5-0  POWER RETENTION

 

The Power Retention upon which Freedom depends can only happen with the support of special institutions.

 

 

 

 

5-1  Egalitarian Institutions

 

In principle, replacing Slavery with Freedom is pretty straightforward.  It's just a matter of replacing Coercion with Persuasion, Aggression with Defense, "decree" with Real Law (more about that later), and Power Accumulation with Power Retention.  However, Slavery doesn't happen without the support of an extensive set of institutions, and neither will Freedom.

When it comes to trying to create (Egalitarian) institutions supporting Power Retention, one good way of telling you're on the right track would be if the result were unattractive to Power Accumulators.  Aristocrat wannabes are drawn to government and other Power Accumulation institutions by the opportunities they provide to Push People Around.

We know that the Human Cause is a team effort, and Freedom (being Reality-based) is obliged to reflect that.  There are several ways to approach a collective undertaking.

Some people's idea of teamwork is hitching 20 mules to a wagonload of borax and beating 'em to death.

Then there's what might be called the "Baboon Model"—a hierarchical approach.  Under the Baboon Model, the biggest, meanest baboon gets to be Head Baboon and push all the other baboons around.  The next-biggest, meanest baboon gets to be Second Baboon, and suck up to the Head Baboon while pushing all the other LRBs (Low-Ranking Baboons) around.  And so on down the list.  (The Baboon Model hasn't proved all that successful even for baboons, which may say something about its suitability for humans.)

Others appear to favor a zero-sum approach, which says the best way for them to get ahead is to figure out how to keep you back.  That probably has a lot of appeal for Aristocrats (for whom "living large" seems to revolve around everyone else living small).

We know what Marxism's idea of "teamwork" is: top-down, Joe Stalin says "Frog!" and you jump—or die.

Another approach could be called the "Captain Picard Model" (after the fictional TV character).  In this model, the executive solicits input from a group of competent and trusted associates, and after careful consideration, generally (but not always) says: "Make it so!"

Dictators seem fascinated by the idea of leadership—even going so far as to take a title like "Dear Leader" (Kim Jong-il), "Maximum Leader" (Fidel Castro), or just plain "The Leader" (Adolf Hitler).  Then again, it's probably just part of the scam, like the pro forma constitutions, fake elections, and title of "president" for people who appointed themselves.

In reality, Coercion is the polar opposite of Leadership.  Tyrants are only "followed" at gunpoint.  No one who wants to coerce or con you is a Leader.  Real Leaders are all about inspiration and setting an example, not Pushing People Around.

With government, which has "The Power" (to make up law), coercion can be fairly overt—it can simply be "legitimized" by the government's own decree.  In the "private sector" world of corporations, labor unions, and such, it's obliged to take a more covert form like corruption.

But what would Egalitarian institutions look like?  Well, for starters, they wouldn't have any bosses.  There's nothing Egalitarian about some people giving orders which other people are obliged to obey.

Secondly, they wouldn't be democratic.  Democracy is just a means for leaving 49% of the people with 0% of the say-so.  Instead, members would retain their right to give or withhold consent on an individual basis.  What kind of Power Retention institutions would abandon the principle of Power Retention in their own operation?

And since the "package deal" (referred to as "bundling" in the world of Monopolies) is a favorite technique of those aiming to coerce—by forcing people to accept what they don't want in order to get what they do want—it would have no place in any Egalitarian enterprise.  That would be true with respect to any kind of action, but particularly so for financial support.

Obviously, money entrusted to such an organization also would be handled with utter transparency, so that members could see whether or not their wishes were being respected.

In short, Power Retention institutions would be arranged so as to support Equality, consent, and Real Leadership (the kind that relies on vision and persuasion), and to thwart coercion, Power Accumulation, and corruption.  To the degree that some institutions made a better effort at this than others, there's no reason why people should choose the worse ones when deciding where to lend their support.

It goes without saying that Power Retention institutions wouldn't be Monopolistic, since the very purpose of Monopoly is Coercion.

As we've seen, many institutions of a basically Defensive nature already exist.  They provide a good starting point, but there's a long way yet to go to make Real Freedom a reality.

Under government (which has to power to act coercively), proof of political claims or theories becomes optional.  Programs genuinely or allegedly meant to address real or alleged problems can simply be treated as if they actually accomplished the intended goal—and continued indefinitely, even expanded.

