family that is in prison? What about the one? We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that one family. All of these abuses that have been building for a long time, but it was that one family that is what now, 11 days in prison? Unjustly so? Let them be released!”

Finicum also admitted that same day that Ammon Bundy explained about an hour before the “Operation Hammond Freedom” protest march commenced on January 2nd how C4CF was going to go about conducting the sit-in at the refuge:

“Maybe I can just go back and explain how the day it was that we got here and how it happened, because I was one of the first ones to pull in here. We came up here on that day to do a peaceful support march for the Hammond family before they were thrown in prison; not once, but for a second time (for the same charges), and the hour before the rally, Ammon Bundy pulled us aside with a group of residents, a group of people that came up to support, and he took the time to go through the litany of all the things he did to get redress for the Hammonds. It was extensive, and over a considerable period of time, and he was completely ignored…but he laid out the plan, hour before the march to say that we need to come here and occupy this resource center, this wildlife refuge that the federal government has placed here…Ammon did the march with Ryan Bundy and a handful of others, and we drove out there.”

Ah, Ammon, he’s no end of surprises – this was the same guy who led the earlier town hall meeting in Burns on December 15th of 2015 that directly led to the formation of the Harney County Committee of Safety, the very same Committee of Safety who on January 8th of 2016 had their own meeting, which ended up in a deadlock regarding whether to order C4CF to immediately depart the wildlife refuge.

It’s now a matter of history what preceded Finicum’s death. Any negotiations between the FBI and C4CF to reach a compromise was debunked. C4CF’s discovery of Paiute artifacts carelessly stored in the basement of the refuge was quite alarming, yet the Paiutes specifically told C4CF that they did not want any open dialogue regarding the discovered artifacts whatsoever. According to Jeanette Finicum (LaVoy’s widow), her husband felt as if he was back serving his Mormon mission on the Dakota reservations.

Ultimately, LaVoy Finicum was killed by the Bluecoats on January 26th of 2016. According to Jeanette, Sheriff Jim McCabe (the exact same one LaVoy met in person just a few months earlier) told her four days after LaVoy died that she better not emulate her husband’s shenanigans because after spending two weeks in D.C., McCabe knows that the BLM will not put up with what she has planned. Thankfully, not only did Jeanette pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, but she also said the following on March 8th of 2016:

“The American people are outraged at this inhumanity, this brutality, this barbarism by the courts and law enforcement. It has created a new American awakening from both the Left and the Right. It shocks our conscience and that is why around 1,000 rallies spontaneously organized in support of my husband’s assassination and these patriots who are being held as political prisoners.”

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I already prefer Jeanette to LaVoy as a political dissident, because at least her grievances are easily provable and quite serious. Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear as to whether the BLM decided to up the ante by trying to collect on those fines they levied against LaVoy before he joined up with C4CF.

Speaking of political rhetoric, what exactly did LaVoy Finicum believe to be true, precisely? What I can tell you for certain is, is that Finicum specifically repudiated anarchism, and he did so multiple times. On September 21st of 2015, Finicum said:

“People might think that I am ‘anti-government,’ or an anarchist, and I’m certainly not. I believe in government, I believe in the federal government; we need the federal government – how else are we going to protect our country, and protect our borders? Keep commerce regular amongst the states – that’s what the federal government is for; unfortunately, they seem to be doing a poor job about our country and our borders, but I do believe in government, and I do believe in the proper relationship between the states and the federal government and the counties.”

Believe me, I really wish he were, but alas, that statement of fealty comes straight from the horse’s mouth. Just to reiterate the point, Finicum said on November 13th of 2015 that:

“We’re not just a bunch of wannabe anarchists and sayin’ we don’t believe in government (want to take down government). Contrary, I believe in government, I believe in the federal government, we need the federal government, but in their proper place. They need to be controlled by the confines of the law. Right now they are the anarchists, running beyond all their banks, but we need them; we need them to protect our border, to keep commerce regular, and to keep our country safe. Just a few other things, very identified in the Constitution, but they have usurped power and authority everywhere.”

Yet again, this was partially echoed during the press conference in mid-January:

“Federal government, go home! Take care of federal things! Secure our borders, protect our nation, keep commerce regular, and just a couple of other things – get the heck outta Dodge and leave the rest for the state and the counties to take care of. Let the people be free! It’s high time, dangnabit! Get outta town!”

Plainly, it can be observed that Finicum is a constitutionalist, especially if you consider what he said on September 18th of 2014:

“[I]t’s easy to see that our government has eviscerated the Constitution. They are a lawless government unwilling to be being governed by the supreme law of the land by the laws that We the People placed upon them…[t]he judiciary is, in large measure, corrupt too, insofar as they are unwilling to adjudicate on the simple Constitution…I invite you too, to stand up, and defend the Constitution; the rights that are guarded by this document. Stand, stand for freedom, stand for the Constitution.”

Putting aside for a moment the historical fact that the Anti-Federalists and some of the Founding Fathers like Patrick Henry thought the Constitution empowered the central government way the hell too much, Finicum’s misunderstanding of anarchy makes sense when you consider he did the same thing in his novel; truth is, the etymology of the word, “anarchy,” means without rulers, so if the republican form of this hypothetically limited government is all about empowering rulers, then limited government is a cruel joke, for all it does at that point is replace the divine right of kings with social contract theory, which the latter might as well be more accurately called the divine right of politicians.

