Burn the Fucking System to the Ground

417 Responses

  1. Xenocles says:

    So I guess this answers the title question from a few posts ago, yes?

  2. jdgalt says:

    You are The One. Don't ever change.

  3. nyarlathotep says:

    You just articulated a lot of things I have thought but never really put into words. Especially the part about the system working. Because you are right, it is doing EXACTLY what it was deisgned to do. Just what it was designed to do isn't in the best interest of anyone except the "noble" classes you mentioned.

  4. ender wiggin says:

    Amen, and a happy new year.

  5. Dan says:

    Amen brutha! As a former pinko tax-and-spend liberal, I have seen too much corruption to know that the game is fixed and we serfs are just cogs in the machine that only enrich the oligarch class.

    Burn it to the ground!

  6. chrisberez says:

    Really fantastic post, Clark. Thank you for this.

  7. While I agree, in the main, with this, does it not seem obvious that there is no system of government that is any better? In all existent systems, there is a hierarchy of justice, and the poor get shafted more than the rich. For values of poor and rich. The Constitution, as written, was an attempt to mitigate this trend, and while it has (as I expect they knew it would) failed, it still has provided a better system than much of the world gets to experience.

    It is bad, but could be so very much worse.

  8. ketchup says:

    OK, lets say for the sake of argument that I buy your conclusion that the system is irreparably broken and must be destroyed. With what shall we replace it?
    I'm confident that total anarchy would not result in a better quality of life for the vast majority of people. So just burning the system to the ground is not going to help. We have to replace it with something better.

  9. JohnC says:

    "Burn it to the ground."

    Totally. Because wide-spread civil disorder invariably leads to less government, not more.

  10. Salty says:

    And then build it back up.

    But with guns!

    Again!

    Again!

    Again!

  11. steve says:

    I getting up there in the years so I will not have to deal with it much more. Do not have any kids so I do not have to worry about what my kid will be dealing with. To make the changes that are needed to fix this is normally called a revolution and those tend to be messy.

    I am checking out soon and leaving nothing of worth behind.

  12. Carl says:

    I'm fascinated that amongst that litany of hypocrisy and corruption, you slipped in "teacher[s] retiring at age 60 on 80% salary", like that's definitely something all right-thinking people should be outraged about. Fuck those teachers, yeah!

  13. Karl von der Luft says:

    Expedience, not justice, is the rule of contemporary American law, Abbie Hoffman said.

  14. Allen says:

    Why yes ketchup. In a dog eat dog world it's always better that some dogs are the ordained eaten and some are the eaters.

    Since someone will always get eaten it's best if we know beforehand who the entrée is.

  15. Craig says:

    This is the most sensible and rational thing you've ever written, Clark. Really. I wholeheartedly approve.

  16. ketchup says:

    Allen,
    I don't understand your point. You seem to be implying that the current system is bad, only less eloquently than Clark. OK. I agree. But before we burn it down, don't you think it would be a good idea to have a plan for what to do next?

  17. Fatwa Arbuckle says:

    With what shall we replace it?

    How about a constitutional republic where the citizens – as necessary – force public officials to take their oaths of office to said Constitution very seriously? (That same document which conveniently codifies the right of individuals to own – without infringement – certain tools deemed necessary to maintaining liberty.)

    That'd be my choice…but I'm a bit old-fashioned about a few things.

    Bravo, Clark.

  18. Pablo says:

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

    Adams aside (but only for a moment) this is a tour de force. You've absolutely nailed it, Clark, and all I can do is ask the obvious question: Now what?

  19. Ivraatiems says:

    Clark, I'm sure nobody has to tell you that you express yourself extremely well. I'm tempted to write something very long attempting to deconstruct all of this, but I think that'd be a waste of our time because I'd fail quite miserably.

    I also don't want to echo the question everyone else is asking, "burn it down and replace it with what?" – I'd love to hear your answer, but repeating everyone else isn't contributing.

    So here's a different, and I hope more nuanced question for you:

    Over the course of humanity, when has government ever not been this way, to some extent? When has there ever not been abusers and corrupted people? When has there ever not been a ruling class, even if that ruling class was just the guy with the strongest first and the deepest voice?

    Put succinctly, are we on an upwards trend or a downwards trend here, from a historical perspective? It's fine to complain about how things are, but where are we going, where should we be going and how are we going to get there?

  20. Mike says:

    Thanks Clark. That was very good.

  21. Allen says:

    @Ketchup

    Everyone always assumes anarchy will lead to pure chaos and it will be solely survival of the fittest.

    My point is, who told you that? A person who has set up a system ensuring that they are deemed the fittest? Probably.

    Without knowing one another, why would you assume we could not act jointly and separately, with only minor friction? I am perfectly willing to engage in trade with you, respect your religious beliefs, and not infringe upon your rights.

    We could start with the golden rule which is common across numerous cultures.

  22. Matthew S says:

    I know a lot of teachers who would love to know where they can find that job you describe where they get automatic raises and only work 180 days a year. The rest of this piece is pretty good, though.

  23. Stephen H says:

    Where is the "like" button? And why am I agreeing with Clark?

  24. Ivraatiems says:

    Without knowing one another, why would you assume we could not act jointly and separately, with only minor friction? I am perfectly willing to engage in trade with you, respect your religious beliefs, and not infringe upon your rights.

    And when a large group of people who are willing to respect one another and not infringe upon one another's rights get together, they form… something almost like a community which might have something almost like a government?

    I would argue that the formation of a society of somekind is an inevitability of the social nature of humanity, and that the need of a society to be based on some kind of agreed-upon governance is also pretty inflexible. Perhaps somebody here can point out a society that lives with no form of leadership, law or government, but I can't think of one.

    I know a lot of teachers who would love to know where they can find that job you describe where they get automatic raises and only work 180 days a year. The rest of this piece is pretty good, though.

    Yeah, I wonder why given all that that all the smart people aren't signing up to be inner-city school teachers…

  25. That Anonymous Coward says:

    The problem is we get the government a majority of us deserve.
    Until it effects them personally, injustices done to others are just something to consider a bump in the road.
    So many people seem more focused on having control over women's utereuses (uterii?) that they ignore the other horrible acts the leaders who support taking that control away commit.
    We have a series of hot button issues, you press the button and all rational thought stops.

    You life is worse because illegals stole yer jobs!
    Lets pass some laws banning brown people!
    Cut to a farmer standing in front of his field rotting in the ground, talking to the media saying how he likes the new law. Some of those poor people who had their jobs "stolen" tried to do the back breaking work and most couldn't do a full days work. But the farmer is happy that all of the brown workers, legal and otherwise, all fled the state. Of course he will collect from some sort of fund, so he is out nothing. Prices for that crop might go up, but those are costs for other people to deal with.

    Someone injured by the police, the automatic assumption is well they MUST have done something wrong – why else would the police stop them. They didn't make the dog alert, they all knew he had drugs hidden in his ass, they just didn't find anything THIS time. Blissfully detached because it can't happen to them.

    There was much fanfare made after people got pissed off that Congress could profit from insider trading. They changed the rules… and when we stopped looking they quietly changed them back.

    The list goes on and on…

    Until it touched them, or someone they love they can not imagine the world other people actually live in. Where you can be stopped and frisked "for safety reasons" because saying because your black would be wrong. These "small" indignities are nothing, because its never happened to them.

    I laughed when they put some "media" types in fat suits and sent them out into the world. They were shocked and in tears by the end of the day about how cruel people were to them. Yet when they talked about airlines charging extra for fat people, it just seemed fair to do because fat people just take up to much space.

    Our society works on the premise if I can push you down, I lift myself up. And as long as your not trying to push down good people or pull down your betters, your struggle merely entertains those well above you. They rigged the game, your not gonna go anywhere… but you think its possible and your struggle makes them laugh.

    We are getting close to the day when there will be nothing left to take from the 99%, and maybe just maybe the 99% will be pushed to far and finally stop playing along as a cog.

    Or someone will blame it all on gays wanting to get married and watch the 99% tear themselves apart over that instead of the inequality in the system for all.

  26. Xenocles says:

    "Everyone always assumes anarchy will lead to pure chaos and it will be solely survival of the fittest."

    I don't believe that. I do believe it will very quickly lead to not-anarchy, whatever its inhabitants choose to call it.

  27. ketchup says:

    How about a constitutional republic where we – as necessary – force public officials to take their oaths of office to said Constitution very seriously? (That same document which conveniently codifies the right of individuals to own – without infringement – certain tools deemed necessary to maintaining liberty.)

    That sounds like the same system Clark has just demonstrated as broken.
    In other words, the system that we have now, only, We really mean it this time?

  28. Pablo says:

    @ketchup We've perverted that document and raised judicial fiat and stare decicis over what the founders gave us. I'd trace the beginning of our end to Wickard vs. Filburn, but YMMV. What the Constitution "means" now is miles apart from what it meant when it was written.

  29. Ivraatiems says:

    @Pablo

    @ketchup We've perverted that document and raised judicial fiat and stare decicis over what the founders gave us. I'd trace the beginning of our end to Wickard vs. Filburn, but YMMV. What the Constitution "means" now is miles apart from what it meant when it was written.

    There's absolutely no precedent for something like that happening over the lifetime of a document. After all, the Bible has never been altered or reinterpert–

    Nevermind.

  30. Lizard says:

    http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/l/leslie_fish/bring_it_down.html

    So, with that as the backing track to your post…

    Here's the thing — every flaw in the system can be traced back to what the system is made of.

    People.

    And you can't change people. (It becomes recursively weird, because, after all, any idea you have for "how to make people better" must be designed by people, and implemented by people, and all the things that need to be "made better" will not be "better" in those designers and implementers, with predictable results.)

    We have brains evolved to live in groups of a few hundred, and we are rapidly hurtling towards a global culture of seven billion (possibly going to 9-10 billion before industrialization results in ZPG planetwide) — millions of subcultures within it, of course, but the old barriers that divided the world into truly separate cultures are more like picket fences now, and becoming more like Les Nessman's office walls with each passing year. Every specific incident you call out, and the billions you don't, can be traced back to our brains being wired to treat The People Who Are Like Us differently from The People Who Not Like Us And Who Aren't Really People. (And our tendency to hierarchy, even among people who insist they're non-hierarchical. Someone always ends up in charge of deciding who isn't being non-hierarchical enough, and the group invariably punishes those who aren't sufficiently conformist in their non-conformity.)[1] Why do the powerful get a break? Because the powerful decide how the laws are enforced, and the powerful recognize each other as People Like Me. Why do Giselle Pollack's fellow judges give her a break? Because they're her fellow judges. She is People Like Them. The defendents? They're Not Really People.

    This can't be changed. It can't be changed by revolution, left or right or half-twist with a rebound. It can't be changed by Smashing Patriarchy And Oppression And Rape Culture And Capitalism (should take, what, an hour? Maybe two?) It can't be changed by consciousness raising, or returning to faith, or abandoning faith. The same patterns of behavior are visible in every group, every culture, every organization, no matter their putative beliefs. Atheists, fundamentalists, sports fans, communists, capitalists, the East Westfield Jr. High Marching Band, and a class of kindergartners all show the same basic behaviors. It's who and what we are as a species, and if there's a root cause of social failure besides simply being human, it's that hardly anyone wants to acknowledge that humans are the problem and try to work forward from what humans ARE, not what humans SHOULD be (and not exclude themselves from the problem. Are you human? Then you're part of the problem. Think you've found a way to NOT be part of the problem? Believing that that's possible is a big part of the problem.)

    Is the current mess sustainable? No. (But I have no idea how long it can last — could be decades or centuries. Inertia is powerful. One reason the Y2k "crisis" seized the imagination of the left and the right was that it offered a scenario wherein the multiple interlocking structures that sustain all of the modern world could fail at once, about the only way to cause the kind of collapse needed to implement one's vision of Ecotopia or Galt's Gulch. People who should have been a lot smarter were so enamored of this possibility they ignored all the facts that should have told them there was not going to be such a collapse.)

    What's going to replace it? Beats the crap out of me. Either we hit some kind of breakthrough into techno-anarchic-transumanist whatever, or we have a massive die-off that will certainly include me, if I'm still around for it.

    [1]Time Bandits:
    "We all agreed there were going to be no leaders, right?"
    "Right!" "Yeah!" "That's what we said!"
    "Good! Now shut up and do what I tell you!"

  31. SJD says:

    It's a great preface to contemplating the Two Eternal Russian Questions:

    1. Who's fault is it?
    2. What to do?

    (There is a third, apocryphal, Question "Is it OK to eat chicken using bare hands?" But we'll ignore it for now.)

  32. Pablo says:

    @Ivraatiems I don't believe any iteration of the Bible has ever been used as a nation's governing document. As for the Constitution, its provenance and editing history are not in question.

  33. ketchup says:

    Everyone always assumes anarchy will lead to pure chaos and it will be solely survival of the fittest.

    My point is, who told you that? A person who has set up a system ensuring that they are deemed the fittest? Probably.

    No one told me that. In fact I am not assuming that anarchy will lead to chaos. I didn't say that. I said that anarchy is likely to lead to a lower quality of life for the majority of people than does the current system. That is an opinion supported by data – ask the people of Somalia how anarchy worked out for them. Yes, that is only one data point. But there are many, many others. I challenge you to provide one example of a populous region where there is not a functioning government yet the quality of life for the average resident is good.
    Are you familiar with Steven Pinker's book that compiles the data on this over millennia?
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Better-Angels-Our-Nature/dp/1455883115
    By the way, Pinker seems to be arguing for more government, not less. I do not endorse that conclusion. But one doesn't have to endorse his vision for how we should act to accept the data themselves.

  34. ppnl says:

    Yeah, because destroying the system worked so well in "Anarchy Park".

    And the thing is the system probably works better now than it ever has before. The call to "Burn it down." strikes me as a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum. We probably have a better government than we deserve and if we burn it down we probably will not get it back any time soon. Getting it back will cost a river of blood that makes our current injustices look like paradise.

  35. Lizard says:

    I challenge you to provide one example of a populous region where there is not a functioning government yet the quality of life for the average resident is good.

    The United States of America?

    Ba-dum BUM!

  36. Ivraatiems says:

    @Pablo

    @Ivraatiems I don't believe any iteration of the Bible has ever been used as a nation's governing document. As for the Constitution, its provenance and editing history are not in question.

    …ever heard of Vatican City?

    Plus or minus all the nations throughout history which have cited it as the core from which all their laws extend, even if the work itself is not the core document.

    But that's fine – my point is that while we both agree that interpretation, relevance and perceived purpose of a work change over time, and the I think rate of that change is proportional to the amount of time elapsed, my question is "so what?"

    We don't live in the Founding Fathers' times anymore, any more than we live in biblical times or the times of Shakespeare or the Magna Carta or anything else. Whether you agree with it or not, this change is gonna happen over time.

    The question is not "why don't we return to the original intents of the document?" but rather "how do we create a system which stands the test of time without being corrupted as ours has?"

    Nobody's got the answer yet. I'm not sure we're even close.

    @ppnl

    And the thing is the system probably works better now than it ever has before. The call to "Burn it down." strikes me as a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum. We probably have a better government than we deserve and if we burn it down we probably will not get it back any time soon. Getting it back will cost a river of blood that makes our current injustices look like paradise.

    What are you, some sort of scardey-cat?

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that ideological and political, including the borders of nations and systems of government, can and has occurred without bloodshed? Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe that's how it should be?

  37. Fatwa Arbuckle says:

    @ketchup

    Yup. Reboot the entire system, enforce the Constitution with great vigor. And then convene a constitutional convention, if enough folks agree.

    The Constitution, as currently written, is not perfect…but I still think it's a damned good starting (over) point.

    "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." – Thomas Jefferson

  38. Chuck says:

    I don't think it's at all clear that what the founders left us (plus the text of constitutional amendments alone, since we are ignoring judicial glosses for the sake of argument) is any better than what we have today.

  39. Lizard says:

    So, for the "Let's just go back to what the Founders intended!" crowd…

    Does this include interpreting the First Amendment to permit the Alien & Sedition Act? (John Adams, who might have had a clue or two as to "original intent", certainly thought it did…)

    Indeed, I'll point to the A&SA as evidence of my earlier wall-o-text: People are the problem. Laws on paper, moral principles, beautifully articulated systems of philosophy and ethics, all of them are tossed aside in an instant when it's convenient to do so, and are then brought back a bit later to form brilliantly rationalized justifications for actions based on our primal instincts.

    PS: Do we keep the 13th Amendment? The 14th? The 16th? Who decides?

  40. db says:

    Ditto! That's certainly not been the experience of my parents, husband's parents and sister, or our many friends (all teachers, pre- through high school) who often work another job the "other half" of the year to remain in the black. I'd change careers for a job like Clark described, yet we don't see a lot of folks flocking to teaching in this country.

    Everything else in the piece deserves a standing ovation, though. Or maybe a bonfire?

  41. Fnord says:

    You're falling victim to the same blindness that afflicts those whose crimes you excoriate. Better to forget about civil rights, lest one person be killed by terrorists. Better to burn the system down than let one police officer get away with a shooting.

    This is not to say that police shootings (et al) are not a problem to be addressed, any more than to say the government should totally ignore terrorism. But both arguments lack any sense of proportion, blind to anything but their own fear and outrage.

  42. Clark says:

    @db

    Ditto! [re : teacher salaries ] That's certainly not been the experience…

    I know only what I've seen in the last three suburban blue state areas I've lived in. Perhaps things are different elsewhere.

  43. Allen says:

    Well there we go, I guess I got showed up. A minimalist state, leads to Somalia. An asymptote doesn't have an intersection, we might be talking about somewhere on the curve. That, and people will always choose a form of government because they have a need to do so.

    Some dogs need to be eaten, it's best if they are pre-ordained. Please see Ken's earlier post, your government needed the wolves not at their door.

  44. Ivraatiems says:

    I know only what I've seen in the last three suburban blue state areas I've lived in. Perhaps things are different elsewhere.

    Categorical statements like the ones the article makes, then, don't sit well when you're recommending overthrow and destruction of said categories based on incomplete information.

    @Fnord I feel you've hit it on the head with my issue with this post.

  45. rpro says:

    Fantastic. Revolt seems like the only option.

    Did I just say that out loud?

  46. ketchup says:

    Well there we go, I guess I got showed up. A minimalist state, leads to Somalia. An asymptote doesn't have an intersection, we might be talking about somewhere on the curve.

    Allen, no one said a minimalist state leads to Somalia. I mentioned Somalia because you asked who told me anarchy lead to chaos. If you want to change your argument to "minimalist state", or "somewhere on the curve", then we are getting somewhere, but you need to be more specific. In fact, that was my original comment – we are in agreement that the current system is broken. Most people (though not all) would agree that total anarchy is also not a good solution. So, where on the curve do you propose as being better than where we are currently?

  47. ppnl says:

    @Ivraatiems

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that ideological and political, including the borders of nations and systems of government, can and has occurred without bloodshed? Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe that's how it should be?

    Yeah our current constitution was a massive change in the system without bloodshed. But it was not "Burning the system down." It happened within the system and with the permission of the governed.

    If Clark was simply calling for a constitutional convention then that is fine. I seriously doubt he would be happy with the result. I just wouldn't call that "Burning the system down."

    Or maybe he is calling for some kind of coup d'état. In that case he will not only be disappointed with the results but will probably be murdered by one of his co-conspirators. In any case I wouldn't call that "Burning the system down." either.

  48. Ivraatiems says:

    @ppnl

    I don't know what, exactly, Clark is calling for but considering his previous work I'm willing to take him at his word: He wants an overthrow, and then some variety of anarchy (I recall seeing anarcho-capitalism somewhere) – but only he can state what he believes.

    Leaving aside what we get afterwards, it's the overthrow bit that I take issue with. And I strongly agree with you that regardless of its form or intent, history has shown that whatever revolutionaries might think they're going to get is generally not what they receive.

  49. Ryan says:

    I know a number of Americans from all over the political spectrum both personally and by virtue of the wonderful Internet age, and I talk politics with them a *great deal.*

    It is refreshing to finally hear from an American who realizes how well and truly broken the entire social, economic, and political structure of the United States actually is. One of my favourite argument leads "The American Dream is dead and always has been," but I see there is no need to repeat that here.

    Though I will point out that armed revolution is not necessarily the only recourse, and, given the history of the United States, probably one of the least effective ones.

    All that said – Merry Christmas to you and yours as well, Clark =)

  50. Xenocles says:

    I do like the way Clark can recommend "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," a book about a revolution that went about as well as possible but ends on a questionable note for the future, and still call for starting from scratch. (While it's not a great book otherwise, "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" briefly returns to Luna a generation or two later. Let's just say it's not pretty.)

  51. Shelby says:

    Ivraatiems:

    I don't know what, exactly, Clark is calling for

    Apparently he was over-subtle. While I can't disagree with your concerns, he wants (I tell you three times) to "burn it to the ground." I suspect that he would be satisfied if it were replaced with something along the lines of what the plain language of the Constitution outlines, combined with then-extant common law, though I could be wrong.

    All that said, the time for revolution is when the likelier negative outcomes (i.e. slightly worse than a modal-likelihood outcome) are still better than the present and the immediate future. All in all, and given how I think any actual revolution against the current actual government would likely play out, I'd say the upside (positive potential result) moderately outweighs the downside (negative potential result). Though not by enough to offset the interim damage, which I don't include in the downside; that's the cost of transition.

    I'd love to hear if Clark disagrees with this comment.

  52. David says:

    News flash: people are self-serving, corruptible, and largely corrupted.

    Seeking a political solution to the problems posed by this fact– even if that solution consists of revolution– is profoundly naive. After all, revolutionaries are people, too.

    Dystopia overthrown dystopically isn't utopia, and every founder of form or freedom who had utopian ideals left behind a dystopia.

    The problem lies not in class, power, privilege, and the envy of those who, in a given generation, enjoy them. The problem lies in the kind of thing we are.

  53. Ryan says:

    @David

    This is true. However, the problem is when people lose sight of that fundamental idea.

    Clark has a lot of this rant right – there are huge numbers of people that would rather view the problem in terms of the polarized left/right politics of the day, rather than looking to its source and asking what can be done about it.

    I'll be the first to say that calls for revolution are delusional and ultimately pointless, but the fact that Clark has found an inappropriate solution does not mean he has failed to identify the core problem in the US today.

  54. David says:

    Many of the problems he defines are real, or express real grievances in keeping with the customs of Festivus. However, emotionally fraught rhetoric culminating in a call to burn the palace down depends, for style and accessibility, on reductionism.

    The problems are not black and white, the faults are not universal across named classes (teachers, unions, cops, et al.), and the enforced hierarchy and rigged system he laments are caricatures of a much more complex reality.

    That doesn't mean Clark's bad or wrong or faulty for boiling complex reality down to such a ludicrous cartoon. After all, who doesn't enjoy a hearty rant, a rage against the machine, once in a while? And Clark's a good stylist. But he could have saved himself some part of that 20-year transition from libertarianism to, well… whatever, by reading Habermas and Althusser and realizing that people have been calling the game rigged for a rather long time.

  55. Ryan says:

    …but what would human discourse be, if not for people suddenly discovering and repeating what other people said long before them? =)

    If you'd really like a chuckle this almost-Christmas-Eve, and you've ever read Marx, think back on his descriptions of the progression of human civilization, his argument concerning socioeconomics, and the core of his call for revolution in the Communist Manifesto specifically… and note the striking similarities between him and Clark's argument. It's… I want to say deliciously ironic, but that doesn't even begin to describe it.

  56. Jon says:

    I give as evidence that an anarchy (or near anarchy) will fail due to human nature: The Internet. As long as it was a small ecosystem (like back in the 80's and early 90's), public shaming was sufficient to deal with the occasional major social faux pas (e.g., spam) which was generally due to ignorance/inexperience. Then the floodgates opened, and the professional spammers and virus spreaders became a serious menace, one which was not fully forseen or planned for. The tragedy of the commons is, I maintain, unavoidable due to human nature once the universe is sufficiently large. Then again, Clark may be arguing for a return to a national/world population a tiny fraction of the current size…

  57. David says:

    @Ryan,
    Yup. For that matter, there's no better source of apocalyptic anti-statist rhetoric than… the Apocalypse!

    This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated;… all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living… Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning….

    "Burn her to the ground!" etc….

    It's pretty exciting to get all worked up for a cause, or for want of a cause, or just because.

  58. TerryTowels says:

    Start by eating the rich. They're easy to find, and they're concentrated in their conclaves.

  59. The main thing wrong with Somalia is all the bastards trying to give it the blessings of a central state. For a while there, literacy was rising, child mortality declining, and telephone service among the best in Africa, or so I've read somewhere or other.

  60. Basil. Forthrightly says:

    Class inequity has been with us since the country's founding.

    Slavery.

    Voting initially restricted to (usually) white men with substantial property, 50 acres or more in many states.

    Aaron Burr was never tried for killing Alexander Hamilton in an illegal duel.

    Senator Preston Brooks received only a wrist slap for nearly murdering Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor, beating Sumner so badly with a cane that he was unable to return to the Senate for three years. Brooks accomplice, a Representative, who blocked interventation by onlookers by threatening them with a pistol, was also never charged.

    The patronage system, before the modern civil service era.

    Or study the sale of public lands to rich and connected, going back to colonial times.

    Thus it ever was. IMHO, there's generally been some progress and improvements, when looking at generational scale, though the relatively recent police militarization, and the current modern security state make me wonder if the long term trend has inflected.

  61. ppnl says:

    @Ivraatiems

    I don't know what, exactly, Clark is calling for but …

    I think Clark is mostly trolling. I doubt he has actually given it much thought.

    He wants an overthrow, and then some variety of anarchy (I recall seeing anarcho-capitalism somewhere) – but only he can state what he believes.

    I'm wondering exactly what an anarcho-capitalist society would look like. I wonder if it would even be possible. Create a power vacuum and a power will arise to fill it. That power will naturally seek order and stability for itself if not for others. To do this it will need laws and armed people to enforce those laws. There goes your anarchy.

    The end result may be a democracy, dictatorship or some kind of theocracy. But whatever it is it will probably contain cops doing cavity searches because a dog gave them permission. Or it's equivalent.

    The problem isn't government. The problem isn't the system. The problem is a basic limitation of the human soul. Justice always has been, always will be and always should be a struggle.

  62. tom says:

    Damn those teachers for their negotiated exchange of good pension for low wages! Yeah! Burn those fuckers to the ground!

  63. ppnl says:

    @Anton Sherwood

    The main thing wrong with Somalia is all the bastards trying to give it the blessings of a central state.

