Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Political Spectrum: How Perception Shapes Bias

     With this article, I intend to show how one's politicoeconomic motives and values affect the way one perceives which issue or division to be the most important distinction in political economy. In doing so, I will utilize a two-dimensional (planar) political spectrum, commonly known as the Nolan chart, developed by Libertarian Party co-founder David F. Nolan in the early 1970s. The image-file of the spectrum was taken from the website It depicts the geometrically-plotted politicoeconomic leanings of the major candidates for the U.S. Presidential nomination in the year of 2008. Authoritarian capitalism (or protectionism) is shown in blue, anarchistic capitalism (or libertarianism) is shown in purple, state socialism is shown in red, and anarchistic socialism is shown in green.

     The images below are all variations of the same image, but rotated in different directions. To each, I have added a superimposed black line which shows where a person of a given political persuasion perceives the major division between the parties to be located.

     Let us begin by assuming that I am a dedicated socialist (or collectivist) who holds authoritarian (or statist, or communitarian, or Communistic) socialism to be of equal value to anarcho- (or stateless) socialism. This would mean that my enemy is capitalism, regardless of whether it comes in a statist (protectionistic or corporate-controlled) or anarchistic (or libertarian) form. The diagram below shows my values at the bottom and that which I perceive as an oppressing or opposing force as coming from above. The horizontal black line is the closest approximation I have regarding where the most important division between the Democratic and Republican parties lies.

     If I resolved to vote in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, then, among the candidates depicted, I would be most likely to vote for the lowest candidate, Ralph Nader, because it appears to me that he would be the best defender of leftist economics, or socialism. If I did not feel that Nader were a sufficiently viable candidate, I would vote for Dennis Kucinich, followed by John Edwards, then Joe Biden, then Barack Obama, and so on. I would be least likely to vote for Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, and Newt Gingrich (sidenote: Gingrich was not a candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election; there is no reason for him to have been included on this chart), due to my perception of capitalism as an oppressive force. In addition, I would likely perceive Mike Gravel as a traitor due to the fact that, although he is a Democrat, he embraces rightist economics (capitalism) at least as much as many of the mainstream Republican candidates.

     Thus, the effect of my ardent socialism causes me to perceive the more socialistic the politician, the better, and the more capitalistic the politician, the worse. I see everything through the lens of economic systems; any and all forms of socialism are better than any and all forms of capitalism. Whether a politician supports more concentration of power versus more separation of power, or authoritarianism versus anarchism, usually escapes me as I simply select the most socialistic viable candidate.

     Let us now assume that I am an anarcho-socialist (or anarcho-collectivist, or anarcho-syndicalist). This would make authoritarian capitalism (or state capitalism, corporate statist, or protectionistic) my least-liked adversary. Holding such a view would cause me to see the political spectrum from the perspective shown below.

     Were I to vote in the election, I would still be most likely to support Ralph Nader, followed by Dennis Kucinich, but there would be a crucial difference: I would support any Democrat over any Republican. I would be equally as likely to lend my support and my vote to a state-socialist as I would to a libertarian because I would consider building a coalition against authoritarian capitalists with either group. I would be least likely to support Tom Tancredo, followed by Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

     We shall now suppose that I am an anarchist (for the separation of political powers and decentralization of authority) who supports leftist economics (socialism) as much as I support rightist economics (capitalism). If my beliefs are so, then my greatest opponent would be authoritarianism (or concentration of power), regardless of what economic beliefs it espouses. This would result in my perceiving the world in such a way which is depicted below.

     I would be most likely to support Ralph Nader, followed by Mike Gravel, then Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, John Edwards, and so on. I would be least likely to support Alan Keyes, Mitt Romney, and Tom Tancredo. Overall, I would be likely to see the Republicans as more authoritarian than Democrats, and I would probably see Ron Paul as the only good Republican, or at least as the Republican candidate least hostile to my views.

     Now, let us suppose that I am a libertarian or an anarcho-capitalist. I would espouse a vision of capitalism which opposes the centralization of power, and which holds state (or authoritarian) socialism as the enemy. This belief structure would result in a worldview as seen below.


