The Paradox that Prevents Peace

There has been a desire for global cooperation and peace for at least a century if not longer. The dream is for all people from all ethnicities and cultures to realize we are not so different from one another, to embrace each other, and to live happily ever after in perfect harmony. Think of the world John Lennon illustrates in the song “Imagine” for a template.

Here is why it will never happen:

  1. It’s true that we are all basically the same. We’re unique individuals, but no different from other races or cultures at a fundamental level. We all want to be fulfilled and safe.
  2. It’s also true that we are not perfectly rational and that we are even less rational as groups. Reality is objective, but we are biased. In groups, we become even less objective and form unruly mobs rooted in groupthink.
  3. We are narcissistic. We are obsessed with #1 and what/whom we identify with. This makes us even more tribal.
  4. We want to protect ourselves and our identities. Since we identify with our tribes, we want to protect our tribes too.
  5. Having a tribe makes us afraid of “the other” tribes. This fear eventually leads to hate.
  6. “The other” is the same as us (as point A states). This means that the other tribes want to protect their identities and that they fear and sometimes hate us too.
  7. Knowing that other groups fear and hate us makes us feel less secure, so we refuse to let our guards down. We improve our defenses (sometimes via preemptive strikes).
  8. Other groups do the same, so peace remains out of reach despite the fact that we are all basically the same.

The question is what to do with this knowledge.

Should we risk laying down our arms in hopes that the others will do so too? Or will they enslave us the moment we show vulnerability?

Should we keep up our defenses and remain wary of the others? Or should we soften up and give them the benefit of the doubt?

Should we launch more preemptive strikes to weaken and intimidate the others’ ? Or will that just increase their likelihood to hate us and strike back?

My solution, as always, is smaller government and freer markets. Allow people to work together without authorities and to exchange goods and services freely. The free market forces us to be polite and productive or risk being ostracized and poor, something none of us want.

I think the world is growing and will continue to grow safer thanks to technology and easier access to food and other basic needs. These luxuries make it less likely that we will risk war since we have so much comfort to lose. That’s not to mention the increase in entertainment options which keep us distracted.

Thank goodness we won’t be forced to rely on human nature and rationality for world peace. That would be a losing effort.

The Paradox that Prevents Peace

Capitalism’s Persuasion Problem

Fact: in politics, rhetoric is more persuasive than truth. I know you know this already.

This fact is especially troubling for Libertarians and other political groups that favor free market Capitalism because understanding the benefits of the free market takes time and effort.

Capitalism is often counterintuitive, it requires blind faith in the capabilities of mankind, it goes against desirable and emotionally satisfying worldviews, and it admits tough and sometimes undesirable realities.

Convincing people to vote for laissez faire policies and politicians is an uphill climb. To demonstrate, here is a list of premises one must probably concur with to view Capitalism in a positive light. I will present each premise somewhat cynically in order to demonstrate how negatively they are subject to being perceived.

  1. Invisible Hand/Spontaneous Order-There is no plan. You just have to wait. Things will work themselves out.
  2. Innovation-There is no need to commission an agency as a public good to solve problems. People will just do it. Don’t let your lack of imagination hinder the imaginations of others.
  3. Market Forces– There is no need to dictate which businesses should survive and which should fail. The best ones will survive, and the worst ones will fail. It’ll just happen eventually.
  4. Winners and Losers– Some people will succeed, and others will fail. It’s a competition like any other.
  5. Equality is Useless– We’re not going to be equal. Stop looking in your neighbor’s bowl, and start filling yours.
  6. Competition is Good– We shouldn’t play nice. We should battle each other for customers and resources.
  7. You Might Lose Your Job– The economy will shift from time to time. That means you might have to shift too. Keeping you permanently employed holds everyone back.
  8. Risk is Good– You are not safe, and you should never feel comfortable. It is vital that you are at risk to become impoverished or die.
  9. No Free Lunches- If you received something at no cost to yourself, and it was not given to you directly and voluntarily, you are complicit in thievery. You either earn or steal.
  10. Your Help Hurts-Whenever you try to create a system to take care of people, you wind up weakening them. Your systems cause immaturity, idiocy, and perversion.
  11. Greed is Good- Individuals wanting more for themselves and being allowed to pursue their desires is the only way to create wealth sustainably. The desire for material goods and security drives improvements in the populace’s quality of life, not compassion.
  12. Rich People Should Keep Their Money- Being mean to rich people hurts poor people. Being nice to them makes everyone richer.
  13. The Rich Contribute the Most- The reason rich people have money is because they add the most value to the most people’s lives. If you wind up with a lot, you’ve brought about a lot of satisfaction. If you wind up with nothing, you haven’t satisfied anyone.
  14. Sentimental Value Doesn’t Pay the Bills-It doesn’t matter how much you care about something. If it’s only value is sentiment, it will only provide you with a wealth of emotion. You need to add monetary value to incur money.
  15. Sharing is Bad- We shouldn’t share public goods or property. Private ownership is the only way.
  16. We Should Change the Environment- The environment is a violent and murderous villain. We have to alter and rearrange it to better suite ourselves.
  17. There is No Social Justice-Populations will never mirror each other. There is no reason for racial, gender, or random groups to be represented equally or to share equal outcomes.
  18. It’s Your Fault-You are going to make mistakes and miss opportunities. There is no one to blame for this but you. Find a mirror.
  19. Not Everyone Agrees with You-Unless other people like your ideas, they are not going to work out. You have to satisfy or create demand, not dictate it.
  20. The World is an Imperfect Place-Some people will work really hard, play by all the rules, and fail. And that’s that.

