How to Start an Affinity Group

The Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party now has a set of bylaws. The foundation of the caucus is the affinity group, organized on either geographical or ideological lines. Each of these affinity groups will elect a representative to the Caucus General Assembly. Affinity groups are self-organizing and have no set number, so any group of people can become an affinity group. Here’s a handy guide to how to go about that.

  1. Decide on an organizing seed– The principle of organization for an affinity group would be geographicalLibertarian Socialists of Nebraska, for example- or ideologicalLibertarians for Prison Abolition.
  2. Get members– An affinity group for the Caucus must have at least two members that are part of the Caucus. This means agreeing to Libertarian Party’s Non-Aggression Pledge, and the Libertarian Socialist Caucus’ Non-Exploitation Pledge. Please note that while you do not need to be a member of the Caucus to be a member of the affinity group, you do need to be a member to vote in the Caucus. C’mon, it’s free.
  3. Elect a Representative– This will be the person who represents the affinity group at the Caucus’ general assembly. This person must be a member of the Caucus. No affinity group may have more than one representative.
  4. Join the Assembly– The first meeting of the General Assembly of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus is January 3rd, 2018. We need affinity groups for the Assembly, which will be responsible for setting the agenda and the tone for the Caucus.

Well, there you have it. If you are interested in join the Libertarian Socialist Caucus, please join us, and start an affinity group!

Top 10 Places to Start Your Own Country

English: Afro-Eurasia, "The Old World&quo...
English: Afro-Eurasia, “The Old World”, (orthographic projection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, you’ve decided to start your own country. The question becomes, where is your new micronation going to exist? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Outer Space– Turns out there’s a lot of space in outer space. You could claim some or all of one of our system planets, an asteroid, one of the many extra-solar planets, or the inky void itself. There are some international treaties that might interfere with this, but those won’t really be put to the test until someone gets up there and tries it. So, buy some Tesla stock and go for broke.
  2. Islands– There are a bunch of islands out there with no permament human population. These have often been targets of opportunity for aspiring nation builders. So much so, that the established nations keep a pretty close eye on them nowadays. Still, the remoteness of isalnds give their inhabitants a certain amount of de facto sovereignty, and just because other bids for island independence haven’t failed, doesn’t mean that your won’t succeed.
  3. The Oceans– This is not choosing a some desert isle out there. This is living on the ocean waves themselves. The (still largely theoretical) practice of living permanently on the oceans is called seasteading. While living on what would essentially be a super-sized houseboat would not satisfy some of the criteria of the Montevideo Convention, it does give you some of the greatest chances for de facto sovereignty. After all, if the locals are hassling you, you can just move.
  4. Sunken Continents– A sunken continent or land is territory that has either been submerged under the sea, or while close to the surface never really crested the waves. While the theorized continent of Lemuria was thought to be this, it turns out that Lemuria didn’t actually exist, which makes it more a mythical land (see below.) These have a lot of potential for aspiring nation founders- at least those with access to marine earth-moving equipment.
  5. Former Nations– For those micronationalists with a historical bent, you might consider taking up the banner of a former country. There are a lot of them, many with a rich history. Why should it all go to waste simply because some people have a difference of opinion over whether the Byzantine Empire is still ‘viable’?
  6. Mythical Lands– For that matter, why confine yourself to the historic? Many facsinating lands and people exist in the realms of myth, legend, and fiction. People often get into micronationalism for utopian reasons, so why not just go ahead and create your own Utopia?
  7. Disputed Territories– While established nations are usually quite good about maintaining and policing their borders, this can break down when those border are disputed with another established nation. Sometimes both countries claim a spot of land, but neither side occupies it for strategic reasons. Sometime, when new treaties are drawn up, some sliver of land gets left out. Many insanely ambitious micronationalists take advantage of this opportunity and proclaim the independence of the territory in dispute. Their success, and survival rate, is….mixed.
  8. Current Nations– In 1859, a fellow by the name of Norton proclaimed himself to be Emperor of the United States. He didn’t invent a new country. He didn’t go off and find some uninhabited spot of land. He simply saw and existing nation, and thought to himself, “I can to do better.” You can do that to. You might not get anyone else to recognize your claim, but that can’t and shouldn’t stop you from making it. How others handle it is their problem.
  9. Inner Space– But why do you even need land to begin with? At least at the start? A nation, after all, is more than simple territory. It is culture, national ideals, anthems and flags. It is a set of commemorative stamps. So why not start with that? Some of the most notable micronations out there started with a declared territory of someone’s bedroom.
  10. Internet– In a sense, all current countries, whether established or micro-, at least partially inhabit this space. An internet presence is considered by many an essential part of a micronation’s identity. It is the main way they interact with the world, and with other micronations. This is so true that you might say that the true iconoclast, the true rebel, alternative micronation, would have no internet presence whatsoever. Maybe this micronation, or many of them, already exist. But since they’re not on the internet, I don’t know about them.