With purely-Defensive Institutions, however, there'll be a need for experimentation and testing to see which proposals and ideas can actually get the job done—without the kind of harmful side-effects so common to government.  Ineffectiveness doesn't qualify as Defense, and neither does Disproportionality or mission creep.  Just like in the private sector, where Quality Assurance is a major issue for Competitors and a non-issue for Monopolists, Political Institutions will be obliged to work better under Defense than their counterparts have under Coercion.

In order to use government (Limited Slavery) as a launching pad for Real Freedom, lawmakers will have to create some leeway ("Barristocrat-free zones") so that such "Political R&D" can occur.  When and if experimental institutions demonstrate their superiority over the status quo, some kind of migration path will also have to be provided to phase out Coercion while phasing in Defense.

 

One way to get a sense of what Real Freedom will be like is to contrast it with a couple of current, real-world political implementations: the U.S. Constitution and the Libertarian Party platform.

The U.S. Constitution references Real Law pretty intimately, but does so in a context of government and human-invented law.  So the Constitution as actually enforced doesn't bear too much resemblance to the Constitution as it was adopted by lawmakers.  That's an organic, unavoidable outcome when delegating the People's Sovereignty to Barristocrats, which is what resorting to made-up law amounts to.

Having recognized that fundamental shortcoming, the Constitution is otherwise quite robust.  It grants no (explicit) lawmaking authority whatsoever to judges (hard to believe!), it divides Power between three federal branches and again between the federal government and the States, it enumerates a limited set of powers to the federal government, and it (belatedly) provided a Bill of Rights as a further (explicitly redundant) check on government abuse of Power.

The Bill of Rights provides in particular the First Amendment prohibition of (government-originated) censorship as a check against Political Fraud, and the Second Amendment protection of civilian arms as a check against Force.

Other than that, like all government it is Power Accumulative (democratic, representative government based on made-up law) and combines Coercion and Defense, albeit heavy on the Defense and light on the Coercion (at least as originally adopted).

Government-issued decree (even that produced by 51% of the representatives allegedly acting on behalf of the 51% of the people who appointed them) turns out to be a depressingly weak Defense mechanism, due to its dependence on the "interpretation" services of "is is" double-talking lawyers.  Under that regime, something like "interstate commerce" can be defined as almost anything, very nearly (by a 4-to-5 vote) including rape.

A Free Society would certainly want to safeguard the kind of fundamental Political Rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but wouldn't want to leave their protection in the hands of Barristocrats.  It's unrealistic to expect Power Accumulators to defend the Rights of the politically disadvantaged as zealously as the People themselves would.

The People can't defend what they cannot comprehend, and one of the given objectives of human-invented law is its incomprehensibility.  Words that can only be "interpreted" by the few offer no reliable protection to the many.

We've been using "Libertarian" in a generic way to mean anti-Slavery—not to be confused with the Libertarian Party and its platform.  That platform turns out to be pretty consistent with Real Liberty, so consistent in fact that it's easiest just to point out a few notable exceptions.

For one, the Libertarian Party platform is weak on immigration control.  The unrestricted movement between political jurisdictions (nations, etc.) may seem like a Liberty issue, but at a practical level is dangerous to Freedom because of the extensive preparation required for people to be able to manage in a Free Society.  Just as dictatorships need to indoctrinate their subjects in the ways of their system, people likewise need education of a different sort in order for self-control to work.  That would routinely happen for children on the way to adulthood, but it would also be essential for immigrants—meaning that rigorously controlling immigration would be non-optional.

The Libertarian Party platform is also weak on National Defense.  The American Founders were famous Pacifists and non-interventionists.  They're often treated as if they were stuck in a time-warp, when actually they were highly pragmatic and contemporary.  They happened to live in a time when reaching America took many weeks at sea.  No one can reliably put words in the mouths of the long-departed, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't have updated their geopolitical opinions in an era of ICBMs and nukes.  Human nature hasn't changed any since the 18th century, but horrific advances in military technology have made international non-engagement obsolete.

Libertarians and Conservatives alike favor smaller government, but the real problem with government is not its quantity but its quality.  True, larger government is more expensive, and therefore more Oppressive when coercively financed, but a government made smaller by reducing its Defense component wouldn't be an improvement.  What needs to be (selectively) eliminated is its Coercion component, transforming Coercion+Defense government into a set of purely-Defensive institutions.

