The first is the typical sky-is-falling-bernanke-will-eat-your-babies-carbs-kill-unicorns-i-hate-the-verizon-can-you-hear-me-now-guy-and-flouride-is-destroying-our-precious-bodily-fluids-!!!!111oneone.
If you believe a financial apocalypse will occur and/or there is a “revolution” that somehow magically “restarts” civilization, this is your wager:
|Financial collapse happens||Collapse does not happen|
|Belief||You are a Pyrrhic King until the division of labor breaks down and you resort to cannibalism; you can’t buy anything with your gold because no one makes anything — and those that could, you just ate.||You physically look like a disheveled beach bum and Google cache makes your crankery permanent (-1 Reproduction sweepstakes)|
|Disbelief||You dine and die with the lot of them, first eating the gizzards of sloth-like Pyrrhic Kings whose gold cache(s) are inedible and weigh them down.||You are the life of the party, people enjoy being with you in part because you do not smell or look like a caveman (+1 Reproduction sweepstakes)|
The second wager below is an illustrative rebuttal to the above self-delusional, self-defeating, borderline-anti-capitalistic, eschatological fantasy. The hero of this story is the entrepreneur who tries either way.
Go get ‘em tiger:
|Entrepreneurship creates wealth — rain or shine||Entrepreneurship mysteriously fails to create wealth|
|Belief||You retire comfortably after creating multiple streams of income and do not need to peddle affiliate newsletters, colloidal silver recipes and Truther conspiracies to stay alive.||Your CV looks good and you know what not to do in the future. Civilization collapses because economic calculation – coordinated by markets and entrepreneurs – is mysteriously impossible.|
|Disbelief||Other entrepreneurs around you generate wealth, creating a wealthier, healthier and cleaner world. The positive spillover effect pulls you up from your living-in-the-basement-bootstraps.||You have no job skills, no people skills and no assets. No one wants to reproduce with you. But it does not matter – entrepreneurs and markets are mysteriously unable to calculate – and thus civilization cannot grow from beyond a Hobbesian stone age.|
The point of this carnal, non-supernatural exercise is clear, that no matter what happens,there is no net negative consequences for promoting entrepreneurship or partaking in it yourself.
To use a sport analogy, why be a fair weather capitalist?
If capitalism and markets can outproduce state consumption, why not promote libertarianism and entrepreneurship? Why wait around until “just the perfect political atmosphere” is created? Why wait until there is no more government debt? Why wait until the stars are aligned just right? Why wait until after a collapse or after a “revolution?”
Voltaire had a germane quote, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” or in English, the best is the enemy of the good.
To counter some of the comments noted above, regular readers know how bearish I can be about the tech sector and capital formation, but that does not mean there are still no growth opportunities. You just have to be open to new ways of doing business, even if the conditions are not ideal, perfect or “the best.”
Every country has lots of debt — even China (1 2 3 4) — how does that preclude you from being a good, small time entrepreneur or finding good SME’s to invest in? Angel investors like Ron Conway manage to keep on trucking in this environment. He must be a state-monger right?
Also, think for a moment, how many RSS feeds and websites you visit each week that solely focus on doom, reckoning and gloom? Don’t you think these contribute to overall incestuous-depression-the-end-is-nigh-groupthink? Do you read as many hours about how to start your own company as you do on how to cure your apocaholic habit? Do you drown your emo sorrows with misery, the loving companion?
While I have distanced myself over the past several years from most aspects of the libertarian “movement” — from recent top stories on thought-leader blogs and websites it seems as if the libertarian movement has almost become a poverty movement. Where are the motivational stories to become another Peter Thiel?
Our hero is supposed to be the entrepreneur, yet so many of the revolution-addicts are angry bums that believe they are somehow defeating the state, by not participating in the economy. By dropping out and making a subsistence income. How is that starving the state?
To use a cliche ’90s phrase, such curmudgeons are a tool. Don’t be a tool.
So are many of these boisterous paper tigers, continuously talking about “collapse” for years on end. Talk is cheap. Excuses are infinite. Suck it up and go out and walk the walk, create a “revolution” by inventing the physical future. You don’t have to be Steve Jobs, but think about this: SOPA. Google was able to help kill it in one day and it doesn’t even “own” a seat in Congress. It did more in one day than most Congresspersons can do in a decade. And assuming you don’t buy Bryan Caplan’s irrational voter theory, perhaps you’ll give Ferguson’s investment theory another look.