Juxtapose this to a Socialist like Bernie Sanders saying we can have free healthcare, education, and social security paid for by greedy, evil rich people. Who is generally going to win the crowd’s favor in that debate?

The irony is that the honesty free marketers value so highly is the very thing that holds us back. If we were comfortable lying like Socialists, we’d be violating our principles. Maintaining the principle of honesty and persuading the masses are generally mutually exclusive.

In my next post, I will try to explain these premises in a more convincing and lighthearted manner while also being perfectly honest. I believe this is necessary if we ever want our movement to grow and appeal to a larger audience.

Capitalism’s Persuasion Problem

Any Path but the Warpath

One of the more common polls taken to qualify the mood of a nation asks participants if they feel their country is headed in the right direction. These polls have fetched depressing results for quite some time in America.

Rasmussen’s right direction/wrong track poll has never recorded a majority or even a plurality of Americans saying the USA is going in the right direction since it started in 2009. The closest was a 47-47% split between right and wrong in the days just after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. Those numbers have since reverted closer to their more typical 2:1 wrong track supermajority.

Whether favorable or not, it’s a bit hard to say what kind of road America is currently on. The people are incredibly divided, and with Trump seemingly flip-flopping on many of his campaign pledges, unpredictability is the only sure thing.

Assuming absolute isolationism and colonial conquest are outside the realm of possibility, I say that there are four roads a country can take (with obvious shades of grey). Let’s define a few terms and see how they translate into those four roads:

InterventionistGovernment actively seeks to manage conflicts and correct ills confined within nations abroad.

Non-InterventionistGovernment only concerned with foreign affairs that involve massive and deliberate human rights violations (ex: genocide, enslavement) and obvious encroachments across national borders (ex: military invasions), though hesitant even when those circumstances appear to arise.

Planned (economy)Government regulates, subsidizes, and taxes all sectors of the economy liberally, supposedly in accordance with public will or public benefit.

Free MarketGovernment has strictly limited role in otherwise privately or locally operated economy.

The Four Roads

Foreign Policy/Economic Policy Planned Free Market
Interventionist 1. Planned/

Interventionist

2. Free Market/

Interventionist

Non-Interventionist 3. Planned/

Non-Interventionist

4. Free Market/

Non-Interventionist

The United States of America is currently in quadrant 1, and this is not controversial to say. We bombed seven countries last year, none of which pose any kind of threat to our national security. There are American troops stationed in about 150 of the world’s nations. We are also the United Nations’ top donor (by far) and most consequential member.

At the state, federal, and local levels, our governments spend $7 trillion per year, close to half of our $16.77 trillion total GDP. Washington accounts for $4.1 trillion of that spending. The federal government has an effective monopoly on the student loan industry, is constantly inching towards complete control over healthcare and health insurance, and spent nearly $2 trillion on bailouts for the auto and banking industries and an economic stimulus package at the beginning of the Great Recession. Throw in the farm and energy subsidies, and it’s pretty clear that we are far from a real free market economy (though we are relatively free compared to the rest of the world).

This is the worst of all four tracks illustrated above. Planned economies don’t work and neither does world-policing. The first leads to shortages and surpluses where there shouldn’t be; the second leads to terrorism, domestic unrest, and debt.

The United States was founded on peace and commerce with nations abroad and private property rights at home, meaning we should ideally be in quadrant 4. As a Libertarian, it should be no surprise to anyone that I feel this way, and it is not the main point of this piece.

What I most strongly desire to say here is that quadrants 3 & 4 are more preferable than quadrants 1 & 2. In other words, searching for monsters to slay around the world is more harmful than free markets are helpful.