Also, laissez faire by itself is not particularly conducive to Liberty, because self-control is not something that happens in a political vacuum.  Self-control needs a lot of intellectual and institutional support in order to take the place of the Statists' panacea, external control provided by vast government.  Real Libertarians ought to be world-class champions of self-control that actually works, not moral relativists or detached bystanders.

To reject Morality altogether—either an honest, outright rejection, or a dishonest kind of rejection like moral relativism—is to reject self-control.  The absence of any control results in Anarchy, not Freedom.  But Anarchy is no longer a practical option because way too many people fear and hate it.  Not to mention the fact that Anarchy is almost as wasteful of the Human Resource (and therefore dangerous to the Human Cause) as Slavery is.

There's plenty of room for debate about what specifically constitutes good or bad behavior.  But there can be no doubt that some behavior tends toward Success and some toward Failure.  You can call this latter behavior "sinful" or "counterproductive" or use whatever term you like, but the effect is the same.

People who can't distinguish between helpful and unhelpful behavior, or who're uninterested in virtue at all, are unequipped for citizenship in a Free Society because they're unequipped for self-control.  Self-control requires both willpower and a suitable moral standard.  If you don't know Right from Wrong, or have no inclination or ability to follow through on that knowledge, self-control will fail.

For some people, like Theocrats, a "suitable moral standard" is whatever they've unilaterally chosen, and the best way to propagate it is by Force.  That ignores the fact that Coercion itself is gravely Immoral.  Merit has a direct relationship with Persuasion, but an inverse relationship with Coercion.  A dictated Morality no more corresponds to Freedom than an absence of Morality does.

Morality itself isn't even the tiniest bit arbitrary, since it arises directly out of Real Law.  However, we have the same problem with Morality that we do with Real Law in general, which is figuring out what the heck it is.  A Free Society would have an active, ongoing, Real Debate on the subject of Morality, so that citizens could be as well-informed as humanly possible when making their determinations on the subject.

Effective self-control isn't only a matter of character, but also attitude and even technique.  Hypersensitivity to insult, lousy anger management, and arrogance have little to offer a Free Society.  The amount of preparation needed to equip people for self-ownership is daunting.  Only the smart, fearless, virtuous, and industrious need apply.  But we shouldn't be surprised that Freedom demands a lot, because it's worth a lot more!

You can't simply give people their Freedom.  The most you can do is help those who are ready for it to give it to themselves.  Freedom is a do-it-yourself proposition, and it needs a self-help approach.  That's where Power Retention institutions come in.

 

 

 

 

5-2  Sovereignty

 

When it comes to Freedom, national sovereignty is a big deal.  The Marxian wet dream—world government—is strictly a lowest-common-denominator proposition that can't accommodate self-ownership (nor is it meant to).  Freedom is an experiment-in-progress that requires some to be able to go where the politically-backward fear to tread, and that can't happen without politically-independent nations.

But it's strange to hear political commentators use the word "sovereign" in relation to dictatorships, because Real Sovereignty is Personal Sovereignty.  And under Slavery, Real Sovereignty is already lost.  Tyrants aren't "sovereign" anything; they're Power Thieves—Usurpers.

It's easy to understand what kind of people might want to own Slaves: sadists, the pathologically-selfish exploiters of their fellow humans, paternalistic chauvinists, and the grandeur-deluded, for starters.  (The Marxian archetype—Joe Stalin—qualifies on all counts.)  But what sort of people would settle for becoming Slaves?

The lazy, the timid, and the busy, that's who.

Lazy people could calculate that they might as well accomplish as little as possible for others as for themselves.  They could even come out ahead of the game, if they can manage to claim a disproportionate share of any bounty produced by their more industrious fellows.

Some people value even the illusion of safety so highly, and the necessity of Freedom so lightly, as to have no qualms about trading the latter for the former.  A winning plan, if either (illusory) safety or Slavery were the reason we all came to Planet Earth.  If not, then safety and Slavery would have to be viewed in the larger context of whatever we mean to accomplish during our brief time here.

Equally vulnerable to Slavery are the terminally busy, people for whom Freedom falls so far back in their list of daily priorities that they're happy to delegate any such concerns to others.