Top 10 Micronations

Many micronations may found at the website for the Organization of Active Micronations

I’m going to be honest with you. I have no idea how to write a ‘Top 10 Micornations’ article. How do you even measure that? The ones with the most territory claimed? The one with the least. The most famous, the most notorious? The ones currently active today, or throughout history?

Also, this is certainly not a unique concept to me. There are many other top lists of micronations. Like these:

So, here’s another list of ten micronations. Are they the top ones? Sure. Why not?

Ten Micronations (That are probably tops)

  • Westartica

    Westartica, formerly the Grand Duchy of Estartica, formerly the Protectorate of Westartica, formerly the Achaean Territory of Antartica, claims land in Antartica, specifically Marie Byrd Land (defined as defined as all land south of 60° S and between 90° W and 150° W), and a few nearby islands. They basis this claim on a supposed loophole in international law that left this bit unclaimed by the major countries. While no major country has acknowledged this claim, it is a popular loophole, and has been used by a number of other micronational projects, including the infamous Dominon of Melchizedek. Westartica, and its ruler Grand Duke Travis McHenry, currently bill themselves as ‘advocacy through occupation’, stating their goal with the micronation is to draw attention to the environmental issues of Antartica. Their website may be found here.

  • Conch Republic

    A self-described ‘tongue in cheek’ secession movement, The Conch Republic was a response to frustation with local government. The territory declared its independence in 1982, and claimed the city of Key West, Florida. The territory currently claimed is variable. There is a yearly Independence Day celebration, and has become a party of the local tourism industry. The national mindset can best be described as ‘laid back.’

  • Kingdom of Ladonia

Ladonia was borne of Man’s two great motivators: the need to create art, and the need to sue people. The country was founded by the artist Lars Vilks, who built a monumental wooden sculpture ‘Nimis’ (‘Too Much’ in Latin) in the Kullaberg nature reserve in north-west Skåne, Sweden, in 1980. Because it was built in such a remote and innaccessible location, the Swedish authorities didn’t actually find out about the sculpture until about two years later. After they did find out about it, they declared the sculpture to be a building (to be fair, it was big and made of wood), and took Mr Vilks to court.

Over a decade of legal battles ensued, during the course of which Lars Vilks declared the independence of the Kingdom of Ladonia. The Swedish government was unable to really enforce their claims over their own territry, giving his claim some de facto, if not de jure, legitimacy.

Ladonia is a popular micronation, with over 17,000 citizens (none of whom live in the territory claimed). It has a some rather whimsical national characteristics (the national language only has two words), as befits a nation founded by an artist, and that I personally find quite appealing.

The Kingdom of Ladonia is still going strong today, despite some trouble with arsonists (as can be expected with a country based upon the erection of large wooden sculptures.)

If the Kingdom of Ladonia can be considered an ‘artistic’ micronation, then the Kingdom of Redonda may be considered a ‘literary’ micronation. It’s founder was the author MP Sheil, and many of its peers were early to mid 20th Century writers and poets. The details of its formation may have been a literary invention of Mr Sheil themselves. And, like any good story, there are multiple versions of it, with many current conflicting claims to kingship over the small, uninhabited, Caribbean isle.

From the artistic, to the literary, to the flat-out fraudulent. The Dominion of Melchizedek was started in 1990 by Mark Pedley, and has lent its name to banking fraud, passport fraud, and a whole host of other malfeasance. They are listed in the anti-scam website Quatloos! They are, quite frankly, a disgrace to micronations, and the less said about them the better.

I have some sympathy with these guys. Back in the early 70’s, they wanted to form a libertarian nation, a ‘libertopia’. I get that. I understand that. But they went at with a fatal combination of arrogance, naivete, and an unwillingness to fight for what they claimed. Their desires wrote checks their stomachs (and stomachs for fighting) could not cash. The whole sordid history may be found here.