     I would then, as a libertarian, be most likely to support Mike Gravel (an odd choice as a highly capitalistic Democrat), followed by Ron Paul, then Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain. I would see the Democratic and Republican parties as equally oppressive and hostile to my own beliefs, so I would probably register to vote as an independent rather than as a member of either party. I would be least likely to support Alan Keyes, followed by Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. In order to build a coalition against state-socialists, I would be as likely to embrace anarcho-socialism as I would state capitalism.

     Lastly, we shall assume that I am an ardent capitalist with no inherent hostilities towards either the authoritarian or the anarchistic conceptions of that economic philosophy. This would render socialism my opponent, resulting in a worldview like the one shown below.

     I would be most likely to vote for Ron Paul, followed by Tom Tancredo, then Newt Gingrich, Mike Gravel, and Fred Thompson, since they are, in that order, the most capitalistic candidates available from which to choose. I would see Republicans as overwhelmingly favorable to Democrats. I would see Mike Gravel as the only good Democrat, or at least as the most acceptable Democratic candidate in the running. I would be least likely to support Ralph Nader, followed by Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards.

     In summation, you can't know where you want to go until you have begun to understood where you're coming from. People placed at opposite corners or in the middle of opposite sides of the political spectrum would see one another as the biggest impediment to advancing their own agendas. It is for these reasons that we must understand which economic system we support more, and whether we favor centralization of power, limited government, or no government at all, so that we may strategically plan with whom it would be most useful to build our alliances in order to defeat that which is ideologically abhorrent to us.

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Jurisdictional Aterritorialism: Bastiat vs. Bauer

 French economist C. Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)
was a staunch defender of laissez-faire capitalism.

 Austrian politician Otto Bauer (1881-1938)
was a staunch defender of social-democratic Marxism.

One would expect these two thinkers to agree on little, but surprisingly, they developed conceptions of their respective economic systems which were startlingly similar.

Frederic Bastiat formulated a conception of capitalism that came to be known – in the course of its development of the idea by philosophers such as Paul Emile de Puydt and Gustave de Molinari – as Panarchism, meaning "theory of the rule of all".

Bastiat defended, on purely capitalist grounds, the right of an individual to choose - freely, voluntarily, and reversibly - which government or agency governs, protects, and defends him. Bastiat wanted to secure this freedom to individuals for the purpose of creating what could be thought of as a "free market in governance".
He saw that a government, granted sole and monopolistic jurisdiction in its territory, would give its denizens only the “freedom of choice” over which among a predetermined set of public figures would wield legitimate power in said jurisdiction, and that to give inhabitants freedom of choice regarding which governmental institution they were to be governed under had evidently never crossed the mind of public officials.

Otto Bauer developed a conception of socialism known as National Personal Autonomism, or Cultural National Autonomism.
Bauer defended, on purely Marxist grounds, the right of a community or a group of persons to choose – freely, voluntarily, and reversibly – which government or agency governs, protects, and defends them. He wanted to secure this freedom to peoples, nations, and communities for the purpose of "organiz[ing] nations not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons.
Bauer saw that nations of people were often separated by geographic and territorial jurisdictional boundaries, and wanted to give communities of peoples separated from the rest of their like the ability to secure for themselves communal autonomy, meaning that they would have the ability to govern themselves without regard to the regulation and authority of those who have jurisdiction over surrounding and / or adjacent areas.
Bauer saw this right as crucial for protecting cultural and religious minorities. He further imagined that each cultural group would have representatives at the nationwide level. His views were embraced by Jewish groups, but denounced by Vladimir Lenin, as well the Austrian corporativist-fascist regime of the 1930s.
So now that we can see that the idea that people should be free to choose which security- and justice-provision agency (i.e., government) has the authority to govern them – voluntarily and with the ability to change their minds at any time – has been defended with perfect fidelity to both the capitalist and socialist economic systems, we understand that capitalism and socialism are not only compatible, but also that they can exist side-by-side as well as within and without one another, and even on the same parcel of landed property.