    Well yes that is the problem with anarchy. It isn't stable. Create a power vacuum and you create the conditions that guarantee that a power will arise to fill it.

    That is the lesson of Niven's "Anarchy Park". Without the copeyes absolute monopoly on the use of force it is a dystopia. But once you create that central power you create the risk that it will be abused. In a complex world it is guaranteed that it will be abused and people will disagree on when it is abused. Pretending that there is an easy answer we could implement if we would only burn the current system down isn't really very helpful.

  64. Alan W. says:

    Damn, Clark is such an UP person during the holidays!

  65. Vagrant says:

    It would seem to me any system of government in which a small group of people are given free rein of law for a fixed number of years regardless of error, and whom are checked and balanced only by other small, fixed-term groups, will lead to an inevitable result.

    Here is the system as I see it: one generation of power lays down laws and policy for their own benefit, some needed and some cosmetic; meanwhile the next generation rolls to power by calling for the removal of the cosmetic fringe – at least until the assumption of power. See the Obama administration and his senator days; the Bush Wars, in all their varied forms; the militarization of the police state. Power does not surrender itself. It merely trims the fat, and hibernates over the winter.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Adding a time limit only makes our senators, our presidents, our prosecutors more concerned with accomplishing their goals in a timely manner.

  66. Aaron says:

    But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
    Bury the rag deep in your face,
    For now's the time for your tears.

  67. Erwin says:

    I like rose tinted glasses.
    And I think we are closer to improvement than not.
    The easy step is mandatory surveillance and database tracking. Imagine a world where every cop has to wear a camera. And where every bit of government finance is traceable. A few decades ago, this was literally impossible. Now, it would be quite doable.

    Then, the harder step, give it 2 plus decades and we should be able to modify babies to be less stupid…

  68. Pablo says:

    @Ivraatiems

    You want to use Vatican City as an example of a nation? Even with "City" right in the name of it?

    Interesting gambit, sir. A very interesting gambit.

    Even more interesting is the notion that The Bible is the governing document of the Vatican. It's also wrong, but lets not let that get in the way of our admiration. I absolutely love the part where it established the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

  69. PalMD says:

    I'm only going to take issue with one point: the Stasi-NSA comparison. The NSA has collected (illigitimately) enormous amounts of data, most of which is noise. There is potential to skim out signal, and a lot of it and that is terrifying.
    The Stasi and other secret police, though, operated through human intelligence and terror, fear of immediate violence and death. They used their power for day to day control of everyone.
    The NSA may have the potential to provide useful data to others with secret police aspirations, but they are hardly the terror-squad thugs and murderers of the Stasi.

  70. KRy says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with TAC. We have the government system we deserve, no more no less.

  71. KRy says:

    The thought of even our current system replaced by a government based on the Bible absolutely terrifies me.

    And yes I'm well aware there are a fair number of people in this country trying to accomplish exactly that (including the terrorizing of those who don't agree with them).

  72. Eddie Harrington says:

    That…..was…..AWESOME!!

    Gonna spread this bit of holiday cheer far and wide today.

  73. WorkerBeeJ says:

    Clark – I've read your articles in the past, and I've had my beef with some of their content and style, but I always appreciated the perspective. I have no gripes with this piece, though – it's pure gold.

    I'm sure if we ever met in life, we would have a fantastic time going over the nuances of how exactly to fix the world. I just wish the rest of the populace carried the same passion for creating a stable system as you. Thank you.

  74. NI says:

    One of the reasons it's important to end the war on drugs is not just that the war on drugs is bad policy (though it is), but because it gives the police fewer opportunities to harass people. The reason they can violently search your car, your rectum, your house is that you might have drugs there. Take away that excuse and a huge chunk of police bad behavior goes away.

  75. Josh C says:

    Say you successfully burn this system down. Do you really think whatever replaces it will be better?

    We have, for example, some fairly solid free speech guarantees, especially compared to every other country in the world. If we tear those down, are we likely to see anything that good again? How certain are you that the second amendment could pass as written today? The fifth?

    How willing are you to risk being Canada instead?

  76. Lizard says:

    I suspect that he would be satisfied if it were replaced with something along the lines of what the plain language of the Constitution outlines, combined with then-extant common law, though I could be wrong.

    The "plain language" of the Constitution was under tremendous debate within a short period of it being signed, when many of the signatories and drafters were still alive. You might as well say we can have the perfect society by living according to Wheaton's Law:"Don't be a dick." Well, that's a good principle, I concur. What does it MEAN?

    Does "no law" regarding freedom of speech include libel? Threats? Copyright? (The Constitution allows for copyright, but the First Amendment AMENDS it. How much does it amend it?)

    Do I have a right to hold a protest that blocks all traffic? Does it matter if it lasts an hour, a day, a week? If I make it clear that my mob of protesters may or may not be outraged based on how much money a private business owner donates to my cause, then, can the government tell me I can't hold my protest?

    I find it interesting: I have the exact same argument, just with different examples, over on RPG.net, every time someone brings up rules-light RPGs and proclaims, contrary to all experience, that all you need are "reasonable" players and the game won't devolve into screaming arguments about how far a drunken halfling can jump if he's got a broken ankle and is trying to carry a solid gold statue.

    (Also, there's no orbital mind control lasers to give everyone the mindset of 18th century folks. What people today expect from society, what the modern world condiers "normal", "just", "fair", "how things ought to be", is different from what the Founders thought. Thus, any portion of the Constitution that relies on any kind of subjective value — what is "cruel and unusual", anyway? What's an "unreasonable" search? — is going to be based on 21st century conceptions, not 18th century.

    "Well, we can just work out those kinds of details!"

    Yeah, we've been doing that for over 200 years. And we're still doing it. Throwing out all the answers we've come up with in order to start over and just spend another 200 years coming up with pretty much the same answers strikes me as foolish. See also D&D Fifth Edition, which decides to un-solve many of the problems of the game that arose in the 1970s and have since found tolerable solutions.

    Like I keep saying: Patterns. Revolutions or role playing, politics or paladins, humans keep repeating the same patterns.

  77. Lizard says:

    Start by eating the rich. They're easy to find, and they're concentrated in their conclaves.

    Yeah, but they're kind of tough, due to a leaner diet and more opportunities for exercise. These days, obesity is a sign of poverty, not wealth, and I am a data point for that. (Did I mention I am now among the ranks of the unemployed? Anyone need a coder/technical writer/copy editor/ranter? Meanwhile, back to teaching myself enough ASP.net to write a web-based Traveller planet generator. (It's kind of my go-to project for learning new frameworks and APIs; better than a generic business app.))

    PS: Damn, Anton, it's like old home week for us USENET relics on Popehat, ennit?

  78. Mike says:

    Anarchism is such an odd combination of pessimism and optimism.

    Every system in the world is broken, but you can count on your fingers the number of times where burning it down led to a better one.

  79. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says:

    The system is broken only because we are broken. Figure out a way to fix humanity, Clark, and the system will fix itself. Break the system by force, and we'll just put something worse in its place.

    P.S. I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a bright new year.

  80. A truly excellent post! But like so many commenters I ask, what does the replacement look like? An anarchy is just an invitation for bullies, thugs, warlords and tyrants (yes, those are all different names for the same role in ascending order of scope of power) to rule piecemeal. And the Golden Rule is great -and to my mind the foundation of the rule of law – but guess what? Someone has to be authorized to enforce it. Personally I'd favour a society with minimal restrictions on personal behaviour except where it can be demonstrated to harm others, and maximal assistance to level the playing field so that individuals can rise to the extent their skills, abilities, motivation, ambition and circumstance permit. I like to think that's sort of what the framers of the American Constitution had in mind (admittedly only for land-owning men of the white persuasion) by "all men are created equal".

  81. Lizard says:

    I'm sure if we ever met in life, we would have a fantastic time going over the nuances of how exactly to fix the world. I just wish the rest of the populace carried the same passion for creating a stable system as you.

    History is filled with people passionate about fixing the world, and mass graves are filled with the consequences of their passion.

    The hilarious irony of the Left is that if you want to know every atrocity, scandal, corruption, and deceit performed by the government, go to a Leftist, and they will tell you at length — but ask them how to fix any problem at all, and they'll say, "Why, the government, of course!"

    The hilarious irony of the right is that if you want articulate philosophical defenses of freedom, liberty, the rights of man, and the fundamental insanity of the concept that a collective can possess rights not possessed by the individuals that compose it, go to a libertarian… and when they're done telling you this, they'll tell you how they need to be put in charge of the world because they know how to make things WORK.

    As for me… to rewrite a song from my not-ill-spent-enough youth:"I can't even run my own life, I'll be damned if I'll run yours."

  82. Sethy Trashroad says:

    I think a lot of this could be fixed by ending the War on Drugs and removing criminal law enforcement from drug issues entirely, making it an issue of civil and tax regulation for the most part – that would end most of the police bad behavior related to small-time users and dealers, and put the big time people on notice to clean up their biz at least to the point that the alcohol industry has.

    Then, make the Fourth Amendment a blanket guarantee against search and seizure unless there is PROOF of criminal activity without said search and seizure. The search and seizure can only be a supplemental part of a criminal investigation, not the thing that starts it. As in, using burglary as an example with the War on Drugs ended, cops can't insist on searching a house for stolen items because it looks like people in it have things better than the neighborhood – because there could be non-criminal reasons for it. On the other hand, someone sells them stolen property from the house? They observe and can prove someone broke into another house and drove there with something? Then they can search and seize.

    I think a large amount of the rest can be fixed by adjusting for scale. Unless we're talking about stuff like murder, there is NO WAY an individual should receive a worse punishment than a group or corporation for any given criminal act, because impact and proportionality and knowledge – a guy who steals a candy bar is NOT as culpable as someone who rips off $500 million, someone who individually stupidly dumps a chemical or causes the loss of an endangered animal isn't the same thing as a corporation that pollutes with total impunity and total knowledge of what they did, or that destroys a habitat for profit. And start using huge fines and imprisonment and the criminal system only for things that directly harm other human beings, or for things that massively damage the environment.

    As in my idea there would be, let's say Joe Six-Pack dumps paint in a creek. He gets to take a weekend (or even online) class about chemical safety which includes how to responsibly dispose of chemicals, what specific ones do to the environment, etcetera – stuff anyone using said chemicals needs to know in the first place – and maybe pay a small fine like a ticket or such or pay for some of the cleanup AND participate himself if possible. Make the action have consequences but survivable and sane ones that don't involve imprisonment or extreme punishment.

    On the other hand, Mega Corp dumps a million gallons of paint into a creek? Fuck them, the corporation gets dissolved, whomever made the decision goes to the federal pen for a few years, and however much of the company assets don't go to employee severance/unemployment goes to paying for the cleanup. As in, far worse action, far worse consequences.

    /rant over

  83. Rixtex says:

    An honest Airing of Grievances. He has some problems with those people.

  84. michael says:

    @clark. I think the point is that the systems give this to just a certain class of people. If every one was getting this them it would be OK or at least fair.

  85. WorkerBeeJ says:

    History is filled with people passionate about fixing the world, and mass graves are filled with the consequences of their passion.

    Holy crap.

    Yes, people have died due to mistakes, oversights, carelessness, unawareness, and evil. But that statement is so grandiosely overboard and silly, even if we are in a phase of regression.

    Relax a little – if not for yourself, then for the people around you. Using such broad strokes to paint all of your points is a great way to be ignored, and polarize the world further.

  86. Drebin says:

    @Lizard:

    Thank you for the D&D-related post, for which you are now my newest 'fav' commenter, if only for managing to compare real-world issues in governmental reform with realism-level issues in escapist gaming (and successfully, IMO).

    I think your comment on patterns is correct. Be it through society, science, religion or roleplaying, I think humanity is trying to solve an existentialist question. Over simplified, I think that question is: Well, now what? Phrasing it correctly is beyond my current abilities.

  87. Sam says:

    This isn't just the system, Clark, this is life. You want a system where the corrupt don't get benefit from their corruption, you need a system where the corrupt do not exist.

    And if you can create that Paradise? Then fuck; even this rotten system would work like a charm.

  88. Marconi Darwin says:

    Speechless. And I started with every intent of shouting "BULLSHIT, CLARK"

    Cannot deny reality, so I await instructions. What do I burn first?

  89. Klover says:

    And a happy Festivus to you and yours Clark!

    How many rounds did the Feats of Strength take to pin the Mrs.? (Assuming she is the actual head of the household like my home)

    Cheers!

  90. inode_buddha says:

    The fun thing about the an-caps is that they're so naive they're cute. At least until they become annoying.

  91. Shane says:

    Why burn it to the ground when it will only be remade the same way. It is not reformable, it is not just, it is none of those things, but it is one thing … human. Human beings will never change and neither will their kings systems.

    Final thought.

  92. John Beaty says:

    Anyone who thinks "The Bible" was written as it stands, shouldn't comment. And further, which bible now?

  93. Lizard says:

    @WorkerBeeJ: Yeah, just because the last couple of visions of Glorious Utopia have ended up killing hundreds of millions of people in all sorts of horrible ways (and many of these are still ongoing), it's no reason to be down on the next person who's sure he (or, let us be fair, she — there's no reason to have a glass ceiling on genocidal madness, and I believe a woman can be as insanely murderous as a man, if the Patriarchy would just give her the chance) knows what the world needs, and is certain of the Utopia To Come, and any atrocity can be justified because it's serving the Greater Good. If you oppose the Greater Good, you are a Commie Mutant Traitor, and showing mercy to Commie Mutant Traitors is treason.

    You'd think we'd have learned this by now, but we're humans, and humans seem to have an instinct to believe "This time, for sure!". In general, I suspect this is a good and necessary instinct: It takes a lot of trial and error to make an arrowhead, learn to start a fire, write a computer program. Those who didn't give up after the first failure were selected for. Unfortunately, our instinct does a poor job of splitting the difficult from the impossible, and the sort of people most likely to believe *they* have both the wisdom and the duty to *make* the world a better place are pretty much the ones who ought to be shot on sight… but the people who believe they have the wisdom and the duty to perform such executions are exactly the same sort of people, and so it goes.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

    And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire

  94. Shane says:

    @John Beaty would it help if you got an atheist POV that says exactly the same thing? Let me know and I will rephrase just for you. @Clark is Catholic so my comments were directed at him. I chose the quotes because they were the first in the search results, I don't care the websites that they came from.

    Wisdom is wisdom even if comes from an adulterous women that wants to (and did) have sex with her young protege.

  95. RKN says:

    A real shakin'-your-fist-at-the-rain post.

    By all means, start handing out pitchforks and torches. Meetchya on Constitution Ave. Yeah yeah.

    Lizard is close to correct, the "problem" is people, but I don't think it's anything intrinsic with humans, it's the manner in which they are distributed and aligned with respect to the State (local, state & federal), the asymmetry. There are far more people with water hoses motivated to keep a fire from starting than those with matches motivated to start one. You're facing a real prisoner's dilemma. Rand, I think, understood this, so she had Galt et al. withdraw instead of attack.

    In case I'm wrong, though, would ya give me heads up before you get to Constitution? I'd like to get my not-ill-gotten wealth out of the System before you burn it down.

  96. Al says:

    Yeah, I'm sure Russia, China and Cambodia are just outliers.

  97. mud man says:

    "There is a deep complementarity between individual agency and social arrangements. It is important to give simultaneous recognition to the centrality of individual freedom and to the force of social influences on the extent and reach of individual freedom. To counter the problems that we face, we have to see individual freedom as a social commitment." – Amartya Sen

    Likewise, to see social freedom as an individual commitment. No "system of government" is going to help. What will save us if anything does is to give up our heart of stone and accept a heart of flesh, which we will do if at all one at a time.

  98. mud man says:

    BTW, Judge Pollack seems to be on the bench of a drug diversion court. She still should have more sense than to come to work stoned, but it isn't quite like she's doing mandatory minimums.

    'Defendants prepared to go through a treatment program and six months worth of testing, supervision and staying clean would have the charges against them dismissed,' Pollack has said of the program.

  99. Hoare says:

    new land to steal? nope
    not on this planet….
    Earthlings be screwed

    get us off this rock!!!!!

  100. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    The problem with burning it all to the ground is that it WILL be replaced. Those who are not governed by their own will will be governed by another's will, imposed upon them.

    This is why the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are important. More important than any momentary expedience in ignoring them could be. GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT. Not OUR government. ALL government. It is, therefore, vital, that the reach and authority of government be severely curtailed.

    Now, how the pluperfect hell do we do something about this?

    I live in confident expectation that I will live to see a truly Imperial America. Imperial in the Victorian or even Roman sense of the word. Personally, I expect to be fairly comfortable; I'm a white male, in comfortable circumstances, married to a handicapped hispanic female. It will be a while before the prosperity that will turn out to be the first flush of fever washes out, and I'm over 50. But for a lot of people (Jihadis spring to mind) it's just going to SUCK. And, in the long run, it won't last or get better before it gets awful.

  101. Drebin says:

    Yikes, there's an association I haven't really given much thought to, that being Imperial America and thus the likely signatory use of the eagle again.

    Would that then be: Senātus Populusque Americus?

  102. OrderoftheQuaff says:

    Great post Clark!

    I bring you tidings of great joy. The system is already on fire, thanks to the most ill-conceived and poorly executed federal law in the history of our republic. When someone asks me if I've signed up for Obamacare yet, I tell them the following little story:

    A healthy man pushing 60 (my age) and his healthy son are walking around in the woods in April, when the ticks are out. After making their way through a dense thicket, they look down at their bodies, and what do they see?

    If you said "bloodsucking parasitical arachnids", it means you have not attained enlightenment. They're STAKEHOLDERS! The pair walks over to the Obamacare medic wagon, and the medic tells them…

    "Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna transfuse a pint of blood from Junior to Pops here. Junior's younger bone marrow will replenish the blood faster, Pops gets topped off and the stakeholders can continue to gorge freely."

    Obamacare adds a new stakeholder class: big IT companies. The state of Oregon paid Oracle 100 million dollars for its "cover Oregon" website, which so far has failed to enroll ONE SINGLE PERSON online, because it DOESN'T WORK. The proles send in their apps via snail mail, and when the apps are incomplete, the apparatchiks occasionally amuse themselves (and me) by mailing the incomplete app…not to its author, but to SOME OTHER TOTAL STRANGER who submitted an incomplete app. Jane learns about Jean's enuresis, Jean discovers that Joan's Pearl Rabbit tore her vagina, and Joan is au courant with Jane's HIV status. Meanwhile, Larry Ellison has purchased the island of Lanai.

    You can have capitalist medicine. You can have socialized medicine, but you can't have BOTH AT THE SAME TIME! Junior's vital young bone marrow is insufficient for this undertaking. After student loans, stagnant wages and Mcjobs, there isn't enough blood there! IT ISN'T GOING TO WORK! In 2014, we will be privileged to see something akin to a schoolbus plunging over a cliff, our excitement tempered only by the fact that we're all aboard this bus.

    Merry Christmas!

  103. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Drebin,

    I expect it to kick off with a a major terrorist attack; something on the order of ten times the deaths on 9/11/2001. I'm thinking a fuel-air or dust explosion in Detroit (because the authorities in Detroit would barely notice a terrorist cell if it was blowing them).

    I remember running into Doctrinaire Libs during the Bush administration who were wringing their hands that we were "lashing out in unreasoning anger" in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was ridiculous; Mecca was still standing. Kill 30,000 Americans in one attack and "unreasoning anger" will be a real possibility.

    But once we conquer the Saudis (bets on them not being involved?) we'll be stuck. It will be nice for a few decades, but the nice won't last and the Caligulas will.

  104. Chris says:

    RE: Teachers (Fair warning, much venting of spleen incoming, I'm sorry)

    I'd love to find an automatic raise and 180 day a year teaching job for my wife.

    Public perception is that a teacher's day is over at 3pm (2-4 hours before a "normal" job), and they get 3 months off in the summer. The reality of my wife's job is that she stops being paid at 3pm (salary, but she's not allowed to leave before 3), but rarely makes it out the door until nearly 5pm. And while a "normal" job starts at 8 or 9am, she's already been at work for 2 and a half hours (officially 7am, but she's rarely there later than 6:30). While she is home most days by 5pm, that doesn't end her work day. She spends the evening and rather a large amount of hours on the weekend grading papers and updating her grades from home.

    The 3 month summer vacation is also mostly a myth. Usually school isn't actually out for the students until the 2nd week of June and the teachers are required to stay for several days after that. The week or so they have after the students leave is supposed to be for finishing up grading and packing their rooms. If the meetings that are scheduled by the administrators allow, that will actually happen. More often the grading and packing is done late into the evening or on days after the official time that teachers are supposed to be out of the building. A similar, but more meeting heavy, thing happens on the other end of the summer. Students are usually scheduled back the day after Labor Day, but teachers are required to be there a week before that to plan their classes and set up their classrooms. But, as is becoming a trend in this little diatribe, reality is a bit different. If there is to be any time to plan classes and set up the room, they have to come in another week before that since the administration schedules more meetings than an average week in Dilbert's life for that official planning week. (Granted the final total is 6 weeks, but imagine how nice it is to get away from your kids for a weekend. Now multiply the stress of dealing with your kids by 150, and add in dealing with 1-6 parents each per 150 students, and do that for 8ish hours per day. That 6 weeks saves lives! ;-)

    As for automatic raises, not even close. In the 17 years that my wife has been in the same district, there hasn't been a single raise to the pay scale. She is making more money, and there is the possibility to increase the amount you make, but that is only done with time and education. More seniority does give "automatic raises" as does getting more education, but that education is largely paid for by the teachers themselves. The actual salaries are the same as they were during the first Clinton administration (possibly longer than 17 years, but those years I have witnessed). In the time since teachers took a "temporary pay freeze" to help the district keep functioning: Medical insurance coverage has been cut nearly every year, the cost of that insurance used to be 100% covered by the district and the insurance pool but now costs about $1k/mo out of her paycheck; the number of teachers working to educate roughly the same number of kids has gone down by about 40%; the amount of supplies on the lists that students are supposed to purchase and bring to school on the first day has gone from "pencils, paper, notebook for you personally" to "enough stuff to supply the classroom for the year" (we have kids in the district as well), which translates into teachers shelling out hundreds of dollars per school year out of their own pockets to supply their own classroom; and a consistent decline in the respect that these professionals are treated with, I've literally had several minimum wage, no-skill jobs where we were treated better by the boss than these highly educated people are.

    The days of all powerful teacher unions are gone. I'm sure there are places where the unions are still influential, but not nearly so many as you might think. Some time ago there was an idea that schools should be run like businesses. The idea being to reduce inefficiency and waste. That is a wonderful idea. Unfortunately with the good part of that comes the bad, namely the overcompensation of executives and the treating of workers like disposable tissues to be discarded as soon as possible after use.

    All of this that I am writing about takes place in a small, rural district that serves roughly 3,000 people (official population of the town is 2,700ish and it serves some unincorporated areas around it) with 1 high school, 1 junior high school, and 2-3 grade schools (they closed one of them a couple years ago, but that is another story). That little, chronically underfunded, district that serves a fail(ed/ing) former timber town is currently paying the Superintendent (CEO) somewhere in the mid-six figures for salary. And at the same time that 30-40% of the teaching staff has been let go for budget reasons, the staff at the district office ("executives") has increased by 20+%. While teachers have been on a 20 year "temporary" pay freeze, the district office is pitching in JUST THIS PAST YEAR by only taking a 3% COLA this year instead of 5%.

    Obviously this is anecdotal and not definitive, but the other teachers that my wife talks to when she goes to conferences (at her own expense, the district has consistently refused to help her when she is invited to do presentations at *national* math conferences) tell similar stories. Every year when I sit down to do the taxes, the number goes down. Every year the cost of living goes up, but the paycheck doesn't get any bigger. Maybe it would be different if tenure still existed for teachers in this state (below university level anyway), but my wife has only marginally more job security than the average fast food worker. Even with more than 20 years teaching experience and 17 years in the same district, she is always only a one year "plan of assistance" from having to find another job.

    TL;DR – I sure as hell haven't seen 180 day, auto-raise, 80% income retirement teaching jobs in at least 17 years, and I'm married to one.

  105. Drebin says:

    @CSPS:

    Considering the current state of Detroit, how would we notice the explosion and loss of life from the current state of the city?

  106. stavro375 says:

    Wow, this was a depressing post.
    All of Humanity's biggest problems share one feature: they are as important to solve as they are impossible to solve. The dominance of the elite seems to be one of these; after all, only the elite can create meaningful change on a system (show me a revolution without a "vanguard", and I'll show you a revolution that nowhere and accomplished nothing), but how can we rely on the elite to kneecap their own power/liberty/access to resources? Dilemmas like these are almost enough to make one give up on the idea of society… almost. If our system is "the worst of all that have been tried", surely there's hope an untried alternative is better?

  107. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Drebin,

    By the "Mushroom cloud" which the mainstream media, being illiterate, innumerate, and (if that is a word) ahistorical will label as a nuclear explosion.

  108. Sad Panda says:

    Reading about Pollack, it sounds to me like she is someone who figured out a way to use the system to try to help people overcome their addiction problems and eliminate the charges from their records.

    http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-12-19/news/fl-judge-heads-for-rehab-20131219_1_drug-court-judge-pollack-relapse

    Not quite the poster child for a "burn it to the ground" rant against the government, really. Maybe stick to the cops who shoot people dead for no reason and with no repercussions. And those evil teachers. Anybody could take a room full of half-fed kids and help them learn and grow, right? If it's such a rewarding career, they should do it for free.

  109. Zozo says:

    If you're rich and bored you can drink another man's milkshake and annihilate the innocent- no problems.

  110. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Sad Panda,

    "those evil teachers. Anybody could take a room full of half-fed kids and help them learn and grow, right? If it's such a rewarding career, they should do it for free."

    Snark is all very well, but there is something seriously wrong with how we train and/or certify teachers. My father was a Professor, thus a college academic (and a scholar, the two do not always go together), and I grew up on the fringes of academia. Until the inauguration of Women's Studies, Black Studies, etc, the dumbest students and the most idiotic professors on any University campus could reliably be found in the college of Education. It had been that way since before WWII. Further, the strength of the Teachers' Unions makes it next to impossible to fire those whose inadequacy is noteworthy. And I am hearing rumblings of widespread child-sex abuse scandals that will make the Catholic Priesthood look like pillars of rectitude.

    I will grant that the last is still rumor, and may be wishful thinking. But the spread of Zero Tolerance policies (and their storied misapplication to the real world) incline me to think that the present set-up attracts people who enjoy bullying children.