Would it be accurate to describe Finicum as a socialist, given his preference for “public” lands over that of the private property ethic? Historically, constitutionalists have always supported the individual right to travel, yet they abhor road privatization because they don’t reject the very notion of “public” roads themselves, in principle. Remember, the “public” goods argument is already dialogically estopped, so spending time proving that any of these American governments are despotic trustees of the “public” goods (whether lands, roads, or “education”) is an incurred opportunity cost, quite frankly.

Once you understand that the spontaneous order of the market is superior to the central planning by bureaucracies simply because the only answer to the economic calculation problem is prices, then you can appreciate just how silly it was for C4CF to demand that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge be transferred from the federal government to the Oregonian government, instead of just privatizing the refuge by homesteading it permanently. Root-striking can be rather quite painful at times, for it shows just how ignorant, incompetent, or even disingenuous activists can be at times. Economic illiteracy can be cured, but a lust for power seldom can be.

What can be learned, if anything, from LaVoy Finicum’s actions? I think it’s more than fair to say that Finicum was a satyagrahan, in that he conducted his nonviolent struggle to the bitter end, for he never actually shot or otherwise harmed anyone else, now did he? Yet, he and the other C4CF members (including the Final Four) have been regularly demonized as “armed protestors,” despite the fact that all of the killing and violence was done by the police extortionists.

Another takeaway here are the dangers of collective-movementism tunneling one’s vision down certain avenues away from genuine private property rights issues (like the nuisance abatement in Costilla County during September & October of 2015) towards grandstanding reenactments of the Sagebrush Rebellion. If you think that’s unfair of me to say, then how do you explain the fate of C4CF? They garnered world-wide attention, yet they failed to accomplish their stated goals, and although a few of them were able to beat the rap, most of them plead guilty before trial, or were otherwise convicted on “lesser” charges, but still largely becoming felons in the process.

Last time I checked, the Hammonds are still incarcerated, and the Malheur refuge is still under the control of the federal government, despite C4CF’s efforts. Function determines form, means determine ends; how you go about doing something is just as important as (if not more so than) what said ends actually are. Today, there are more American political prisoners than there were before, so this is by no means like the strategic victory won at Bundy Ranch with a net gain, but rather, it is, at best, a Pyrrhic victory given that the lawfare and democide conducted by government was wonderfully exposed for the tyranny that it is, yet I have to ask, at what cost?

Some questions that I am unable to answer might be better taken up by those interested in doing their own follow-up. For instance:

  • What is the current status of the wrongful death lawsuit that Jeanette was pursuing? Is it still being litigated? If not, what was the result?
  • Where is the Finicum family living? What is the current status of their ranch? Did they have to pay the BLM thousands of dollars in fines? Remember, according to LaVoy, he owed them in excess of $6,400 for “trespass cattle.”
  • Was LaVoy’s Bible ever returned to Jeanette?

These and perhaps other questions may never be answered, but I figured it doesn’t hurt to list some of them here for ease of reference. Too many people conveniently forget about those who have fallen because the fallout takes time and meanwhile the news cycle marches on, doesn’t it? Much like American political prisoner Robert Beecher‘s own recent death earlier this month, most consumers of “news” frankly don’t give a crap unless content producers make it an issue through posting items on their RSS feeds.

Many folks within the patriot community originally received the impression that Finicum was some independent rancher this whole time, and now that has been brought into question. I recommend that people stop mythologizing publicly recognizable figures as if they were some Great Man archetype, by reminding themselves that instead of putting these individuals up as symbols, they instead ought to familiarize with them as men. If Ron Paul had his faults and foibles, then why should anyone else be held up to an impossible standard as if they were Olympian gods?


Postscript: Be sure to check out The Transcript Bibliography of LaVoy Finicum for all the 20+ speeches that LaVoy made publicly, as well as all the hyperlinks I added to those transcripts in order to provide better context.

The post Taking a Hard Stand: The Unauthorized Biography of LaVoy Finicum appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

The Land (1999)

By Kyle Rearden

Today’s article is a chapter within Brian Kelling’s 1999, Travel-Trailer Homesteading Under $5,000.” I figured that as part of an eventual article I’d like to write about strategic relocation, this background material would be useful from a historical perspective, if for no other practical reason. This republication of Kelling’s chapter is hereby done under the intention of Fair Use; no copyright infringement intended.

Choosing your land is probably your most important consideration, and there are many things to take into account.

For starters, where would you like to live? To me, this is the most important question.

Then, where can you afford to live? Where can you find a piece of suitable land for $2,500? You’ll need to be realistic about this.

Is the county unzoned? I highly recommend a county with no zoning, because then you can pretty much do what you want, and erect what you want. Taxes are usually cheaper, and there’s generally no one to enforce county regulations. So while you’re at it, check into whether or not there are any county regulations that would affect you (such as having a well or cistern, and a septic system in before you could occupy the land).

If the county is zone, how strict are they? Do they have a building inspector? Are mobile homes allowed?

How much are the taxes?

Are there any covenants on the property? Covenants to me are completely undesirable, although it is possible to live with some if they’re not too restrictive.

