Response to “No Conceivable Reform”

Our article No Conceivable Reform by Alvin Lowi, Jr. generated the following interesting exchange. Mr. Lowi’s correspondent preferred not to be identified.

Hi Alvin,

I came across your site from a link on kaz. You said:

“This explains my delight in discovering the internet phenomenon growing as a competing source of information, served up by and accessible to individuals without obligations to sources or “regimentations of interest.”

Yet you advocate complete abstinence of making your voice heard among the powers that be, i.e. legislators.

Yes, you’re 100% right about the Internet, and in fact, (late as usual) the powers that be are frantically moving to BREAK the internet. It doesn’t take much knowledge of internet infrastructure, or imagination about elite power structures, to understand how extremely fragile the internet is. If you’re not familiar with this issue, I can point you to the relevant documents and technically-astute libertarians to convince you.

Basically, the entire net can be crashed in seconds, at whim. Further, it can be controlled to whatever extent is deemed necessary by those who rule, with not a hell of a lot we could do about it. In essence, when they break the net or criminalize certain uses of it (already contemplated in recent executive orders and legislation), we won’t HAVE the net to organize any protest about them BREAKING the net.

Not voting for either of two corrupt idiots? Yeah, I can agree with that. But not making your voice heard AT ALL to whichever corrupt idiots are IN office at that time? I don’t think that’s so smart Alvin. It also might be profitable to generously support EFF, IFJ, and other orgs who take ACTION to protect the internet that you’ve come to depend on for your info.

Writers like you frighten me sometimes. It’s BECAUSE so much of what you say IS right, and BECAUSE you write so well, that your sloppiness in certain areas is so dangerous. I really wish you’d think things through ALL the way, before leading the sheep off a cliff. Even if they ARE just sheep, their sheer mass CAN be helpful to us….or very very hurtful, if you encourage that to happen by advocating their ABDICATION to the elite.

[Writer has not authorized his name to be disclosed to the public. He adds the following:]

One result of socialism, i.e. giving control of your life to the state:

“The state not only taxes us to ‘feed the poor’ while PAYING farmers to slaughter milk cows and drive up food prices; it then simultaneously turns around and subsidizes research on dangerous agricultural chemicals designed to increase yields of milk from the cows left alive.” — Chuck Hammill, 1987

Mr. Lowi responds:

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your thoughtful and generous message quoted above. I probably am a bit naive about the durability of the internet as a free and open communication network. I’ll take your advice and look into the matter.

Maybe the window of opportunity represented by the internet won’t last. Yet, it is just possible it has progressed beyond the point of no return. Politicians may be ambitious, arrogant and predatory but they are not known to be suicidal.

I am encouraged in my optimistic views by precisely the sort of response I got from you. On the other hand, I don’t get any response at all from legislators. A solitary voice unaccompanied by check is apparently unimportant to them no matter the message, content or demeanor.

I have found politicians to be very much like businessmen in this one and only respect — both are more attentive to a cash register than a ballot box. However, here the similarity ends. The politician sees the cash register as the means of buying the ballot box, or at least its contents consisting of tokens coaxed from depositors by advertising promises that cannot be kept. The cash register IS the businessman’s ballot box in his daily campaign to stay in business, the contents, if any, signifying promises actually delivered.

Perhaps your experience is different. Politicians are no doubt impressed by titles and it is quite possible you are more skillful or clever than I. But really, is “your voice heard among the powers that be, i.e. legislators?” If so, how can you tell? The only way I know anybody had ever been “heard” was when a big campaign contribution was made on behalf of more of the same “program” in the expectation that some kind of patronage will be reoriented toward the donor. What politician wants to hear advice to give up the source of his power — patronage funded by his real benefactors, the taxpayers? What politician enjoys being reminded that any patronage whatsoever is a blatant abuse of authority, a misuse of his office for legal privilege and/or personal aggrandizement? What legislator wants to hear questions regarding the legitimacy of his legislation? If they take their role seriously, they merely want to “lay down the law,” nevermind whether the law — any law produced by legislation — may be worthy of the name except by accident.

A monopoly of force is the only currency offered by the political establishment. But force is irrelevant to normal, everyday human life unless you happen to be a carpenter needing to join some planks to frame a building. Trouble is, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Support for political measures ultimately implies the belief that it is appropriate to treat human beings as if they were nails. So popular support for political government amounts to support for ones favorite hammer. And so it goes. Every man has his woman but the iceman has his pick. There is no accounting for taste. Masochism lives and sadism rises to the occasion.

Someone once said a bad theory is better than no theory at all. My theory, good or bad, is that political participation creates the very elites you condemn. Consequently, I recommend abstention from the process as the only practical approach to exposing the authorities for what they really are — pretenders, opportunists and usurpers. Isn’t it obvious that elections and polls are mere nose-counting rituals designed to maintain the status quo? Whether you vote or not, the politicians pretend to rule whether you like it or not. Their “rule” is actually a sham inasmuch as there is no government whatsoever without a modicum of self-rule. At best, political government is superfluous, a would-be service provider that cannot deliver services competitively for profit like all other legitimate enterprise. But once established, such government is overcome with ambition to “do better,” which should not be surprising as a strategem for staying in power. This strategy invariably leads to political regimentation which can only impair the effectiveness of self governace. In other words, the political approach to government is contradictory. It is actually anarchistic. It must create problems so it can pretend to solve them. So why waste your precious sanction on such a dangerous charade? If you think there are any political institutions you can’t live without, think again! There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Based on some years of experience and observation, I see no prospect of persuading politicians, regardless of their branch of government, to either reform themselves or abandon the process that enables them to lord over their fellows whereby they can receive services without rendering any. I do not dream of such possibilities any more than I would ever dream that a naturally self-interested person, regardless of all good intentions, would suddenly become an altruistic and self-sacrificing saint merely because he had been elected to office. It seems pretty far-fetched to me that an election could possibly produce such an outcome. Such a thing has never happened in history but, curiously, many still believe the next election will be different. Now that’s a false hope if there ever was one! Benjamin Franklin was to put it this way: “The grand leap of the whale up the Fall of Niagara is esteemed, by all who have seen it, as one of the finest spectacles of Nature.” Not to be outwitted, Murphy observed “If your aunt had testicles, she’d be your uncle.”