Delegation is a wonderful thing, a real force-multiplier—under the right circumstances.  Those circumstances happen to include the availability of delegates who: (1) are competent, and (2) share your same goals.

But Sovereignty is a poor candidate for delegation.  In fact, it is the ultimate in poor candidates, since Sovereignty delegation is really just Power Accumulation by another name.  Under Sovereignty delegation, the delegates become your Masters, not your servants.  They only share your goal if your goal is to have them Rule over you.

Furthermore, the delegation of Freedom's attendant costs risks fostering the notion that Freedom somehow grows on trees—a "something for nothing" delusion.  People who actually have to defend Freedom are constantly reminded of its high cost, and thereby reminded that its value is also high.

As an instrument of Freedom, representative government is hard to fathom—and not just because government under human-invented law is inherently coercive and therefore incompatible with self-determination.

What exactly is the need for representatives?  Is it that real people are hopelessly unequipped to understand all the complexities of made-up law, and thus need to rely on experts?  Is it that real people are way too busy to find the time required to produce such an enormous volume of human-invented law, and thus need to delegate that job to a body of full-time professionals?

The delegation of Sovereignty is a Power Accumulation approach, which is an insurmountable problem for any pro-Freedom institution.  Freedom is all about Power Retention, not Power Accumulation.  In truth, representation is no more necessary to a Free Society than government and human-invented law are.

The task of ordering a Free Society isn't deciding how to most "legitimately" Push People Around.  It's identifying what simply cannot be tolerated in an otherwise-Tolerant society—in other words, what will be understood by all to warrant an appropriate Defensive response.  That's a job that not only can be entrusted to the People themselves, but under any Power Retention approach must be entrusted to the People, and to the People only.

Yet as we've seen, the "popularity contest" has some serious shortcomings.  It has no automatic correspondence to merit—51% of the people can be (and have been) flat-out wrong.  Further, a situation where 51% of the people are willing to abuse the other 49% is not that hard for wily politicians to create.  It occurs all the time in any democracy.

There's reason to think, though, that the "popularity contest" might be rescued through use of a trick: Instead of relying on what 51% of the people want to do, rely on what a much-smaller percentage refuse to consent to.  A majority may not always want to defend Liberty, but there's some percentage who will.  It's possible that by choosing this percentage very carefully (something research may be able to assist), the identification of genuinely Intolerable acts could be made with quite-good accuracy.

You'd never be able to get 100% of the people to agree that even murder is intolerable, but a very large majority would.  Likewise, you could easily get 51% of the people to agree that (coercive) taxation is tolerable (especially if it appeared to affect others much worse than themselves), but a substantial minority could be relied on to disagree.  There may well be a "magic percentage" (75% or 90% approval, or whatever) that closely corresponds to self-determination (Freedom) while avoiding both Anarchy and Slavery.

Referenda using such a high (anti-Coercive) threshold would be further helped by the fact that their subject wouldn't be something the ruthless 51% wanted to impose on the helpless 49%, but rather some behavior that was alleged to constitute a Natural Crime (abusive of other's Rights).  In other words, the proponents in a referendum would be trying to convince a large majority of the public that the act in question is a violation of fundamental Political Rights, and so demands a Defensive response.

Defensive institutions in turn would be constrained by the results of these elections, rather like their counterpart institutions are constrained under government and human-invented law.  But instead of being decided by elected technicians (legislators) and re-decided by unelected technicians (judges), these constraints would be decided by the People directly, expressed in terms that they can readily understand.

As we said before, Real Law—the basis of any Free Society—already exists, but it still has to be identified and implemented.  Identification consists of: (1) proposing candidates, (2) selecting some of them, and (3) keeping a record.  Implementation is a matter of education (in aid of self-control) and enforcement (should self-control fail).

There's no reason to restrict the process of proposing candidates for Real Law, but the selection process is critical.  There's nothing sacred about Democracy per se (or any other political technique)—what's sacred is Power Retention—but Direct Democracy with a high threshold stands to be much less dangerous to Personal Sovereignty than alternative approaches based on Power Accumulation (like representative government).

Again, setting the "magic threshold" would require study and much care, but obviously 100% (corresponding to Anarchy, because it'll never be reached) is too high and 51% (corresponding to Slavery, because it's too-easily reached) is too low.  Somewhere in between (80%, 85%, who knows?) lies the closest match with self-determination (Freedom).