    Now, what do we do about it? Hell if I know. I do know one thing; waiting for broad spread legalization of 'vouchers' is a non-starter. The political processes of the 20th century deprived poor blacks of underfunded, inadequately staffed, but at least slightly functional schools, and replaced them with politically correct pedagogical dumps. The hell with Slavery; we owe reparations for this. I actually have disposable income these days. I am looking for (and would love to hear about) scholarship funds for inner city poor in Philadelphia. The hell with "The government should do this". It needs to be done, sooner rather than later.

  111. Lagaya1 says:

    God, that's naïve.

  112. ChrisTS says:

    I want to focus on Clark’s claim that the judge whose need for rehab started this rant is a hypocrite.
    But, she isn’t. She started an alternative court so that people arrested and charged for drug abuse had a chance to stay out of prison and be free of criminal record. She did this in part, it seems, because of her own history of substance addictions, about which she was quite open. And, she did it as a way of keeping the stupid War on Drugs from ruining at least a few lives.

    So, this is a person who is actually trying to do something within the system we have to help real people. The only ‘hypocrisy’ I can spy is that she seems to think she only needs two weeks to fix what the defendants in her courtroom must spend six weeks and lots of time being monitored to fix.

  113. Lizard says:

    For no reason other than pot stirring, can someone come up with an explanation of why a CEO who negotiates a zillion-dollar golden parachute with no strings attached (erm… as it were… taken literally, that's kind of a fun image…) is legally entitled to get it, even as the corporation he ran into the ground is busy laying everyone off, but a teacher who has negotiated a decent pension is NOT entitled, or vice-versa? Want to argue that either the government hiring the teachers, or the board hiring the CEO, were crappy negotiators and shouldn't have made such deals? Fine, that's an argument you can have about any contract that doesn't work out as various parties might have hoped. But once the deal is made and done, and all involved did what they agreed to do (which might be "nothing at all, but I still get paid", depending on the contract), arguing that *abiding* by the contract is evil, immoral, etc., strikes at the core conceit of any social order from the simplest to the most complex: When an agreement is made, it is honored. Even in an anarchy, that remains: Without a notion of "If you do X, you will get Y", there is no society, period.

    (Arguments that unions, etc., have too much negotiating power are easy to make and usually factually correct — but such arguments also rely on a very left-wing notion, that being that there's some innate concept of "fairness" beyond "what you can bargain for", and that if one party has "too much" power, there must be some regulation, limit, or control to mandate they not use it "unfairly". Under a purely anarchocapitalist regime, nothing stops unions from monopolizing any profession, provided they're well-organized enough.[1] There's no "right to work" laws in Galt's Gulch, if you can get every employer to agree to a contract to hire only union members — and the Private Security And Contract Enforcement Worker's Union is included in the bargaining.)

    [1]Depending on your personal values, this may be a feature, not a bug.

  114. Lizard says:

    incline me to think that the present set-up attracts people who enjoy bullying children.

    All positions of power attract bullies. I am not sure if it's correlative (bullies seek power), causative (power makes people bullies) or a mix of both.

  115. Sad Panda says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield: Yeah, there are bad teachers, and probably a number of pedophiles and all the rest. There is also too much security for the really bad ones, who should be turfed to the curb immediately, and probably not enough support/pressure for the middling ones to improve what they're doing. But suggesting that teachers as a group are more the 1% than the 99% (if I can troll Clark with that sort of language) just says to me that his argument is not well considered. He's put forward more of a rant than an argument, really. Which is fair enough of course, since it's his bully pulpit.

    @ChrisTS: A few of us have pointed this out, and I'd love to see Clark respond to it. He writes about her like she's some sort of God 'n Guns Drug Warrior, or Rush Limbaugh with a gavel.

  116. Demosthenes says:

    I once swore, after about the twentieth time I heard a leftist say "He's not my president" of George Bush, that I would never say anything like that about a Democratic president. I still haven't…but Barack Obama has driven me very close a couple of times. So close that I now understand how easy it was for some of my friends and former friends to say it. I still don't approve of the thought, but I have a little sympathy for the emotion now.

    Why do I mention this, you ask?

    Because I also swore never to say anything like "If you have so many problems with America, then move the f*** out and leave us alone." And again, I still haven't said it.

    Yet.

  117. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Sad Panda;

    The record of the truly miserable 19th century schools (for EVERYBODY, not just Blacks) in managing to teach poor, inner-city kids (many of whom spoke minimal English to start) to Read, Write, and do Math argues that there is something systemically wrong with our modern schools that have much better resources, and don't do as well. I'm not sure what it is (though there are lots of theories), but small non-public schools have repeatedly shown that it is possible to do much better with less money …. while teaching students from the same backgrounds as the schools with which they are compared. Some of this, of course, is that such schools are self-selecting samples, and the differential will drop off as it becomes easier for parents to make such choices. But I don't think that invalidates the idea entirely. Get more kids into a variety of schools and then, where possible, adapt the models that appear to work. And some, at least, of those schools should be substantially outside the authority of the State Education industry, since it has failed.

  118. Sad Panda says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield: There was a lot of truly miserable to go around in the 19th century, not just in the schools. We're all lucky that we have so efficiency harnessed oil. And other technologies also, but I think what we've done with oil is likely the biggest difference between the last century or so and most centuries before it. But I digress.

    Generally, I like your plan. And even if doing education through the state has some benefits, which I believe it may, experimenting and adapting are not among them. So experiment within the system if that's what you've got to work with, (like Judge Pollack, in the judicial system) and outside the system if you can.

    And measure outcomes, regardless of what union opposes the idea. Maybe standardized tests aren't the right kind of measurement, I don't know. Certainly you should be able to judge how a school is doing by how its students do relative to those of other schools when they graduate to the next level up in the education system, at the very least. But again, I digress.

    Merry Christmas, all!

  119. Shane says:

    @Chris

    I sure as hell haven't seen 180 day, auto-raise, 80% income retirement teaching jobs in at least 17 years, and I'm married to one.

    Ask your significant other whether his/her union rep. has seen raises like that, on second thought nvm, he/she will probably get fired for asking something so dangerous.

  120. Chris says:

    @Shane: I almost wish it were a dangerous question. I don't know about the state teacher's union, but the local one that covers the district hasn't seen any pay increases either. It is entirely made up of the local teachers, no paid union staff whatsoever.

  121. AlphaCentauri says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield: Re: scholarship funds — Many of the elite private schools in Philadelphia do provide generous scholarships to low income kids. But it's still out of reach of a lot of kids who simply aren't ready to compete in that type of classroom by kindergarten age. If the adults in a home are still reading by sounding out words, and family members think it's stupid to talk to an infant who isn't able to talk back, kids are way behind in their vocabulary and ability to learn by forming new associations to known concepts. Families want their kids to do well, but when it comes to doing something to make their kids successful, they really don't know what they don't know. Head Start programs are supposed to try to address that, but it's a pretty meager effort. You aren't going to prepare kids for competitive elementary schools by employing teachers who wouldn't have been able to graduate from such schools themselves. And the most at-risk kids — those whose parents are unemployed drug addicts with a succession of kids by different partners — aren't eligible, since subsidized child care is only available to working parents.

    We've got a system designed to maintain privilege for those who are already privileged. If the Philadelphia school system started turning out graduates that were out-competing Lower Merion for college admissions, you can bet Lower Merion taxes would go up as much as necessary to make sure their kids are "all above average." People will give other people charity, but they won't give them equality.

  122. I don't understand how the system can be "corrupt, corrupt, corrupt" but that it's doing what it was designed to, because if it is doing what it's designed to, I don't see how that's corruption. If the problem is that lawmakers and courts are ignoring, e.g., the 9th and 10th amendments, then perhaps they're not doing what the system was designed to do, because they're subverting it.

    I don't think it's true that lefties are all in unison in denial that Obama has gotten away with things for which he refuses to pardon or grant clemency to others.

    I don't know anything about Clarke–I'm a newbie here–and ad hominems are almost always bad argument, but whenever someone is indicting the inequities of a system and then claims that they are among the "peons," I get suspicious. That doesn't make his factual claims wrong, but it'll be neat trick if he doesn't enjoy some privileges. Again, it's an ad hominem, just like it's an ad hominem to criticize the Trotskyite grad student who claims to be a "worker."

    Oh my! Burn it all down. Whom do I kill first? It might be too hard to kill the cops and judges, but maybe he can start with the "not smarter than a box of crayolas" teachers. After all, they're dumb, if they were smarter than a box of crayolas, then they'd deserve to live. Only the smart and the strong (and the blog authors with the correct viewpoints) who deserve to live.

  123. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    AlphaCentauri,

    "People will give other people charity, but they won't give them equality."

    While I agree with this as a broad generalization, there are honorable exceptions, and also some loopholes. The Upper (middle) Class Western Intellectuals look down on people who work with their hands, or in general do something useful (like program computers, as opposed to simply use them). So one could push to educate the "lower orders" (that is how the Western Intellectual Twits THINK of the urban poor, the rednecks, and so on, no matter what they may say) to be mechanics, engineers, and crafts folk without tipping their alarms – at least at first.

    Some of them ,even now, are dimly aware that superiority is largely illusory, but their delusions of being suitable Lords of Creation keep them from acting on that perception.

    If we can get a significant percentage educated enough to read easily, they will be able to at least CHECK the pronouncements of the Mainstream Media. That HAS to be an improvement.

  124. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Sad Panda;

    Nobody who opines that "Technology hasn't made things any better" has ever had a toothache, a serious bacterial infection, or tried to write a paper meant to impress people on a typewriter.

    Or considered the implications that apparently the commonest dietary problem of the Poor in North America is that they are too fat.

    May I assume, from your pronouncement on the 19th Century, that you are a Historian – either professional or amateur?

  125. Wm. David Jones-Cook says:

    re: minds me of Tom Rush's "Kids These Days" let it burn!

    I find no fault with the rant – while some do. I took it in its entirety and had no magnifying glass looking for nits.

    Bravo!

  126. Ben says:

    … the article you linked to states that the judge created the court with the explicit purpose of avoiding criminal records for the drug addicted.

    Rehabilitative rather than punitive. I do not see hypocrisy in her actions.

  127. piperTom says:

    ketchup says "OK, lets say for the sake of argument that I buy your conclusion that the system is irreparably broken and must be destroyed. With what shall we replace it? I'm confident that total anarchy would not…"

    Most of this thread has been dominated by an assumption that "we" might replace "the" system with some other ONE system. Anarchy, oft confused with chaos, is best understood as a free market in methods for achieving justice and controlling violence. The difference between Anarchy and our current situation is that one competitor (1) dominates the market, (2) has tacit intellectual support of most of the population, and (3) reacts with extreme violence to any evidence of competition. All three of these things are bad; all three are necessary for the abuses that Clark wrote about. This discussion is part of the attack on #2.

    As to Somalia, there are two main problems with their Market: (a) since ancient times, the agents of Justice were clan based, so — little competition, and (b) the USSR and the USA interfered BIG TIME in the territory in recent times.

  128. John Beaty says:

    @Shane, I wasn't actually thinking of you when I wrote that comment, more of the notion that there is "a bible that was written" like a book, as opposed to being a collection of conflicting stories, and further that there is one bible that we could all agree to.
    If you think that the Constitution is subject to interpretation….

  129. Drebin says:

    @JBeaty:

    Err, confused here. By your comment about the Constitution, are you implying that it is:

    1) Not open to interpretation, or
    2) Open to interpretation?

  130. Dictatortot says:

    can someone come up with an explanation of why a CEO who negotiates a zillion-dollar golden parachute with no strings attached (erm… as it were… taken literally, that's kind of a fun image…) is legally entitled to get it, even as the corporation he ran into the ground is busy laying everyone off, but a teacher who has negotiated a decent pension is NOT entitled, or vice-versa?

    I'll give it a shot: the CEO was negotiating as an individual, and struck a deal that both sides were free to reject, or to walk away from. Neither side was trying to coërce the other. The folks who offered the golden parachute might be fools, but no one strong-armed them into being fools. The CEO might be a knave, but is no criminal.

    By contrast, a union-negotiated agreement is a collusive bringing-to-bear of pressure essentially no different from racketeering. If the end result is different than an individual negotiation might have yielded, then the teacher has "negotiated a decent pension" in the same manner that a local legbreaker has "negotiated a fair stream of protection income," and deserves no better an end.

    So Deo vindice, Major Pinkerton, and may the heavens absolve you of your war record.

  131. Wm. David Jones-Cook says:

    with regards to what to replace it with ~

    William David Jones-Cook
    That we do not exercise this Right is our responsibility alone!
    What is now being witnessed We have the un-exercised Right to convene “Natural Law Courts of Justice” © Tm (trademark) 2013 is the result of our, until now, negligence.
    Remove their authority over us by assuming authority OVER them!
    Do it NOW!

    Lex ferenda is a Latin expression that means "future law" used in the sense of "what the law should be" (as opposed to lex lata – "the current law"). The derivative expression de lege ferenda means "with a view to the future law". The expressions are generally used in the context of proposals for legislative improvements, especially in the academic literature, both in the Anglo-American and in the continental legal systems.

  132. Lizard says:

    Sorry, your shot missed. Individuals can form voluntary associations for any purpose, according to any terms they see fit to agree to; among those terms may be "None of us will work unless all of us get thus-and-such a deal." Further, the business hiring is rarely negotiating as an individual who needs the work of another individual. To any decently sized business, any single worker is trivially replaceable; worst case, their workload can be apportioned among the other drones until someone else is desperate enough to accept the job. But to the individual, a job can mean life or death — they cannot apportion their need for food or shelter among those who are employed. Thus, your argument is "Collectives which can mandate terms are evil when they're called 'unions', but good when they're called 'businesses'." This is simply the inverse of the left's position, and no more logical. Every term and image you use to describe how unions deal with employers has been regularly used by leftists to describe how businesses deal with workers. You and the left are playing the same game of Mad Libs, just calling out different words. (The GROUP_NAME unfairly bargains with the OTHER_GROUP_NAME because of power imbalances! The FIRST_GROUP are just a bunch of criminals! )

    If you are willing to dismiss someone's complaint about harsh working conditions as "You have no right to a job!", you must also be willing to dismiss someone's complaint about hard-ass union negotiations as "You have no right to employees!"

    (An addendum: Large businesses, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart, can and do use their size to negotiate far better terms for themselves from suppliers than smaller businesses can. Often, failure to get picked up by one of the megacorps means a business will fail. Since this is a "different result" than a negotiation between two businesses of equal size, I must conclude, following your logic, this is also a protection racket ("Nice product line you got here. Be a SHAME if it couldn't get any market penetration."), and that the owners/operators of such businesses should get what's coming to them. Correct?)

    An Addendum The Second: Basically, you're saying "power imbalances=coercion". You might want to write for Jezebel or Salon; that's pretty much their party line.

    Reload. Try again.

  133. Lizard says:

    People tend to obsess over words, and not the meaning behind them. They hear a specific word, their brain shuts down. They don't think; they react. So let's try this.

    Poof! No more teacher's unions!

    Instead, we have TeachCo, a privately owned corporation that finds jobs for qualified teachers. Over the past few decades, TeachCo has bought just about every educational training center of note, and runs the education departments on most college campuses, actually paying the colleges for the privilege, which colleges love. In addition, TeachCo has spent a long time on marketing and advertising campaigns which have convinced most Americans that any teacher not TeachCo Certified(tm), is a drooling idiot and probably a child molester. No parent who cares about their kids would allow them to be taught by anyone who was not TeachCo certified. As a major advertiser in many different media, TeachCo makes sure that stories about non-certified teachers who do bad things are played up, and bad stories about TeachCo employees are played down. It's not 100% perfect, of course, but they profoundly influence the zeitgeist.

    TeachCo also has quite a few subsidiaries, such as TextCo, which prints and provides most textbooks. TextCo offers much more favorable terms to schools which also hire their teachers from TeachCo. Small publishers are regularly bought out by TextCo, and they operate under dozens of brand names, so, while nothing is actually hidden and no fraud is committed, the average person does not realize how many differently-named publishing companies are all just divisions of TextCo. (TextCo also publishes fiction, mostly YA.)

    No law requires TeachCo employment or certification… but nearly every HR department, in every school district, remembers that "no one ever got fired for hiring from TeachCo", and "TeachCo Certified" is a boilerplate requirement on every "Teacher Wanted" ad.

    It's hardly a total monopoly. TeachCo, by necessity, serves the middle 90% of the bell curve, so there's a market on the fringes for competitors, but that's just it — they're seen as fringe/weird/just not right, and TeachCo's marketing and advertising makes sure this message is played out across all media, in a variety of ways.

    Not a union.

    No government backing whatsoever.

    No laws. No thugs, jackbooted or otherwise. Just an efficiently-run conglomerate that has attained substantial control over an industry.

    Is this acceptable? If not, how would you stop it without regulating how large a business can grow, or how many different fields one business might enter? If the net effect is still huge pension for TeachCo employees, and de facto control of education through their influence and their licensing policies, does it differ from a union? I have to ask the same question of the leftists — would you oppose TeachCo, because it calls itself a for-profit business, instead of a union, if it works the same way and has the same benefits for the workers? (Its profit model? Same as the unions — it takes a portion of the worker's paycheck, right off the top. Call it "union dues" if you're a leftist, or a fee paid by the school to TeachCo, like every other contracting/outsourcing arrangement, if you're a rightist. Same thing.)

    And now that I've written this, I've got a GREAT idea for a new Pentex subsidiary….

  134. Xenocles says:

    Obvious answer to Lizard's problem from the Clarkian perspective: the teachers union negotiates with an agent who has no right to obligate the funds he plans to spend executing the agreement. The board of a corporation does have that right.

  135. Dictatortot says:

    Reload. Try again.

    Hang on … spare shells are in the drawer. Ah! [click]

    Since it's the owners' business and not the employees', there is no conceivable symmetry on tap. And as RICO and other longer-standing antiracketeering laws imply, it's not true that "[i]ndividuals can form voluntary associations for any purpose, according to any terms they see fit to agree to" in any/all cases. What the hell else is the Mafia?

    Besides, let's agree that some businesses–to their shame–might abuse their standing in salary negotiations. Such abuse, however, is not the express reason for a business's existence, as it is for a union's. If it were, then maybe there'd be a decent argument for outlawing businesses tout court. As it is, though, the apples still look like apples from here, and the oranges like oranges.

  136. Lizard says:

    @Xenocles: But that applies just as much if the teachers are paid $1.00 a day (and they get to keep everything they can scrape off the cafeteria trays when the students are done). Unions also negotiate with wholly private corporations, and the same thing applies.

  137. Dictatortot says:

    As for your second example: if TeachCo does indeed "run the education departments on most college campuses," then the obvious first order of business is to launch massive class-action lawsuits and public cases against the company for its consistent failure to train its clients as advertised, and for its fraudulent claims of producing "teachers" for hire in any reasonable sense of that word. If TeachCo has any remaining assets or unimprisoned officers after the dust has settled, you'd be raising some interesting points about its legitimacy … but one suspects that the point would be moot.

  138. Xenocles says:

    I took the wheels off those goalposts for a reason, Lizard.

  139. Lizard says:

    The Mafia is not criminal because it's an organization, but because they specifically use force.

    "Give me ten dollars, or I break your leg" is not morally equivalent to "Give me a 90% pension, or I will not work for you… and neither will anyone else in the area, since we've all agreed to it." No one has a right to break someone else's leg; everyone has a right to set the terms under which they will, or will not, work. If you disagree, please see Mr. Simon Legree. I believe he's hiring managers.

    Your argument that free people agreeing to work together to get all of them the best possible deal is "abusing their power" is interesting. How so? It's any person's right to take, or not take, a job, according to the terms they think are fair. Every individual has a pretty damn absolute right to a)refuse to take a job, and b)demand anything they like as terms for accepting a job. Their employer is free to refuse. Their employer must weigh all the factors and decide if it's in his interest to agree, including the factor of "If you don't meet these terms, every single other worker you have will walk out on you. Oh, you just got in a huge order? Well. Well, well, well. Guess you should have agreed to the locked-in, ten year, contract, instead of holding out for an annual renegotiation… which is coming up in a week."

    If you think it's utterly immoral to threaten a strike when you know it will cripple a business, is it equally immoral to set your wages based on the knowledge there's a glut of workers in a given field, and you can pay them damn near anything and enough of them will accept it? Why or why not?

  140. Giselle Pollack doesn't sound that bad at all.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Bdc8lIA7BxI/Uiko4QDOV9I/AAAAAAAABls/0rlZrIISZq0/s1600/006.jpg

    Quote from

    http://browardsblog.blogspot.ca/2013/06/judge-gisele-pollack-making-waves.html :

    "I don't want the disproportionate arrest factor being perpetuated in the criminal justice system any longer. It bugs me. It really does. I want to eliminate it by giving every individual a fair opportunity to participate in a misdemeanor Drug Court program."

    Cheers,

    Stephan

  141. AlphaCentauri says:

    I think Clark would like to see a system like that which existed in ancient Ireland, where governance was a function of local clans. However, it doesn't translate to the modern world for a number of reasons:
    - The Celts spent a great deal of their time either raiding other clans or else protecting their own women, livestock and belongings from raids by other clans. They found this a satisfying way of life. But their standard of living reflected the fact that their ability to generate and store wealth was limited
    - Nobody had gunpowder, so it limited the carnage
    - Their belief in the afterlife was so strong that they would lend money with promissory notes due in the next life; they weren't afraid to die.
    - They fought well as mercenaries and raiders, but tended to get the shit kicked out of them when defending their own territory from the professional armies of the Romans and the English.

    Try setting up a anarcho-capitalist suburb and see how much time you can spend at your job earning money when you have to defend your homes from the anarcho-capitalists from your nearest large city who have no property of their own to defend.

  142. Dictatortot says:

    I'd agree that it's utterly immoral to do either. Again, however, not even the most rapacious business is founded for the express purpose of being a terrible employer, whereas freedom to be a terrible employee is a core reason for forming a union. A business that screws over its employees isn't my idea of a particularly good business, and, one hopes, isn't considered a Platonic ideal of the breed. However, a union that screws over its members' employer is fulfilling its central goal–its destructiveness is a bug, not a feature, and its opposition to the employer's interests is inherent and hardwired, not incidental or occasional.

    Equally inherent to their essential nature is violence, if no other tactics appear to be working for them. Contra your fictional example, ""Give me ten dollars, or I break your leg" is 100% morally equivalent to the actual scenario of "Give me a 90% pension, or I will not work for you… and neither will anyone else in the area, since we've all agreed to it … and we'll break the legs of anyone who won't agree to it, their families' legs, and yours and your families' if we can manage it."

  143. Noxx says:

    And all the ships at sea baby

  144. Jacob Schmidt says:

    Again, however, not even the most rapacious business is founded for the express purpose of being a terrible employer[1], whereas freedom to be a terrible employee is a core reason for forming a union.[2]

    1) No, the business is founded to make money. Such a goal is, at times, at odds with the well being of employees. The same is true in reverse. The goal of the union is to ensure the well being of the employees, which may be at odds with the most effective way of making money.

    2) There's an interesting choice of words here: while you write that businesses aren't founded with the goal of being poor employers, you write that the goal of a union is the to attain the freedom to be a poor employee. It's interesting because, in reality, the two concepts are different, though you seem to treating them as if they were the same.

    Equally inherent to their essential nature is violence, if no other tactics appear to be working for them. Contra your fictional example, ""Give me ten dollars, or I break your leg" is 100% morally equivalent to the actual scenario of "Give me a 90% pension, or I will not work for you… and neither will anyone else in the area, since we've all agreed to it … and we'll break the legs of anyone who won't agree to it, their families' legs, and yours and your families' if we can manage it."

    What the hell are you talking about? Which union operates on threat of near indiscriminate physical violence?

  145. Fofo says:

    The CFMEU.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/with-friends-like-these/story-e6frfhqo-1226578239838

    Not the best source…but having seen CFMEU picket leaders directing bikers for action….scary stuff.

  146. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Okay, Clark – you go first. Get your pitchfork, light that torch and have at it, oh Leader of Men.

    It's posts like this that convince me that "Clark" is simply Patrick in ultra-playful-satiric mode and we're being stringed along. Or at least Patrick's 15-year-old nephew with too much time on his hands since he lost his after-school job.

    Because no one could seriously suggest that the same strategy that worked so well in Iraq should be used here too. Step 1: Initiate attack. Step 2: Blow shit up. Step 3: Remove entire governing structure and replace with….??

  147. Zack says:

    @ NTID: Eh. I would disagree with it for other reasons, but there are reasons why it would be far more practical here than in Iraq. Iraq never really had a democratic tradition; and here we're used both to decentralized power, and to the decentralization of power. The pioneer mythos is practically our foundational ideology. You also have the states, so if you merely destroy the federal government, the states would be able to reconstitute a federal government from ground zero, to try to avoid some of the absurdities we face in the current system (always, of course, at a price of facing some new ones that we will be banking are easier to handle.) The absolute worst case scenario would be a regional breakup around ideology, and even that would produce several reasonably large countries both in industrial capacity and population that should be able to have governments sufficiently responsive to the needs of the people.

    Clark would of course argue that we would not need to replace it; and he would argue that point far better than I can, but that would be his reply to your argument.

  148. Parallax says:

    ChrisTS • Dec 24, 2013 @1:07 pm

    and

    Ben • Dec 24, 2013 @4:27 pm

    I think you both give the article too much weight, and I suspect that neither of you work in a building that contains a Florida Drug Court. I do.

    The one in my building, like the one this judge works in, has a fantastic PR story. I don't care about intentions when people lose their freedom for "victim-less crimes" such as drug possession. That happens in the building I work in, although this judge is probably only sentencing people to jail time, and not prison, since she is a misdemeanor court judge. Still, I find it fantastic to the point of incomprehensible that you would read an article and think that because the article neglects to mention the "sentencing" aspect, you would give a pass on that.

    Judges sentence everyone who doesn't measure up. The hypocrisy is absolutely palpable. I wonder, how many people did she practice her "good judge" skills on the day she left early? I wonder if she submitted to a drug test, as people in drug court in this part of Florida do? Probably not; I bet the attorney who is "advising" her wouldn't let her be tested.

    Might we consider the day she left early as the day she got caught? How many other people did she sentence while under the influence of a controlled substance, on days when no one suspected, or no one said anything? If she drove away from court that day, will there be a DUI prosecution? I bet not, even though Florida lets you convict if "normal faculties are impaired" and all court proceedings are recorded, guaranteeing that there is evidence of possible impairment from the bench.

    I refuse to grant that drug courts are a beneficial process. I believe that it is absurd to establish a draconian regime, as Florida does, and then when the system hoovers up so many bodies that the system creaks and groans under their accumulated weight, blindly accept that we should be grateful when there is an alternative to the gristmill.