How far is it to town? With today’s gasoline prices, this can be a real factor in the total equation. However, part of that depends on how often you’ll be going to town.

Does the county maintain the road? (Assuming there is a road, that is.)

Can you get into that property in the winter? Do you have a four-wheel-drive? (And this is strongly recommended.)

What’s the climate like? Is there a lot of sun?

How far is it to water? How far to firewood?

Is the ground suitable for a septic system?

And here’s a big one: what will you do to support yourself after the homestead is in? Will you work? If so, where? Is the reception any good for cell phones? (If you’re planning on having a phone, that is).

Myself, I would start with the question of where you want to live. I’m talking about what region you’d like to live in. Say, the West, or the South, for instance. From there, narrow it down to a particular state. Then check around in the different areas of that state.

In my case, I knew exactly where I wanted to live. It was in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. I had already purchased a 5-acre tract in Alamosa County a few years back for a total of $2195. I paid $295 down and made monthly payments of $50 until it was paid off. I preferred to have the land – and everything else, for that matter – paid for, but you can sure make payments if you want to. It would substantially drop the initial amount you would need to get started from the $5,000 we are talking about in this book. But you have to be able to make the payments, and money is hard to make in small towns.

My taxes are $52 a year, and there is a building inspector to deal with, but I found him most reasonable.

For instance, mobile homes are allowed in Alamosa County, but travel trailers are not. However, my trailer is one of many. There are even a few buses. One guy I know built his entire house – complete with artesian well – without getting a single official permit. There’s even a straw bale house down the road a few miles.

Remember that building inspectors are powerful people in big cities, but that’s not usually the case in small towns (there are exceptions, however). I did eventually buy a building permit, to build a rock house, and this got him off my back. Also, by that time, I had my septic system installed, and that pacified him further.

Anyhow, I love the West, and particularly this part of Colorado. It’s sunny almost every day, the views are fantastic, the people are friendly, and land is pretty darned cheap.

Here’s a little bit about the place:

They say the San Luis Valley is the largest mountain valley in the whole world, roughly the size of Massachusetts. The Rocky Mountains run all the way around this valley, and the elevation here at the floor is quite high, 7,550′.

There are still some places available for $2,500, especially in Costilla County, where land is cheaper. It’s a favorite for homesteading, as are most of the farther-out places. Several years ago, I bought a 5 acre lot in Costilla County for $1,200, then turned around and sold it for $1,500. Recently, a realtor I met in town sold a 5 acre lot in Alamosa County for $500, and it’s in the artesian zone. Some area realtors, like at Fort Garland, for instance, deal in property that has piñon trees on it for somewhere around $35 down and $35 a month, but it’s real tough getting to it in the winter on rocky roads.

Kenneth Casey (he’s listed in the Albuquerque phone book) deals in Costilla County land. He sells it for $45 down and $45 a month. My brother bought one of his lots, and set up an $800 mobile home on it.

But wherever you but, check with the county it’s located in to make sure the land taxes are paid. Don’t take it for granted that the last owner paid them. It is possible for people to obtain land for back taxes, and you could be out of your money and a place to live (See section on tax lien properties later in this chapter.)

Naturally, with growth and the passage of time, some things have changed in the San Luis Valley. Costilla County – take note – is now recently zoned, as are most of the surrounding counties. Costilla County is in the process of trying to hire an enforcement officer – for at least permits, anyhow – but will never be able to enforce it everywhere. There are way too many homesteaders over there, in too large an area, for enforcement to be one hundred percent effective. Mainly, it depends on how visible your place is. But existing places were grandfathered in, anyhow.

Taxes in Costilla County are around $30 a year on a 5 acre tracts. Many people live in trailers, shacks, or buses, and even have outhouses (why, I can’t understand, when for the same cost of materials you can have a fully functional septic system – covered later in this book.)

There are several artesian wells in this area that are accessible to the public. One is on Highway 160, halfway to Alamosa, and other in Blanca, in Costilla County (it used to be the town well.) In addition, there are various others scattered here and there throughout the valley. These flow year-round, with good clean water, due to the large aquifer under a layer of clay beneath the valley floor. Actually, there are two aquifers – one under the clay, and one overtop of it. And the clay can be shallow or deep, from 10 feet to over 400 feet deep, depending on the location.

Under the pressure from water flowing underground from the mountains, a puncture of the clay (by a well) relieves pressure and yields a constant flow of water to the surface. It’s sort of like pricking a giant water balloon with a pin, only the stuff doesn’t squirt out.

But remember that you can’t get artesian water everywhere in the valley. For instance, at my place I can’t because the clay later is absent this close to the mountains, but I simply wanted to explain how the water flows constantly.

And you need a constant availability of water. The San Luis Valley only gets just over 7” of precipitation a year, so water collection is not really feasible as a main supply. Trying to drain a roof or other area for an exclusive water supply might be fine in places that get a lot of rain, but where, that would bring thirst in a hurry. If you employ gutters for water collection in a place like this, it will only be an augmentation at best – and with few exceptions, not much of an augmentation at that.

As far as heating, it is quite cold here in the winter, so everybody heats with wood. Me? I just stoke the wood stove and forget the temperature outside.