Ah, Sealand. It may not be the oldest micronation, but it is one of the longest continuing micronations, and certainly one of the most well know. Started by Rory Bates on an abandoned WWII era offshore platform in 1965. It has survived fire, fame, the internet, and German businessmen. It’s political and commercial practices are still the model for a number of more recent micronations.

While other micronations may make more of a splash in the news, and others may have a more dramatic history, the Republic of Molossia is a great example of what most micronations can achieve. It’s a small operation, nothing grandiose, and while it is definitely done with a great deal of flair, there’s nothing extravagantly expensive about it. It’s a fun well-done hobby, that more micronations could learn lessons from.

The Free Republic of Liberland does not lack ambition. founded by ‘ Czech right-libertarian politician and activist Vít Jedlička‘, Liberland claims territory currently disputed by both Serbia and Croatia. They are explicitly billing themselves as a libertarian nation, and while their politics may drift a bit too much in vulgar libertarianism for my taste, I do admire the general thrust of their ideals, and their moxie. Still, They are messing with the borders of two countries not known for having a tolerant sense of humor, in a region of the world with very little chill. So good luck and don’t get shot?

The Principality of Hutt River is an Australian micronation, claiming a small part of Western Australia. Founded in 1970 over a dispute involving wheat quotas, Hutt River has evolved into a family affair, issuing a number of attractive coins, stamps, and other State paraphernalia.  Another nice success story for the micronation community.


Did I miss your favorite micronation? Let me know in the comments.

Okay, this is ACTUALLY what I’m working on right now…..

A Night at the Movies (film)
A Night at the Movies (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All right, new year coming up, new goals, time to shed the skin of the old year, pretend that everything was leading up to what’s rattling around in my head right at this moment.

Merry Yuletide, by the way.

Okay, so I’m doing a new podcast: Cinematic Pig’s Feet. It’s weird movie review podcast. Not good movies, not bad movies, not kitschy movies. Just weird movies. Already got one episode out, and I have a good feeling about this. Very relaxes format, not strict schedule of posting, everything very free-form.

I’ve also been (playing an RPG? Sounds like I’m making music with a rocket-propelled grenade. Doing some roleplaying? Sounds like I’m in therapy.) playing Pathfinder, which is a bit like Dungeon and Dragons with the serial numbers filed off. Now, Pathfinder has what’s called an OGL, or Open Gaming License. This means that as long as you are careful to acknowledge that it’s based on the Pathfinder game, you can write your own game supplements for Pathfinder, as sell them.

pathoftheblackflagWell, I have had this idea for an RPG supplement on my mind for a while now, and I finally feel that I’m in the right headspace to write. I’m currently writing The Path of the Black Flag: Introducing Anarchy into your Fantasy Roleplaying Game. It will give rules for playing Anarchist characters, new Anarchist spells and skills, rules for running riots and revolutions, and stuff like that. I’m really enjoying writing it. I’ll be posting excerpts while I’m working on it.

These aren’t the only things I’m working on, but these two are the only ones I feel commenting on right now. I’m trying not to start too many things at once, as that is a bad habit of mine.

 

Happy Nurse’s Week: An Anarchist take on healthcare

Ultimate Cure
Ultimate Cure (Photo credit: dream2life)

This is National Nurses’ Week. I am a nurse’s aide, so I like to feel I’m at least somewhat included in this fellowship. I’m also a Libertarian, and an Anarchist. As such, my opinions and thoughts on the healthcare field may be somewhat out of favor in the mainstream. Many people think that libertarians what only the rich to have healthcare, or that Anarchists want to do away with modern medicine. Neither of those are actually the case. So, for your edification, I would like to present to essays that help explain the libertarian anarchist view on healthcare.

Have you had problems with government ‘helping’ with healthcare? Interesting experiences with nurses? Some ‘extralegal’ healthcare experiences? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Reconsidering Chaos and Anarchy

English: Symbol of Chaos
English: Symbol of Chaos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy May Day. Happy real Labor Day, known to some as International Worker’s Day, a day with American origins.

May Day is kind of a big deal with Anarchists, because of the its connections with labor, and with the Haymarket Riots. Many people have a negative reaction to Anarchy, a reaction that alternatively displays itself as anger, condescension, or obtuseness (“What about the roads?”)