    To put it bluntly, I think Clark's Christmas Manifesto disturbed you, and you went looking for comfort until you found it. There is no balm in Gilead. I would hope you are willing to reconsider.

  149. steve oberski says:

    Won't Get Fooled Again

    We'll be fighting in the streets
    With our children at our feet
    And the morals that they worship will be gone
    And the men who spurred us on
    Sit in judgement of all wrong
    They decide and the shotgun sings the song

  150. Stephen says:

    I like how the only social group without fault is the one to which YOU belong.

    I think you might still be a libertarian.

  151. Dictatortot says:

    The goal of the union is to ensure the well being of the employees, which may be at odds with the most effective way of making money.

    In my tolerably broad experience, unions are unalterably opposed to the well-being of any halfway-adequate employees, and are tireless in undermining their well-being. Such types, after all, tend to make the rank & file look bad. Q.E.D.

    What the hell are you talking about? Which union operates on threat of near indiscriminate physical violence?

    The word "indiscriminate" never once passed my lips or emerged from my keyboard.

  152. Lizard says:

    In what some will no doubt consider a true Christmas Miracle, I am going to need to drop this thread. My wife's in the ICU, and we (my mother in law and I) got here at 5:30 due to a House-worthy sequence of medical events. I am a lot like an alcoholic passing a bar when it comes to political debate — I get sucked in and can't control myself, and I need to have my attention elsewhere, so my only choice is to virtually hail a cab and get home sober. Anyone who wishes to take this as a cowardly retreat in the face of overwhelming odds is free to do so; argue amongst yourselves as to who gets to declare victory.

  153. Xenocles says:

    Get out of here, Lizard. Go do what's important. I wish you and yours the best.

  154. terminus says:

    You did a nice job of stereotyping entire groups of people based on your prejudices. On behalf of unionized teachers, congratulations on bashing our profession, and demeaning our integrity. Personally, I chose to teach biology because of the 188 day work-year and wonderful retirement package. I mustn't be that bright, however, as that barely compensates for the big target on my back when students underperform, parents lobby the school board to lower our salary, politicians require on-going education, and my governor is threatening to dismantle my pension.
    Cheers!

  155. Paul Havlak says:

    I empathize, but to quibble, Obama has commuted sentences for (at least) 8 drug offenders — December 19, six days ago.

    Also, I don't think violence or otherwise burning the system down is a good strategy. Think of the civil rights movement, with its mass peaceful insistence on living up to American ideals. Will anarchists be more effective?

  156. Shane says:

    @John Beaty

    Ahhhh.

    My comments weren't really directed toward the Bible and the Constitution, more toward humans and their Kings.

  157. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    If I reduce this post to the following am I missing anything significant from the original post?

    BuuurRRRRNNNN!!

    (I was going to just write "Burn" but that felt like some nuance was lost)

  158. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Zack: you are even less persuasive than Clark. If that's possible.

    I've long thought that wishful thinking was somehow engrained in American DNA – that Vietnam wasn't a fluke, that we seem to have a need to hurl ourselves over and over again at brick walls and think they will miraculously evaporate under our repeated blows.

    Nope.

  159. Gregory S. Reese says:

    Oh, so Obama is the "leftist's man". Christ, what an imbecile, obviously the aforementioned judge isn't the only one who likes to get high.

  160. A Hermit says:

    To anyone living outside the US Obama is not exactly "on the left."

    And as the spouse of a teacher I have to object to your ignorant condescending portrait of teachers. You have no idea how hard they work.

    Most of the rest of this sounds reasonable….

  161. Jacob Schmidt says:

    In my tolerably broad experience, unions are unalterably opposed to the well-being of any halfway-adequate employees, and are tireless in undermining their well-being.[1] Such types, after all, tend to make the rank & file look bad. Q.E.D.[2]

    1) How did you even ascertain this? What methodology, what heuristics, what reasoning did you use to come to an absolute conclusion?

    2) You're using this acronym wrong. You've demonstrated nothing.

    And really, mere assertions will get you nowhere.

    The word "indiscriminate" never once passed my lips or emerged from my keyboard.

    Nor did I say it did (hell, I even put a qualifying term in to make that clear).

  162. Mirror says:

    I'm with Reese above. If you think Obama is left wing, you are high corporate media crack. I was linked here by somebody I thought knows better than that. Your whole rant is veined by a paradigm encouraging distraction from the real core dynamics. The uber-elite love this kind of thinking.

  163. Dictatortot says:

    Should you backslide enough to read this Lizard, then a) log off! and b) Merry Christmas, with best wishes to your wife & family.

  164. Jon says:

    To those who think Somalia isn't a good counter-example, let me offer another from recent history: Egypt. The masses essentially said what Clark says ("burn it down"), with about as much thought to what should replace it. And a short time later, many were dissatisfied with what replaced it. And many are dissatisfied with what replaced that.

    I have the same problem with Clark that I had with the Occupy movement: They make good points (along with some shaky ones), but the only logical response to them is, "Yes, and?" (Occupy Popehat!)

  165. SIV says:

    @Gregory S. Reese & Mirror

    In what way is Obama NOT "left wing"?

    If you mean he hasn't governed as leftwing as you'd like there are certain systemic checks and balances standing in the way. In America the secret police must be built up gradually step-by-step with bipartisan cooperation. Concentration camps require the rational of a "National Emergency" on the level of Pearl Harbor. It isn't so easy for a contemporary left wing president to govern as FDR did. Now as for nationalization of the private sector, Obama has done a splendid job with education funding and the "health care" sector although it wouldn't have been possible without the able assist from the previous president who was ludicrously labeled "right wing" by nearly all of the American and international left.

  166. JonRob says:

    @Clark
    If you ever get the urge to put together a rough draft for your manifesto, I am sure that many of the readers here would love to read it. I know I would.

    What, specifically, would you replace the current system with? How do you envision the transition from one paradigm to the next? What fail-safes would you propose to prevent entropy and human contrivance from degrading the system? What means will there be to prevent other systems from attacking or subverting it?

  167. Common Tater says:

    It's probably worth noting that Judge Gisele Pollack is a former public defender whose main initiative as a judge was to create a diversion program for drug offenders. So she's not exactly a hypocritical tough-on-crime figure.

  168. ChrisTS says:

    @Parallax:

    Clark's posts never 'disturb' me in any meaningful sense.

    I always follow links in OPs if I have the time. Clark started this out by implying that this particular judge is a full-on drug Warrior, happily sending people off to jail for behavior that shouldn't be any of the state's f***ing concern. But, she is not.

    I agree with everything you have to say about our current, obscene drug laws and their enforcement. But, I have a low opinion of writing that grabs any old example as an occasion for a rant (or, even a non-rant).

    There must be any number of hypocritical drug warriors – especially if we include pundits – that Clark might have seized upon. But, he is not, in my opinion, a careful thinker or writer. He is full of passion – which is good. But, he is sloppy about facts.

  169. wtfwhateverd00d says:

    Given what you say Clark, and I largely agree, how do you feel about secession?

    Most of the problems you cite seem indicative of scale, when you and I cannot possibly be represented by two senators or one congressman who 700,000 other people.

    And they do seem indicative of corruption. Corruption build from legislative legacies, path dependencies, as well as stare decisis.

    Fuck the Southerners because now I would like to see secession be a real possibility, see federalism weakened and see the 50 states become real and independent experiments, or see new ad hoc arrangements of local states form.

    But mention that possibility, secession, and you're a right wing racist bringing back slavery.

  170. SIV says:

    You read Clark's outrage that our system has different rules for different classes of people as illustrated by the news reports on drug court judge Giselle Pollack and your response is "of course there are different rules, she is a judge".

    The judge sends misdemeanor possession defendants to jail for 30 days if they test positive for marijuana (or use alcohol) while under the control of her court. The judge was fucked up on alcohol and drugs while she was doing her job. She is jailing people for drugs while she is high on drugs. She gets caught and "voluntarily goes to rehab" so she can go back to work sending people to jail (and ruining their lives) for drug violations. There is a whole lot more wrong here than just "hypocrisy".

  171. MrSpkr says:

    That . . . that was beautiful, man.

  172. spinetingler says:

    Dictatortot: "freedom to be a terrible employee is a core reason for forming a union"

    How does it feel to be blind to so much history?

    If my grandfathers were here (instead of having died in coal mining accidents in unsafe mines) they'd probably like to kick your pontificating ass.

  173. Malc says:

    Personally, I reckon the country can be massively improved by two simple changes:

    1. Roll back tax rates to the levels they were at the start of the Eisenhower / Reagan presidencies (pick either). Obviously, "supply side economics" and the "Laffer curve" have been proven utterly false theories (with no caveats), so that sort of nonsense doesn't apply. With those historic tax revenues, the deficit will shrink, the economy will spend the tax doing stuff (unlike "quantitative easing", where the government basically hands cash to a few corporations / nations), and the stuff that gets happens at the local level (bridges to nowhere need to be built, and once built who knows what good may come?). Have "the government" hire more teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, nurses, dentists… sure, some will be inefficient, some will be corrupt, some will be redundant, but if you've got enough cash to pay them all, who cares? One of the true lessons of the War on Drugs/Terror/Flatulence is that the cost of the effort to eradicate something frequently dramatically outweighs the cost of the problem, so let's not e.g. spend $10000 hunting for an undocumented alien/drug dealer who may "cost" the system $1000, but more probably adds to the economy (by working and buying food/Ferraris, respectively).

    2. Roll back the stupid idea that corporations have political rights. Sure, they need to have rights to contract, but an individual doesn't lose his/her own individual rights just because they incorporate, so why does the new corporate entity magically acquire rights? As others have mentioned, corporations can never actually do illegal things, because they are a paper construct; officers and employees of a corporation can do illegal things, being human, and such things may be aggravated by some attributes of the corporation (e.g. wealth), but no corporation has ever actually cheated, defrauded, polluted, lied, threatened, smuggled, etc…

  174. pasa says:

    To smash something, you need a hammer. In political terms, that means some kind of organization.

    That means that, short of starting some nutso fringe terrorist group and doing nothing other than hurting people, you're going to have to pick a form of organization you can work with.

    So, you're going to have to pick one of your more-or-less corrupt facets of a pretty shitty society, and pick the one that stands out as the one with the greatest potential for not being shit.

    I'm pretty left because I tend to pick things like the unions for this category of the righteous, or at least, the structurally capable of being righteous.

    But honestly, pick whoever you like – just remember, it isn't enough to recognize that society is bad, you also have to work out how to produce a big enough force to change it. And, to do that, you have to have an organization that's capable of and interested in change.

  175. AlphaCentauri says:

    Some unions are involved with violence. Nobody thinks Jimmy Hoffa ran off to the South Seas to live in island paradise with a mistress, after all. But when violent union members get too bold — for instance, when construction vehicles were torched and building structures expertly damaged at a Quaker meetinghouse under construction in the Philadelphia area recently — the public backlash weakens their ability to demand concessions, because non-union-members no longer respect their picket lines.

    Our economic system works best when neither labor nor management are at the mercy of the other. Currently, the number of unionized jobs is quite low compared to the past. Not surprisingly, salaries are lower, pensions outside of the public sector are rare, and health care benefits require high employee contributions. The public is subsidizing the companies that are providing inadequate wages by providing food stamps and medicaid for their employees whose incomes are below the poverty level despite working full time jobs or even multiple jobs. Blaming unions for the problems in society is a few decades behind the times.

  176. Kilroy says:

    Anecdotal evidence is a kind of evidence…

  177. Danny in Canada says:

    "To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem." — Douglas Adams.

    Any system that involves humans being in charge of humans will have problems. Ultimately, most problems come from one of these three issues: 1) humans are stupid, 2) humans are greedy, and 3) humans cheat. Oh, we're hugely clever as well, and capable of profound altruism and idealism, but that doesn't mean we're not stupid greedy cheaters. There's anger, too — and fear, and spite. A system where humans are not vulnerable to these weaknesses is a system without actual humans; "the problem with communism is that it assumes spherical workers of uniform density", and this applies to every other idealistic system as well, from libertarianism to radical environmentalism.

    If your proposal (even something as simple as "Smash the State") doesn't take into account how people will actually behave, it's doomed to failure. Ultimately, more people benefit from the status quo than don't; if we burn the system to the ground, who will collect the garbage? Who will make sure the traffic lights work? Fuck the police, yes, but anarchy never lasts. When I was in high school, I took a class on introduction to the legal system; one of the things I figured out was that law exists to protect the people who make the laws. This is always the case, and has always been the case, in every society.

    Any project that involves more than one person will be subject to personality issues. The more people, the greater the number of potential interactions, and the more difficult it becomes to predict, and the greater the likelihood that something will go wrong.

    Yes, the system needs to be cleaned out. Yes, there's rot and cancer at every level. But the system has taken on such a role in our lives that extremism in the pursuit of liberty damn well can be a vice. The tree of liberty may be watered with good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with the blood of tyrants.

  178. Bill says:

    Reading "Directive 51" based on Clark's recommended Sci-Fi books and then reading this post leaves my tummy all warm and fuzzy.

  179. Senzuri says:

    Nihilist much?

  180. Ken White says:

    I don't agree with Clark's sweeping generalization of teachers, though I take it in the context it was uttered.

    However, it is perfectly clear that because of their preferential relationship to the government, misconduct by preferred people like teachers gets treated differently than misconduct by people who are not preferred.

    [I still remember how incandescently furious the teacher's union was against my mother, a principal, for trying to boot a drug-addicted teacher who spat on the ground and licked it up in front of a class of eighth-graders.]

  181. Ken White says:

    Also: to the extent teachers have privileges and power that private employees don't, we should look at the reasons. It's not because "the system" loves teachers, who are exactly the sort of middle-class people the system routinely screws. It's because of their collective relationship to the state — the vast amounts of money that teacher unions and other educational collectives can provide to our elected "leaders" and the votes those entities can deliver. The state doesn't love and privilege teachers because the state loves truth or knowledge or children; the state loves teachers like a glutton loves his lunch.

  182. Linsider says:

    Honestly, I think that the core of problem isn't the system, but people inside it, including everyone of us. So I feel that no matter how much we try to change the system, it will be screwed if people are all the same. Of course, some systems are better than others, but I think that first there was a change inside people who later managed to change the system, because they couldn't stand the old one.

    I think that the key to improving our society is trying to make the people more intelligent, educated and altruistic. That probably starts from oneself. Just trying to do everything as good as possible and make others to follow your example.

    As about the system, I think that we need what is called "real democracy" or "E-democracy". There are many forms of such a system, but I believe that in any case it would be a huge step ahead our current pseudodemocracy. In any case, there should be completely straightforward and legal way for citizens to directly affect the politics without intermediaries. That would effectively reduce "the nobility" to the level of others and, thus, solve many of the problems described in the post above.

  183. Lagaya1 says:

    Danny in Canada, I love your response. It's just right.

    We are truly a privileged people. And this whiny, whiny tale is just silly. I'm sure the world's refugees, the world's starving, the world's impoverished would be so sad to hear that someone in power did a bad thing and YOU will not stand for it. Many of you sound like a bunch of 17 year olds who are planning to walk out of classes because of a mean teacher. So immature. So self righteous. "Burn it down?" wow.

  184. Tarrou says:

    @ Clark

    I agree on the litany of abuses you list, and know (as you do) that it is the barest hint of the true scope of what actually goes on. It is intolerable.

    But, as several commentators have noted, the problem with this and every other system is the imperfect beings who design and implement it. If I may quote Learned Hand, " Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it ". There is no "system" to save us. No revision of our current system will change the population it must govern.

    Ironically, Clark is a lawyer, who by profession tinkers with systems. Well, I am an old soldier, and smashing systems is what I do for a living. And I can say unreservedly that a system, no matter how unjust, is not something to be lightly thrown away. I smashed a system once. And as much as I'd like to think I made the lives of the Iraqi people better, at the end of the day, they were still the same people. I just gave them the opportunity to torture and murder their neighbors rather than be tortured and murdered by Saddam's thugs. What is there to say? They cannot be other than who they are. And neither can we.

    The current state of affairs is a travesty. But there is no conceivable end to the ways in which things can get worse.

    Think of the rebellions, ethnic cleansings, slavery and death necessary to build this system. We had to fight the British, kick out the Tories, the Indians, subjugate the South, invade Mexico to build this country. It is silly to think it would take less to replace it. We should never fall into the trap of thinking there are no costs to our preferred policies.

  185. Cafe Con Miel says:

    You made Reason, Clark. Grats!

  186. K. Kaprow says:

    And libertarians continue to insist that they are not anarchists. Let's just call them anarcho-nihilists. Any complaints from the burn-the-place-down gang?

  187. Xenocles says:

    @Kaprow-

    Libertarians are not anarchists. Did you not see the part in the OP where Clark said that he was (as in "used to be") a libertarian twenty years ago? Have you not seen the libertarians here urging caution and showing great reservations with Clark's prescriptions?

  188. Tarrou says:

    Kaprow, we ARE the libertarians. Clark has moved beyond that, as he said. And you, good sir, are either dense or mendacious.

  189. Dictatortot says:

    If my grandfathers were here (instead of having died in coal mining accidents in unsafe mines) they'd probably like to kick your pontificating ass.

    I don't doubt that even the slightest little bit, spinetingler; in fact, that fits in pretty well with what I've already said. Mind you, I'd hate to have to admit to such things about my grandfathers' characters, myself, but I can't force you to speak well of yours.

  190. Dictatortot says:

    You did a nice job of stereotyping entire groups of people based on your prejudices. On behalf of unionized teachers, congratulations on bashing our profession, and demeaning our integrity.

    Thanks! I must confess, though: from the way you describe it, I must have given a grossly overinflated impression of my regard & respect towards your compadres. But I suppose a little courtesy, earned or not, never hurt anyone.

  191. David says:

    @Tarrou,

    Ironically, Clark is a lawyer, who by profession tinkers with systems. Well, I am an old soldier, and smashing systems is what I do for a living.

    Ken, Patrick, and Charles are lawyers. Grandy and I are software developers. Derrick is a ne'er-do-well cad. Via Angus is a cow. Clark was introduced here as a forensic dental pathologist, although that's probably a boulot-de-plume intended to provide him cover when the revolution begins.

  192. indio007 says:

    I second this motion.

  193. Tarrou says:

    @ David,

    Orly? I learn something new this year already!

    I thought all the lads here were some sort of lawyerly cabal. Ahh well, I believe my point stands, aside the irony.

  194. DWCarkuff says:

    Thanks for this. It is brilliant. The reality is, none of this will ever change and will continue to get worse and there is nothing on God's green earth you and I can do about it. We can only wait until it gets so bad that it collapses on its own, which can not happen soon enough IMHO.

  195. David says:

    We tried to reel in the myth that this is a law blog, but by the time we became aware of that confusion, we were already too famous.

  196. Ken says:

    It may not make things better, but the temptation to make the leap from "Let it burn!" to "Got a match?" is entirely understandable.

  197. I'm considering passing the hat to take refugees from Somalia to North Korea.

    ppnl: The "power vacuum" is only a metaphor, you know.

    Somalia wasn't so bad when all it had to worry about was local tough guys looking to take the place of the late state; it got worse when other states got more serious about restoring their kind of order.

    Supposing that Niven's "Cloak of Anarchy" is accurate, all it shows it that when a central control actively prevents non-centralized peacekeeping institutions from forming, and then fails, the first things to take its place aren't pretty.

    Here's one utopian bundle of ideas. A new constitution drops the supremacy clause and repudiates sovereign immunity, to encourage the various tiers of government to check each other. Abolish the Federal judiciary; make the decisions of State courts appealable up to twice in other States. Unbundle governmental services, so that people elected for their foreign policy don't vote on farm policy. Assert a right of internal secession: let counties choose which state (with that state's consent) provides them which services, and so on down. Most importantly, if citizens choose to put part of their trust in private services rather than any state, respect that choice.

    Let a hundred systems bloom. I'm confident that millions of entrepreneurs will find solutions that a roomful of legislators, or even a similar number of armchair anarchists, cannot imagine.

  198. Some libertarians are anarchists, some are not. Does anyone have a problem with that?

  199. David says:

    Yes; it dilutes the currency. I think the outer perimeter of libertarianism should coincide with the far fringe of minarchy, for liberty must be defined against a constraint. Anarchy is a different beast.

  200. Xenocles says:

    I'd just be happy if we waited until after we win our revolution before putting the impure ones up against the wall.

    Revolution being as peaceful as possible, of course.

  201. Rob Banks says:

    You might want to hear from a fellow who has some of the same questions you do. And perhaps has some answers.

  202. Frank says:

    I told James Fotis to his face that I wasn't going to support his organization, because the instant cops got their national concealed carry they were going to drop the issue for the rest of us. He swore up and down that wouldn't happen.

  203. trevalyan says:

    Good for you, Clark. Only got around to replying after a very nice Christmas at home. What the USA does isn't working, except for the 0.1%, and it's about time we all copped to that.

    When you say that people at the top are "connected," I would ask "to what?" I would say that we're all connected in ways that were impossible even twenty years ago, and that's good enough to see how disastrously this decade is turning out. Is that a good hint for stopping Washington? Simply decentralizing, and refusing to hand money over to governments without asking what's in it for you? Maybe. Personally, I'm starting to ponder what responsibilities I need to help society in the near future when governments like Detroit- and California- start to collapse.

    Naysayers: When grown men in the upper class start talking like Clark, it means a revolt is about to start. Don't extrapolate "impossibility" of resistance to anyone's plans but your own. For instance, Iraq seems to have resisted The Greatest Military quite readily.

  204. l. c. says:

    It seems to me that, since there is no reasonable expectation of any replacement system being any better, the thing to do is to have as many people to be "connected" as possible. Democratize connectedness, and you can come closer to true equality.

    The problem is that determining who should win any dispute – i.e. who is "more connected" in any dispute. Eventually we are back to kings vs peasants all over again. The only defense we have against the king is the jury box, and that is expensive and risky.

  205. Sultan Touma says:

    A little revolution eh? That's cute. Say are those glasses you are wearing?, part of the system were you?, published nationally? Prosecutor, defense, court clerk, what difference does it really make?

    To the ground you know….just to be sure.

  206. Andy Cleary says:

    It always amuses me when people talk about how bad 'anarchy' in Somalia is… without any clue about what it was like *before* that. Up until 1991, Somalia was an absolutely brutal dictatorship, with murder, rape, and other systematic widespread crime endemic. Say what you want about Somalia without a single State – as others have pointed out, many social and economic indicators outpaced their African neighbors from 1991 onward – but there is *zero* doubt that Statism was a complete and utter failure in Somalia… At best, from a Statist's point of view, it's "State: 0, No-State 0", and it may very well be "0-1".

    What do we replace the current system with? First, you have to correctly characterize what the current system is. The planet is currently dominated by Statism: "the belief that it is legitimate and necessary for one group of people to have a monopoly on the initiation of violence in a given geographical region." The form of the State differs from region to region, but what is constant across conservatism, liberalism, communism, socialism, fascism, monarchy, etc., is this: in the end, the population considers it legitimate for some small subset of people to *initiate* violence against other people. Whether it be Congress, Parliament, Ayatollah, Politburo, etc, they and their associates and agents (that generally collectively are called a "government") can and do initiate violence – most typically in the form of kidnapping (nicely known as "jail") – against those who have not in turn done any violence. For the simple acts of saying "no" to paying for wars you don't believe in or for ingesting the wrong herb or for simply being in debt, these people will kidnap people (or threaten to do so)… And the kicker is: under the Statist system, we say "hey, that makes sense, that's ok with us, keep doing that."

    What system should we replace it with? One in which we reject the notion that it is ever legitimate to initiate violence. One in which we commit to always solving peaceful disputes – no matter how heated – peacefully. One where the only problem we use violence to solve is others *violence*… and never a peaceful matter.

    Since many of you mistakenly think "anarchy" means "chaos", I would like to educate you: it literally means 'without rulers'. "Without rulers" does not mean "without order", and it does not mean "without leaders", and it does not mean "without organization", and it does not mean "without groups", and it does not mean "without society", and it does not mean "without rules". It *only* means "without rulers", that is, a society that is not divided into two classes: rulers who get to impose their will by the initiation of violence, and everyone else. We are so used to – and brainwashed by – the State, that no one blinks when someone makes a statement implying that the only way that people can every order themselves is by a State.

    Most importantly: anarchy does not mean "without governance". "Governance" is a set of services often associated with State's governments: protection, rule-making, enforcement, mediation/arbitration, public goods provision, etc. There is no argument supporting the notion that these services are any different than any other service that people want, and there is no reason to think that they are provided better by a monopoly provider. In the absences of a corrupt State attempting to provide these things (and doing so poorly and at great expense) and explicitly using their power to prevent competition (try minting your own coin, for example – a peaceful activity – and see how long it takes the State to use violence on you), governance would be provided in a vibrant competition by many entrepreneurs.

    Being without Statism does not mean an end to all order nor an end to all governance. What is needed to prevent a collapsed State into turning back into a State is the systematic rejection of the idea that it is ever legitimate for one group of persons to initiate violence against others. The very concept is barbaric and is the antithesis of "civilized", and no civilization should condone it. Without it, we end Statism and all of its corruption and favoritism, and we'd replace it with a system in which disputes must be resolved peacefully and where *no one* would have the corrupting power of the State. The result would be competing, geographically overlapping groups of people, each with their own rules when dealing with others in the same group and with negotiated compromises when dealing across groups, all backed with competing service providers for governance services.

  207. aboomohamjamall jabip kalilee says:

    Nicely stated,the point that should be emphasized is all forms of governance(control) are doomed to fail. I believe people would be better off without governments. If you must have one then keep it simple,small(tiny)and above all keep it local. Small town governance ,but absolutely independent of eachother. With computers there is no reason for any secrets ,everything could be done out in the open with all people in each local having a say. Everyone could take turns in running their local government. Yes the current evil bastardized system should be burnt to the ground along with all the poiticians ,present and past. Localized ,simple,small ,but above all it has no power or authority without the consent of the people(local to that area. Amish,indian,look to other cultures for examples and build from there. This current form of control is out of control,I would argue that it has always been that way. Peace out

  208. David: Unlike some, I think libertarian is most useful as a relative term, meaning 'preferring more individual autonomy and less central authority' (than prevails, or than some other opinion). But whether it's relative or absolute, what's the use of tying a principle to one mode or mechanism of defending it? If you were to come to believe that the state is necessarily (or cannot be reliably prevented from becoming) "destructive of these ends," would you thereby cease to favor these ends?

