Thursday, October 29, 2009

A new chapter

On November 16, 2009, the first meeting of the Forum for a Free Delaware Valley will be held at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square. Karen Emery of DelValley Silver, Inc., will be speaking about her new company and why she started it.

See the meetup here:

(Update, 12/11/09: I handed over "Organizer" responsibilities for the above referenced Meetup on 12/2/09, so I cannot vouch for anything that is now posted there, although I assume the 11/16/09 meetup info is still there.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Tale of Two Anarchies, and a City

It's been a little over five months now since I adopted the label "voluntaryist" (aka free market anarchist). Before that, I was a "social justice" type, highly tuned into the things in the bible that speak of injustice against the poor, and the responsibility of those who "have" to share with those who "have not". Sort of by default, and by my socialization, I voted Democratic from my 18th birthday through fall 2008. The reactions in my family to my going "libertarian anarchist" were varied, but mostly were some version of nonplussed or perplexed.

On the Christian front, several things happened. I pretty quickly became an amateur scholar on a statement by Paul in Romans 13, that appears to explicitly assert that the State receives it authority directly from God. I also developed a position on the famous "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" quote from Jesus, of which a facile interpretation is that Jesus was just fine with government and taxation. But more importantly I noticed that just as non-anarchist Christians are roughly divisible into "left" and "right", with radically different notions about how society should be ordered, and what role government should play, there is a similar division between anarchists.

I've spent a lot more time, over the last five months, in a property-rights anarchy echo chamber than talking to the "other side" of anarchy or reading their authorities, but I have picked up that there are anarchists who are more concerned with the injustice of moneylenders and landlords, backed by the full muscle of the government in the enforcement of their economic enslavement of the poor, than with the "looting" of the "industrialists" by government, that Ayn Rand ranted about in Atlas Shrugged. Kind of a different perspective, don't you think? Kind of like a polar opposite perspective.

And then, I began to realize that property-rights anarchists are almost always devout atheists, and that although the other anarchists are also more often than not atheists too, there is a little better representation by Christians on that side, than on the property-rights side. This is not surprising, given the historical emphasis of Christianity on helping the poor, which is not surprising, given how much the bible talks about doing right by the poor.

I started to see that the criticism I was hearing about voluntaryists not having a program, had some real validity. I also finally finished listening to Atlas Shrugged, and I realized that while Rand has some very piercing insights, the novel is, in the end, a "philosophical" one, a story about ideas, with people cast in the role of saying the ideas. The book is not a blueprint for a new society, or a revolutionary roadmap. And yet it seems that a lot of people hope that it is, think that once enough people "go on strike" against the government, the new violence-free society, ruled by reason and truth, will just "appear" when all the "good" and "powerful" people come back from their hideaway.

Anyway-- after all this stewed in my head for some time, and after I took in a few more mordant passages about economics in the Hebrew prophets, I came up with a very broadly outlined plan. For almost 10 years now I've wanted to start my own business, which would be all about building wealth in poor communities, in the Philadelphia region. Now, I want to do that more than ever, but I specifically want to use wealth from within the region itself, to make the poor communities economically productive. And I want to build a sort of economic wall around our region; I want to demonstrate how people-- neighbors-- can work together against outside exploiters. Our region shouldn't be owned and operated by people who don't live here.

I will build a business, a network of businesses, dedicated to rational and orderly redistribution of wealth from places (in the Philadelphia region) where it is piled up idle, to where (in the Philadelphia region) it could potentially be productive, and where there is not enough capital currently. I will do this without the use of force. I will do it using "force-ful" methods, but wealth will not be transferred under threat of violence by me or anyone I have anything to do with. I will build institutions that do not receive taxpayer funds, and I will ignore government to the extent possible, which I realize will not be nearly as much as some of my voluntaryist friends would like.

So you see, I am a free marketer who believes in the absolute necessity of redistributing wealth into a more rational and sustainable pattern, in the Philadelphia metropolitan region. I do not know exactly where to start, but I know I need to understand a lot better some raw facts about the regional market. And I need to find a few partners who "get it".

I will be writing more about this vision as it comes into clearer focus. But I can assure you, there is nowhere else for me to go, but toward this vision.