Time to address a bunch of counterarguments I received from Anti-Statists. I'll be referring to them as plain old Anarchists from here on out, because I'm literal like that. Traditional anarchists may very well scold me for that due to their imagined monopoly on the term, and that's fine since I find aspects of many original theories on anarchism to offer societal control mechanisms which barely differ from the control mechanisms offered by modern States when adjusted to the municipality domain. The reason I'm using the blog format to tackle the particular brand of dissent I received on Youtube, is because I will be taking an ultra thorough look into many aspects of this argument, starting with my video and how the new & improved Anarchists dealt with it. I may break it up into two parts if it ends up being overly long.
My video dealt with the evils of state control versus the evils of complete privatization. Judging by the replies, I couldn't get even one anarchist to view the conundrum for what it is: A lesser of two evils choice that has to be made. I didn't expect to convert anyone into a "Statist" (IE: Civilizationist), but I hoped to at least offer them a moment of pondering. Didn't happen. Every single anarchist who saw the video and commented still views the issue as plainly as "Private Good. Gov't Bad. End Of".
Needless to say that I was also hammered with obligatory one-size-fits-all descriptions of my position. For example, it was implied that my argument supports the idea that businesses don't really care about making money in general. Apparently this is the right conclusion to draw, as it follows my previously outlined sentiments concerning the lackluster effect boycotts have had and are bound to have in the future. This doesn't pass for an innocent oversimplification of my position. My argument was clear, both in the video and in the comments. Here it is again:
When the allegedly consumer friendly profit-motive is assigned the furtive task of being the sole mechanism aimed at creating long-term deterrence against business malpractice (which mainly comes in the form of short-cuts for penny squeezing), owners will still be perfectly willing to lose a portion of their consumer base if their focus-groups deduce that the consumer chunk most likely inclined to boycott the business is one that brings in a lower percentage of revenue in contrast to the amount which stands to be saved through a mere avoidance of catering to said consumer group's wishes. One needn't be a business major in order to grasp the profitability of this approach. In some instances, this can simply be chalked up to "Well what do you expect, that's business for ya" rationale. Other times, not so much. The alienated consumers may consist of a group of environmentalists and environmentalist sympathizers who fought tooth and nail to mitigate against pollution caused by a routine corner-cutting business practice perpetrated at the hands of the very company they're already in the process of boycotting.
Under a profit driven self-regulatory system, these boycotts are nothing more than a mosquito bite on the company owner's left nut. A steadfastly voluntaristic treating of the bite would entail cutting directly into the owner's tunnel-visioned profiteering, meaning that no rationally self-interested owner would bother with it when given the ability to just scratch it off, like any other annoying itch. The only exception to this would be a scenario in which a large percentage of the consumer base becomes motivated enough to take a stand and join in on the protest. You might argue that you know for a fact that enough consumers will be willing to join the boycott if the matter at hand revolved around an issue as delicate as the welfare of their own environment, and thereby health. This is exactly why I brought up a real life example in my video, which suggests otherwise. Besides, the entire argument is based on a false premise where the only way that rich, powerful people can maintain their status of economic power, is by continuing to sell enough products. The problem, of course, is that this is a system where having surplus alone can make you more surplus, unless you fail to understand the ABCs of smart investment, which not too many rich people are dumb enough to fail to understand. But back to boycotts, another prime example of their lacking effect is best illustrated by the totally not evil Google. I'm bringing up Google specifically because I know that even a few Anarchists are displeased with the way Google has been running YouTube ever since the acquisition took place almost 4 years ago. Plenty of Google's users have considered leaving YouTube to "prove a point" at one time or another. The thing is, many people have actually gone through with it. At the end of the day, this changed nothing. Google is stronger than ever, and YouTube is worse than ever. There are more channels being permanently wiped out now compared to any other time in the past, despite all the boycotts.
This is what happens when consumers are left to fend for themselves. At this stage, it is well within reason to concede that consumer culture has proven itself incapable of regulating powerhouse conglomerates like Google, through meek boycott threats. The experiment has failed. So what can change all this? How about an actual regulation instead of an invisible one? How about a publicly financed non-profit alternative that doesn't have ad-revenue as a concern? The obvious benefit here is that, unlike with Google, there would be zero incentives created to cater to an audience dumb enough to click on ads, which means no popularity-breeds-popularity search engines that only serve to relegate intellectual content to the tumbleweed-ridden back alleys with no eyeballs in sight. This is why PBS has always kicked the crap out of FOX/MSNBC/CNN in terms of educational content. PBS didn't have to cater to the lowest common denominator in order to maximize profits.