    Saying an anarchist cannot be libertarian is like saying that everyone who opposes some piece of legislation purported to help the poor must be (at best) indifferent to poverty; cf Bastiat: "every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all."

  209. Ashel says:

    We may disagree about how to rebuild, but I am 100% on board with the burning.

  210. Tarrou says:

    @ Sherwood,

    It's great that you have an opinion, but it's not quite fair to the actual libertarians to foist a private definition of a word that has a real one. Libertarians believe in limited government, which presupposes a government, which is precisely what an anarchist does NOT believe in. Ergo, no anarchist can be a libertarian, and vice versa. The two are mutually exclusive. The two groups may agree on tactics (shrink the government), but never on the goal.

    Now, there is a lot of wiggle room within libertarianism. For some, it means shrinking government to the size and scope of the '50s. For others, it means a state department of two guys and a contract court system. But every libertarian believes that some government is necessary, that voluntary compliance with social norms is incapable of sustaining society.

    If your analogy holds, and supporting the same policy means identical ideology, then there are only two political ideologies, more and less. That's quite the simplification.

  211. stakkalee says:

    LOL, yeah, burn it down, it's so simple. But people like groups, and people like leaders, and people like stability, and in the flaming wreckage of the secular state who's around to provide those three? Why the Church, of course. And in less than a generation you can say hello to a true American Taliban – but at least a lot of poor people who didn't have any opinion on the revolution will be dead, so we'll have that going for us. If we're one of the ones that manages to survive, that is.

  212. Kyzer says:

    Great
    Fucking
    Post

  213. Jamie says:

    “My emphatic view,” he said, “is that a person who has access to classified information — the revelation of which could damage national security — should never take it upon himself to reveal that information.”

  214. David says:

    @Anton Sherwood,
    For reasons similar to those mentioned by Tarrou, I prefer the common usage to your private usage. Tarrou points out that limited government presupposes actual government, and I pointed out that liberty must be defined against a constraint. (He and I are making the same point there; mine is general and his is particular.)

    I'm not terribly impressed by word-level arguments. In the end, you may assign meanings to the semantic tokens in whatever way suits you, and then your reasoning must live or die in light of that assignment. More interesting are sentence-level arguments laying out propositions that may be taken as premises implying some conclusion.

    Concern for word-level arguments does arise in the context of sentence-level arguments in at least this manner: employing conventional and intuitive definitions (thereby following the Principle of Least Astonishment) rather than vague, fuzzy, malleable AntonSherwoodesque redefinitions seems more conducive to building strong arguments that are both accessible and compelling.

    The flipside of that fact is that if we choose to define "libertarian" as "preferring less central authority… up to, and including, no central authority" then we've introduced an imprecision that buys nothing but the convenience of sloppiness. For even if we mask this fact with our terminology, there's a conceptual and material difference between having some standard and having no standard.

    To me, conceptual weakness is too high a price to pay for the convenience of the sloppiness that comes with using fewer words to denote all the concepts in play. Your values may differ.

  215. J@m3z Aitch says:

    It's been said before here, but I'll add my voice. I agree with just about every criticism Clark makes, but after you destroy it, what then? I'd love a peaceful anarchy, but I'd wager on warlordism or warlike tribalism, which historically seem to be the dominant modes of non-governmental societies. States do evil things, but they just do what humans do (their particular evil is that they have a special capacity for mobilizing resources for their purposes). Any proposal that relies on people/citizens acting differently–better, more responsibly–than they do now is beginning with a fantasy assumption. Anyone asking for a constitutional convention needs to think not about what they'd want out of it, but what we're actualy likely to get from it (who's going to be involved in drafting a new constitution, Clark? Ken? John Boehner? Harry Reid?)

    Destruction is the easy part. Recontruction of something better is the hard part. And before you destroy you'd better have a plan in action for how you're going to accomplish that reconstruction–not just what you want it to be, but how you're going to accomplish it–or somebody else is going to be the one who gets their plan in place. And with so many people out there who love social and economic control over others, we'd be foolish to believe they're just suddenly going to decide to leave everyone else alone. Create a power vaccuum, and the power hungry will seek a way to fill it.

  216. David says:

    Sidebar

    As a general observation about responses in this thread and elsewhere: note how a question of the form "If not the present system, then what?" does not commit the questioner to, or count as the questioner's endorsement of, the present system. Rather, it serves as a mildly pessimistic throwing high the hands about that system, followed by a call for alternatives.

    That is all. Right Demosthenes?

  217. Xenocles says:

    The difference between that discussion and this one, David, is that it is reasonable to expect that "nothing" is an achievable alternative to "spying on everyone." If you abolish the government, however, something will replace it so a revolutionary ought to be concerned with what that something is. Even if that replacement is a government that accumulates power so it can mostly sit on its hands, that is a government.

  218. David says:

    It is not, and never has been, the case that "nothing" is an achievable alternative to universal surveillance– unless you're talking about the end of our species.

  219. Xenocles says:

    Or the entirety of history up to now, but okay.

  220. Sad Panda says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield:

    Sad Panda;

    Nobody who opines that "Technology hasn't made things any better" has ever had a toothache, a serious bacterial infection, or tried to write a paper meant to impress people on a typewriter.

    I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly or not; are you suggesting that I said what you're putting in quotes there, or is that some sort of hypothetical?

  221. Andy Cleary says:

    "Libertarianism" in no way is compatible with Statism. Those above trying to argue that libertarianism cannot be anarchy are simply assuming the very question: "libertarianism means minimal government. Therefore it means *some* government." But no, the very question is whether libertarianism means government or not.

    In fact, the modern schools of libertarian scholarship are almost 100% zero-state. It's really quite simple: States are by their nature incompatible with libertarianism, since States both initiate violence (unlibertarian) and violate property rights (also unlibertarian).

    Note again that *voluntary* organizations, with their own internal forms of governance, are perfectly libertarian. What makes States unlibertarian is that they are not voluntary but rather unilateral. When a Statist comes upon someone living peacefully in their home and says "follow our rules or we'll kick you out", there is no sense in which that action is "libertarian".

    Please, please, please, as libertarians, please stop hurting our movement by condoning *the worst* institution ever instituted on this planet in terms of hurting libertarianism. Please read Mises or Rothbard or David Friedman or even those weirdos the Tannehills and understand where libertarian logic invariably takes you.

    Libertarianism is not defined by a belief in "a minimal state"; it is defined by a rejection of the initiation of force or violence to achieve one's goals. States are by definition initiatiors of force or violence. They are completely antithetical to libertarianism, and the second you support, say, a "tax" to pay for a military, you are no longer libertarian because that involves stealing from people if they do not want to pay for that military.

  222. Amen. I still consider myself a libertarian but, yeah, I came to the same conclusion about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, most people will probably never see it.

  223. steve story says:

    "Next up from the regular peons are the unionized, disciplined-voting-blocks. Not-much-brighter-than-a-box-of-crayolas teachers who work 180 days a year and get automatic raises"

    Dear Clark: Go and promptly, and thoroughly, fuck your dumb self.

  224. LN says:

    I'm ready. I've been ready. For so long. Rome needs to burn.

  225. David says:

    @Andy Cleary,
    Bless your heart. In your haste to accuse someone of begging the question, you've gone and confused "state" with "government".

    That aside, your post is charming in its insistence. The zeal of youth is to mistake one's preferences for principles.

  226. Lagaya1 says:

    So when are you getting your Timothy McVeigh tattoo?

  227. sinij says:

    Libertarianism sounds nice on paper, but only until you follow it to its logical conclusion – "burn the system to the ground". Government enacting violence on individual member of society is a lot less likely than individuals enacting violence on each other in the absence of government.

    Choosing between two unideal systems – I'd go with one where I am reasonably safe from my neighbor deciding to cook and eat my children in front of me. This system is not Libertarianism.

    Unless you have "might makes right" in mind as a type of order, then Libertarianism means without order. Utopia where all humans cooperate with each other without outside threat of violence is just as realistic as a utopia where all humans are optimally productive without regard to self-interest (communism). Star Trek's humanity is not actually all that human.

    Human condition exists.

  228. Clark says:

    @steve story

    "Next up from the regular peons are the unionized, disciplined-voting-blocks. Not-much-brighter-than-a-box-of-crayolas teachers who work 180 days a year and get automatic raises"

    Dear Clark: Go and promptly, and thoroughly, fuck your dumb self.

    Steve,

    Through your wit, your crisp style of argument, and your ability to cite facts in defense of your thesis, you've convinced me that you're much much smarter than all of the unionized government teachers it was my misfortune to suffer under.

    I apologize to you and to everyone else I unfairly impugned as being "not much brighter than a box of crayolas".

  229. Clark says:

    @sinij

    Libertarianism sounds nice on paper, but only until you follow it to its logical conclusion – "burn the system to the ground". Government enacting violence on individual member of society is a lot less likely than individuals enacting violence on each other in the absence of government.

    Asserted without evidence.

  230. Slappy says:

    @ sinij:

    Government enacting violence on individual member of society is a lot less likely than individuals enacting violence on each other in the absence of government.

    Since government is force and force is violence, you have this precisely backwards.

  231. Sad Panda says:

    @Clark,

    Nice to see you're still reading this discussion. No response to those of us who think Judge Pollack is perhaps not the exemplar of The Evil State that you make her out to be?

    She looks to me like someone who has managed to subvert the machinery of the (correctly reviled) drug war for a good cause. Is that wrong? Am I being naive somehow, would you say?

  232. sinij says:

    @Clark

    You can always look at widespread crime during various crisis situations when government is effectively absent. For example, post-hurricane Katrina would be a good example of how US society function without a "threat of government violence".

    @Slappy

    False equivalence. Is "the government is force and force is violence" that makes me pay taxes is the same type of violence as someone robbing me at a gunpoint?

    I am reasonably certain that after paying my taxes I will remain alive and physically unharmed no matter how many years I have to file.

  233. Clark says:

    @Sad Panda

    @Clark, Nice to see you're still reading this discussion. No response to those of us who think Judge Pollack is perhaps not the exemplar of The Evil State that you make her out to be?

    I've been busy the last few days; getting to the Clark Family Compound at the holidays is pretty quick, but coming back against takes a lot of time, what with the strict decompression protocol to avoid the bends. Things should be better next year if Uncle Lucas gets the perfluorocarbon breating system installed.

    I hope to dive into the conversation over the next day or two.

  234. It has been said that the deepest division in the Libertarian Party (and the small-l movement) is between "We're for limited government" and "We're for limited government."

    Tarrou: The wording is original with me, but I wasn't aware that the content is at all unusual. I was under the impression that the word 'libertarian' had something to do with liberty, rather than with preserving the state. The two issues are related, obviously, but not the same.

    A word for 'libertarian but not anarchist' was coined about forty years ago and has become well established: minarchist. You don't need to monopolize the word 'libertarian' for that sense.

    Maybe it's changed, but twenty years ago (when I was a token candidate) the Libertarian Party's platform was carefully neutral between minarchism and anarchism, pursuant to a longstanding truce. I didn't find any "minarchists only" signs.

    David: Are you using 'government' in the broader sense (which I prefer whenever it won't be misunderstood), to include contract and custom and so on? Anarchists don't (necessarily) seek to abolish that; one might as soon try to abolish language. Govern yourself accordingly.

    sinij: Democracy sounds nice on paper, too. But when the Cypress highway collapsed in Oakland (October 1989), the Authorities tried to stop spontaneous volunteer efforts to rescue people trapped in cars. When New Orleans was drowning, some people trying to flee over a bridge were stopped by cops, and a volunteer fleet of rescue boats was stopped by FEMA. And on and on. Tell me again how the state is more benign than the people. At least, if a neighbor without a badge tries to eat your children, you're allowed to try to stop him.

    Slappy: But not all violence is government, so your assertion is unsupported.

  235. Clark says:

    @sinij

    @Clark

    You can always look at widespread crime during various crisis situations when government is effectively absent. For example, post-hurricane Katrina

    Changing two variables at the same time (police vs no-police, natural disaster vs no natural disaster) – ahem – muddies the results of your natural experiment, does it not?

    A better experiment would be looking at what happens during police strikes. I know that in at least some cases crime decreases because rational criminals know that vigilante justice might be more severe.

    In Massachusetts police have occasionally been pushed off of their graft monopoly second jobs directing traffic at construction sites and have been replaced by other workers. In these cases accidents and violence have gone up…because protesting police have tried to use violence to enforce their labor monopoly.

  236. Another Aging Libertarian says:

    /slow clap

    Well done! Couldn't agree more.

  237. AlphaCentauri says:

    A better experiment would be looking at what happens during police strikes. I know that in at least some cases crime decreases because rational criminals know that vigilante justice might be more severe.

    Do you have some links for this? The information about police strikes I found all mentioned looting that required other law enforcement personnel to be called in (state police or national guard).

    Having local voluntary governance sounds great, but it's fairly predictable that at least some of those local organizations will end up controlled by criminal or terrorist organizations, and that we would soon be invaded by outside governments with heavier firepower in order to "liberate us." People haven't formed larger countries over and over through history because they preferred to pay taxes; the people who had more tax money to build an army ended up able to take whatever resources they felt entitled to.

  238. Clark: Any comment on David Friedman's "Economics of Theft, or the Nonexistence of the Ruling Class" (chapter 38 of The Machinery of Freedom)?

    David (belatedly): When you say "liberty must be defined against a constraint," do you mean that each person's just liberty is bounded by others' equal liberty? If so, have you met any anarchists who deny it?

    stakkalee: Do you live in a region where one church has the loyalty of enough of the population to become the new overlord? I don't think that's true where I am.

    Tarrou: What did I say that's compatible with "supporting the same policy means identical ideology"?

    aboomohamjamall jabip kalilee: I can't agree with such a strong preference for absolute local autonomy. Local tyrannies are sometimes worse than wider ones because of personal rivalries.

  239. Edwin says:

    Lizard, Dictatortot, you're BOTH idiots

    Teacher's unions, just like private-sector legally recognized unions, DO INDEED have the right of initiating physical violence when they don't get their way

    The union laws mandate that the employer HAS to negotiaite with the union, it is ILLEGAL for them to just hire new people (only scabs, at significantly higher rates). If you break the law, you GET ARRESTED AND GO TO JAIL. Literally the union bosses can make a call to get men with guns (the cops) to arrest the employers if the employers don't acquiesce as they wish.

  240. Clark says:

    @chrisberez

    Really fantastic post, Clark

    @Craig

    This is the most sensible and rational thing you've ever written

    @Mike

    Thanks Clark. That was very good.

    @Stephen H

    Where is the "like" button? And why am I agreeing with Clark?

    Thank you; you're making me blush.

  241. Clark says:

    @Ivraatiems

    here's a different, and I hope more nuanced question for you:

    Over the course of humanity, when has government ever not been this way, to some extent? When has there ever not been abusers and corrupted people? When has there ever not been a ruling class, even if that ruling class was just the guy with the strongest first and the deepest voice?

    We're human, so we will never be perfect. On the other hand, North Koreans are humans and Americans are humans, and yet the United States is noticeably better run than North Korea, so out of the crooked timber of humanity more and less straight objects can be built. Systems design matters a lot. I've got some long posts queued with some thoughts on the way forward.

  242. Clark says:

    @Matthew S

    I know a lot of teachers who would love to know where they can find that job you describe where they get automatic raises and only work 180 days a year. The rest of this piece is pretty good, though.

    I have never seen a public school system that did not have a pay matrix of degree vs years served, such that each year of seniority increases pay. Most also have cost of living adjustments. I say this as someone with multiple aquaintances who are teachers. If you assert that your school system doesn't work that way, care to link to the salary policy?

  243. Clark says:

    @Xenocles

    "Everyone always assumes anarchy will lead to pure chaos and it will be solely survival of the fittest."

    I don't believe that. I do believe it will very quickly lead to not-anarchy, whatever its inhabitants choose to call it.

    This is the core issue that anarchists need to address. Heck, it's the core issue that libertarians need to address. Shorter version: "we tried Constitutional government once; it took 75 years until it led to the suspension of habeus corpus and the war of Northern Agression, and 150 years until it lead to top down economic planning and a world straddling imperium. Why will it be different this time?"

    I've got two answers.

    1) even if a reboot collapses into statism in just another 75 years, 75 years of relative freedom is nothing to scoff at.
    2) we have learned a lot about systems design over the last 200 years; we can do better this time.

  244. Clark says:

    @ketchup

    How about a constitutional republic

    In other words, the system that we have now, only, We really mean it this time?

    This is the one excellent criticism of "let's try the Constition a second time!". As @Pablo points out, we know some of the ways we went wrong. The first Constitution guarded against particular problems we were aware of. The next one can guard against those plus a whole new list.

  245. Clark says:

    @Fatwa Arbuckle

    The Constitution, as currently written, is not perfect…but I still think it's a damned good starting (over) point.

    The problem is that the Cathedral owns the education system. Instead of a citizenry of free men, we have a citizenry that has been indoctrinated by unionized pro-government teachers. Even if we rebooted right now back to the Constitution, we no longer have a people who want freedom.

  246. Clark says:

    @db

    we don't see a lot of folks flocking to teaching in this country.

    This is nonsense. There are more teachers now than there ever have been before. We do not have teaching jobs going unfilled because of lack of supply. In fact, we have an oversupply of people skilled enough to be teachers, and the unions have put artificial barriers in front of would-be teachers so as to constrain the supply. The last thing mediocrities with education degrees want is a free market in teaching; the embarrassment of being outclassed would be painful.

  247. Clark says:

    @rpro

    Revolt seems like the only option.

    Did I just say that out loud?

    At some point I need to write up my thoughts on Tor, anonymity, the NSA, etc. We live in a dangerous world where
    people get jailed for jokes they make online.

    Remember: the paid thugs reading these comments know your IP address, and they don't care if you're joking or not. If a prosecutor can burnish his or her career by throwing you in jail for years, he or she won't think once about how many times you get analy raped or how you don't get to see your kids grow up.

    We live in a police state. Watch what you say.

  248. Clark says:

    @Shelby

    Ivraatiems:

    I don't know what, exactly, Clark is calling for

    Apparently he was over-subtle.

    LOL!

  249. Clark says:

    @Ryan

    If you'd really like a chuckle this almost-Christmas-Eve, and you've ever read Marx, think back on his descriptions of the progression of human civilization, his argument concerning socioeconomics, and the core of his call for revolution in the Communist Manifesto specifically

    Nut up; until you've read Kapital you're a poser. Everyone has read the manifesto.

    and note the striking similarities between him and Clark's argument. It's… I want to say deliciously ironic, but that doesn't even begin to describe it.

    If you're calling this ironic (dramatic irony, perhaps, where the audience knows something that the subject doesn't) you're making an assumption that I haven't studied Marx, what problems he saw, and what solutions he proposed, and the ways in which my thoughts and his overlap and differ.

    That's not a great assumption.

  250. Clark says:

    @Anton Sherwood

    The main thing wrong with Somalia is all the bastards trying to give it the blessings of a central state.

    Amen, brother.

    I've got a long rant queued up on how western politicians raised with in the concept of the Westphalian system of nation states can't cope with any proposals to dissolve states…even when the result would be closer to actual nation states. Watching Bill Clinton get apoplectic about the potential dissolution of Czechoslovakia (and also about the specter of Quebecoise independence) was hilarious.

  251. sinij says:

    @Clark

    As far as I know all examples of police going on strike in high-density urban areas lead to looting. Do you have any evidence to contrary?

    I can see how rural communities would respond in a different way (they also tend to lean libertarian), but urban setting absolutely requires "threat of violence" from the government to keep population from turning on itself.

    As to libertarian paradise – I think it is sufficient to look into how societies self-organize. As far as I know there were no known examples of anything remotely approaching libertarianism. Just like with religion – there must be underlying reason why all known societies function in a certain way. From the very primitive tribal chief to very sophisticated representative democracy they all have government that operates under threat of violence.

    I personally like the idea behind libertarianism, but I realize it is not going to work when 1% of population are sociopaths. If you could get everyone to agree and abide to some of the underlying principles, well then any form of the government would be much, much better than what we have.

  252. Clark says:

    @ppnl

    I think Clark is mostly trolling. I doubt he has actually given it much thought.

    Yeah, I don't tend to read much or think things through. You've cut me to the quick.

    The problem isn't government. The problem isn't the system. The problem is a basic limitation of the human soul.

    I see that you agree with David on this.

    Your thesis does a great job of explaining why Sweden and North Korea are equally good to live in – we're all humans, and – as you point out – the problem isn't the system; the problem is a basic limitation of the human soul.

  253. Clark says:

    @Erwin

    The easy step is mandatory surveillance and database tracking.

    Imagine a world where every cop has to wear a camera.

    In many jurisdictions we're already there.

    The problem is that cameras have a bad habit of malfunctioning just before important things…and database queries have a bad habit of failing right after important things.

    Damned weird.

  254. Clark says:

    @PalMD

    I'm only going to take issue with one point: the Stasi-NSA comparison. The NSA has collected (illigitimately) enormous amounts of data, most of which is noise. There is potential to skim out signal, and a lot of it and that is terrifying.
    The Stasi and other secret police, though, operated through human intelligence and terror, fear of immediate violence and death. They used their power for day to day control of everyone.
    The NSA may have the potential to provide useful data to others with secret police aspirations, but they are hardly the terror-squad thugs and murderers of the Stasi.

    I deeply disagree, but I think that I need to reflect on this a bit and create a blog post of my thoughts.

  255. Clark says:

    @Eddie Harrington

    That…..was…..AWESOME!!

    Gonna spread this bit of holiday cheer far and wide today.

    Thank you Eddie!

  256. Clark says:

    @WorkerBeeJ

    Clark – I've read your articles in the past, and I've had my beef with some of their content and style, but I always appreciated the perspective. I have no gripes with this piece, though – it's pure gold.

    I'm sure if we ever met in life, we would have a fantastic time going over the nuances of how exactly to fix the world. I just wish the rest of the populace carried the same passion for creating a stable system as you. Thank you.

    Perhaps someday we can have a big Popehat meetup somewhere (GenCon? the next Constitutional Convention? the unemployment line?), and we'll have that opportunity; I'd enjoy it.

  257. Clark says:

    @NI

    One of the reasons it's important to end the war on drugs is not just that the war on drugs is bad policy (though it is), but because it gives the police fewer opportunities to harass people. The reason they can violently search your car, your rectum, your house is that you might have drugs there.

    Agreed

    Take away that excuse and a huge chunk of police bad behavior goes away.

    I wish I agreed with that. I think that "9/11 changed everything" is already serving the same function as WoD.

    I think that we're already past the tipping point on the permanent police state.

    Picture a hand probing inside your rectum. Forever.

  258. Clark says:

    @Josh

    Say you successfully burn this system down. Do you really think whatever replaces it will be better?

    I think that it's possible. What replaced British colonialism was better. What replaced Nazi Germany was better. What replaced Imperial Japan was better. On the other hand, what replaced the French Monarchy was worse, what replaced the Russian Czar was worse, and so on.

    In 1970 it might have been true that only 5% of possible governments would be better than what we had, and therefore throwing up the door to the winds of change would have been a bad move.

    Today, it may be that 40% of possible governments are better than what we have.

    If and when 60% of possible alternatives are better than what we have, it's time to start spreading gasoline and striking sparks.

  259. Clark says:

    @Lizard

    I suspect that he would be satisfied if it were replaced with something along the lines of what the plain language of the Constitution outlines, combined with then-extant common law, though I could be wrong.

    The "plain language" of the Constitution was under tremendous debate within a short period of it being signed,

    I agree with Lizard. As much as I have sympathies with the "plain reading of the Constitution" crowd, a lot of this stuff really isn't unambiguous.

  260. Clark says:

    @Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries

    The system is broken only because we are broken. Figure out a way to fix humanity, Clark, and the system will fix itself.

    Any fool can make a car faster by giving it a bigger engine, can make a dress look good by putting it on a curvier woman, can make a company expand faster by giving it access to more credit.

    Genius (or maybe just good engineering) lies in solving our challenges without assuming infinite resources, counterpositives, etc.

    The conversation I want to have is about good engineering. Jefferson, Washington, Sam Adams, and Franklin made a great version 1.0.

    The problem is that the Lincolns, the FDRs, the Clintons, and the Bushs have shit all over it, put sand in the gears, and have failed to maintain it.

    So: we need a version 2.0 that works just like 1.0 did when it was new, but it should have self-cleaning pillow blocks, self-lubricating mandrels, a solid clutch, etc.

    Let's not wish for a world without friction; let's design a better machine for the world we live in.

  261. Clark says:

    WorkerBeeJ • Dec 24, 2013 @9:12 am

    History is filled with people passionate about fixing the world, and mass graves are filled with the consequences of their passion.

    Holy crap.

    Yes, people have died due to mistakes, oversights, carelessness, unawareness, and evil. But that statement is so grandiosely overboard and silly, even if we are in a phase of regression.

    Relax a little – if not for yourself, then for the people around you. Using such broad strokes to paint all of your points is a great way to be ignored, and polarize the world further.

  262. David says:
    The problem isn't government. The problem isn't the system. The problem is a basic limitation of the human soul.

    I see that you agree with David on this.

    Your thesis does a great job of explaining why Sweden and North Korea are equally good to live in – we're all humans, and – as you point out – the problem isn't the system; the problem is a basic limitation of the human soul.

    There's your solution, Clark! Move to Sweden!

  263. Salty says:

    The problem is that the Cathedral owns the education system. Instead of a citizenry of free men, we have a citizenry that has been indoctrinated by unionized pro-government teachers. Even if we rebooted right now back to the Constitution, we no longer have a people who want freedom.

    I'm just going to break in for a second here to call out this absolute bullshit. I know you enjoy Moldbug's writing style, Clark, but applauding his excellencies is a poor reason to ape his stupidities.

  264. Clark says:

    @Salty

    The problem is that the Cathedral owns the education system. Instead of a citizenry of free men, we have a citizenry that has been indoctrinated by unionized pro-government teachers. Even if we rebooted right now back to the Constitution, we no longer have a people who want freedom.

    I'm just going to break in for a second here to call out this absolute bullshit. I know you enjoy Moldbug's writing style, Clark, but applauding his excellencies is a poor reason to ape his stupidities.

    Thank you for crisply pointing out what I said that you disagree and explaining how and why I am wrong; it's been very helpful and I have adjusted my opinions in response.

  265. Xenocles says:

    Clark:

    "1) even if a reboot collapses into statism in just another 75 years, 75 years of relative freedom is nothing to scoff at."

    I agree with this, and with the notion that both vigilance and the willingness to routinely provide forceful feedback (Jefferson's "natural manure") are necessary to the endurance of any free society.