I don’t have the slightest idea how to talk to sheep. But if I did, I would recommend abstention to them, too, as the best way to avoid falling off the cliff politics has created for them to negotiate. Political participation is the primrose path to the edge of that cliff. To me, it is political participation that constitutes the abdication you lament. It is the abdication of reason. This is something for you to think about.

If I knew how, I would like to show the sheep you allude to that they have alternatives to political government that are not only within their grasp but are indeed the very means that have always sustained them as well as their ancestors. And these are the very means that will sustain their progeny in the future, if any of either. Whether either is a matter of breeding, nurturing and learning, not voting for false alternatives.

The internet is just the most recent public technology that facilitates individuals taking their own initiative to perfect their lives. As more and more people like yourself inform themselves, they will discover there is a world apart from politics that is full of innocence, hope and promise.

By contrast, when people patronize the mass media, they take the path of least resistance — the primrose path. Then, they depend on the self-serving, politically patronizing mass media’s bill of fare for couch potatoes to shape their opinions. But a more likely outcome of this default is that they will merely succumb to despair, duplicity, complexity, hate or fear.

But make no mistake, there will always be risk regardless of what the politicians and talking heads have to say or do. Life is an adventure no matter what. But there are some kinds of risk that are inherent in politics and politics alone — war, for instance. There are many others.

Politics is relevant only to the lives of politicians and bureaucrats. For this reason, there is nothing for a normal person to do with, for or about politics unless he is overcome by hysteria, paranoia, envy, vindictiveness, or just plain arrogance. These are the base human emotions that fuel political ambitions.

To paraphrase “The Libertarian” Vin Suprynowicz, I look forward to the time when more Americans ridicule the absurd assumption that they need a political government to hold their hands and change their diapers, cradle to grave. The best remedy for the pretensions of many of these arrogant bureaucrats to run our lives is indeed to laugh them out of town. And if you can’t do that, ignore them until they come knocking on your door. Isn’t it obvious that they need you more than you need them and this need is more than merely a matter of collecting numbers of dumb votes at a polling place?

What if they gave an election and nobody came but the party faithful? Would the candidates stay home? Would the IRS disband? Would the “government” shut down? Would there be chaos among the populace? I suggest that the only immediate outcome would be sobriety. Subsequently, as the message sank in, you might see some timidity and trepedation on the part of the formerly arrogant politicians and their bureaucratic handmaidens as they contemplate their future without a sanction from their victims who proceed to cope and function quite nicely without them and their coercive institutions.

Why cooperate with political agents beyond the point of revealing that in any encounter with the state, you are merely submitting to an overwhelming threat of armed aggression? Can’t hurt to inform the agents of their ways when you have a safe opportunity. Maybe some will abdicate, abandon the practice and get a self-respecting life like most of their fellows. You never know. But to write your congressman for a redress of grievances — good luck! And why patronize the government postal monopoly beyond necessity.

We all suffer from naivete of one sort or another. However, I am not so naive as to believe political government is the source of my right, and the equal right of others, to live in freedom under the sun. I’d sooner take my chances with free-lance criminality than to trust in the illusory protections proffered by the very racket that is bound and determined to victimize me without recourse. The most intriguing question is how this racket can continue to masquerade as the source of social organization when it invariably takes and can only give to a few just a little of what it has taken from the most. Indeed, look closely at this racket and you will see its pretense to serve is only a cover for its mercenary nature. All political jurisdictions, national, regional and local alike, are merely revenue gathering districts that have managed to establish a monopoly of such gathering in their respective domains. In this respect, we are all sheep.

Nor am I so naive as to think I can hide from these monopolies of institutionalized victimization, or secede from their jurisdictions. I see myself with respect to the state somewhat like Br’er Rabbit did in his encounter with Br’er Bear as depicted by Joel Chandler Harris in his stories about Uncle Remus and the old plantation. Harris’ stories are relevant because we now live in a color-blind reincarnation of this ancient regime of servitude. If only Uncle Remus had an audience like The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s.

According to Uncle Remus, it seems that Br’er Bear was convinced Br’er Rabbit’s fate was better in his hands — even to the point of Rabbit’s being skinned and eaten — than it would have been at the mercy of Rabbit’s native habitat. Now how do you suppose Rabbit could have convinced Bear to the contrary considering that it was Bear’s dinner that was at stake, not Rabbit’s welfare? And why on earth would Rabbit have wanted to try knowing the obvious, that Bear had this certain conflict of interest? Of course he couldn’t. Instead, he used reverse psychology which is a euphemism for deception. (“Please Br’er Bear, don’t throw me in that there brier patch.”)

Sincerely,
Alvin

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