Another solution would be Net-Neutrality. It offers a fair level playing field, so it would naturally result in more competition. New Anarchists are all about competition, so this shouldn't be a problem. But wait, Net-Nautrality is a *gasp* government imposed regulation! It would necessitate horrors such as equal-opportunity indexing (in place of the current crooked-opportunity indexing). The reason we don't have it, is because the internet is wholly deregulated. The Google search engine is the equivalent to what would have happened had all libraries been privatized twenty years ago. Google indexes the net much like a private mainstream library would've buried quality content in favor of Seventeen Magazine superficial tripe being placed front and center along with other similar garbage that's been proven to be the bigger draw as its sole purpose is to cater to the worst elements of our psychology and ego. It's smart business, and this is what it comes down to at the end of the day when the profit motive is turned into an all-encompassing societal yardstick. It happened with the internet, and it would have happened in many other marketplace paradigms had it not been for strategic regulations, backed by actual law enforcement agencies, rather than wishful thinking about the brilliant decision making skills of your average walking dollar sign Joe shithead.
We rid ourselves of regulations such as the Glass Steagall Act of 1933. This resulted in commercial banks buddying up with special interest security firms, making them infallible and too big to fail.
To elaborate on my point about fast-food joints like McDonald's, my argument was that they should face legal ramifications when partaking in deliberate food inspection shortcuts, even if it results in as few as 1 out of 1000 products being unsafe to consume. When I said that the business should face a consequence other than a potential decline of consumers, I was asked questions like:
"Well would you legally ban someone from skydiving if there was a 1 in 1000 chance of them falling to their death? Would you take away their right to do as they please because YOU deem the activity to be too dangerous?".
Neat little bait and switch they pulled there. I'm advocating for a regulation which would oblige businesses to take costly measures in producing safe-to-consume products 100% of the time. The Anarchists turn around and describe this proposal as me wanting to take away the consumer's right to buy any of the products the companies produce.
Just let that sink in for a minute. Now ask yourselves: How would a regulation do this? Its only function is a legal mandate calling for preventative measures to be taken in the interest of consumer safety. How would this result in the consumer being barred from shopping there? Regulations do not generate the above proposed outcome. The only circumstance in which a regulation may interfere with consumers' ability to keep shopping at any given place, is if the profit strain generated by the regulation proves to be a financial deal breaker and the owner decides to shut down his joint as a result. But even in this scenario, it can be argued that it is ultimately the owner who makes the decision resulting in the consumers being denied their desired products. It's a slippery slope argument from both sides. It's also largely irrelevant, because for such an outcome to occur, we'd have to operate under the assumption that this company is already 1 foot in the grave and the only thing keeping it afloat is a lack of regulatory mandate forcing the owner to ensure that every last product placed on the shelf is a safe one. Owners are never in a position where they rely on the absence of such a mickey-mouse regulation to be the end-all be-all life-jacket preserver keeping their entire operation above sea level. The entire argument fails. A regulation such as this one would not bankrupt McDonald's, hence my argument doesn't even come close to bringing about an outcome where consumers are denied anything. My argument only serves to guarantee that they will not have a 1 in 1000 chance of being served a harmful Hot-Fudge-Sunday. Why would anyone in their right mind oppose this?
Imagine a circumstance in which all private companies are bordering on bankruptcy, meaning it wouldn't take much for the owner to get financially crippled by even the meekest of regulations. In light of these circumstances, the companies are permitted to boycott regulations, stay in business and as a result to continue serving products that prove to be harmful once in a blue moon. I'm sure that lots of Statists would be okay with this, under the prerequisite that every single menu and advertisement makes it explicitly clear to the consumer what the risks are, and why there is no regulation in place. As it stands, products have a tiny text, usually placed the bottom, printed in such a way that it may as well not even exist. If we up the risk level by deregulating, these disclaimers are going to have to get a hell of a lot bigger and bolder. But even then, we are completely ignoring other factors. Reckless parents buying their kids products which haven't gone under the radar, should immediately spring to everyone's mind. It's all well and good when the potentially harmful product is being purchased by an adult who is aware of the risks outlined, but imagine the amount of kids who would fall victim to their parents' irresponsible 1 in 1000 risk taking. The rationale directed at me was "Well if that's the consumer choice, so be it" but clearly it is not always the consumer's individual choice. People buy these products for others all the time, and unwrap them prior to handing them off. There is no choice in that.
Furthermore, if the disclaimers aren't going to be mandatory, then most people will be unaware of the risks. And let's face it, if we're going to be consistent with Anarchist/Anti-Statist ideology, these businesses will be given the right to not put up any disclaimers, so why would they? Why place something which explicitly reads: "WARNING: DUE TO FINANCIAL CUTBACKS WE ARE NO LONGER LIFTING A FINGER TO CHECK THE SAFETY OF ANY PRODUCT YOU ARE PURCHASING HERE" when they don't have to? That would be dumb. And they're not dumb. Well they're kinda dumb, just not when it comes to slick advertising and business sense.