    "2) we have learned a lot about systems design over the last 200 years; we can do better this time."

    But what makes you think that "we" will do the designing? Alternatively, what makes you think those skilled designers are on our side? There are many who see 1984 as instructions. I know revolutionaries – the hard core of the revolution, that is -are always small minorities, but what makes you think we will come out on top in the rush to power? Political treatises will be all we produce without the will and the means to power following the burndown. Do we have that will? Are those means within reach?

    "If and when 60% of possible alternatives are better than what we have, it's time to start spreading gasoline and striking sparks."

    How much better, and for how many people? Because personally I think the magnitude of the worst is likely to be a lot larger than the magnitude of the best. I would hesitate to bet my house* on a coin flip if the prize is a free meal at Ruth's Chris. Hell, I'd hesitate to bet my house on a coin flip if the prize were two more houses.

    *This is extra academic since I'm not a homeowner, but I needed some example of obviously high value that would bring major consequences with its loss.

  266. Dictatortot says:

    Lizard, Dictatortot, you're BOTH idiots

    Teacher's unions, just like private-sector legally recognized unions, DO INDEED have the right of initiating physical violence when they don't get their way

    The union laws mandate that the employer HAS to negotiaite with the union, it is ILLEGAL for them to just hire new people (only scabs, at significantly higher rates). If you break the law, you GET ARRESTED AND GO TO JAIL. Literally the union bosses can make a call to get men with guns (the cops) to arrest the employers if the employers don't acquiesce as they wish.

    Most of our problems don't stem from lawbreaking, but from the crap that one can legally get away with (and the innocuous or beneficial stuff that's de jure or de facto illegal). That a union member can train the constabulary's guns upon his very victims, rather than go down under them himself, is exhibit A of a broken polity.

  267. Ken says:

    I agree with Lizard. As much as I have sympathies with the "plain reading of the Constitution" crowd, a lot of this stuff really isn't unambiguous.

    I need to spend some time looking back at some specific examples of the early post-ratification controversies. I'd be interested to try to identify which are based on "true" (to the extent identifiable) ambiguity, and which are based in bad-faith arguments, accompanied by the singing of the axe on the wheel.

  268. Tarrou says:

    @ Clark,

    Let's not wish for a world without friction; let's design a better machine for the world we live in.

    You make a good point, one which I failed to address earlier. You are correct that systems matter to how people turn out, but friction works both ways. People do not change overnight, to change the basic character of a nation takes generations.

    The founding fathers wrote the constitution for a nation with powerful family, social and religious ties. Some religious people pretend those are the only important ones, but the reality is that any social involvement increases pro-social behavior. In studies of charitable giving, for instance, it is not strength of religious belief, nor doctrinal correctness that predicts religious people's greater generosity, but how deeply they are enmeshed in the social circle of their church. It is the failure of secular society to recreate these bonds that makes the non-religious less generous.

    Social groups in general are less important these days, from clubs to veteran's organizations. People don't "do" social obligation anymore. And our government, like every other organization, is ruled by those who show up. My generation is disconnected. They do outrage well, but they don't do the hard work of showing up and fixing things.

    So I return to my point that a new system must deal with the same people. Governments and constitutions can change in days or months. People, as a rule, don't change much, ever. You need to start with the kids, and you can change people in fifty years. Maybe. And probably not in the ways you thought you were. Humanity is complex and perverse.

    Sweden works because it is a cohesive society, with or without whatever government it happens to have, though that government is an expression of their cultural values. They can do socialism in a largely monoculture of white scandinavian dour equalism. They know the social pressure to not abuse the system is strong enough to (mostly) keep it running. And even they have to tweak the system because the new generations are not feeling those restraints.

    In America, we have spent fifty years denigrating the family, the church (hell, I'm an atheist, and it's over the top), and actively funding the dissolution of the social bonds. We've criminalized vast swaths of normal, non-harmful behavior in an attempt to replace the social control we've lost in our "multicultural" frenzy. The needs of the collective must be balanced against the rights of the individuals. I prefer a system in which those needs are enforced socially and the rights are enforced legally.

    Japan has been widely lauded for their response to the tsunami, and they deserve it, but take it in whole. Their social control is so powerful that rich and successful men often commit suicide when a business fails. THAT is how you get a harmonious society. Shame, guilt, social ostracism, judgmentalism and all those other "bad" things. If we want fewer laws, a smaller government, we need to be the sort of people who don't need them. And that takes time, and I don't think smashing the system is conducive to that in the short to medium term.

    Neo-Victorianism could save us where a revolution could not.

  269. Ken: Look too at the ratification controversy; opponents wrote "This clause would have this wicked effect," and Publius replied "Such a reading is patently silly."

  270. sinij: Is the proportion of sociopaths lower in politics?

  271. Clark, to me: I don't remember that about CzS, but I do remember that when there was talk of splitting Ukraine (between its more Russified and more Europhilic halves) the US Sec of State said its unity is "fundamental". Fundamental to what, I never did hear.

  272. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Burn it to the ground.

    Burn it to the ground.

    Burn it to the ground.

    vs.

    If and when 60% of possible alternatives are better than what we have, it's time to start spreading gasoline and striking sparks

    Backpedalling on an "I tell you three times"; as Via Angus might say, that's a Heinlein Naughty.

  273. G. Filotto says:

    I sense Clark, the even though I do not live in the USA, we are kindred spirits. I kid you not. If i ever get that Island I'm inviting you over for a drink.

  274. G. Filotto says:

    Lizard, you are right of course… Except… Well except that's impossible since you are human. So i will continue in my way of thinking that if you just cause people enough emotional (and where appropriate even physical) pain every time they behave in an unsustainably stupid monkey fashion, in time, over decades, they become slightly smarter. Evolution works. Too slowly to save us, but what else has anyone got? Jesus? Trust pain to evolve the monkeys i say!

  275. Greg says:

    I'm sorry, Clark, but I'm hearing "Burn it to the ground" to the tune of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAYL5H46QnQ

  276. Greg says:

    Couldn't agree more Clark. The system isn't broken, it works great for those intended to enjoy the benefits it provides. It must be destroyed and I believe that people are slowly awakening to that fact. When my socon family starts nodding their heads when I rant about the way the WOD has robbed all of us of liberty… Bringing down the entire corrupt mess will be painful and potentially quite bloody. I hope I'm wrong and that when the United States finally unravels it does so peacefully, but I just don't see it happening.

    My revolution soundtrack will be blasting songs like Damage Done by Mushroomhead, with lines like:

    Gonna wake shit up gonna break shit up
    Gonna tear this goddamned world apart

    It sets the right tone for the work that must be done.

    Short of revolution, there are ways to subvert the system peacefully. Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin have the potential to shift economic activity outside of the system's easy control. Refusing to simply comply with law enforcement when they disregard our basic rights.

  277. John Kindley says:

    Step One: Burn the Fucking System to the Ground in your own heart.

    Step Two: Do what thou wilt.

  278. Clark says:

    @Marconi Darwin

    Cannot deny reality, so I await instructions. What do I burn first?

    Your ballot.

    The sooner you admit that the entire system of "consent" is a joke – and do something to ritualistically acknowledge that – the better.

  279. Clark says:

    @Klover

    Assuming [ Mrs Clark ] is the actual head of the household

    Mrs. Clark would not tolerate any man who would allow her to be the head of the household.

  280. Clark says:

    @Shane

    Why burn it to the ground when it will only be remade the same way.

    Why destroy Nazi Germany when the Germans will only build a new Nazi party?

    …except they didn't.

    Matthew 22:20-22 (King James Version)

    20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

    21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

    22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

    But the things that Caesar arrogates to himself today are not Caesar's. They are the peoples', or the Lord's.

  281. Clark says:

    @John Beaty

    Anyone who thinks "The Bible" was written as it stands, shouldn't comment. And further, which bible now?

    Uh, what?

    I, for one, know what languages the Bible was written in, when its books were selected and standardized, how various church bodies have translated the ancient texts and compared versions against each other to verify and fact check.

    I think that @Shane referencing the Bible was entirely reasonable.

  282. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    You'd think we'd have learned this by now, but we're humans, and humans seem to have an instinct to believe "This time, for sure!"

    There's a big difference between (a) seeing a bully in the process of beating up an innocent and attacking the bully, and (b) deciding that the market economy, the family, the Church, and the landlords all need to be wiped out at bayonet point, and if the result is a hundred million dead, so be it.

  283. Clark says:

    @Shane

    Wisdom is wisdom even if comes from an adulterous women that wants to (and did) have sex with her young protege.

    Anti-Rand zing FTW!

  284. Clark says:

    @Hoare

    new land to steal? nope
    not on this planet….
    Earthlings be screwed

    get us off this rock!!!!!

    I think that it's not coincidental that the most free nation (at least for a few centuries) was founded on previously undiscovered land.

    I think that freedom on Earth is likely never going to happen, and thus – as Heinlein and other authors have predicted – political freedom lies in space exploration.

  285. Clark says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    The problem with burning it all to the ground is that it WILL be replaced. Those who are not governed by their own will will be governed by another's will, imposed upon them.

    I tend to agree.

    This is why the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are
    important. More important than any momentary expedience in ignoring
    them could be. GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT. Not OUR government. ALL
    government. It is, therefore, vital, that the reach and authority of
    government be severely curtailed.

    Agreed.

    Now, how the pluperfect hell do we do something about this?

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

    I live in confident expectation that I will live to see a truly Imperial America.

    I think you already have.

    It will be a while before the prosperity that will turn out to be the first flush of fever washes out, and I'm over 50.

    Did you not notice the stock market crash five years ago?

  286. Clark says:

    @Drebin

    Yikes, there's an association I haven't really given much thought to, that being Imperial America and thus the likely signatory use of the eagle again.

    Would that then be: Senātus Populusque Americus?

    Look at Barbara Boxer and others and tell me that we're not already there.

  287. Clark says:

    @OrderoftheQuaff

    Great post Clark!

    Thanks!

    I bring you tidings of great joy. The system is already on fire, thanks to the most ill-conceived and poorly executed federal law in the history of our republic.

    More ill-conceived than FDR's gold confiscation? Less well executed than FDR's rigging of the economy?

    Obamacare is bad, but a student of history knows that the Democratic party has already inflicted worse on us.

    The difference is that this time we're low on hit points and all out of saving throws.

  288. Clark says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    Drebin,

    I expect it to kick off with a a major terrorist attack; something on the order of ten times the deaths on 9/11/2001

    If a nuke pops off in America, things will get even worse (if you can imagine such a thing).

    …and if things get much worse, the civil war might start not too much later.

  289. Clark says:

    @Chris

    RE: Teachers (Fair warning, much venting of spleen incoming, I'm sorry)

    I'd love to find an automatic raise and 180 day a year teaching job for my wife.

    Public perception is that a teacher's day is over at 3pm (2-4 hours before a "normal" job), and they get 3 months off in the summer. The reality of my wife's job is that she stops being paid at 3pm (salary, but she's not allowed to leave before 3), but rarely makes it out the door until nearly 5pm. And while a "normal" job starts at 8 or 9am, she's already been at work for 2 and a half hours (officially 7am, but she's rarely there later than 6:30). While she is home most days by 5pm, that doesn't end her work day. She spends the evening and rather a large amount of hours on the weekend grading papers and updating her grades from home.

    The 3 month summer vacation is also mostly a myth.

    I grew up in a family of teachers. I know all about professional days and grading homework…and I'm not impressed. I've never seen a teacher that has as long a work day as an engineer or a doctor or a mid-level manager.

    As for automatic raises, not even close. In the 17 years that my wife has been in the same district, there hasn't been a single raise to the pay scale.

    Yes, but the pay scale counts years of service, so she has gotten automatic raises as she gains seniority, right?

  290. Clark says:

    @ChrisTS

    I want to focus on Clark’s claim that the judge whose need for rehab started this rant is a hypocrite.
    But, she isn’t. She started an alternative court so that people arrested and charged for drug abuse had a chance to stay out of prison

    The moral response to the drug war is to execute legislators who pass laws and cops who arrest people for victimless crimes the same way allied troops liberating the concentration camps took care of SS troops – some crimes against humanity cry out for immediate redress.

    Anything else ("starting an alternative court") is like making sure that the concentration camp Jews get vitamins and new bedding every six months even as they starve to death; it is collaborating with a corrupt system.

  291. Clark says:

    @Demosthenes

    I once swore, after about the twentieth time I heard a leftist say "He's not my president" of George Bush, that I would never say anything like that about a Democratic president. I still haven't…but Barack Obama has driven me very close a couple of times. So close that I now understand how easy it was for some of my friends and former friends to say it. I still don't approve of the thought, but I have a little sympathy for the emotion now.

    I found it liberating to say out loud that this is not my government, and not my president – no more than if the mafia took over my block and started demanding protection money that it would be "my Cosa Nostra".

    A violent gang steals money from me.

    So be it.

    I enjoy telling my statist friends about the things that "their" government does.

    Own it, bitches.

  292. Clark says:

    @Pierre Corneille

    I don't understand how the system can be "corrupt, corrupt, corrupt" but that it's doing what it was designed to, because if it is doing what it's designed to, I don't see how that's corruption.

    cor·rup·tion – noun – dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.

    The system is dishonest; it tells us that its reason for existence is X but it is actually Y. Most of those who defend the system are in the pay of the system.

    I don't know anything about Clarke–I'm a newbie here–and ad hominems are almost always bad argument, but whenever someone is indicting the inequities of a system and then claims that they are among the "peons," I get suspicious. That doesn't make his factual claims wrong, but it'll be neat trick if he doesn't enjoy some privileges.

    I didn't say that I was in the lowest tier – I said that I was in the middle class tier.

    Oh my! Burn it all down. Whom do I kill first?

    The criteria that Allied soldiers used has some tradition behind it, if nothing else.

  293. Clark says:

    @Wm. David Jones-Cook

    Bravo!

    Thanks!

  294. Clark says:

    @piperTom

    As to Somalia, there are two main problems with their Market: (a) since ancient times, the agents of Justice were clan based, so — little competition, and (b) the USSR and the USA interfered BIG TIME in the territory in recent times.

    Indeed.

    The world is not large enough for there to be tens of thousands of independent trial runs; we've got one big run where everything has touched everything else. One can not suggest that the alternative to the US is Somalia, because the actual contingent Somalia qua Somalia exists largely because of the same exact same processes that we're discussing escaping from.

  295. Clark says:

    @Xenocles

    Obvious answer to Lizard's problem from the Clarkian perspective: the teachers union negotiates with an agent who has no right to obligate the funds he plans to spend executing the agreement. The board of a corporation does have that right.

    Exactly.

    Tax payers as yet unborn are on the hook to fund the teacher's retirement, because of actions that took place decades ago.

    No system that allows party A to sell party B into debt slavery is moral.

    The Board of Directors can not force future consumers to pay for the retirement of a CEO; it can only state that if future consumers continue to buy from the corporation that some of the profits will flow to the CEO.

    @Xenocles

    I took the wheels off those goalposts for a reason, Lizard.

    Snort!

  296. trevalyan says:

    Hmm, hold on, some of these arguments sound familiar…

    @ppnl

    We probably have a better government than we deserve

    @JohnC

    Because wide-spread civil disorder invariably leads to less government, not more.

    Oh yes, now I remember:

    Some of the animals talked of the duty of loyalty to Mr. Jones, whom they referred to as "Master," or made elementary remarks such as "Mr. Jones feeds us. If he were gone, we should starve to death." Others asked such questions as "Why should we care what happens after we are dead?" or "If this Rebellion is to happen anyway, what difference does it make whether we work for it or not?"

    Look, I get that Animal Farm is an excellent description of what happens when revolutions no longer answer to the people, but the description of the abject stupidity of some animals remains perfectly true. In an era where you can make your opinion- and your willingness/ ability to do something about it- perfectly clear not just to government but to the entire world, it's silly to claim that government would be replaced with the Deluge. I'm better morally and intellectually than Congress: but then again, so are earthworms.

    If you want to be blind at the justified anger against a vicious government, fine. Though you probably want to remember that some of the discontented are more serious than the posers that demanded "Bush/ Cheney war crimes trials." Snowden's just the beginning, really.

  297. Randomly Anonymous says:

    Reading through this, I am reminded of a series of events in Madison, Wisconsin. There was a proposal by a prominent black community leader (not part of the government) called the Madison Preparatory Academy (aka Madison Prep). It was a proposed solution to the black graduation rate being abhorrently low. It was going to have longer school years, mandatory extracurricular activities, uniforms, force parental involvement, and probably more things I'm not remembering. Long story short, the teacher's union and school board had a fit and destroyed any possibility of it happening. When I asked some teachers I know in the area what their solution was, if not giving that a 5-year trial, the universal answer was "Give the public schools more money." One of the common things I've heard coming as a reason for the dropout rate among black males is a constant attitude from teachers of "You're black so you wouldn't understand." And Madison is one of the most consistently left-wing places you will find in the US. Or, to adjust a former Wisconsin governor's comment to account for growth, "Madison is 77 square miles surrounded by reality."

    If you're interested in reading what happened with Madison Prep, this is the website for the local newspaper. If you have the time and feel like reading up on how governments grind down even the most "politically acceptable" community leaders who dare to contradict them, it's an interesting (but sad) story.

    http://host.madison.com/

  298. Fucking BRILLIANT! Your synopsis is laser-accurate, and beyond contestation. The only "silver lining" I see, is that the ongoing financial collapse will eradicate a lot of the corruption, because it can't function without graft. Hang them ALL.

  299. Noumenon says:

    Now, you have to ask yourself – what would Michael Collins do?

  300. Grandy says:

    Lizard, are you learning strict ASP.net, ASP.net MVC, or both?

  301. Sam says:

    To those asking what will the torn down system be replaced with?
    Read For A New Liberty by Murray Rothbard.

  302. Xenocles says:

    @Sam-

    We all have our ideas as to what would make a good replacement. What we lack is any assurance that the result would bear any resemblance to them.

  303. I found For a New Liberty unsatisfying, with a flavor of "The system shall work thus-and-so, because otherwise would be intolerable," which I can find from Leninists if that's what I want. David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom makes more of an effort to consider each agent's marginal incentives and predict, rather than demand, outcomes.

    (Grain of salt: I read them both more than twenty years ago.)

  304. AlphaCentauri says:

    "We all have our ideas as to what would make a good replacement. What we lack is any assurance that the result would bear any resemblance to them."

    Actually, it's likely it would have very little resemblance to Clark's plans unless a small group of anarcho-capitalists force their ideals on an unwilling population "for their own good." Most Americans seriously prefer the status quo to what Clark is selling.

    Saying you don't vote because you don't support the system is a nice excuse. The tea party, crazy as some of them are, managed to win a lot of elections and get a lot of concessions from the party elite. If you can't gather the support of more people than they did to support your position through education and argument and a popular website, how do you think you have the moral high ground when you want to take control through violence?

  305. Xenocles says:

    AlCent, that was exactly my point, save that whatever system resulted could only emerge through the use of force. Politics is a game of power. Those who hold the power might choose to sit on their hands – gripping it tightly so that nobody could use it at all – but it all rests on power, which comes from the force to maintain it and the will to use it.

  306. Whiskeytangofoxtrot says:

    First off, I read A LOT, and this is the most concise, spot on article detailing the cancerous rot of the current system I've read yet.

    One humble suggestion: if you have the time, it might be beneficial to provide links to your various assertions. Please don't construe this as a criticism. I could find the links if I wanted to because I've read the same stories and seen the same YouTube vids.

    However, including all the supporting links for the abuses you've noted would make this article easier to distribute to those who are not yet awakened. Thanks for your work and I look forward to your future posts.

  307. wumpus says:

    "To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem." — Douglas Adams.

    The system Clark describes is not a problem because "people" decided to create such a system. The system is the way it is because too many people delegated power to the few who decided to make themselves lords over the many and gods above the "Jamal the $5 weed slinger, Shaneekwa the hair braider, and Loudmouth Bob".

    @Fatwa Arbuckle

    With what shall we replace it?

    How about a constitutional republic where the citizens – as necessary – force public officials to take their oaths of office to said Constitution very seriously? (That same document which conveniently codifies the right of individuals to own – without infringement – certain tools deemed necessary to maintaining liberty.)

    That'd be my choice…but I'm a bit old-fashioned about a few things.

    Bravo, Clark.

    The US is on its 113th Congress. We have had sufficient number of tries to "throw the bums out" that if it was indeed possible it would have happened. Once elected to high office, you can expect those elected to elevate them selves (and their class and those they identify with) to privilege ("privilege" : literally means "private law").

    As far as to the wholesale issues of exactly what happens when you "burn it to the ground" (especially considering the ease of simply emigrating to Somalia), I fail to see the necessity of a legally privileged class that gets to write the laws (as have others, noting the possibility of a "real Democracy" or "E-democracy"). Replacement of politicians by direct exercise of power by the voters has already happened by the absolute replacement of the electoral college and the direct election of US Senators (consider that the politically powerful are even floating trial balloons to take back at least the Senators). Replacing the politicians would hardly take a revolution or even a Constitutional convention (a ripe disaster if there ever was one), but merely a political party willing to put the politicians votes up for vote (and win, of course).

    @Xenocles

    I do like the way Clark can recommend "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," a book about a revolution that went about as well as possible but ends on a questionable note for the future, and still call for starting from scratch. (While it's not a great book otherwise, "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" briefly returns to Luna a generation or two later. Let's just say it's not pretty.)

    I could hardly argue that my system would fix the system fast, nor have any real improvements within a generation. For examples in the US: when landed white men got the power they quickly came up with the Alien and Sedition acts. When landless white men took over, the result was Andrew Jackson. Women brought in Prohibition. Minorities, has the name implies, couldn't change the vote even if they were allowed to vote when the law said so.

    Even once such a system is in place, I could hardly claim the public would change the "system" (that Clark wants to burn) much. I suspect that much of the public tends to support the present system (note that voting could easily swing quickly assuming that the police target the lowest 50%. Judging by income levels, they already are). Near Washington DC, the county that is notorious for trigger-happy cops, Prince Georges County, has been politically synonymous with relatively wealthy blacks for 20-30 years (black flight). If I understood this I would be enlightened about race and US politics. I can only imagine what orchestrated propaganda would be like with a real democracy. Between the tobacco institute, climate change denialists and the run of the mill PR shills in the present system, I suspect that free speech would be even more controversial than it is (L. E. Modesitt, Jr. had an interesting book investigating this, but I think the author understood that taking a position on it would interfere with sales).

    I still think that if you have problem with privileged classes (others have noted the bizarre inclusion of teachers as a privileged caste), that the removal of their power to vote themselves new powers, perks, and legal immunity is the only way to remove such powers. I will admit that I don't know if CEOs and those with similar powers will simply convince the public to let them keep their infinite power (extrapolating from now I would say they certainly could, and Hollywood would become even more powerful).

    Finally, I have to wonder just how much of this happened under everyone's nose before the internet allowed anybody to ignore major editors and publish on their own. In 1455 Johannes Gutenberg first published bibles via movable type printing presses. In 1517, Martin Luthor could nail up his Ninety-Five Theses and anybody with a printing press could make copies faster than the church could burn them. By 1648 (end of the 30 years war and the treaty of Westphalia) Germany suffered more death per population than the Black Death. I strongly suggest solutions that involve less "burn it all down".

  308. Deathpony says:

    Sometimes you just have to say hell yeah.

    Now to bite the bullet and buy some matches and hope to God whatever grows back is better. No guarantees, but there never are.

    Thanks for some needed fire and brimstone Clark. Though in 38 degree celsius weather I'm already sweating like a wombat.

  309. Highlander says:

    You just called for the French Revolution! That really did not work out to well as I recall. Burn it all down with out a plan to rebuild and Madam Guillotine will rule! And that is also your example of what society becomes without some form of government, the worst of the worst become the new government. That is human nature, someone always becomes the leader, always!

    Cruachan!

  310. Tarrou says:

    If I may be condescending and rude (and I believe I've often been accused of both), there's a lot of heroic and euphemistic talk about "matches" and "sparks" going about. Let's talk turkey.

    Who of you is going to shoot the first government official? Who is going to plant the first bomb? Hell, do any of you know anything at all about the implementation of guerrilla war? Who is going to be the one to lead the hunger strikes in prison that shock the conscience of the world? How are you going to maintain discipline when your movement attracts elements that are more criminal and nihilistic than constructive? How many years in hiding, or prison, or living hard far from home are you willing to put up with to "smash the system"?

    The Fathers famously pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor". Forgive me for the skepticism, but I see more casual outrage than commitment here. Outrage that I agree with, by the way, but an expression of which I do not support, and am unconvinced is anything more than internet dick-waving.

    Now wave at the nice perverts from the NSA, lads.

  311. Clark says:

    @Tarrou

    If I may be condescending and rude

    Often a good cover for bluster, so, please, go ahead.

    The Fathers famously pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor". Forgive me for the skepticism, but I see more casual outrage than commitment here. Outrage that I agree with, by the way, but an expression of which I do not support, and am unconvinced is anything more than internet dick-waving.

    Now wave at the nice perverts from the NSA, lads.

    Do you suggest that the Founding Fathers would have had more success if they'd outed themselves one by one in 1768?

    Do you think that Tom Painse should have published his pamphlets under his own name?

    Now wave at the nice perverts from the NSA, lads.

    Indeed. It seems you've answered your own questions…so I'm left wondering what your point is.

  312. Sinij says:

    Aftermath of "burn it to the ground" will look a lot like early stages of Bolshevik Russia – lots of ideals clashing with realities of governing self-interested, aggressive, cheating and ignorant humanity. All of this leads to summary executions of non-believers.

    If Clark was in charge of rebuilding, I fully expect him to die of an old age with a long beard and a couple of lost decades filled with crackdowns on socialist collaborators and statists sympathizers while living plain old repressive dictatorship.

    If Clark had an ideal humanity, it would be trivially easy to build an ideal society. He doesn't. All of his ideas are castles in the sky because they start from flawed "this is how humans should behave" assumptions instead of "this is how humans really behave".

    So for Clark – pick between naive idealism or cynical power grab.

  313. John Kindley says:

    @Tarrou

    The American Revolution was a resounding unsuccess. It seems to me that after only a couple short decades after the Revolution American was unfreer than it had been under British rule.

    Allow me to link to one of my favorite things ever, on resistance, written by Ernst Juenger, who received Prussia’s highest military honor for bravery for his service in WWI, and then in WWII kept both his honor and his head despite serving in the German Army in occupied Paris, following the injunction “Be ye wise as serpents,” but nevertheless publishing in Nazi Germany in 1939 under his own name a novel widely interpreted as an attack on Hitler and the Nazis: http://anteckningar.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/der-waldgang-excerpter/

  314. Reverend Draco says:

    @ketchup You said, "OK, lets say for the sake of argument that I buy your conclusion that the system is irreparably broken and must be destroyed. With what shall we replace it?"