One of the objections people bring against Anarchy is that it is chaos. And when people say this, they envision Mad Max, warlords and destruction, Might Makes Right in a World Gone Mad.

Many Anarchists often dispute this, insisting that Anarchy is not Chaos. They often recite the quotation of Prouhdon:

Anarchy is Order.”

They then go on, to a tiresome degree, to detail how orderly things will be in Anarchy. Everything will will work so well, everyone’s life will be so ordered, etc., etc.

Well, maybe.

Maybe Anarchy is Chaos. And maybe that’s a good thing.

Chaos is an ancient concept. It is often considered the progenitor (often, the mother) of us all. In so many cultures, the myths have the hero God (usually a very male deity) slaying, defeating, or otherwise binding the villainous Chaos (usually, as I said, a Goddess.)

But is this really a heroic victory? Review the myths. Is the behavior of the new gods, the new dominant pantheon, really an improvement over the old one? Usually not. People worship and welcome the new gods because, well, they one. They are the new bosses.

What is really going on in these myths? Is it the allegory of constructive order defeating wasteful disorder?

No.

If there is one thing that modern life, and modern understanding has taught us, it is the idea of spontaneous order, the idea of extropy. Constructive, creative, ordered systems arising naturally and organically out of randomness. Arising without, and this is important, anyone telling them to, without anyone planning it, without anyone trying to decide which was the best way for it to happen. It just happens.

This is what the hero gods fear. This is what they try to slay, try to vilify, again and again. The truth that things can happen without them arranging it, without them ordering it. That people- that the universe- doesn’t need them. That is what they fight against, and that is what we need to remember.

You don’t need someone else to plan your life. You don’t need to control everything in your life. You don’t need to fear Anarchy, or fear Chaos. If you let the universe organize itself, the universe will organize itself. That is Chaos- the universe organizing itself, without help.

Anarchy is Chaos. And that’s a good thing.

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Towards a Libertarian Critical Theory

Where Critical Theory comes to rest. Silver La...
Where Critical Theory comes to rest. Silver Lake garage sale. Art supplies, too. (Photo credit: Jory™)

I think libertarians need their own Critical Theory. Now, this sentence, which in a more sane world would be pretty straightforward, needs a lot of unpacking.

Some Definitions

By libertarian I mean anarchist.  And not just any anarchist. To quote Roderick Long in Libertarian Class theory Part 1, libertarianism is:

any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals”, whether “voluntary association” takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives.

That’s what I mean by libertarian. I am aware that this may not correspond precisely to the historical origin of the term, and I am aware that is may not correspond precisely with the current American mainstream use of the term. But it’s close enough.

Now, on to critical theory. Here things get a bit more complicated. A critical theory is any theory founded upon critique, i.e., a theory founded upon a method of disciplined, systematic analysis of a written or oral discourse. So, it is an intellectual system or framework for evaluating art and communication, from a particular philosophical perspective.

But, critical theory also means Critical Theory, a particular type of critical theory that comes from a post-marxist perspective. It is also known as the Frankfurt School, and when people start going on about ‘cultural marxism‘, they usually mean that. There is such an automatic bias (not without good reason) against anything remotely connected with marxism among most libertarians that it makes discussing the legitimate issues Critical Theory brings up pretty much a non-starter.

But Why Do We Need One?

Libertarians pride themselves on being objective (if not Objectivists.) No statist superstitions for them! No wooly-headed emotionalism about helping people against their will, forcing them to be better. No neurotic reliance on the Military-Industrial Complex for feelings of security and potency.

A lot of people pride themselves on being objective. A lot of people are wrong about themselves.

We all have hidden, unconscious biases. They color our language, our judgement, and our tactics. They produce inconsistencies, paradoxes in our thinking. A lot of people, before they became libertarians, had these inconsistencies in their economic thinking, but because of the concentration of economic analysis that libertarian has, were able to see the error.

Libertarians do not, as of yet, have such a concentration of social analysis. And we need it. Because right now, we tend to look at the world and the State is economic terms. And there is a vast web of other influences out there, cross-reinforcing, that support the current economic and political hierarchies, but are not explicitly economic or political. We cannot strike at one strand to bring the State down. The others keep it up until that strand is repaired. To paraphrase that quote of Thoreau‘s, so beloved by libertarians, we must strike the root. A critical theory, that encompasses the whole of society, will help us do that.