Her is the climatic data, courtesy of the National Weather Service:

The San Luis Valley is called the Land of Cool Sunshine, with the sun shining on average for over 320 days a year. So besides being excellent for solar power, I love it for the fact that to me sunshine contributes to a spirit of optimism.

The temperature rarely gets into the 90s, with 96 being the highest temperature ever recorded in the valley. If it gets to 90, you should hear the people complain. (I have fun telling them they don’t know what hot really is.)

We average 50 nights a year where the temperature gets below zero. Minus 10 is nothing. In the last four winters, I have seen it get to -30, once. The coldest temperature ever recorded was an even -50, but that in the 1940s. However, don’t let the cold scare you. When the sun comes up in the morning, it quickly warms things. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be 60 outside, but it warms up and is quite tolerable.

With the dry climate we have here – and the abundant sunshine – it also seems to be substantially warmer than it is. There’s none of that mushy wet cold like they have in Buffalo, N.Y.

Now remember, there are always two prices for land out West, and in many other areas, too. One is the tourist price, which is high. The other is the local price, which is lower, and the one you want.

There is also a similar situation with realtors. Most of them sell the high-dollar stuff, and won’t even mess with lower priced properties. But in nearly every area, there is always one realtor who more or less specializes in cheaper land, or at least sells it, and that’s the person you want to talk to.

In all land dealings, remember that money talks. I mean cash money. Many times, you can get land substantially cheaper if you’ve got cash to put on the barrelhead. I once bought a 5 acre piece in Costilla County for $1,200 cash, which at that time was about half of the going rate.

At any rate, no matter where you locate, choose your land with care. You’ll spend half your money on this purchase, and it can affect your happiness and economic situation for the future. Don’t rush into anything, because there really is plenty of land out there to choose from. Take your time. Look around. On the other hand, don’t pass up a perfect deal, either. Trust yourself; you’ll know it when you see it.

Notes on tax lien properties

Before you get excited about trying to get tax lien properties dirt cheap – and for the most part, they are – keep in mind that you usually don’t get the property. In most cases, the people eventually pay up, so usually all you get is your money back with interest.

Notice that I said “usually” in both of those sentences. There are some instances where you might actually get the property, and indeed, I myself have obtained a few lots this way. One of those lots adjoined my land and expanded my contiguous holdings by one-third, which was really nice. But getting that particular piece was really just a stroke of luck, and in my experience such things are the exception, not the rule.

In my view, a tax lien property is generally not desirable for homesteading. There are too many variables, and too many chances for it not to work out. It also takes too long to actually get title to the land. However, a tax lien property could be an alternative if you know that you won’t be homesteading for several years yet, and have the time to wait until you actually own it.

Each state has its own rules or laws about tax lien properties, and if you’re determine to pick up a piece of land this way, you’ll have to investigate them. It’s pretty easy to do this. If you have access to the Internet, look it up. Search under “tax liens, _____ county, _____ (state)”. Then, call the county clerk or county treasurer to confirm that the information you have is correct. If you can visit them in person, even better. This follow-up contact is important, because rules and laws do change. New Mexico, for instance, changed the way they conduct tax sales, and you’ll find both versions on the Internet. One way to correct and current; the other is outdated. What’s the difference? A couple of years on getting title (it’s actually much quicker now). So call them.

Note that some of your Internet search results will be non-government sites where, for a fee, they can “show you how” or “provide current tax lien listings.” Ignore these. They’re just trying to make money from something you can do yourself with a little investment of time.

Incidentally, I wouldn’t bother with an initial written inquiry about tax liens, because like everyone else these days, those county people are busy and may not get around to writing back. (I say this from personal experience.) It’s also possible that they know or are related to some of those people whose land is up for liens, and might not be overly happy about helping them to lose it.

Here’s how the tax lien process works in Colorado: At a set time of year, counties annual publish a lit of properties in the local newspaper that back-taxes are owed on. The size of the parcel, location, owner’s name and address, and amount owed are all shown. Notice is given that if the taxes aren’t paid by a certain date, the county will hold a tax lien sale.

At that sale, people show up to “buy” tax liens. Basically, if you purchase a lien, and then pay the next two or three years of back taxes as they come due (there’s a mysterious way they come up with that figure, too), you can then apply for title to the property. Then, you pay some more, wait some more, and eventually, there’s a small chance that you just might get lucky.

But normally, you don’t get lucky. Most people redeem their property by paying the taxes plus certain fees. When that happens, the county sends you written notification canceling your lien, and also your money back, with interest. (The interest, by the way, is pretty decent. It’s something like 9 percent above the prime rate, or thereabouts.)

If you do get lucky, here’s how it goes. It takes at least three years of paying the back taxes before you can apply for title. At that time, you have to cough up an additional $400 to $800 or more to get the process moving (this is for the county’s attempts at owner notification, advertising in the paper, etc.). During this time, the person can redeem at any opportunity, right up until the very day before the county issues you a deed.

If you get the land, the deed the county issues will be a Treasurer’s Deed, not the more common Warranty Deed. This means, of course, that the county will not warrant the property to be free of all liens or “encumbrances.” No realtor would buy the land from you, if you ever wanted to sell (except maybe for pennies on the dollar), unless you had first done a Quiet Title Action in court. Cost: $2,000 or more.