In contrast, all of this preparation for a financial Armageddon, is akin to believing you are special and the time you live in are special. Unique, yes, but not special. The odds of another large-scale peaceful revolution working like the Velvet revolution or the peaceful transition in Apartheid South Africa, in my opinion are low. The odds that a libertarian-order will rise out of a “revolution,” in my opinion, are even lower. Why would everyone who used to benefit from state largess magically wake up one day and want to use commodities like gold and immediately cherish libertarian values (e.g., NAP)?
I think it is silly and counterproductive to talk about “revolution” in most contemporary First World political movements. I think peace should be preached and one of the easiest peaceful ways for change is to educate individuals and/or become so affluent you can invent the future and perhaps build your own homesteads elsewhere (e.g., seasteading, brainsteading).
I think those advocating a Jeffersonian “revolution” have no clue what that would all entail after the first month, plus they would probably lose.
Either way, I think Robert E. Lee’s old quote is also instructive: “It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.” Substitute “revolution” for “war” for the 21st century First World analog. You think “the enemies” guns stop working after a hypothetical financial collapse? Think your bars of gold will instantly turn sewage into drinkable water?
I think this election cycle – and in particular various vocal members of the Tea Party – have inadvertently inspired a group of martyrs, willing to impart physical harm in some pseudo-religious, fatalistic fantasy for an end-game that would somehow be “freedom” incarnate. Freedom sounds great on TV, it is like babies — it is the ultimate soundbite (“my opponent hates freedom,” “my opponent hates babies”) — but how can you actually achieve that?
One conceivable way agorism and/or ancapism could come into being peacefully is by literally out-inventing, out-innovating, out-producing the state so much that state intervention is entirely marginalized and/or you physically create a new landmass (… or move to another planet).
Whether or not this is attainable is certainly up for debate. Though, I think it is a complete waste of time and actually counterproductive to do what some libertarians are try to do via the political process that has achieved little in the way of measurable results in the past four decades.
Instead, if they refocused their energies and capital on physically inventing the future — cryptoanarchy, technological singularity, seasteading — they might actually be able to achieve that goal of agorism and ancapism.
I am also reminded of the old Patton quote as well, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” So why would you want to be a martyr for a nebulous, ill-defined, civil-war-like “revolution” that probably would result in more death and misery? Close your signed copy of The Politically Incorrect Guide to… and come outside your RDF, this is meat space. Welcome.
An outline to move from a mixed-economy to libertopia
There is probably no apriori strategy for an effective “revolution” at the level these libertarians are claiming. It all runs into what Moltke the Elder who said, “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.”
And unfortunately, many libertarians, especially those involved in party politics have wanted to fight the equivalent of Kurskian warfare head on with their puny budgets and man power — a fatal recreation of Krojanty. You can’t win a conventional war like that. You have better chances doing it asymmetrically.
And in my opinion, the best way of practicing what you preach is to become an entrepreneur.
1) Decide you want to be an entrepreneur
2) Slowly build up one or more revenue streams
3) Save and become wealthier
4) Do not invest in gimmicky newsletters and get-rich-quick schemes
5) Rinse, wash, repeat
Sure there are lots of gaps and missing steps, but that is what your role of an entrepreneur is: the economic coordinator that uses price signals to figure out what actions or inactions are profitable. To satiate consumer demand. Talk to Siri, she can probably tell you more.
In turn you can use your wealth to:
- deconstruct the state via Ferguson’s investment theory
- build a new island (ATNB)
- build an off-shore artificial island (TSI)
- build a giant yacht (FS)
- launch yourself to the GEO/moon/Mars (Brainsteading)
- cryptoanarchy, singularity, Second Realm, etc.
I actually think Matthew Alexander’s book Wĭthûr Wē touches on all of these issues in detail; you don’t have to physically blow up the state “to win.” There are many of other peaceful solutions. Apartheid in South Africa ultimately ended without shots fired. Mandela & Co. didn’t run whitey over with tanks and vice-versa. Truth and reconciliation and all that. The Velvet revolution in Europe is another.