 

For the U.S., if Freedom as effective self-ownership were plotted onto a timeline, it probably would have peaked shortly after the Civil War.  The arrival of women's suffrage in 1920 might appear to be a step up, since disenfranchisement of half the population is nothing short of bizarre.  But while voting rights have a lot to do with who gets to be in democracy's almighty 51%, they don't necessarily map to Freedom—unless enough people are voting to protect individuals from each other, and from government.

A key milestone in the U.S. government's metamorphosis from intended Servant to wannabe Master has got to be the adoption of the national income tax.  It's fascinating that it actually required a Constitutional Amendment (the 16th).  That was back in the days before anti-Constitutional judges figured out that they could just "interpret" fundamental political protections out of existence without risking unemployment, much less the noose.

Of course, the income tax was promoted as a way of making the rich pay their fair share.  But guess what?  There aren't nearly enough rich folks to grow government to the size that Statists desire.  Not to mention the fact that the wealthy tend to be much better-connected politically than Real People are.  In short, it turned out to be just another divide-and-conquer scam.

Taking other people's property by force is referred to as "robbery" when perpetrated by civilians, and as "taxation" when perpetrated by government.  Evidently it's very helpful to be in a position to make up all the rules (not to mention the definitions).  But self-proclaimed "legitimacy" aside, what is the actual difference, morally and politically, between the two acts?

It must not be that government steals private property in a "good" cause—otherwise, civilian robbers should have the same legal defense available to them.  Ditto for government's might or popularity, since that implies civilian robbers would only need to become sufficiently mighty or popular themselves in order to get a pass.

Government, lawyers, and other robbers all follow the same M.O.—they (1) figure out where the money is and (2) invent some sort of rationale for why they're entitled to it.  Then they take it at gunpoint, with a clear conscience.

Absolutely everything—income, sales, property, even death—is taxed.  The web of taxation has become so mature and so jaded that any indication of the presence of wealth is an automatic trigger to taxation.  The same wealth is taxed over and over and over again—every time it exposes itself in its movement through society.  Government can never tax enough.  Money is the lifeblood that The Plantation needs in order to metastasize.

The taxation of income is particularly heinous, in that it punishes one of the things that benefits society the most—industry, or productivity.  To describe income taxation as "progressive" is to add insult to injury.  There's nothing "new and improved" about robbery—it's at least the second oldest profession, and only slightly less dismal than assassination.

An income tax, in fact, is nothing less than a 5-way attack on Personal Sovereignty, because it's an excellent way to:

(1) grow government
(2) snoop on the People
(3) punish work
(4) engage in coercive social engineering
(5) eliminate the middle class

 

Discriminatory taxation is doubly unfair.  Government coerces when it takes private property at gunpoint, and coerces again through tax loopholes.  It's next to impossible to accurately calculate what any individual benefits from or owes to any public project, making claims about tax fairness completely unverifiable.  But by playing favorites, government establishes its prerogative to interfere coercively in citizens' private affairs, and to reward its friends.

Taxation's damage is political as well as social, because it impoverishes (politically weakens) the citizenry while it simultaneously enriches (politically strengthens) the government.  This reinforces the relationship already implicit in the fact that government makes up the rules which the citizens must obey—a Master/Slave relationship.  Whoever can take another person's property at will also enjoys a Master/Slave relationship.

But if private property can't be seized at gunpoint, how can government pay for all of its many programs that also happen at gunpoint?

Exactly.  The power to coercively finance coercive programs is the political double-whammy—doubly-empowering to Slavery, and therefore a double-disaster for Freedom.

Now, no institution in a position to make up all the rules is going to refrain from granting unto itself the "right" to steal, but imagine what would happen if it did.  What would be the effect of having to convince people to contribute voluntarily to any particular cause?  What would suffer—those things which people have some use for or that which they don't?

Have you ever contributed to charitable causes?  Was it because someone put a gun to your head?  Would you have contributed more if you had more?  Would you have more if government robbers took less (or none)?

How much property would people forcibly take from others in a Free (Egalitarian) Society?  Why, none at all—zero, zip, zilch!  There can't be any doubt that robbers politically outrank their victims.