Even if you are successful, you still won’t have completely clear title for 9 years, because of the antiquated Sailors and Miners Act. The reasoning goes that a person might have been away at sea or working in the mines for a number of years – they picked the number 9, for some reason – and not been notified that they were losing their property. This Act outdated, of course – just like the open range law in Colorado where you have to fence your property if you want to keep somebody else’s cows out – but that’s the way it is.

Assuming that you get title but don’t do a Quiet Title Action, know that at any time during the 9 year period, the person the land was taken from could come back to you and take you to court if they have some kind of valid claim. They probably won’t, but they could. Likely, this would depend on having a substantial claim, and also how much the land is worth. Once in court, the burden is on you to prove that the county did everything right, legally, in taking away that person’s property (let’s hope that they did.)

Should you get a parcel this way, and you sell it to somebody before 9 years has passed, and if the original owner comes back on you with a legitimate claim, you can then expect to be sued by the person you sold it to.

Some fun, huh? I recommend staying away from tax lien properties as a place to live. I think it’s actually easier to buy land the regular way. Then it’s yours, free and clear, with no worries.

Now, back to those tax lien sales. If you do go to a tax lien sale, there will be several kinds of people there. Some will be just like you, others are doing it on a lark, and then there will be those who fancy themselves as investors.

The investor types typically choose city properties with houses, because they know that sooner or later, somebody is going to pay those taxes rather than lose their home. Investor types figure that’s where the money is, so that’s what they buy. It’s sort of funny to watch these people, because they actually bid against each other for those particular liens. And any bid above the amount of taxes due is money that does not come back to you if the owner redeems. It’s simply gone.

Don’t bid, because bidding, at least in Colorado, is not necessary at all. Neither is waiting for a tax sale. In casual conversation with the county treasurer one day, I found out that you don’t have to wait for the tax lien sale to purchase a lien on any outstanding tax-due property. She said that all I had to do was come down during any normal working hours and go through the book of tax-due properties, pick one or more that I liked, and pay the money. So from then on, that’s exactly what I did, and never attended any more sales.

My aim was not to invest, anyway. It was to pick the outlying pieces, and cheap ones at that, that I was most likely to get because it wasn’t worth much to begin with and the owner lived out of state. I really believe it increased my chances.

Now, having tried to discourage you from getting a tax lien property, I would say that there may be instances where you could use a piece for homesteading that you obtained this way. Note that simply holding a tax lien does not mean it’s your property. Nor dies it give you any property rights whatsoever. Until you have a Treasurer’s Deed in hand, all you have is a lien, and that property still belongs to someone else. If you set foot onto it, you’re actually trespassing.

As for me, there is only one instance in which I would ever live on a tax lien property. That would be if I had a Treasurer’s Deed in hand and nowhere else to go. In other words, if I had title, and had to live on it. But that’s something you would have to decide for yourself.

Another note: By now, you have all seen some supposedly rich person on a television infomercial explaining how you, too, can become rich by buying tax lien properties and reselling them. This process is portrayed as being quick and easy – almost nothing to it, or so it would seem – and very little money is needed to get started. So if you’ll just send them $250 or so, they’ll be happy to let you in on the Big Secret and mail you the coveted information that can transform your life.

Now I’m not saying it can’t be done. But ask yourself why a millionaire would need $250 from you. Then ask yourself why a millionaire would want to let in on his secret to wealth. However, having said that, I think it might be possible to supplement your income by investing in tax lien certificates. Of course, this is assuming you have some extra money you can part with, which most homesteaders don’t. But I did it myself for a few years, and it brought in a few bucks here and there. Surprisingly, I actually ended up with some of the property. But it almost broke me, because I didn’t expect to get the property – only my money back with interest. When the people didn’t pay up to redeem it, I was stuck with having to pay for title to those pieces. I got it done, but it was sure hard on my budget at that time.

Remember, there is no guarantee when you’ll get your money back from tax liens. It could come at any time, from a matter of two weeks to three years or more. I say more because you might end up getting the property, in which case your money will come back to you years later when you sell it.

So here again, I would urge you to buy a piece of property the regular way. That way it’s yours, and no worries.

The post The Land (1999) appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

How Nonviolent Struggle Works?

By Kyle Rearden

“People who have held public positions during peace time should not be recruited for the [civilian] resistance movement. It is likely that these individuals will be arrested and subjected to brain washing. They should have no knowledge of the resistance movement, so your organization will not be compromised, nor lose members. Make sure this ‘basic rule of recruitment’ is well known, even to the enemy. Thus you can protect these valuable and courageous people to some degree since the enemy is aware of this policy, his interest in them will diminish. Examples of members unsuitable for the resistance movement are: prominent politicians both active or retired; leading economists, editors, professors, important administration officials. All these persons are too well known to participate in the ‘underground movement.’ They certainly will be shadowed, will be arrested sooner or later, or even executed. For them it is best to join guerrilla units.”

Major H. von Dach Bern

Satyagraha, simply defined, is using the force of truth alone in convincing opponents the righteousness of one’s cause. Often, suffering is inflicted upon practitioners of satyagraha by their enemies, yet their modus operandi is to stand firm until a mutually agreeable solution is negotiated. There is an assumption at work here that by reaching the conscience of one’s oppressors, satyagrahans are able to persuade them to remedy their grievances because there is, presumably, a limit to how many times, and how severely, each individual has within himself to hurt another man, face-to-face (of course, satyagraha assumes that oppressors have consciences worth appealing to in the first place).