Another problem is that we all have have systems of critiques that we use. It is in our nature. We are either conscious of them, or unconscious of them. If we do not have an explicit, systematic, and originally libertarian system of critique, we run the risk of using an unconscious one. Best case scenario, this will be a variety of mainstream criticism, and thus of limited effectiveness (because most stuff is already mainstream, by definition.) Worst case scenario, criticisms of electoral democracy and the modern State will cause some libertarians to fall into a reactionary mode of thinking, a system of criticism that isn’t even stuck in Today, but in the Past.

My Libertarianism Will Be Intersectional, Or It is Bullshit

(With acknowledgements and/or apologies to Tiger Beatdown)

This going after the multiple strands of domination and hierarchy, interrelated and interwoven, is known as Intersectionality. I believe it is essential to the aims of libertarianism.

We can no longer persist with the intellectual and ethical laziness of supporting economic and political liberty, but being ‘old-fashioned’ in every other regard. We need to be advocates of not only economic liberty, and political liberty, and cognitive liberty, but identity liberty as well. To quote Gina Luttrell, “It’s Time for Libertarians to Embrace Identity Politics.”

These are not identities that people chose for themselves. These are identities that were thrust upon them, by governments and those who support governments, to divide and subjugate us. Either we take these identities, examine them, critique them, play with them, and ultimately smash them….or we let them win. Let’s not do that.

Libertarianism should be more than anti-state. It needs to be anti-kyriarchy.

 Fine, but how?

I haven’t the foggiest. I am not, unfortunately, a trained philosopher. I have been doing some reading on the subject for the last couple of weeks, but I am painfully aware that doesn’t make up for years of study. But I have a few notions.

  • Draw on and synthesize the heavyweights in anti-authoritarianism through like Karl Popper and Robert Anton Wilson  ( personal favorite of mine), and contemporary examples like Roderick Long and Brad Spangler. Don’t forget to add from a wide variety of sources, like Foucault.  Foucault is good with everything.
  • Examine and encourage those things that increase reflexivity.
  • Work on a Libertarian Aesthetic (I will have a post up about this subject….eventually.)
  • Promote commerce, decentralization, and choice as goods. Promote peaceful productive transactions as the highest goods.

I am sure I’m forgetting quite a few things, and probably got even more things wrong. This is just the first draft of these ideas, and this post will be expanded upon and edited after people have reviewed it. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Towards a Future Without Bullshit

English: A Bull shitting with a with a red circle
English: A Bull shitting with a with a red circle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of years ago, I briefly commented on an article by Cracked.Com, entitled “5 Reasons the Future Will Be Ruled by BS.” It posited that the future will be filled with forced artificial scarcity, or as they put it, FARTS. FARTS are what will allow the business structure to continue to exist, and will stop large scale, sorely needed change in society.

I’m a fan of large scale, sorely needed change in society. I’m a fan of only treating the truly scarce things in life as scarce, and ordering society towards making the truly scarce truly plentiful. I’m a fan of a Post-Scarcity Future.

I’m a fan of moving past the bullshit, and the accompanying FARTS.

So how?

Now go forth, and live without bullshit.

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Concerning the Backyard Arms Race

There are two things I want to talk about right now- Defense Distributed, who is looking to manufacture (and more importantly, help other people manufacture) firearms using 3D printing, and the Urbee 2, a vehicle that uses 3D printing in a large part of its construction, currently still in assembly.
Let’s not kid ourselves- the customers of Defense Distributed aren’t looking for something to go hunting with. Nor are they looking for something to defend themselves from small-time thieves. Nor are they really looking for firearms to help them commit crimes, at least not common sort of crimes. They are looking for defense from, and the ability to commit the crime of Revolution against, their respective governments. And I’m okay with that.
Now, firearms are great, but as some many tiresome people are quick to point out (in a tiresome manner) that if there was a revolution, the side with the tanks would win. The American people, as of yet, do not have tanks.
Maybe that should change.
We are entering an age when people can plan on printing cars. The maker spirit, and the ability to manufacture at home, have never been higher. What we need is an arms race. A backyard arms race. We need crazy Anarchists and crazier gearheads building tanks in their backyard. But not the big, clumsy things the US government uses. We need quick, cheap assault vehicles, suitable for a decentralized guerrilla force.
They say you need tanks to win. So, let’s make some tanks.

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