    When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?

    Answer that question, and you've got the answer to your own.

  315. Reverend Draco says:

    @Highlander Someone doesn't *always* become the leader – multiple mentally-ill someones *allow* him to become leader.

    A man can bluster and rave all he likes, about how he's the "Leader" and everyone must obey – but without mentally-unbalanced "Enforcers," he's just a windbag.
    The entire purpose of the modern Libertarian movement is to educate people. Educated people understand that *they* are the owner – the Leader and Ruler – of themselves. . . keep on blustering, Leader-boy, and soon, nobody will do business with you. Try eating your bluster.

    Geez Louise, we're not talking about rocket surgery here. . .

  316. Reverend Draco says:

    @Ivraatiems

    For most of human history, there have been no governments. If you do the math, it comes out to about 90% (if you use 100k years of humans – more if you're among the 200k-yearers) of human history which has been government-less. Only when people started settling down and farming (about 10k years ago) that governments came to be.

  317. wumpus says:

    @Sinij

    Aftermath of "burn it to the ground" will look a lot like early stages of Bolshevik Russia – lots of ideals clashing with realities of governing self-interested, aggressive, cheating and ignorant humanity. All of this leads to summary executions of non-believers.

    If Clark was in charge of rebuilding, I fully expect him to die of an old age with a long beard and a couple of lost decades filled with crackdowns on socialist collaborators and statists sympathizers while living plain old repressive dictatorship.

    The life expectancy of anyone in power during a bloody revolution tends to be lower than the common rabble. Getting ahead in such a system typically involves purging your way to the top, so expect many apparatchiks purged for each open spot.

    I suspect that those who are still alive at the end are the same type of people that become CEOs and mafia kingpin's in current society. If Clark isn't a psychopath, I wouldn't expect him to make it through a revolution while hanging onto power.

    Seriously, you can fix most of the problem (the laws being written by a privileged class who naturally associates with the issues of the truely privileged over the common people) through a direct democracy.

    Fixing the issue that people just don't care about it (the old leftist "raising consciousness" issue) is another story. Even if you get the first part, there will be a massive PR campaign to leave the system in place, but you can probably end it without executions (you would think that all that for-profit jail space would be empty…).

  318. Samuel Adams says:

    In response to ALL who, for lack of a more intellectual argument, parrot, "Replace it with what?". I can understand your psychological defense which serves to keep you in your soft, warm, comfy, soiled diaper. Unfortunately for you guys, the answer is exactly what you don't want to hear. More than a few of the men who reasoned out this system of government and wrote it down on parchment explicitly stated that this government they were forming would last for an unspecified period of time until it reached a point that it was corrupted beyond salvation. At such a time, the system would have to be scrapped, burned to the ground, and re-instituted.

    This was an explicit part of the formula.

    They knew this would probably happen, not by choice, but after a long train of abuses and usurpations, AGAIN!…and again…and again…

  319. zen shaman says:

    hehe, brilliant title to the article followed by more brilliance in the writing. count me as a fan. I am definetly subscribing to your site. cheers.

  320. sinij says:

    @wumpus

    It takes certain degree of sociopathy to seriously suggest "burn the fucking system to the ground", as such suggesting Clark possess minimal necessary set of characteristics to cling to power during revolution isn't a huge stretch of imagination.

    Still, these are convulsions of dying and discredited conservative movement.

    They couldn't make trickle-down and pro-individual me-me and screw the public work under current system, so they concluded the blame is with the system and not ideas itself. People like Clark are still seriously suggest that Somalia is much more preferable than what we have now, because it is more ideologically pure.

    Never-mind that the real problem is ideological bankruptcy of conserve movement as a whole. Yes, this also includes far-fringe anarcho-liberterians like Clark, but what is mainstream conservatism anyways these days? The same conservatism that brought us anti-science climate change denials, anti-science creationism (riding on anti-teacher sentiment), record wealth inequality, shrinking middle class (riding on union busting), cowboy capitalism of myopic quarterly-obsessed, outsourcing, wage-slashing, downstream-denying Wall Street.

  321. Xenocles says:

    @Draco-

    "For most of human history, there have been no governments."

    For most of human history we subsisted as hunter-gatherers. We aren't going back to that without the sort of changes that would make our present world unrecognizable. Thus the appeal to history is irrelevant.

    @Adams-

    "I can understand your psychological defense which serves to keep you in your soft, warm, comfy, soiled diaper."

    I can understand your resort to this sort of sneering, since you have no case. For my part, I'll take a sober reflection and acknowledgment that as bad as things are here and now they are still better than they have been in almost all of recorded history. I would welcome improvement – by which I mean liberalization in the classical sense – but without active working to achieve it your cries for it are worth less than those of petulant children, for at least in their case we have no right to expect any better. You have no plan to achieve your objective, only the naive hope that society will spontaneously reorganize itself out of the ashes.

  322. Tarrou says:

    @ Clark,

    Do you suggest that the Founding Fathers would have had more success if they'd outed themselves one by one in 1768?

    Do you think that Tom Painse should have published his pamphlets under his own name?

    No, I'm suggesting that we follow their example in some respects, and learn from their experience in others.

    I'm saying there is much to be tried in the way of system-tinkering, civil disobedience and the sort of sullen non-compliance that used to be called "Irish Democracy" before we have our revolution, with its attendant Valley Forges. Because I tell you now, I don't see many of the sort of hard men it takes to get through the tough times of a revolution.

    I'm saying if people want to talk revolution without thinking through the actual, you know, revolution, then I'm not on board. Even were I to agree that the current system warranted it, which I do not.

    If (may Darwin long prevent it) I go to the barricades, it won't be because some bureaucrat did drugs, no matter how corrupt and hypocritical the situation. How we all mock the sort of moon-eyed hippies who want to do away with capitalism without putting any thought into how to allocate resources, but hand-wave it off with "We should all just, like, get along, man!".

    I won't be party to the anarchist version of that. "Smash the system, and let's not worry about what comes after, because bad people in government!"

    It seems, and I use this word advisedly, because I like Clark and his writings, and I enjoy these debates immensely; juvenile.

  323. sinij says:

    For most of human history, there have been no governments.

    You are playing games with definitions. You are pointing out that tribal hunter-gatherer societies did not have centralized government, while Clark is pointing out that any government exerts its influence via threat of violence.

    Are you trying to suggest that tribal leadership structure, with a chieftain or council of elders in charge, was absent of "threat of violence"? What do you think happened to those clan members that broke rules and laws of the clan?

    Violence.

    Humans are capable of cooperative behavior and social living, but not everyone and all the time. Threat of violence (or in case of religion threat of imaginary afterlife violence) is absolutely necessary to keep society functioning at higher levels of cooperation than otherwise is possible. "Otherwise is possible" is likely more like Lord of the Flies and less like Clark's libertarian rural-living self-sufficient utopia.

    Anyone familiar with game theory can tell you that some low level of 'exploiting behavior' in a population keeps it functioning at higher levels of efficiency than pure 'cooperative behavior'. I am not a geneticist or evolutionary sociologist, but this is the likely key to understanding why human society exists and operates in certain 'equilibrium' way.

    There might be different 'equilibrium' points that could theoretically exist, but reaching them without radical eugenics that would change the very nature of humanity is likely not possible.

  324. Samuel Adams says:

    @sinij

    Thank you for displaying for us the impotence of the self deluded sophist.

  325. Sinij says:

    @Adams

    Your witty retort and exhaustive counter-arguments changed my mind and convinced me to join you in burning "fucking system" in unsubstantiated hopes and unjustified belief that what replaces it will be better.

    Now that we started organizing, we will need to decide how to impose our goals and world view on uncooperative third parties. I suggest anybody that does not subscribe to our core belief of government non-use of violence should be individually threatened with violence. We can use this policy as a basis of our government.

  326. I recently (within the past year or so) read the assertion that Massachusetts was effectively stateless (at least as a whole) during part of the war of independence. If that's true, I guess we don't hear about it much because the evidence burned down.

    Sinij: All of his ideas are idealistic bullshit because they start from flawed “this is how humans should behave” assumptions instead of “this is how humans really behave”.

    Funny, I can't count the times I've heard "There's nothing wrong with democracy; the problem is that people don't participate in the right way."

    So, is there a system compatible with real people?

    John Kindley: It seems to me that after only a couple short decades after the Revolution American was unfreer than it had been under British rule.

    Well, Americans fought fewer wars, for awhile.

    sinij: A definition of conservative that includes libertarians in general, or conversely a definition of libertarian that includes conservatives in general, either would be incoherent or would include many other people beside.

  327. John says:

    This post exemplifies one major advantage that amateur, or at least less formal, blogs have over mainstream media and opinion columns in newspapers and the like: the opinions and excoriations that Clark puts forth don't have to be watered down for a "respectable" publication or for a wider audience. Clark is right about everything or at least almost everything in this post, and he says it in the tone that the topic warrants. Pissed the hell off, not thoughtful and even-handed, is how we all ought to feel about most things our governments do. It should pain us to realize that all of these atrocities committed by State officials — that are legal, by the way — are inflicted and endorsed by our fellow humans who want this type of government and continually vote to keep it just the way it is.

    It's true, anyone with an internet connection can have a blog whether their writings are worth anything or not, which dilutes the overall quality of the blogosphere. But have you compared the random political rantings around the blogosphere to the crap in the major newspapers and magazines lately? In an extremely good week, 10% of MSM opinion columns in the area of politics and economics are even non-idiotic, much less insightful, principled, or praiseworthy.

    One thing I've noticed around the interwebs during the last few months is that a lot of people place a high value on what they call "nuance" and "subtlety." I put them in quotation marks because, one, they are almost buzzwords now, and two, I'm not sure some people's definitions of those qualities would agree with mine.

    Imagine what an opinion column in a major newspaper about Judge Giselle Pollack would sound like. The author would call for "reforms," for a "need to take a second look at sentencing laws," for more "accountability," and would cite the growing opposition to the Drug War and the DEA, etc., and wonder if it isn't time for some form of "scaling back."

    Those opinions are not subtle or nuanced. In fact, they are hardly opinions at all. They are weak, non-committal, quasi-opinionated statements designed to make the people who think they already agree with the author give a little cheer of agreement, while simultaneously avoiding offending people who think they already disagree with the author. Or take another favorite topic of libertarians and anarchists: taxes. All taxation is theft, and therefore all taxes are evil. It sounds like there is no nuance or subtlety in that argument, but there certainly is. That nuance, that understanding of deeper, subtler principles and morals that guide the decision of what is just and unjust, is hidden to Statists, but it is more nuanced than, "We need taxes to pay for schools, roads, and Medicaid, because otherwise poor people would die in the streets." Many people who scoff at our "taxes are evil" mantra have a view of taxation that boils down to "Government provides those things now, and government is good and rich people are evil, so we need more taxes." Their view of taxation literally seems to be two steps: Society needs it -> government should fund it.

    My point is that Clark's points couldn't be made in a MSM publication, and certainly not in the way that he made them, which makes me glad that amateur, unedited blogs like this exist and sad that professional publications seem so scared to publish anything that sounds extreme or not "nuanced." Sure, building consensus and attracting people to your side of the argument with softer words and less insulting (or less extreme) arguments is valuable and justified sometimes. But so is a rant like Clark's. Judge Giselle Pollack doesn't deserve any kind, gentle, wishy-washy, professional-journalism words; she deserves to fuck off and die in a fire, or at least be imprisoned in a hellhole for as long as the combined total of her previous victims, and so does everyone who has voted to perpetuate the police state that the Drug War has enabled.

  328. Ken says:

    Replace it with a confederacy. The "Whiskey Rebellion". Happened when the constitution was only about ten years old.

  329. The Concerned Citizen says:

    Shall I hand you the gas can?

    You are exactly correct: the system isn't broken. It it working as designed. This "system" has subverted the Constitution and the American way.

    BURN IT TO THE FUCKING GROUND!!!

    -TCC

  330. Kirk Parker says:

    Dude,

    I was with you up until you objected to referring to Kennedy as a "lion".

    Seriously, have you not watched any recent wildlife shows? Don't you own a copy of BBC Planet?? Surely by now everybody knows that lions, especially male ones, are just lazy good-for-nothing layabout freeloading poseur fucks, don't they???? ;-)

    I think the appelation fits "Big Teddy K" to a T.

  331. Burn the Fucking System to the Ground
    Jct: It sure is one monster malfunctioning 1/(s-i) money system and burning it to the ground is a great idea if you don't know how to fix it (get rid of the i leaving the working 1/s accounting system) because you haven't figured what's wrong. http://johnturmel.com/bankmath.htm explains the malfunction in the 1/(s-i) banking system, owing more than is created due to usury, and any Youtube for Argentine Solution explains the fix, running money interest-free just like poker chips. So ;do your homework, learn the fix, and get rid of your matches.

  332. Paul Bonneau says:

    Replace it with Panarchy. You are no longer faced with putting a lot of square pegs in round holes (everybody has his own idea of the perfect system). Instead, just leave others alone, and they will leave you alone, each in his own political system along with others who share his opinions.

    Of course the next question is obvious: what if one or more of these polities DON'T leave others alone? Then smoke their ass with a shotgun. Eventually they will learn not to kick hornet's nests.

    In a word, tolerance. That is all that is needed.

    Panarchy will naturally come about after the current system has been burned to the ground.

  333. Tim says:

    Jet fuel is not avgas.

  334. Clark says:

    @Paul Bonneau

    Replace it with Panarchy

    Amen, brother.

  335. DeeplyRooted says:

    So we need to reengineer the governmental systems in which flawed people live. In principle, that's an argument I have sympathy for. A hell of a thing to implement, though, isn't it?

    I confess to being terribly elitist. I do not want to be governed by a system engineered – or even chosen – by the average American citizen. Many of these are people who still believe in creationism, who trust woo over vaccines, who don't care about the NSA's excesses, who would cheerfully banish Muslims or take children away from gay families; no thank you. I love my fellow humans as any Christian should, but I don't trust 99.9% of them to design a system that you or I, Clark, would consider acceptable, either morally or structurally.

    Who creates the new system when the old one burns? And who chooses it among other possibilities? This is not a rhetorical challenge to your assertions. I'm curious about your answer. (As for me, I would choose a roomful of intelligent, decent engineers – not a rabble, and certainly not a bunch of politicians, Lord help us.)

    As a side note, I'd rather rebuild the plane in-flight than blow it up and try to rebuild after the various pieces have crashed. Maybe it's impossible, but maybe we just haven't tried hard enough.

  336. Marzipan says:

    @John

    All taxation is theft, and therefore all taxes are evil. It sounds like there is no nuance or subtlety in that argument, but there certainly is. That nuance, that understanding of deeper, subtler principles and morals that guide the decision of what is just and unjust, is hidden to Statists, but it is more nuanced than, "We need taxes to pay for schools, roads, and Medicaid, because otherwise poor people would die in the streets."

    This position mistakes deep principle for nuance. There is no nuance or depth in the statement "all taxes are theft," even though that statement is underpinned by deeply held principles and reflections on the primacy of liberty in human interaction. Nevertheless, these principles are not articulated in that statement, so it comes across as a puerile rant when left naked.

    There is little nuance in absolute statements. "All government is good," "trust in authority", and "burn the fucking system to the ground" are statements that, by themselves, lack nuance or subtlety. In the latter case, the language is deliberately inflammatory; in the other cases, the language is too simple to explicate complicated positions. Sloganeering is a poor substitute for philosophical discourse.

    There are also reductive assumptions made in your argument that a statist cannot have a nuanced, principled argument – the same sort of assumptions that those who assume libertarians who say "all taxes are theft" are unthinking sloganeers. A statist might believe that there must be a balance between top-down and bottom-up restrictions and guides to conduct. There could also be principles involving striking a balance between individuals' short time horizons and an organization's difficulties in predicting the future accurately. However, with inflammatory rhetoric and without a spirit of inquiry, sussing out those assumptions could be challenging.

    @Paul Bonneau

    Of course the next question is obvious: what if one or more of these polities DON'T leave others alone? Then smoke their ass with a shotgun. Eventually they will learn not to kick hornet's nests.

    And thus do we replace the threat of violence with actual violence, and each part of the panarchy applies non-metaphorical sparks to gunpowder and shot to burn the fucking systems to the ground.

    I fail to see how this is an improvement over the current system, in which some semblance of behavioral and attitudinal moderation is the norm.

  337. Xenocles says:

    "Of course the next question is obvious: what if one or more of these polities DON'T leave others alone? Then smoke their ass with a shotgun. Eventually they will learn not to kick hornet's nests."

    That's what we've been doing for the last 6,000+ years if you aren't committed to the literal shotgun. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the aggressor is the victor. The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer as they must. It has ever been so; it will remain so even if the strong are universally benevolent. (It happens that coercive organization is a handy and proven path to gaining strength, though not the only way.)

    As Clark himself wryly observed a month or two ago, this is anarchotopia. We are living one configuration of it right now. Right now we call the strong things like "The United States of America" and "The People's Republic of China," but there's no reason to think anything essential changes if the strength devolves to entities like "Freedonia" or "The Block for which Fat Tony Provides Protection" or even "Joe's House."

    This "panarchy" of yours is a natural truth, not a political system. You do rule yourself – you always make your own decisions – and nobody can take that away from you. But other people can certainly limit your decision space just as severely as the laws of nature do.

  338. It's arguably more honest than moderately telling oneself that each of the system's victims probably deserved what they got.

  339. Samuel Adams says:

    just like sunlight is so antiseptic, (especially when you pull these khazar freaks out from the shadows), fire is ever so purifying…

    light the match and the bullshit burns away…

    "gay" marriage and the adoption/raising of human children by "gay" families…holocaust horseshit…forced illegal invasions/immigration…thought control…behavior modification…false flag terrorism…bullying…fractional fraud usury…vaccinations, oppression…coercion…man/boy love associations…AIPAC…"political correctness"…"full spectrum dominance" by flabby armchair warrior/dough-boy perverts…non-stop sophist justifications for absolute ungodly, anti-life insanity…

    for a brief moment, all this BABEL will stop…and then reality will come rushing in like a tsunami…

    no time to prance around like a pampered sodomite spouting lofty rationalizations while committing crimes against nature

    just good ole "back-to-basics" living where you re-discover why things are the way they are…and when you go against the natural order of things, you start down that filthy road again…

  340. Bravo Kilo says:

    Bush and Obama should pardon everyone who has ever done drugs? That's like saying that any politician who, as a kid, ever lifted a pack of gum from the Safeway/Dillons/YourLocalStore should pardon all shoplifters.
    The system isn't broken. The only problem is that too few feel they have a stake in the system, and so don't care what the judge does if they aren't her victim.
    The jury system is a half-hearted attempt make the citizen feel involved. Make it almost impossible to avoid. Mandate political and judicial service for everyone. Mandate the draft from age 18 to 65. Mandate roadside cleanup. Etc.
    Burn the system? The priveleged won't get burned, but Joe and Shaniqua will. And the New Order will be worse than the Old Order. There's been very few exceptions to that, and you want to burn ours?

  341. John says:

    @Marzipan

    All good points that are well taken, but clearly I was referring not to the statements "taxation is theft" and "taxes are evil" alone, but to those ideas as moral, philosophical positions. It would take hundreds if not thousands of words to explain and explore all the nuance and complexity of the libertarian anti-tax position, as well as anticipating and answering all the Statist objections to it, which I obviously didn't want to get into in a mere blog comment that wasn't mainly about taxes. Maybe that's why those statements came across as "puerile" or "sloganeering" and not the philosophical-social-political stance that those slogans represent.

  342. Clark says:

    @Bravo Kilo

    Bush and Obama should pardon everyone who has ever done drugs?

    Yes.

    That's like saying that any politician who, as a kid, ever lifted a pack of gum from the Safeway/Dillons/YourLocalStore should pardon all shoplifters.

    I find your analogy compelling.

    The system isn't broken. The only problem is that too few feel they have a stake in the system, and so don't care what the judge does if they aren't her victim.

    Does that not count as "the system is broken" ?

    The jury system is a half-hearted attempt make the citizen feel involved. Make it almost impossible to avoid.

    The state uses too much force! Solve it with more involuntary servitude!

    I find this idea lame.

    Mandate political and judicial service for everyone. Mandate the draft from age 18 to 65. Mandate roadside cleanup. Etc.

    I do not believe in slavery. I am sorry that you do.

  343. John Kindley says:

    Re: "panarchy"

    There's no law saying a State has to be a certain minimum size. Why not only as big as Vatican City? Why not only as big as your yard, with your home your castle?

    From there, confederation with other sovereigns is natural.

    The neighboring sovereign beats his kids? The neighboring confederation practices slavery or human sacrifice? There's no law saying you can't stop him / it, alone or in confederation with other sovereigns.

  344. Xenocles says:

    "The neighboring sovereign beats his kids? The neighboring confederation practices slavery or human sacrifice? There's no law saying you can't stop him / it, alone or in confederation with other sovereigns."

    We do that now. We call it things like "the 13th Amendment" and "child welfare laws." What you suggest is no different from what exists today save that many tens of millions of current "sovereigns" are simply satraps to the dominant confederation. They have played out the war on paper and conceded without taking the field.

  345. John Kindley says:

    @Xenocles

    Indeed, I think the most important thing the individual can do is to realize that anarchy already exists, here and now. Equally important is to overcome the fear in his own heart. Who knows what ripple effects might ensue in the "real world" from such realizations?

  346. Xenocles says:

    @John-

    I see where you're coming from, and I don't disagree. In that case read my response as a rhetorical companion placed in a dialogue to help make the point.

    Personally I walk the edge between wanting to do the right thing no matter the consequences and trying to preserve a Remnant for when the cause is ripe. It is exhausting and demoralizing.

  347. John Kindley says:

    @Xenocles

    To overcome the fear in one's heart is not to abolish fear entirely. Nor is it to forget the injunction "Be ye wise as serpents," an injunction I could probably do a better job of following. Overcoming fear doesn't dictate doing something "crazy," but it does free and empower one to do something "crazy" when it's called for. One gets the sense that Ernst Juenger, from whom I've derived much of my line of thinking lately, witnessed and/or at least was aware of atrocities in Nazi Germany. Could he or should he have done more than he did, even though doing so would almost assuredly have meant his destruction? There's no easy answer, but overcoming the fear in one's own heart will at least make an answer possible. One gets the sense from his 1951 essay The Forest Flight, which I linked to above, that he accepted his part in the collective responsibility dumped on all Germans after the war, but with a massive grain of salt relative to the accusers and the judges.

    My comment, too, is not a critique of yours.

  348. Bob Robertson says:

    Anarchy. It could not possibly be worse.

  349. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Clark,
    wakey, wakey.
    It ain't your fucking system to burn to the ground. All you've got to do is leave it the fuck alone. In other words mind your own business -

    QUICK LINK GUIDE FOR RAPID UNDERSTANDING OF LIBERTY
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/quick-link-guide-for-rapid-understanding-of-liberty/

    Regards

  350. Dave says:

    I'd be perfectly happy to leave the system alone, if it would leave ME the fuck alone.

  351. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Dave, check-out the link, spread the word, and lets make a go of it -

    QUICK LINK GUIDE FOR RAPID UNDERSTANDING OF LIBERTY
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/quick-link-guide-for-rapid-understanding-of-liberty/

  352. Clark says:

    @sixhonest servingmen

    Clark,
    wakey, wakey.
    It ain't your fucking system to burn to the ground.

    But in democracy, government is just something we all do together, right?

    And I want to burn it to the ground.

  353. Clark says:

    @Dave

    I'd be perfectly happy to leave the system alone, if it would leave ME the fuck alone.

    EXACTLY.

    Anyone who wants to form a private commune / police state on their own land can do so – I won't step in to tell you that your hobby project is wrong because it forbids you from smoking pot, or watching television that uses the F-bomb, or whatever.

    …and in return, please keep your police state our of my life.

    …but they're not willing to do so.

  354. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Clark, that ain't it. Democracy isn't something we ALL do together. Just check out the link and read whatever appears under the sub-title heading JURISDICTION

  355. Clark says:

    @sixhonest servingmen

    Clark, that ain't it. Democracy isn't something we ALL do together. Just check out the link and read whatever appears under the sub-title heading JURISDICTION

    I've read most of this.

    …and yet I don't know what point you're making.

    Can you restate it?

  356. J@m3z Aitch says:

    @Sam Adams,

    light the match and the bullshit burns away…

    "gay" marriage and the adoption/raising of human children by "gay" families…[...]

    non-stop sophist justifications for absolute ungodly, anti-life insanity…[...]

    no time to prance around like a pampered sodomite spouting lofty rationalizations while committing crimes against nature

    So, you're not advocating peaceful anarchy, but one in which all the sodomites are prevented from acting out their perversions, or adopting children? That's going to take a lot of force, isn't it?

    And so Sam embodies the reason so many of us ask, "and what then?" Because if burning the fucking system to the ground results in Sam's world, I don't see the gain. I've seen systems dominated by moralistic cockroaches, and they're not better than what we've got now. Forget Somalia, Sam should move to Uganda, where homosexuality has just been outlawed…he'd fit in well with those sodomite haters.

    It's fine if he's talking about what happens within the bounds if his own propert, but he didn't define it that narrowly. No gay marriage, no gay adoption, etc., were proclaimed in absolute terms.
    This is the posssible world you're proposing we make possible, Clark. Do you support Sam's no-sodomites allowed position, and the force that would be necessary to make it a reality? Or do you have a plan for preventing that kind of vicious hatred from exerting itself?

    Oh, and Sam? Come the burning of the system to the ground, I advise you not to try to implement your anti-sodomite program in my neighborhood. I'm the live and let live type, but if you're not willing to let live, neither am I.

  357. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Clark, that's just it. It's staring you in the face. Read it to understand what matters, and democracy isn't it. Just keep reading. Seriously

  358. Clark says:

    @sixhonest servingmen

    Clark, that's just it. It's staring you in the face. Read it to understand what matters, and democracy isn't it. Just keep reading. Seriously

    Six,

    I'm trying to be polite and give you the benefit of the doubt, but the bottom line is that I don't know what your thesis is, and your page of links is not helping me.

    I can follow most arguments, so if I can't follow you, I think that means that you're not expressing your point.

    You need to either crisply explain what you're saying (and telling me "go read a bunch of links", after I've told you that I've read most of them doesn't count) or accept that I'm not going to guess what you're getting at.