The "no taxation without representation" rallying cry of the American Revolution doesn't stand up too well under close examination.  Having the opportunity to vote for representatives in government has essentially zero relationship to how much wealth is seized from any particular individual or what that individual's ex-wealth is used to buy.

A Free Society, being persuasion-based rather than coercion-based, is another thing entirely.  By retaining the right to give or withhold consent to requests for their money, individuals would also retain the political power attendant to political spending.  The fate of programs favored by some would depend on whatever case could be made on their behalf to the individuals whose support was being sought.  Persuasive programs would prosper and unpersuasive ones suffer.

The concept of "Tax Freedom Day" has been used to mark the point in the year when citizens stop giving all the proceeds from their labor to the government and begin keeping them for themselves.  In the U.S., for example, it occurred on January 21st in 1900 and on May 2nd in 2000.

How will you know when you live in a "free" country?  When Tax Freedom Day finally reaches December 31st?

 

 

 

 

5-3  Citizenship

 

Freedom and Egalitarianism are inseparable—the very purpose of Elitism is to Push People Around.  But universal Egalitarianism is unachievable, because universal Freedom is also unachievable.  Some people flat-out do not want Freedom and will never choose it, and trying to force people to be Free is an insurmountable paradox.

So, if and when those who do want Freedom manage to produce the kinds of (Defensive) institutions that support it, Slavery will still continue.  The Enslaved portion of humankind will proceed as before, using government, made-up law, lawyers, taxation, and the other things of proven value to their chosen Political State.  What will be different is that the proponents of Slavery will no longer enjoy the coerced participation of the opponents of Slavery.

But even the portion of humankind that aspires to Freedom will have to suffer some Political Inequality, because a Political State based on self-control requires individuals who have—you guessed it—self-control.  Like we said, while the definition of "well-behaved" people in an Enslaved Society is those who accept "inbound" coercion, in a Free Society it's those who decline "outbound" coercion.  The bare minimum needed from people allowed to run around loose in a Free Society is the ability to keep their cotton-pickin' hands off other people's persons and property.

Thus, despite the degree to which Marxists have made the whole subject of political "classes" distasteful, segmentation of human society will persist indefinitely.

One segment will be The Plantation, comprising Slaveowners (those who cannot master "outbound" Coercion) and Slaves (those who cannot master "inbound" Coercion)—all of them there by choice.

A second segment will consist of people who desired to run around loose, but who proved themselves unqualified by their own actions, whether malicious or negligent or whatever.  This group is somewhat analogous to the prison population of a society under human-invented law, except that nobody will have joined it for the "crime" of self-determination.

The third segment will be Free Society, whose members have demonstrated their ability to behave themselves adequately.  There will be no need or argument for any of these people to outrank the others, or to try to force them to do anything.  In short, in will be recognizably Free by having all the characteristics of Freedom: an absence of Coercion, robust Defense, Political Equality, and a healthy social outlook born of a regard for other people's Right to self-ownership.

The relative sizes of these 3 groups—(1) the Free, (2) the Disqualified, and (3) the Uninterested—are hard to say, but the first would have to be predominant, since it's otherwise unlikely to exist at all.  If the third group, The Plantation, prevails, the result will almost certainly be their Utopian fantasy of top-down, lowest-common-denominator world government, and all semblance of Freedom will disappear for the duration.  (One way to avoid having to build the Berlin Wall is by simply eliminating West Berlin, so to speak.)

There's reason for hope, however.  The majority of people—surely at least half—have the capacity for Freedom: the interest, the will, and the ability.  That number could probably be increased if Real Freedom's costs and benefits were more widely understood.

If Slavery were really as universally necessary as its proponents claim, it would be quickly overwhelmed by its workload.  Even the Total State would prove inadequate to so huge a task.  Instead, most people are reasonably industrious, educable, and naturally non-abusive—that is, they're neither sadistic nor automatically violent in response to life's setbacks.  Others whose character deficiencies grew out of disadvantaged circumstances might be reclaimed.

As for movement between the 3 groups, that certainly wouldn't be prevented by the Free—how could people who claim to espouse Freedom refuse it to anyone who is demonstrably qualified for it, or force it on anyone who isn't?

Some ex-offenders who disqualified themselves could become re-qualified, and the more competent we become at rehabilitation the more likely such re-admission will become.

