When Will the Media Admit …

Nobody asked but …

Some wishful thinker the other day, on Facebook, wondered in a post “When will the media admit … [blah blah blah]?”  The answer is … NEVER.  “The media” is not a sentient being.  In fact, the media can be relied upon to go for the lowest common denominator.  It is the height of foolishness to expect any such formless blob to save us from another formless blob, politics.  In another column, I stated my belief that out of 45 instances of POTUS, we have had exactly 0 (zero) who could be counted a success.  As impossible as it would be to have an admirable POTUS, it is even more impossible that the ink-stained wretches would save us from a single bad president.

The current installment of POTUS is merely a continuation of a long line of jackasses.  This is a situation that is entirely consistent with the statist glories of every other civilization that has risen and fallen (taking their roads with them).  Checks and balances — Phooey!  Rather than checks and balances, the inevitable force is impermanence.  And the politicians and the pundits are the agents of social erosion.

— Kilgore Forelle

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In the Grain

Nobody asked but …

As has been made clear by countless libertarian sages, there are only two classes — the first seeks freedom and the second wants to intervene in that search for freedom.  I have been listening to an old set of podcasts from the Mises Institute’s The Libertarian Tradition, presented by Jeff Riggenbach. In one episode, Jeff points out that European civilization in the North American new world was founded by two distinct types of adventurer, the first sought freedom from the old order, while the second sought to impose a new order.  We Americans, as a people have been in fundamental conflict ever since.  Riggenbach says it is the instance of individualists versus the zealots.  Individualists make their own goals, take their own actions, and accept all responsibility for the consequences of those actions.  Zealots want to dictate your goals, command your actions, blame you for consequences, and blur the lines of responsibility.

Throughout the history of society, there have been struggles for the collectivization of individualists.  But in the new land that would become the USA, the battle lines were far more clearly drawn among those who would colonize America, those who would seek freedom according to individual codes against those who would create new empires modeled upon the old empires.

A libertarian/voluntaryist/individualist/anarchist always looks for the simplest rule of thumb by which to gauge the self’s deeds with regard to consistency of principle.  Let me suggest the question, am I doing a thing that is my business, or am I doing a thing that will shape somebody else’s business?

— Kilgore Forelle

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Rurality/Urbanity

Nobody asked but …

It is a voluntaryist’s decision to live in town or in the country, even on-the-grid or off-the-grid.  I, for instance, live at the edge of the grid.  But these things are in constant flux.  From the 19th century until the mid-20th century, in America, there was a vast migration of people from the farm to the city.  Then, in the 1950s, a new direction arose, spanning into the millennium, where people fled the center city, creating suburbs, which in turn became satellite urban areas,  And gradually, these urban agglomerations became the center city again, in character.  As an example, Chicago became Chicagoland.

All of this activity is underlain by an individual-by-individual seeking of simplicity, escaping from complexity.

The two poles, rural or urban, have existed since early civilization, with each having a pull.  People each choose the complexity of the marketplace that he or she will tolerate.  A person will gravitate toward a level of simplicity/complexity that gives her the optimum lack of unease.  People orient themselves through market choices.  The city attracts through multiplicity of choices of goods and services, whereas the countryside beckons with the choice of task focus.

Today, in America, it is obvious that goods and services exert a far greater pull on a far larger number of people, therefore we are an urban nation.  But we are past the point where the city pulls at its maximum.  Technology is spreading the market choices with less and less regard to geographic location of the buyers and sellers.  Concentrated nodes of transportation and communication are becoming less needed.

— Kilgore Forelle

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With Wilson in the Wilderness

I’ve mentioned the business “Wilson” had which was shut down by government meddling. Well, due to our similar interests in that area he and I used to hike in the wilderness area outside of town. He wore a camo army jacket with cargo pants and army boots and I wore my buckskin clothes and mocassins– in other words, I didn’t dress any differently than normal for the hike, although I did carry extra gear.

Most people find me a frustrating person to hike with– one former wife said I don’t hike, I wander aimlessly from spot to spot. But Wilson seemed OK with it.

Those hikes gave us chances to hone some of our less-critical survival skills. We had to cross racing, ice-cold rivers on foot going in and coming out– during the spring melt that was pretty exciting. We sometimes encountered serious mud traps. We nibbled on various plants, tracked animals, watched game, and met whatever other necessity cropped up for us to tackle.