A political scientist known as Gene Sharp has studied so-called “nonviolent struggle” in the attempt to not only comprehend it, but also to gauge its efficacy. Unfortunately, I’m left with the impression that satyagraha has a mean time to harassment (MTH) of exactly zero, because the whole idea of nonviolent struggle is to confront the State directly, as if nonviolent struggle were nothing more than a suicide pact. It’s almost as if satyagrahans throw themselves upon the gears of the State just to end up as nothing more than a pasty mush.

Sharp’s entire book appears to be collective-movementism on steroids, frankly. Considering the very existentiality of disingenuous activists and their fake grievances, it is merited to ask the quite uncomfortable question of, is there more to politics that pure spectacle? Generally speaking, I don’t mindlessly trust so-called “activists” farther than I can throw them, yet much like the politicians they appear to emulate, activists themselves are reminiscent of broken clocks, which by nature are correct twice a day.

Right from the get go, Sharp has an odd conception of force versus consent. He wrote:

“In summary, the power of rulers is dependent upon the availability of its several sources. This availability is determined by the degree of obedience and cooperation given by the subjects. Despite inducements, pressures, and even sanctions, such obedience and cooperation are, however, not inevitable. Obedience remains essentially voluntary. Therefore, all government is based upon consent.”

Although I will concede to Sharp that the decision to engage in civil disobedience versus carefully calculated submission is self-evident of free will, I fear he has committed a non sequitur here by implying that said obedience to the State legitimizes it, and that therefore institutionalized coercion is somehow voluntary. Imagine, if you will, had Sharp used this same line of fallacious reasoning to explain why a raped woman eventually “consented” to a rapist because she figured that if she didn’t struggle against him while he held a knife to her throat, then maybe he’d choose to let her live once he finished raping her; such a crime as rape is not legitimized as being consensual or voluntary simply because the victim “chose” to take the path of least resistance currently available, particularly given that her survivability was in doubt. He also wrote:

“This does not mean that the subjects of all rulers prefer the established order. They may consent because they positively approve of it. But they may also consent because they are unwilling to pay the price for the refusal of consent. Refusal requires self-confidence, motivation to resist, and may involve considerable inconvenience and suffering. The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is, to a large degree, a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them.”

Again, I will partially agree with Sharp that refusing consent ought to be a matter of course for dissidents, yet what constitutes the consent of the governed? Am I still expected by the State to obey the laws and pay the taxes despite the fact that I have canceled my voter registration back in 2013? Truth be told, the State, as an oxymoronic expropriating property protector, is already dialogically estopped (as the rapist is), so Sharp’s misconstruing of obedience is highly problematic.

So, what is all this talk of so-called “nonviolence” all about, anyway? Sharp explains that:

“Nonviolent action is a generic term covering dozens of specific methods of protest, noncooperation, and intervention, in all of which the resisters conduct the conflict by doing – or refusing to do – certain things without using physical violence. As a technique, therefore, nonviolent action is not passive. It is not inaction. It is action that is nonviolent.”

Ah, crap – there’s protesting, yet again; also, wouldn’t “noncooperation” be what’s encouraged when folks role-play police interrogations as part of good security culture? Anyway, Sharp continues:

“Extensive use of nonviolent action has occurred despite the absence of attention to the development of the technique itself…[i]t has usually been practiced under highly unfavorable conditions and with a lack of experienced participants or even experienced leaders…[t]he people using it have usually had little real understanding of the nature of the technique which they sought to wield and were largely ignorant of history…[u]nder such conditions it is not surprising that there have often been defeats or only partial victories, or that violence has sometimes erupted…[w]ith such handicaps, it is amazing that the practice of the technique has been as widespread, successful, and orderly as it has.”

This is rather quite revealing, for Sharp admits here that the satyagrahans are, for the most part, largely incompetent. Combined with the lack of genuine empathy by their opponents (for having a conscience would presumably require a capacity for even a tiny bit of empathy), doesn’t this all kind of suggest that satyagraha is great if you already have a serious death wish and you’d like to go out in a blaze of martyrdom? All sarcasm aside, I’m actually quite petrified that most “activists” I’ve noticed take nonviolent struggle seriously at all, because it seems to be a recipe for failure. Sharp describes that:

“In general, quality is more important that quantity. Lowered standards to obtain large numbers can be counterproductive, and lead to a weaker and smaller movement. High standards of nonviolent behavior are very important to produce a strong movement in both quality and quantity.”

Wait a damn minute – if quantity is less important that quality, then you don’t have much of a cultural bowel movement, do you? Isn’t the whole idea to garner numbers (that is, critical mass) so that you can inexplicably remedy your grievances someday, somewhere, somehow? My God, it’s almost as if nonviolent struggle was weaved out of whole cloth by an idiot, much like the idea of government itself.

Are there any redeeming or even insightful qualities of nonviolent struggle? Sharp details that:

“Strategy is at least as important as nonviolent action as it is in military action. It is important to choose the course of action and carry it out carefully and intelligently. It is quite inadequate simply to say that one will be moral and do what is right. There may be several courses of action which are all morally ‘right.’ What is ‘right’ may involve maintaining or creating maximum opposition to ‘evil.’ If so, the problem is how to do this in order to meet one’s moral responsibility and maximize the effects of one’s actions. Those actions must be carefully chosen and carried out at the right time.”