These concepts are minarchistic (meaning that they are theories of the rule by the least possible amount of compulsion or coercion necessary) as well as localistic (meaning that they are theories which advocate for decision-making power to be concentrated as close to the party or parties in question as possible).
I believe that it is proper to conclude that a society adopting Bastiat's idea would be absolutely tolerant of socialist autonomous communities, as would a society adopting Bauer's idea be absolutely tolerant of those who embrace capitalism, whether as communities of individuals practicing capitalism, as individual persons practicing autarchism – which is self-governance by individuals – or as any combination of the two.
I believe that this type of society would be more open-minded, tolerant, voluntarism-oriented, and empowering at the grassroots citizen-advocacy level, and also that great strides towards creating this type of society could be achieved by simply reverting to the kind of government which was outlined in the Articles of Confederation.
As in Bauer's idea, to have representatives at the national level could be useful, especially if there remained the freedom to disassociate from and revoke pledges to submit to the supremacy of the national government.
If this were the case, the set of politicoeconomic ideologies existing within the United States would look less like the duopolistic two-party system we have today – under which (though seemingly pitted against one another for purposes of election) the parties must compromise their own ideologies in order to get things done, often causing the goals of one side to be made ineffectual by the provisions added by the other side – but would more closely resemble the litany of ideological caucuses and public-interest organizations in the House of Representatives.
This way, representatives of each group would be free to join and leave coalitions at any time in order to form more sizable and noticeable collections of representatives so that each small coalition would be able to negotiate for its own needs to be addressed in each bill to be considered, so that those citizens and communities who sanction their own representation by the national delegates.
By doing this, groups would ensure that their ideologies would be malleable and tentative, but also resolute in a case-by-case way, so that they would not repel smaller groups from joining with them temporarily to affect some cause, nor would they risk becoming entrenched in a single economic or civic position aimed at attracting the support of a simple- or super-majority  of the electorate for as long as they can manage to do so.
This would undoubtedly create a conflict with the constitutional requirement that all federal law must promote the "general welfare"; i.e., it must not benefit solely those people in specific territories. It is a complicated thing to argue that the representation mechanism should not truly be based on geography alone.
I would only hope that in the process of bringing about such a fundamental change in the structure of governance itself, various electoral reforms would be enacted, causing a parliamentary-type system with opportunities for wide varieties and large numbers of alternative political parties and organizations to replace the two-party system currently in place, but also allowing for true individual liberty, communal autonomy, localism- and subsidiarity-oriented governance, and confederation.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

An Anarchistic Theocracy

Although God is us, we must not assume that we are Him; that is, God's identity as us, His children, is non-transitive. The Corpus Mysticum is a false body; we cannot assert to know His mind simply by convening and making decisions as a group.

This is the crucial mistake of government and politics; to entertain the notion that we may improve upon the Lord's perfect dominion by exerting control over one another. We are not in control; God is. 

Thus, pure theocracy is anarchistic in nature. God has blessed each of us with the gift of free thought, and the ability to govern and to make decisions for oneself. He has provided us a place to live, resources to sustain ourselves, and the desire and ability to appropriate those resources charitably to those whom are in the direst need.

No amount of planning, no matter how well-organized, democratic [majoritarian], or timocratic [organized by the authority of those who have the greatest ability to build], can foreordain what degree of security man may someday have in one another and in nature. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."

Just as Christianity maintains that "We must obey God as ruler rather than men"; just as Judaism asserts that the Jews must not have a human king other than, as God through Mashiach is their only king; just as Islam holds that Iblis refused to bow down to the first humans with the same respect with which he bowed down before God; so too must we not afford our fellow man the same reverence we give to God.

But make no mistake; God is, and God is in, each one of us. Each one of us may only reach Him by ascending, in personal contemplation, the heights of our own understanding, bringing relics of His wisdom, one at a time, back down the mountain, to common ground - the dwelling-place of the multitude - where we may be in communion with His children, loving and tolerating them as He has commanded, and pray to Him by patiently attempting to understand how He speaks to us also through our brothers and sisters.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

110th-111th Congress Votes in Accordance with Ron Paul

12-Term Congressman Ron Paul of Texas's 14th District

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