Thus entrepreneurship, not prepperism, not only makes everyone materially wealthier (and perhaps even healthier) – but can potentially dismantle the state. I am not saying you personally should take out a small business loan or mortgage your home tomorrow. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have some more non-poor libertarians running around.
Bob the tool: “Oh I hate the state, I don’t want to produce anything until the state is gone.”
Guapo: “But can’t you change the state by generating more wealth than it taxes?”
Bob the tool: “I don’t want to give them another red cent.”
[3 months later]
Bob the tool: “Oh for effs sake, why doesn’t the state GTFO and die already?”
Guapo: “You haven’t worked for 3 months and yet the state still exists?”
Bob the tool: “Well at least I helped starve the state!”
Guapo: “You actually just starved your family.”
What I am suggesting is that libertarians be encouraged to do something different, earn more, make more, create more wealth. The only downside is everyone is materially wealthier than before. Yet for some reason this is not being advocated to the degree prepperism and collapsism are. Many libertarian sites this past year have been filled with what at times has become vapid counterproductive motivations to push specific political candidates: yet accomplished almost nothing compared with say, Google.
For as good as libertarians are good at quoting Bastiat’s parable of the broken window, let us look at the practical question of: what are the alternative productive uses that could have been done with the millions of dollars that were donated to push specific candidates? You could have a least bought shares in The World, perhaps even created an offshore Blueseed concept.
The forum conversation continues
One of the comments some libertarians state when you ask them “why don’t you start a new company?”
Bob the tool: “but the state will tax it away!”
Guapo: “but if you’re successful, it won’t matter, you will have much more money in aggregate.”
Bob the tool: “I don’t want to give another cent to the state.”
So they’ll take a menial job or work in the “black” or “shadow” market so they can avoid taxes. Thus giving them subsistence wages yet having made zero impact to the tax regime or the state purse. Yet they justify this by telling themselves “yea, the imperialist state has one less cent from me to use, I am starving it!” And then posts such self-delusions on forums and libertarian websites — filled with other such self-delusioned tools.
Whereas if you acknowledge that sure, the state sucks but griping about non-stop it won’t change it. You can start a company, build it up — get taxed in the process — and eventually become relatively wealthier. Then perhaps you can influence the tax rates or whatever your first-strike against statism is.
Again, for all the talk about Bastiat’s lessons on opportunity costs, many libertarians don’t take the same principles and apply it to their careers.
Unplug yourself from the drug of collapsaholicism, apocaholicism, revolutionism, prepperism. Remove yourself from newsletters and twitter feeds that do not teach you how to be better entrepreneurs and businesspersons. Just like an alcholic stays sober by not drinking so to can you actually create a better world instead of continuously griping about the one you have. It could always be worse. And despite the rhetoric of some libertarian thought-leaders, today’s relative morass is not all the state’s fault. Government debt isn’t stopping you from creating a new part-time job for yourself in your abode. Beat the state by out-producing it.
The sound of one hand clapping
Starting right now, don’t be a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer — the state is not going to collapse because you merely want it to.
There are lots of small jobs you can start-up without much investment — maybe after a few months, you can be the 44% that doesn’t fail.
And to help motivate you, let us part with the following neo-proverb. At the beginning of the reform and opening up in late 1978 when China’s GDP was a mere $10 billion, Deng purportedly said: “to get rich is glorious.” What he actually probably said was “to gain wealth is glorious” in terms of knowledge and material, but the message is clear: living in Hobbesian subsistence is for the pre-industrial, stone age third world. And also for preppers, wanna-be revolutionaries and keyboard commandos (like Fatbeard).
If alcoholics go to rehab, then consider this an intervention and your first day of doomsday sobriety. These guys are your support group.
Go get ‘em tiger.
[Special thanks to Matt Mortellaro for his comments and suggestions. Recovering collapsaholics are also encouraged to peruse: Apocalypse Not, The NASA Scientist Who Answers Your 2012 Apocalypse Emails, A Year After the Non-Apocalypse, and Why Credit Deflation is More Likely than Mass Inflation]