Some Slaves, and even Slaveowners, may tire of The Plantation and wish to try self-determination for a change.  This implies that some mechanism would need to be in place to rescue defectors from Slavery.  It's not clear how that would happen—the rest of The Plantation could be expected to be unhappy about the prospect of losing members.  (Perhaps an "underground railroad". . . .)

In fact, The Plantation as a vestige of its former glory is likely to be a pretty frustrated place anyway.  There's no reason why people who have no respect for their own Freedom would respect that of Free Society, and their enmity would be unending.  That means their designs on the rest of the world would have to be Defended against unendingly, also—a process that might accommodate the rescue of wannabe defectors.

Citizenship in a Free Society would be related to performance.  An individual's political status might be any one of several categories, like: qualified/vetted, provisional, unqualified, and disqualified (i.e. felon).

An "age of majority" (like 18 or 21 years) seems fair, since everyone who lives long enough eventually qualifies.  But some 15-year-olds may actually be more mature than some 50-year-olds.  (In fact, some specific individuals may be more mature at 15 than they later will be at 50!)  Rather than something so simplistic as an age test, some sort of maturity benchmark may actually be fairer.

As mentioned before, the ability to keep one's cotton-pickin' hands off other people's persons and property is certainly a minimum qualification for Freedom, but the absence of coercive public funding implies the need for a substitute.  While paying for voluntary and non-essential services through fees is probably most consistent with a Free Society, a few things don't really fit that description—like civil defense and public safety.

A Free Society could hardly afford too many deadbeats any better than it can afford Coercion.  Anyone looking for a "free ride" in a Free Society has some explaining to do to its other members.  Creative minds will have to find some way to encourage citizens to contribute appropriately to the common interest that nevertheless remains consistent with the principle of self-determination.

Meanwhile, the principle of Power Retention means having the broadest possible franchise—essentially encompassing everyone who has become a fully-qualified citizen by meeting whatever suitable and objective standards have been adopted.

As we pointed out earlier, Direct Democracy (with an anti-Coercive threshold) is not some Universal Absolute, but just a practical measure aimed at minimizing Power Theft.  The optimum (electoral success) threshold could really only be verified by testing, just as endless testing has already proven that 51% is way too low.  Should human ingenuity provide an alternative to voting that better accomplished Power Retention, then fine—but that would have to be demonstrated through extensive testing also.

One political issue of concern to a lot of people is the protection of privacy, and rightly so.  But whatever the answer(s) to violation of privacy may be, the elimination of record-keeping isn't an option.

There are only 2 ways to treat people: as responsible individuals like in a Free Society, or as indistinguishable members of an assigned group, like in Collectivist/Statist Marxism.  But as noted before, all groups are really just abstractions—figments of the imagination.  So "group identity politics" is really just a way to pretend that some individuals can be responsible for others over whom they have no authority or control.  That's the kind of logic used by storm troopers who shoot people at random for the acts of saboteurs.

Statists can dispense with the need for individual histories by simply assuming that all civilians are criminals and should be treated as such.  They can, for example, define the difference between a "defensive" and "offensive" weapon as whether or not it's wielded by government, as opposed to the weapon's actual use.

Rather than a group identity approach based on something like ethnicity (low-tech prejudice) or some actuarial nonsense of the type popular with the insurance industry (high-tech prejudice), Freedom requires knowing what every individual has been up to, as a way of predicting what that same individual is likely to do next.  We have no certain way to predict the future—we can only extrapolate from the past.

Record-keeping—criminal record, driving record, credit history, etc.—is already a part of contemporary societies.  Those histories may seem like a curse to people who haven't behaved very responsibly, but they're a boon to those who have.  A good credit rating, for example, can (and should) mean credit approval and better rates for people who've proven themselves over time to be a good risk.

Freedom has been called an Unalienable Right, and it is, but we seem to forget that Freedom is a constrained thing—the limits of Liberty are the limits of self-determination.  There's no such thing as the "freedom" to Push People Around.  What's Unalienable is the Right to self-determination only.

It's good to allow people who respect self-determination to run around loose, so to speak, because that's what a Free Society is.  But giving free rein to Abusers—those who engage in fraud and more overt kinds of coercion—only undermines Freedom.  Keeping track of who's who and providing some appropriate control for people who lack self-control is what Defensive institutions are all about.