  359. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Clark, what we all do together isn't democracy it's jurisdiction, and that means freewill. The question then becomes how does government obtain jurisdiction over us. The answer is they don't, we simply consent for them to have jurisdiction over us. What matters is to delegitimise their presumed authority with the 'facts' and the facts can be understood through reading the few simple articles presented in the link I gave under the title heading JURISDICTION. It is through these brief articles where we go on to learn and understand the territory the government claims to have jurisdiction over. And you can be sure it isn't where anyone on this earth lives

  360. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Six,

    Don't forget the useful quote from M. Aurelius at the top of the page yoy linked to:
    EVERYTHING WE HEAR IS AN OPINION, NOT A FACT. EVERYTHING WE SEE IS A PERSPECTIVE, NOT THE TRUTH.

    You can't avoid the application of that quote to the claims made in that blog.

  361. John Kindley says:

    "on their own land"

    Aye, there's the rub, and where you and I, and Nock and Rothbard, disagree. The State is defined by lies and theft. Its fundamental lie is authority, and its fundamental theft is land theft. It's no accident I suggested the State could be reduced to a man's yard.

    Anywhere on this earth people are excluded from the earth, the people excluded should be compensated. This is the formula for peace. A State that claims jurisdiction over the entire territory of the present-day United States has a lot of compensating to do. Better to let whoever wants to come in come in. Then they would only be excluded from those enclaves that pay for their exclusive possession. But even these enclaves are likely to be porous, since every inch of land from which people are excluded must be paid for.

  362. sixhonest servingmen says:

    J@m3z Aitch, you're quite right. What matters with regards to our lives is the governments position. So, the best thing to do is ask them their position. Failing the unavailibility of having one of their spokesmen provide a direct answer to us, we ought then to find where their position is clearly stated as to where their authority extends when it comes to their presumed 'claims' of jurisdiction or authority over us -

    WHERE AM I
    (Follow the instructions and open links to find the definition of a country)
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/where-am-i/

  363. J@m3z Aitch says:

    What matters with regards to our lives is the governments position.

    Well, that's one perspective. ;)

  364. Xenocles says:

    You guys are sure being nice to Six. I have no idea what he's getting at. Simply put, the jurisdiction of a law is wherever its agents both desire to go with a gun and can do so. Getting your head smashed with a baton is a factual proposition, not an opinion. You can face the prospect with equanimity if you choose – which is probably closer to what Marcus Aurelius was getting at – but its occurrence is not a matter of perspective.

  365. Sulaco says:

    "Burn it to the ground". K, you first.

  366. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Xenocles,

    I have no idea what he's getting at, either. But my new year's resolution is to spend more time toying with people who write their own idiosyncratic political philosophies and promote them through other people's blogs.

  367. sixhonest servingmen says:

    Here's something a little more idiosyncratic:

    28 USC § 3002 – Definitions
    (15) “United States” means—
    (A) a Federal corporation;
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/3002

    The reason for this idiosyncractic perspective given by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School
    is because they probably are well aware of this -

    Political Charters Create Corporate Countries As Fictions
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/the-law/

    Nevertheless, it could be said that Cornell no doubt are themselves being idiosyncratic when it comes to providing the United States Code (USC) that the government publish for all to 'see' for themselves. The point is, you need to understand the principles of why the United States is defined in the way it is given in 28 USC § 3002

    Regards

  368. Six, why show only one of the three meanings given there? Anyway, the definitions in 28 USC §3002 apply, by their own terms, only to 28 USC Chapter 176 (Federal Debt Collection Procedure). A debt owed to any of the three classes of entities named there is (it seems) a debt to USG, so it makes sense to use "United States" in that special sense to simplify the language of Chapter 176.

  369. Clark says:

    @Xenocles

    You guys are sure being nice to Six.

    Yeah…I was trying to be charitable.

    I have no idea what he's getting at.

    Me either. :-/

  370. Clark says:

    @sixhonest servingmen

    Here's something a little more idiosyncratic:

    28 USC § 3002 – Definitions
    (15) “United States” means—
    (A) a Federal corporation;
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/3002

    This sort of thing (Six's reading of the law / posting about it) pisses me off, because it makes liberty lovers look like the King of the Hill character going on about gold-fringed admiralty flags.

    See my post a month about about the kind of idiocy that makes me want to curb-stomp Natural Law protestors.

    Six, the closest I come to being a lawyer is reading One L and having taken the LSAT…but even I can tell that the definition you quote applies only to 28 USC Chapter 176.

    What does that mean?

    Title 28 does not deal with Constitutional issues or address what the government is in some metaphysical sense – it merely lays our procedures by which the goverment courts do their business.

    And what does Chapter 176 deal with ? Federal Debt Collection Procedure.

    The four subchapters are

    • SUBCHAPTER A—DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL PROVISIONS (§§ 3001 –3015 )
    • SUBCHAPTER B—PREJUDGMENT REMEDIES (§§ 3101 –3105 )
    • SUBCHAPTER C—POSTJUDGMENT REMEDIES (§§ 3201 –3206 )
    • SUBCHAPTER D—FRAUDULENT TRANSFERS INVOLVING DEBTS (§§ 3301 –3308 )

    You've linked into Subchapter A, which defines terms for use in Subchapters A, B, C, and D.

    So after about 11 seconds of reading, it's clear that the bit of 28 USC 176A that you cite ("

    (15) 'United States' means—
    (A) a Federal corporation;
    (B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or
    (C) an instrumentality of the United States.

    ")

    is going to be used further down in the chapter in phrases like (making this up as an example) "if a defendent is found to owe court fees to the United States, he will have 30 days to pay by cashier's check or face interest payments".

    If you'd have us think that you've found something interesting, shocking, or powerful here, you are either deeply confused, or – worse yet – you understand the law and you're playing us for fools, thinking that you can provide a link and not have us check your work and find it lacking.

    In either case, it doesn't seem profitable to engage with you further.

  371. sixhonest servingmen says:

    What would be of interest in light of the comment made by Clark at the date and time mark given as 'Clark • Dec 31, 2013 @7:32 pm' is, who do I make the check or payment out to, when the procedures for employees of the United States are laid out for them, or if we wish to understand what procedures they have when they do 'business' as the United States with regards to court payments or any other payments you care to name.

    Needless to say, the payment would not be made-out to a particular man for him to profit by, or representatives of that 'fictional entity' for them to profit by, in doing 'business' with the United States; but payments would be made for – the benefit of an inanimate 'fictional' entity calling itself the United States, for it to do as it wishes with the payments.

    The question that then arises is, what is the United States?

    Of course, in asking this question it is no business of ours as to what 'constitutional issues' the private corporate entity calling its self the United States has, or for that matter what constitutional issues any other private fictional corporate entity holds, when it comes to the conduct of their private affairs or operations.

    What is strictly required, is to know to whom or to what do I make the check or payment out to?

    Without any doubt, we can arrive at an understanding of who it is, or what it is, we make a payment out to with regards to the United States, if it has a valid and legitimate claim against us, without any need to interfere in its 'constitutional issues' or, wanting to know what those constitutional issues are.

    We can easily acquire that understanding by reading -

    Political Charters Create Corporate Countries As Fictions
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/the-law/

    For those who rightly consider this to be an opinion, then all that need be done is to ask the government of the United States for a definition of themselves.

    Clearly, there is nothing 'metaphysical' with regards to our position. It is a reasonable and boringly conscientious position to take.

    The answer that the government of the United States has disappointedly given, without the 'rush of excitement' that metaphysics instills in some of us, can be found here -

    WHERE AM I
    (Follow the instructions and open links to find the definition of a country)
    http://thereisnodebt.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/where-am-i/

    I certainly agree with Clark when he says,

    "Title 28 does not deal with Constitutional issues or address what the government is in some metaphysical sense – it merely lays our procedures by which the goverment courts do their business.",

    or better still,

    "If you'd have us think that you've found something interesting, shocking, or powerful here, you are either deeply confused, or – worse yet – you understand the law and you're playing us for fools, thinking that you can provide a link and not have us check your work and find it lacking."

    Clark, all I can say is that there certainly is no getting the upper-hand with you!

    And, oh yes…you're right,

    "it doesn't seem profitable to engage with you further."

    Happy New Year and a profitable one at that.

    P.s. – who do I make the check out to?

  372. A Critic says:

    @Clark

    I have a secret weapon to destroy the system.

    Patience!

    Shhh…don't tell anyone, but everyday my minions such as the politicians in DC do my bidding, working every day to destroy the infrastructure of this system and the capacity of the land and people to support a replacement.

    Trying to destroy the system is difficult, expensive, and not likely to succeed. Allowing it to destroy itself – easy, cheap, and inevitably destined to succeed.

    It is as if your house is on fire – the solution sometimes isn't to fight the fire, but to walk away and let it burn down.

  373. Clark says:

    @A Critic

    @Clark

    I have a secret weapon to destroy the system.

    Patience!

    I think you might be right.

    It's one of only two hopes that I have (the other being space travel; let the statists rot on Earth and emigrate).

  374. Clark says:

    Btw, a rebuttal.

    Tamara Keel attacks this post on her blog:

    http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2014/01/okay-and-then-what.html

    and asks "How come I see all these people yelling about 'burning the system to the ground' but…they're all doing it from a typewriter in and office and not a flamethrower in the streets?"

    My response:

    Well said.

    That's exactly the problem I have with Thomas Paine and his pamphlets in 1775. What sort of revolution did he think he could foment by just writing things?

    And let us not forget the poseurs in the Committees of Correspondence in 1773. Sam Adams and Joseph Warren were clearly pikers – if they'd had any balls at all they'd be out in the street shooting British, not just riling up the populace. We can see from all their committee making and letter writing that they were never going to amount to much.

    Finally, let's call out the losers in the Sons of Liberty. If they were really serious about an American Revolution, they wouldn't have been forming secret societies in 1764…they'd have been FIGHTING. So what if they did slowly gain membership and start to take direct action? No one has ever heard of their "tea party", and it never had an effect on the nation.

    It's too bad that these pikers didn't have your expert advice on regime change. If they had, their revolution might have worked instead of just consisting of a bunch of talk.

  375. Clark says:

    Trying to converge thread. Tam responded to the previous comment at her blog. I respond here:

    @Tam said…

    Wow, Clark!

    Hyperbole, martyrdom, and a bit of overweening sense of self-importance in one short comment.

    That's like the Hat Trick of Internet Butthurt.

    I'm enjoying your ad hominem; it's a nice way to avoid my rebuttal of your argument that "real revolutionaries never write or build organizations".

    Let me see if I can phrase this more clearly: "Okay, and then what?"

    That's not "more clearly"; that's giving up on the first half of your attack and concentrating on the second half.

    Which is fine; (a) we've addressed the first half and you've got no response, and (b) the "OK and then what?" second half is an entirely valid question.

    I intend to (and have intended to) address that very topic. I will do so in a long form post at Popehat sometime in the next few weeks.

    I mean, you've put yourself on the same shelf as Sam Adams and Tom Paine, which is pretty bold

    No I didn't. You implicitly said "real revolutionaries don't write manifestos; they fight in the streets". I offered an existence proof of the form "here are a bunch of real revolutionaries who went through phase 1 before entering phase 2".

    It is not necessary for me to say that I am like Sam Adams or Tom Paine to defeat your argument; it is merely necessary for me to note that Sam Adams and Tom Paine existed.

    So. Let's say it's hypothetically burnt. Now what?

    I hope to have a long answer soonish.

  376. Blahbl4hblah says:

    "every politician who goes on moral crusades while barebacking prostitutes and money laundering the payments, to every teacher who retired at age 60 on 80% salary"

    So politicians that break the law are the same as retired teachers?

    Right wing much you douchebag? If you said that within arms reach I would slap the stupid out of you.

  377. Paul Bonneau says:

    [No I didn't. You implicitly said "real revolutionaries don't write manifestos; they fight in the streets". I offered an existence proof of the form "here are a bunch of real revolutionaries who went through phase 1 before entering phase 2".]

    Indeed; much of what we see in the last few years on the Internet, appears to be mental preparation for the coming Revolution (or Secession, or whatever else is going to happen).

    The other thing is the old question, "when is it time to start shooting the bastards", as if everybody needs an announcement, "The Revolution is scheduled to start at noon tomorrow". No.

    In a sense, the revolution is already here, churning away in peoples' minds. In another sense, it only starts when you personally are attacked by thugs of whatever stripe. If you decline to submit, your revolution has then started. Take as many bastards with you as you can…

    Here are some of my earlier thoughts on panarchy, before I knew the word:
    "What is to be done with the Statists?"
    http://strike-the-root.com/what-is-to-be-done-with-statists
    http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2010/tle579-20100718-08.html
    http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2010/tle591-20101011-07.html

    Also, more philosophically:
    "Government, a force of Nature
    http://strike-the-root.com/government-force-of-nature

  378. DJ says:

    Good article.

    The system is already on fire. The leftists/marxists/socialists are already destroying the system and have been doing it for years. The flamethrower they use is public debt, radical environmental BS and wealth redistribution. I am personally surprised our republic is still standing.

  379. Amiri says:

    I wonder how you can write this article without ever acknowledging or grappling with the class problem, namely, that problematic that has informed the entire political discussion since the industrial revolution created a proletariat. It seems that you have dismissed it out of hand, perhaps along with "lefties" and "righties." Any discussion about fundamental change of current social arrangements without dealing with this is negligent and cannot but be woefully underinformed. Unless this is just nihilistic ranting.

  380. Xenocles says:

    Yes, Paul. You may not believe in the state, but the state surely believes in you. Your idea of "not cooperating" is folly. If imprisonment rates are any guide we have one of the highest rates of non-cooperation in the world. Where's the revolution? All I see are condemnations of lawbreakers getting what they deserve.

  381. Amiri: The industrial proletariat was created by state action; Clark alluded obliquely to that issue with "Shaneekwa the hair braider", arrested for trying to earn some money without paying $thousands to earn a cosmetology license.

    Or that's what I read into it. I don't know whether or not he agrees that Kevin Carson and Roderick Long are onto something when they denounce "vulgar libertarianism" and "Right-conflationism" respectively.

  382. Clark says:

    @Blahbl4hblah

    So politicians that break the law are the same as retired teachers?

    Yes, that's exactly that I said.

    Right wing much you

    Drug legalization, gay marriage, anti-corporatist…so, no, not really.

    douchebag?

    Ooooh,the strength of your moral outrage has me positively quaking in my boots.

    If you said that within arms reach I would slap the stupid out of you.

    I'm in Manchester, Boston, and NYC on occassion. Name your time and place.

  383. Clark says:

    @Anton Sherwood

    Amiri: The industrial proletariat was created by state action; Clark alluded obliquely to that issue with "Shaneekwa the hair braider", arrested for trying to earn some money without paying $thousands to earn a cosmetology license.

    Or that's what I read into it.

    You read it exactly correctly.

    I don't know whether or not he agrees that Kevin Carson and Roderick Long are onto something when they denounce "vulgar libertarianism" and "Right-conflationism" respectively.

    I am interested in what Kevin Carson has to say; I'm groping my way towards a left-libertarian / right-libertarian fusion. Culturally, I'm still entirely on the right, but the 2008 financial meltdown (and our government's response to it) has opened my eyes to how corporatist the system (which we should burn to the ground) actually is.

  384. Clark says:

    @Paul Bonneau

    Indeed; much of what we see in the last few years on the Internet, appears to be mental preparation for the coming Revolution (or Secession, or whatever else is going to happen).

    Indeed.

    A decade of manifestos lays the groundwork for secession (which is what we had in 1776, and which we may have again some day).

    In a sense, the revolution is already here, churning away in peoples' minds.

    Excellently said.

    Here are some of my earlier thoughts on panarchy, before I knew the word…

    Will read those when I get a moment.

  385. Tam says:

    "A decade of manifestos lays the groundwork …"

    A decade? Where you been, man?

    You write as though you've just stumbled across some Grand Unified Theory here, but as the warrior poet said to the cop, "Welcome to the party, pal!"

    Siding with David's comments in this thread is like chewing on a cat turd, but he raises valid points.

    I absolutely agree with your upthread post at 9:33AM.

  386. azazel1024 says:

    I have to touch on at least teachers. No, it is more than 180 days a year most places. Last I checked, it is more like 210 (roughly 185-190 days a year in the class room, plus at least another 10+ days of conferences, development classes, etc when kids aren't in school, plus teachers often work a couple of days past the end of the school year and start-up a week before classes start), not including continuing education that all teachers must keep up with, that throws in at least another 20-30 days a year worth.

    Then you throw in things teachers are obligated for, like parent teacher conferences and the sort that give them some mandatory 12+ hour days occasionally. The fact that just like kids, almost all teachers have "home work" grading papers, working on circulum, etc outside of the class room (rare is it that teacher that can get it all done during the school day).

    Also lots of teachers end up needing to or wanting to buy things out of their own pocket (yes, a tax break, but it isn't a tax credit) for their classes.

    Of the dozen or so teachers I know, living in a blue state, most work darned hard during the school year and certainly work a lot more than 180 days. If you'll note a typical work year for the peons, it is 260 days a year if you take out 2 days a week for weekends. A typical teacher is probably going to work a minimum of 200 days a year, and possibly closer to 210 days a year. Then on their own time, they are probably going to have to squeeze in 20 or so days a year worth of continuing education. Then those typical days, even if school is only 6 1/2hrs long, they are probably putting in another 1-2hrs a day on "homework" that they need to do. Plus probably helping tutor kids after class, taking or making calls to parents, etc. So most of them probably have longer than your typical 8hr work day during those 200 odd days a year that they are working.

    Next, most teachers (more than half) I know teach summer school and/or coach or do an after school activity, like band, at very little pay, especially compared to how much work they are.

    Also most pensions don't stretch to 80%. Most are 60% (or less these days). Still pretty nice though. Most also need to put in at least 30 years and often longer to get those pensions. Most teachers don't get automatic pay raises, they have minimum standards they have to meet, which ususally requires them bending good teaching standards, to try to get their students to take some crap test, and then try to teach their kids the stuff they actually should be learning. Those automatic pay raises also require them to take continuing education classes, which most districts require their teachers to pay for themselves.

    Also since 2008, most of the teachers I know have missed roughly half of their automatic "pay raises" because county budgets got slashed. So most of them have only gotten about a 2-3% pay raise every couple of years instead of every year…which means on average, they've been earning less because of inflation.

  387. David says:

    @Tam

    Siding with David's comments in this thread is like chewing on a cat turd

    I'm not sure what to make of this simile. Is it based on field research, and if so, what did you discover?

  388. Doug Nusbaum says:

    In the book 1984, the interrogator says to Winston smith:
    "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever."

    In 2009 I was motivated to write a 6000 word essay that I called orwells boot. I was quite pleased, when I did a search about a year later, on the two words orwells boot, that my article was on the first page of google. It is now number 1, after paid links, on all search engines, usually under the name factotum666. Just enter the two words orwells boot.

    You may enjoy the read. Be sure to follow the link to xfoolnature.org

    I attempt to show the underlying reasons for the problems that we have and the situations that you do not like. To Wit, why so many people are so obedient to authority, and so resistant to learning new stuff that does not come from authority. I think that I make a convincing argument that nature has made us that way. There are exceptions, but like societies that have no religion, they are few and far between. Like those societies, they are also remarkably free of crime and peaceful.

    So the question now becomes not "what is right", or "what do I like", but "how do we change things?" since it will be much more than simply educating people.

    While working on my book / project I have concluded that the problem is not government or religion. It is hierarchy. Hierarchy came out of agriculture and property ownership. Property ownership is not, of itself, bad. We need to change our cultures from being hierarchies to being networks. Hierarchies almost always focus, amplify, and create stupid, bad psychopathy, and obedience. Networks are, by their nature, hostile environments for all of thise pathologies. Create networks.

    I am very open to constructive criticism. I can be contacted at dpaladin at ix dot netcom dot com. But you will have to prove that you are human. If you fail to get a response, please try again.

  389. Peter Zachos says:

    What does it mean when a 'regular peon' is wronged by an upper echelon in the hierarchy, or a triad of them in a colluded effort, and then receives justice by the legal process, while the upper echelon are punished?

  390. It means the system ain't perfect!

  391. Peter Zachos says:

    Anton – is any system?

  392. Old Ironsights says:

    RE: @ Clark • Jan 1, 2014 @9:37 am

    Snerk!…

    Oh the Irony… and snark. +1

  393. Old Ironsights says:

    @ azazel1024 • Jan 2, 2014 @8:12 am

    If you are talking about a TEACHER who is/has fought the NEA and the .gov indoctrination system &/or teaches at a PRIVATE school… well, I don't disagree.

    The rest are barely better than TSA agents, babysitting and training the sheep as they pass through. Why do they deserve even 60% of what was stolen from me at gunpoint in the first place?

    Does someone I voluntarily pay for a service/skill EARN a retirement check? Possibly. But 99% of "teachers" haven't come close to that requirement/distinction.

  394. Old Ironsights says:

    Oh… @ Clark & the OP:

    I do want to say… not all of us Firefighters even have the option of retiring with a paper cut… many (most) of use in Red State Flyover Rural BFE America are Volunteers who barely get "roof falls on our heads insurance" … ;-)

  395. J@m3z Aitch says:

    @Clark,

    You say that culturally you are still on the right. Having been raised culturally (and economically) right, then having gone left, then (moderate) libertarian, the notion of a culturally right-libertarian is difficult for me, much less a culturally right-anarchist, because my experience with the cultural-right is that they always see the need to reinforce culture against the barbarians of the left with the use of state power.

    Clearly you must see it differently. Would you be willing to explain what you must think I'm missing? Or is your position that in an anarchy you would live a culturally right life, and the leftist barbarians can do whatever they want on their property (in their communes, pergaos ;) ). Or do you think in the absence of the state cultural leftism would decline–does it require state support to thrive?

    I'm not trying to argue with you (at least not yet), nor am I writing this as a defense of the cultural-left. I'm just trying to understand a position that, because of my own background in the cultural right, I can't intuitively comprehend.

  396. Clark says:

    @J@m3z

    @Clark,

    my experience with the cultural-right is that they always see the need to reinforce culture against the barbarians of the left with the use of state power.

    I've been coming to see more and more that there is a two dimensional grid:

    1) cultural norms

    2) willingness to use state coercion.

    The grid is fully populated: at any intersection of X and Y you will find people.

    My initial experience with the cultural left is exactly what you say of rightists: they always see the need to reinforce culture against the barbarians of the right with the use of state power.

    …but I have learned that some leftists do not fit this mold: they can be in favor of, say, gay rights, but don't seek to use the state to force me to hire a gay person if I don't want to. They can be in favor of transgender rights with out needing the state to specify the bathroom policy of every private business. They can be in favor of hiring the nose-pierced and tattooed, without firing off a lawsuit when an airline decides not to hire stewardesses who don't fit their corporate image. They can be in favor of access to healthcare without demanding coercive redistribution of tax dollars.

    Culturally, I am a "crunchy con".

    I believe in free range chickens and a fully automatic machine gun over every mantle.

    I believe in prayers to Our Lord Jesus Christ before dinner and tolerance and an open heart for the Jewish neighbor across the street and the gay couple next door.

    I believe in my right to keep 99+% of what I earn, and the moral value of shoveling horse manure in the garden.

    If you want to shoot heroin, I think you're making a tragically bad mistake and likely throwing away the only life you'll ever get…but I have absolutely no moral right to use force to stop you, and since I do not have that moral right, I can not delegate it to a government to exercise on my behalf.

    is your position that in an anarchy you would live a culturally right life, and the leftist barbarians can do whatever they want on their property (in their communes, pergaos ;) )

    Yes! Exactly!

    Or do you think in the absence of the state cultural leftism would decline–does it require state support to thrive?

    Decline, but not disappear.

    I'm not trying to argue with you (at least not yet), nor am I writing this as a defense of the cultural-left. I'm just trying to understand a position that, because of my own background in the cultural right, I can't intuitively comprehend.

    If you decide that you want to discuss further – or, for that matter, fight – , I'm all ears. Or, you know, fists. :)

  397. Pickwick says:

    Clark,
    A while ago, you mentioned (I think) that you were considering writing about your ideas for what could replace the current system, if ever it were to be dissolved. I hope you do find the time and/or inclination to proceed with that (possibly overwhelmingly large) project this year. By the comments, it looks like there are many of us from across the political spectrum who agree with you on nearly every injustice or disgraceful state of affairs you point out (teachers being one debatable point) yet doubt the wisdom of your prescription.

    There's no reason you'd remember it, but I also wanted to apologize for my previous and only comment on any of your posts, which was rude and contributed less than nothing to the discussion.

    Happy New Year, to Clark and all the other fascinating and thoughtful people at Popehat.

  398. Clark says:

    @Pickwick

    Clark, A while ago, you mentioned (I think) that you were considering writing about your ideas for what could replace the current system, if ever it were to be dissolved. I hope you do find the time and/or inclination to proceed with that (possibly overwhelmingly large) project this year.

    I intend to!

    Happy New Year, to Clark and all the other fascinating and thoughtful people at Popehat.

    Thanks! Same to you.

  399. Clark says:

    @Old Ironsights

    I do want to say… not all of us Firefighters even have the option of retiring with a paper cut… many (most) of use in Red State Flyover Rural BFE America are Volunteers who barely get "roof falls on our heads insurance" … ;-)

    Agreed; I often generalize based on what I've witnessed living in three different East coast blue states.

    I have huge respect for volunteer firefighters.

  400. DeeplyRooted says:

    @OldIronsights:

    The rest are barely better than TSA agents, babysitting and training the sheep as they pass through. Why do they deserve even 60% of what was stolen from me at gunpoint in the first place?

    I would ask you, Clark, and anyone else slagging on public school teachers to consider whether the problem lies with the teachers themselves, or with the miserably broken system in which they're embedded.

    Anyway, we can fight anecdote with anecdote all day long. I'm just saying it's unjust to target public school teachers as a class worthy of contempt because they've negotiated a modicum of job security in a can't-win employment situation (abused by entitled parents, disrespected by kids, overloaded by administrators).

    Clark, you gonna treat us to more posts about your revolutionary plans anytime soon, while you work out the details?

  401. Clark says:

    @DeeplyRooted

    Clark, you gonna treat us to more posts about your revolutionary plans anytime soon, while you work out the details?

    I've got a lot on my plate right this moment; hopefully with in a month or two.

  402. Magnus says:

    "… then the constitution is suspended, martial law is declared, and people are hauled out of their homes."

    And don't forget that the Bostonians cheered the cops who did this afterwards. Called them "heroes," they did.

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