Unless state force guarantees that the above disclaimer goes up, we're left with telling consumers things like "Oh you should have done extended research on this fast food joint before dropping in for a burger there. Don't you know that word of mouth got out about this place bordering on bankruptcy? The owner is unable to afford making safe products all the time. Get with the program!".
Yeah, no thanks. We'll keep the regulations.
This has nothing to do with the consumer not being a "big boy" or "not taking responsibility for your own choices". It has to do with false or incomplete advertising. Any skydiver should be made aware, by the skydiving agency of their choice, of the number of times the agency's parachute failed to open with the previous divers falling to their death. Once that's done, the lunatic can go all out if he/she so pleases, provided that he/she has no societal commitments in the form of mortgages/debt/children/etc. And even then I'd not fret just as long as the individual hoping to skydive in a deregulated environment goes to the trouble of ensuring that a handful of responsible adults within the hopeful skydiver's immediate circle are willing to sign on the dotted line so to confirm that they're willing to undertake long-term obligations of this nature in the event that their friend's parachute fails to open.
As for return policies, it was implied by JacobSpinney that all companies carry them. Nope, not every company does. The ones that do, tend to offer a one year warranty for most products. In my experience, these products are usually designed to last a convenient 13 months or so. Don't be naive, they want you coming back for more. There's tons of short-term profit oriented cookery out there for which it makes no sense to boycott the provider, as the given product's short term lifespan is still durable enough to outlast the contract of the CEO who authorized its dodgy set-up in the first place. No sense in boycotting the company after the perpetrator at helm is no longer employed by it. Spinney also said that you can return a product with "No questions asked". No you cannot. You will be asked to demonstrate what's wrong with the product you are returning. Nothing wrong with that mind you, just pointing it out for the sake of accuracy.
Right after this, Spinney asked in a speech bubble "Can you get your tax dollars refunded if you're unsatisfied with the services the gov't is providing?".
No, you cannot get a tax refund from the government. This is because services and products are completely different things. You can return a product because in doing so, you will no longer be able to use said product following its return. You cannot reverse having used a timely service which you've already reeked the benefits of in the first place, especially if you are going to continue living in a region where the services will continue being provided to everyone who lives there, which results in you benefiting from these same services in the future. In light of this, expecting a refund is preposterous. When the gov't starts taxing us for actual products that they provide us with on an individual basis, then we can talk about the gov't offering tax refunds in exchange for civilians returning their products.
The idea that Corporations wouldn't exist without the State is also conveniently unfalsifiable seeing as how a Private Corporation, when you strip away all the bullshit, is basically a group of individuals who merge their strengths in order to conduct business and generate profit for themselves. It is essential to be mindful of the difference between a public corporation and a private corporation, the latter being defined simply as an incorporated firm whose shares are not publicly traded, and are held by a small number of stockholders/shareholders. The possibility of a for-profit entity of this nature existing without the legal backing of the State, is entirely feasible. Let's not pretend otherwise. The fundamental characteristics of the entity are firmly similar. I'm just as quick to point this fact out to Anarcho-Capitalists, as I am to point out to Anarcho-Communists the feasibility of private property itself being legally protected without the existence of the State. So why are Anarcho-Communists silly for believing that Capitalism only exists due to State law protecting private property, while it's heresy to suggest the same with respects to Corporations which happen to be legally bolstered by those exact legal fictions protecting private property? How is your right to initiate force in order to keep intruders off of your private property anything more than a societal construct, compared to the recognition of a Corporation as a legal entity? The moment you drop the single-villain outlook, you'll recognize the overlaps at play and understand that the State doesn't counter in to the end result of most private Corporate malpractice. The worst that can happen is a few subsidies at the hands of members of Congress/Parliament who previously worked in the financial sector and who should have never been able to obtain congressional/parliamentary seats due to the obvious conflicts of interest. That's a whole different blog though.
Spinney also accused me of massively overgeneralizing the theories anarchists come up with. Again, very annoying. I never once jumped to the conclusion that charities were the only alternative to taxation. I clearly said in my video that there are lots of different branches of anarchist philosophy and that I would be focusing on one aspect. I didn't preface my video by stating that I'd be covering anti-statism from A to Z in one fucking video. I even ran out of time. Obviously I'm aware that other ideas exist which I couldn't have addressed in a mere 11 minutes. So I didn't generalize anything, and it's nice how nobody ever points these things out in the comment sections of my opposition.