Until we’d get a long ways down the trail, when we used the trails, we would also encounter the occasional hiker or two. When I’m out wandering like that, I tend to go a bit psychologically feral. When that happens I usually don’t like encountering other people, so when we’d hear someone crashing noisily down the trail– and that’s what they all did– we would step off the trail, sit and wait for them to pass.

When we did this we were never noticed. Not once. We especially enjoyed seeing the female hikers pass, but we never spoke to them. We didn’t want to get pepper sprayed as a result of trying to be polite.

We were never more than a few feet off the path. Not hidden. Just sitting still and silent. I suspect people don’t like to suddenly notice you under those circumstances.

Once, however, I was in the open, sitting on a boulder in an open area in plain sight, and still just about scared a hiker’s dog to death when I said “Hi” as he came to sniff the rock. That time I was seen, but I wasn’t trying to not be.

Needless to say, Wilson and I were not very impressed with people’s observational skills. Of course, who’s to say we didn’t miss people doing the same as we hiked past. We were a lot quieter than others, though; while most of them never stopped talking, we rarely spoke. And we saw a lot of deer quietly watching us pass. But who knows.

Of all the Wilson stories, these were the times I enjoyed hanging out with him the most. It was always hard for me to turn around and come back to “civilization”. But that’s always been the hardest part for me.

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Social Events No Place For Politics

In spite of how libertarianism is often portrayed, it’s not a middle ground between conservatism and progressivism. It’s not even on the scale with those positions. But during social gatherings libertarians can be a neutral zone between conservative and liberal disagreement.

The silliness of the political right and left is clear to libertarians, yet we have common ground with each, on those few issues where they still support individual liberty. Progressives and conservatives are more similar to each other than they’ll admit. Why should they fight over the minor details on which they disagree?

Cousin Xander might believe government should do something which Cousin Yolanda opposes, while Yolanda wants government to do something Xander feels would be the end of civilization. The libertarian in the room knows that neither cousin’s wish excuses government violence. Pointing this out can distract the factions from being at each other’s throats by giving them a common enemy.

Expressing skepticism about the importance of the issue they value enough to fight over can make them unite against you.

Grandpa Al and Grandpa Bill may revere different presidents and hate the presidents revered by the other. Their libertarian grandkid can see the flaws of both politicians and the ridiculousness inherent in the office of president. To explain there’s no substantive difference between their respective heroes is a sure way to help them forget their disagreement with each other for a moment.

Once you understand that all politics is the search to justify government violence against those who are looking for an excuse to use government violence against you, it’s easy to see why politics doesn’t belong in society. It also helps you understand why those who are arguing aren’t nearly as different as they imagine.

If you find yourself under the boot of government violence you won’t care whether it’s a right boot or a left boot. Libertarians decry the boot while progressives and conservatives argue over which foot ought to be wearing it. Consistent libertarianism is non-political, which is why the Libertarian Party — being political — has such a hard time gaining traction among libertarians.

Personally, I don’t think social occasions are any place for politics. Yet politics will crop up in the most devious ways and in the least appropriate places. Having a libertarian in the mix helps unite all the pro-government people against the one who can’t embrace their government extremism. It’s our sacrifice for the cause of world peace. Happy New Year!

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Always Be Prepared (To Engage In Trade)

Today my friends and I hiked through mud and rocks and falling ice to get to the top of Blood Mountain. It was at the same time a lovely hike and a hairy one.

We expected to get to the top and eat our bagged lunches. What we didn’t expect to find at the top was an economy.

For the low price of three oranges, I managed (at the top of a mountain without any electricity or plumbing) to get a cup of hot chocolate from a resourceful boy scout with a portable water boiler.

Luxury.

There was something beautiful about this trade, perhaps because neither of us probably expected to be bartering that day. The simple beauty of trade was clear: I was delighted and surprised to be getting a hot chocolate, and he was delighted and surprised to be getting three mandarin oranges.

We met and parted on great terms – and on this mountain we traded as free men, without any park rangers taking a cut or interposing barter rules. In this unusual environment, we may also have learned to bring the trading mindset to more areas of our life. If I hadn’t thought to propose barter, we might both have left poorer, both in terms of food and in terms of human connection.

By trading, we performed one of the most profound acts of civilization in an uncivilized place. And in the act of trading my bit of civilization (oranges) for his (hot chocolate), we both gained civilization.

The moral of the story? Always be prepared to trade. You don’t just get hot chocolate out of it. You create value for your trading partner, pleasant human interactions for yourself, and all kinds of potential for how you and he/she might use your traded resources better.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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