Couldn’t Sharp just apply praxeology to satyagraha in order to gauge whether it’s worth anything? Oh, wait, that’s right – had he done that, then there’d no point in examining case study after case study at the Albert Einstein Institute, wouldn’t there? Besides mentioning and quoting B.H. Liddell Hart occasionally, I don’t think Sharp’s advocacy for democracy is strategic at all, for he also wrote:

“The effect of surprise in war is the incapability of the opponents to react effectively. In nonviolent struggle this incapability is produced not by secrecy but instead by the nonviolent resisters’ reliance on nonviolent means. At times, surprise in nonviolent action may weaken its effectiveness. Open announcement of the intention to use nonviolent methods may reduce nervousness among troops, make more severe repression less probable, and increase the chances of inducing disaffection.”

If I earned a silver coin for every time I’ve heard “activists” brag about how they were gonna go do something “nonviolently” and then watch the footage as the police mercilessly beat them into submission, I’d have enough capital in sound money to 100% back my own private currency in paper cash. This is ridiculous on its face, never mind how untrue it is against the light of experience, for all you have to do is look at the Bush, Jr. era anti-war marches, the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, or even the 2016 Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF) sit-in at the Malheur Refuge – absolutely none of them were able to accomplish their stated goals, not dissimilar from your average government programs! For a more disturbing explanation of nonviolent struggle, consider the following:

“The informed resister in crisis situations is not surprised by the occurrence of brutalities against the nonviolent group. In reaction, either to halt the defiance or to resort to violence would have serious negative consequences. To be effective, the resisters must persist through the brutalities and suffering and maintain their fearlessness, nonviolent discipline, and firmness. Some time and considerable suffering may be required to demonstrate to the opponents that brutalities will not crush the movement.”

Now, it’s makes more sense – satyagrahans are little more than punching bags for the State! Well, at that point, wouldn’t the American political prisoners be the ideal practitioners of satyagraha? Continuing on:

“Nonviolent resisters who know what they are doing will not be surprised at the repression inflicted by the opponents. Freedom is not free. There is a price to be paid…[b]rutalities may be also reduced when it is clear that repression is rebounding against the opponents’ position by alienating their supporters and provoking increased resistance. When this occurs, the opponents may realize that their repression and brutalities are counterproductive and need to be restricted. It is possible that the worst repression may come shortly before capitulation by the opponents….[t]here is suggestive evidence that the maintenance of nonviolent discipline in face of repression tends significantly to restrict the repression and to cause especially difficult problems for the opponents.” [emphasis added]

This isn’t even true, for increased brutalities without consequences, if anything, emboldens the oppressors to be even more cruel than they were before, simply because they can get away with it due to the fact that the pacifists won’t a lift a finger to protect their own people. Such defenselessness being somehow persuasive is just not that convincing, unless the real goal is to serve up grist for the mill; in other words, provide disposable fodder for the news cycle. I truly wonder how many “activists” are also shareholders (or otherwise directly work for such shareholders) in mainstream media corporations whose stock increases in value every time there’s a sensationalistic “news” story that’s covered that they themselves instigated? Controlled opposition, much?

Don’t worry, for there’s even more facepalm worthy moments in Sharp’s book worth pointing out and commenting on! He explains that:

“The participants in the struggle need to feel constantly that they are part of a much larger movement which gives them, personally, support and strength to carry on. They need to feel that others are in continuing solidarity with them. To these ends, regular contacts and demonstrations of ‘togetherness’ can be important. These may include mass meetings, marches, songs, parades, and wearing of symbols of unity. It may help if they share a common philosophy and if they keep the lines of communication open among activists, leaders, and support groups.”

Collective-movementism, much? Trudging onward:

“The opponents may even try to provoke violence and break down the resisters nonviolent discipline. Resistance violence is seen to ‘legitimize’ violent repression. The opponents may provoke violence by very severe repression, or they may employ spies and agents provocateurs. If it is publicly revealed that the opponents have acted in these ways, the news could disastrously undermine some of their usual support and power position.”

I wish Sharp went into more detail on this, because arguably the number one issue in preventing constructive “change” in the world today are the secret police. Honestly, I think Vortex: The Threat That Keeps Us Apart deals better with this problem by advocating ostracism, which may or may not involve public exposure, given that such public exposure of informants (for example) really only matters if the public gives a damn about living in a police state in the first place, for if they truly don’t, then such open-source intelligence is largely an exercise in screaming bloody murder at a deaf wall. Sharp continues:

“The introduction of violence into a nonviolent struggle movement may weaken nonviolent discipline, contribute to a shift to violence, and even lead to the collapse of the movement. The use of violence by the grievance group tends to unleash disproportionately severe repression by the opponents and to reverse any sympathy for the resisters which may be developing inside the opponent group.”

Really, Mr. Sharp? If anything, “movements” collapsing were largely due to satyagraha itself failing to persuade opponents to much of anything, since there was no sense of empathy worth appealing to in the first place, largely because they’re just too far gone towards being inhuman; it’s like trying to rationalize ethics to a robot – it’s already a failure before you even begin talking.