The most tedious thing about all of this is that some of these guys are still pushing the idea that if one defends the necessity of the State as a lesser of evils, it follows that one should thereby be assigned the impossible task of having to account for the ugly track record narrowed in from the worst governments in history. It's pigeonhole bullshit of the worst kind. So everyone who recognizes the State as a necessity must account for every tyrannical megalomaniac who was either elected or who refused to step down once his term was over? Really? This is no different than expecting a provocatively dressed woman to no longer dress in a provocative manner because it can be argued that her provocativeness triggers the rapist into a rape frenzy. Obliging proponents of Federalism to justify Mao is no different than pointing a finger at a woman wearing a short skirt and branding her as the instigator of the rape. She brought it on herself, since she knows the ugly history of what happens when you dress like that. In reality, we know that the rapist is solely to blame for the rape just like we know the fascist dictator is solely to blame for the suffering he himself orchestrated. So please, no more overblown remarks about the history of certain governments and those who foment them, especially considering that the gov't I defended is the very gov't I'm funding right now in light of my geographic convenience. The provincial gov't of British Columbia, and the federal gov't of Canada, is by no means a failure State. It is tremendous progress, proving that central planning can work long-term without it resulting in mass starvation and the rest of the shit anarchists like to peddle constantly. I'm not saying it's perfect or that it will ever be perfect, but it is not a totalitarian state.
Spinney and friends argued to the contrary, basically saying that our only two options here consist of a totalitarian State, or their 100% privatized alternative. And of course nobody pointed out that there is a huge spectrum of "other" and that the State I'm arguing for is, by definition, not a totalitarian one. If you can't even acknowledge the existence of a middle ground, then there truly is zero room for any kind of a conversation. It is a minimum acknowledgement. Look up the definition of a totalitarianism. It's defined as a government with a non-elected ruler that would control every aspect of your life. Despite Spinney's best efforts to convince people otherwise, Totalitarianism is not defined as a society in which taxation is mandatory and applies to everyone who is employed. Taxation is a law, and like any other policy subject to law-enforcement, it has to be enforced physically if all else fails. Now in the U.S. it gets a bit tricky because the income tax wasn't properly ratified and therefore remains unconstitutional. I actually did a full video on this a while back. But as far as the majority of the world goes, payroll taxes, consumption taxes, and yes, income taxes, are a law just like any other law. It only makes sense that a chunk of your paycheck would go towards covering the cost of the infrastructure and protection which you passively reek the benefits of on a daily basis. The fact that you didn't sign up to live under this particular brand of infrastructure , is irrelevant the moment you counter in that nobody signs up for any of the countless other circumstances they're born to and remain plagued by throughout the remainder of their lives. These risk equation predicaments which we're all involuntarily thrown into are not and have never been endorsed by me, but by the individuals who birthed you. It would be great if Anarchists could live in State controlled societies without reeking the benefits of services generated and maintained by our tax dollars, because if this were the case I'd have no problem with them not paying taxes. Sadly, this is not the case. The military alone ensures our protection (albeit only abstractly, in recent times).
I conceded way back that there is currently no straight line as far as the "give and take" between the State and the individual. I will delve into these particular imperfections in my next video.
As for the examples of Anarchist societies I was linked to: I didn't ask to be provided with ones that merely existed. I asked for ones in which, amongst other things, lower class or even middle class folk didn't die horribly due to a lack of safety-nets. So far I got a bunch of links pointing to sources on Medieval Iceland societies. Yes, medieval times. Folks, these are stories. Nobody knows for sure how these people really lived. What we do know is that the vast majority of them were illiterates. Even nowadays you have to dig deep in order to get the full scoop concerning modern events despite them being reported on daily and rammed down our throats in news cycles, and even then things often go under the radar of both mainstream and indie outlets. But we're supposed to believe that stories about medieval societies aren't fabrications? Not to mention how the sources have evidently been complied and decorated by individuals with a vested interest and an ideological axe to grind, thus the predictable anarchist spin. You guys really believe in sagas? Viewing sagas as historical accuracy is the antithesis of skepticism and sheds light on just how little most of this has to do with discipline and how highly influenced you lot are by a crude desire for Anarchism to be correct. What else am I supposed to take away from attempts to pass sagas off as historical accuracy? Give those things up, they're a sure giveaway. I might as well start buying into documentaries on the life and times of Jesus Christ which were concocted by the likes of Ray Comfort or his creepy little sidekick. It was written, after all. And backed by credible historians. Yet I somehow manage to remain unhumbled by it.
I already provided an example of an Anarchist society in which people die horribly when I brought up Somalia, cliche as it may be. I'll add the Old West to that. If you weren't running with a gang back then, you were pretty much fucked. I'd even say countries like Indonesia qualify, since they're highly deregulated. No consumer protections, no occupational safety protections, no workplace harassment laws, no minimum wage, no overtime, no vacation time, no nothing. It's every neoliberal's wet dream, and the quality of life is horrendous.
I'm going to stop here and post Part 2 in a couple of days. In it, I'll do an in-depth analysis of the taxation/violence complaints (rhetoric) as well as the majority/minority bitchfests.
Thanks for reading.