This is especially true in a large, resource-rich nation like America where there will always be ways to survive and thrive on the black market. Drugs are illegal, but they aren’t hard to come by or particularly expensive. The same goes for prostitutes, copyrighted digital entertainment, and illegal modifications for firearms and automobiles. Why would other restricted and regulated products and services be any different? A truly planned economy would make everything worse, but we would survive reasonably well before, during, and after the government’s inevitable collapse.

War, on the other hand, is not within our control. Civilians cannot simply walk down a dark alley or into a speakeasy and demand military action to be halted. Our “civilian controlled” armed forces take their orders from our unconstitutionally, over-empowered elected officials. We are disconnected from the command center.

War also threatens our privacy and societal cohesion. Surveillance, security, and limitations on speech and travel are all byproducts of keeping us safe from the enemies beyond our borders and assailants within.

~Are your neighbors working with the enemy? Were they even born here?~

These practical matters are not even the primary reason interventionism is worse than losing economic liberty. What’s most important to recognize is that interventionism is morally abhorrent. No nation has the right to tell another nation what to do. Groups of people who endow their governments and institutions with the right to govern them are responsible for deciding how they are governed. No one else is entitled to any say. How would you like it if a group of armed men barged through your door regardless of your consent to settle disagreements between you and your loved ones however they saw fit? You wouldn’t like it because it’s none of their business. They have no right.

Even if we were to suffer through a Communist calamity, at least we’d be doing it to ourselves, not others. Interventionism is, by definition, messing with other people. If being virtuous means anything anymore, enslaving yourself is preferable to enslaving others.

In short, how our economy is managed (or hopefully unmanaged) is less important than being strict about using our military for essential purposes only. I’ll argue until I’m blue in the face for deregulation, repealing the minimum wage, and lowering taxes. But I’ll take the alternative over regime change in Syria in a heartbeat.

Any Path but the Warpath

A 5-D Chess Trumpian Fantasy

Trump, who I didn’t vote for but have given a long leash, has lost me in recent weeks. His resounding endorsement of Ryancare threw me off, especially after he attacked the anti-establishment Freedom Caucus for opposing it. I’m also disappointed by the carelessness with which he wastes taxpayer money on his weekend golf outings in Florida and the nepotism with which he allows his daughter and her spouse to get creepily close to executive matters.

But nothing has made Trump uglier in my eyes than his stunning reversal on Syria, namely a missile attack launched against one of Bashar Al-Assad’s air force bases after an alleged chemical attack by the elected Syrian president.

Just before the 2016 election, I pleaded with my fellow American voters not to vote for Hillary Clinton for the simple reason that she sought regime change in Syria and a no-fly zone over the country. In my opinion, there is no greater threat to peace and prosperity in America than another pointless attempt at creating democracy in the Arab world.

You can read what I wrote here.

You can read Trump’s 2013-2014 tweets about Syria (all of which I agree with) here.

You can watch a quick video describing the conspiracy theory that Assad’s “chemical attack” was actually a hoax (a theory I find overwhelmingly persuasive) here.

Trump now has essentially zero support. Here is a little breakdown for you:

General Opposition Before Missile Strikes

-Establishment Democrats

-Establishment Republicans

-Genuine Leftists

-Minorities

-Hardline Conservatives

-Most Moderates and Independents

-Elites in media, entertainment, academia, etc.

Additional Opposition (or at least disenchantment) After Missile Strikes

-All Libertarians

-Members of his base who believe in Trumpism

-Cynical Leftists

Support After Missile Strikes

-A few (very few) members of “Clear Opposition Before Missile Strikes” group

-“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” voters

-GOP shills and hacks

-The Trump family (I think)

There is only one thing Trump can do to get his supporters back on board and also grow his base. It’s not going to happen, but here it goes.

Trump could come out and say that the deep state mislead him on the chemical attacks. He could say that he was right about Syria all along and that our intelligence agencies, the media, globalist entities, and establishment members of both parties tricked him into going against his promise to stay out of the Syrian Civil War. He could apologize for making a mistake and blame “The Swamp” for using his compassion for the children of Syria against him. He could endorse the conspiracy theory his base believes and return to the America First warpath.

Not only would the people who voted and “dank memed” Trump into the White House be fully re-energized, but others would be on board too. Every Libertarian in the world, even the most Trump-skeptic and left-leaning, would be unable to resist such a move. Leftists and Progressives of the Noam Chomsky school of thought would be beyond impressed. Minority groups, who are especially dubious of our government and its wars, would see Trump as an honest hero. The president would have the entire anti-Clinton underground to lead to the promised land.

The chances of this happening are non-existent. But on the verge of another eternal war in the Middle East, fantasy comes in handy. I guess Nietzsche was right.

A 5-D Chess Trumpian Fantasy