More importantly, Sharp is consistently dodging the issue how one is supposed to get funding for such nonviolent struggles. If it is true that revolutions are incredibly expensive, then why would nonviolent struggles be any cheaper? In other words, whose bankrolling this stuff?

Further distinctions are made by Sharp as to what is nonviolent struggle as well as what it is not. He wrote:

“Sabotage – defined for this discussion as ‘acts of demolition and destruction of property’ – is not compatible with nonviolent struggle…[o]ne additional way of slipping into violence occurs when resisters prepare to use violence in some possible future situation. Such preparations constitute a great temptation actually to use violence, especially at a crisis point when limited violence has already occurred.”

Well, no shit, Sherlock…it’s obvious that monkey-wrenching is a use of force, and therefore not pacifistic like satyagraha. Revealingly, Sharp explains that:

“Political jiu-jitsu operates basically by the opponents’ violent repression against nonviolent resisters alienating support from the opponents. This can result in the growth of internal opposition among the opponents’ usual supporters, an increase in power of the resistance movement, and the turning of the third parties against the opponents…[n]onviolent discipline combined with persistence against violent repression causes the adversaries’ repression to be exposed in the worst possible light. This, in turn, may lead to shifts in opinion and then to shifts in power relationships favorable to the nonviolent group. These shifts occur as support for the opponents is withdrawn while support for the nonviolent group is strengthened. The resisters’ nonviolence helps the opponents’ repression to throw them off balance politically.”

This claim is blatantly untrue, simply because that mere exposure of oppressor’s violent repression seldom turns public opinion against them. When was the last time statists flipped sides during a protest and sided with the protesters once the riot cops started kettling and/or baton charges? It doesn’t happen, at least not here in America; culturally, Americans are a historically stubborn people, whether for good or for ill. This doesn’t deter Sharp at all, for he also said:

“Repression against nonviolent resisters may attract wide attention to the struggle and strong sympathy for the suffering nonviolent group. It obliges the opponents to condescend to explain, to justify themselves. Thereby the claims of the physically weak resisters are now heard in the court of public opinion, perhaps world opinion.”

If true, then how do you explain C4CF? They garnered world-wide attention, yet they failed to accomplish their goals, and although a few of them were able to beat the rap, most of them plead guilty before trial, or were otherwise convicted on “lesser” charges, but still largely becoming felons in the process. Just repeating the same talking points, Mr. Sharp, doesn’t make it empirically true (unless you believe Joseph Goebbels). The truth of the matter is that the American people (collectively speaking) by and large do not support “activism” unless it’s political crusading, period. Additionally, Sharp writes that:

“Experience in using nonviolent action tends to increase the degree of fearlessness among the resisters…[b]y learning that they can remain firm in face of repression, they can gain a sense of being liberated from fear. Suffering is seen as serving the cause. The loss of fear of the opponents’ sanctions makes one of the opponents’ major sources of power ineffective. This will not only weaken that system but enhance the ability of those people to remain free of oppression.” [emphasis added]

Ah, so the price of freedom (“freedom isn’t free – there is a price to be paid”) is suffering, then? And so, satyagraha facilitates said suffering in the vain hope that freedom can be won without a shot being fired, even if you happen to incur the legal handicap of becoming a felon, which can never be erased? Isn’t this just a recipe for disaster? Let’s continue on:

“The effectiveness of nonviolent action is increased when the resisters and the general grievance group possess a high degree of internal unity. Violence usually excludes some people because of age, gender, physical condition, beliefs, or distaste. However, nonviolent action seems to contribute to internal unity better than violence, and attracts participation of wider and more heterogeneous groups than does violence.”

Yet again, notice the collective-movementism (yawn-fest special). At most, this might be true if you believe that most individuals are pacifists. Finally, there is:

“Nonviolent action, in contrast, appears to have different long-term effects on the distribution of power within the society. It does not have the centralizing effects of violence. It increases the potential for greater popular control. Therefore, people are likely to enjoy greater freedom and, consequently, less dictatorship and greater democracy.”

What’s his evidence for this claim? This seems to be an unsupported assertion, which appears to me to be more akin to the wistful musings of someone who has no appreciation for the private property ethic (hence, democracy).

Gene Sharp’s How Nonviolent Struggle Works is a literary work that serves as one big attempt at an unconvincing justification for protesting, plain and simple. The book ends by saying that:

“The future uses and effectiveness of nonviolent struggle depend upon our gaining increased knowledge of its nature. We also need to deepen our skills in applying this technique to meet major social and political needs. Increased understanding of this option needs to be spread throughout the society. Additionally, greater strategic acumen and capacities in using nonviolent action in actual conflicts are required.”

Yeah, that’s actually quite an understatement, given the glaring incompetency of “activists” themselves. Frankly, I think Sharp ought to watch protest footage, like the recent antifa “activists” blocking traffic in and around the Portland, Oregon metro area, which infringes on an individual’s right to travel. Personally, I think an alleged dichotomy between satyagraha and revolution is a false one, for a more accurate market selection of libertarian resistance to statism would range from agorism to vigilantism, quite frankly.

The post How Nonviolent Struggle Works? appeared first on The Last Bastille Blog.

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