 

 

 

 

5-4  Civil Defense

 

In some theoretical sense, each of us is already and always Free.  We could tell Joe Stalin to "Get stuffed!" when he puts a gun to our heads, and some of us even will.  But while the "Give me Liberty or give me death!" model has great symbolic value, it has even greater practical value when the "death" part is preceded by a fight against Tyranny, and possibly avoided altogether by a victory.

Aggressors want to fight—when they think they can win.  Defenders must be willing and able to fight.  Those who are unwilling to fight are going to wind up being abettors of Aggression, because Aggression is seldom checked by finding common cause with or accommodating Aggressors.

Mindless Pacifists who categorically reject Defense have thereby chosen Surrender—theoretical if not actual Slavery.  If not experiencing actual Slavery, they have the wisdom and sacrifices of others to thank for that (a thanks which is obviously not forthcoming).

Thoughtful Pacifists, on the other hand, are faced with some tough philosophical questions.  Is fighting always the worst possible thing that can happen?  Could anything ever be worth fighting for?  Is all fighting the same?  Is there such a thing as a trumped-up war—a war with an ulterior motive—and could some particular fight be an instance of that?

In truth, the issue is never going to be whether or not fighting is bad—of course it's bad.  But Defense, although it carries some of the usual adverse effects of all conflict, at least has the potential to preserve—when nothing else will—some things of great value, and can even act as a deterrent to both fighting and abuse.  That's something abject surrender can't do.

So long as Tyrants devote so much study to the Art of War, would-be Libertarians can afford to do no less.  Keeping the principles of Liberty in mind, what can we conclude about the Defense of a Free Society?

From a Power Retention standpoint, it's obvious that the same broad franchise ought to apply to the right to be armed as to the right to vote.  (The whole notion that citizens who can't be trusted to defend themselves responsibly can somehow be trusted to vote responsibly is absurd on its face—although probably not so to a generation that has been trained to rely entirely on others for protection.)

As a result, gun prohibition (AKA civilian disarmament) is a high priority for Marxian Thugs, for obvious reasons.  It's also very popular with Marxian Dupes, whose hatred of guns is probably sincere enough.  People often hate what they fear, and fear what they know little or nothing about.

Certainly, guns are very dangerous.  Cars are even more dangerous.  Guns require some proficiency in order to be handled safely.  Cars require considerably more proficiency.  Thus, it's hard to imagine how citizens can be entrusted with deadly cars but not with (less) deadly guns.  But then, people who long to live on the Marxian Plantation "need" cars, but they don't need guns—that's what they have Joe Stalin for.

Actually, anyone who can't be trusted with a weapon can't be trusted with anything that can be used as a weapon—which is basically almost anything (including hands and feet).  In short, such people can't be allowed to run around loose at all.  To carry the Statists' argument for citizen disarmament to its logical conclusion, everyone who doesn't work for the government should be imprisoned as a "crime prevention" measure.

The idea that a heavily-armed servant (like government) will gladly suffer the rule of an unarmed master (like the People) defies both reason and experience.  (Of course, government will always obey some of the people, since government itself is just an abstraction—a framework under which select people are empowered to Push People Around.)  The natural order calls for Masters to be armed and Slaves disarmed.

A lot of attention is focused on guns as the personal combat technology of the present day.  It's true that guns have rendered earlier technologies like swords and longbows largely obsolete, but those weapons were outlawed by Aristocrats of the time to the people they targeted for Oppression.  The real issue is enforced military disadvantage.  You can bet that when guns are obsoleted, wannabe Elitists will argue that the next generation of weapons must be prohibited to all but the Elite.

Any institution that can eliminate the Right to self-preservation can eliminate any Right whatsoever, and the more easily for having first neutered the only real safeguard of the People's Rights—the People themselves.  The fact that governments have almost universally disarmed their citizens is a not-so-subtle testament to the real relationship between a Coercive institution like government and the Public Liberty.

The very idea behind Statism—that people in government can be trusted with power over others where people not in government can't even be trusted with power over themselves—runs afoul of Reality.  It pretends that government is populated by a better species than the one comprising civil society, when all the evidence suggests that saints and sinners abound in both camps.

Except that, the more powerful (and capable of abusing people) that government becomes, the more attractive it becomes to those whose main interest is abusing others.  And government that has achieved a monopoly over the means to fight has thereby become as powerful as it needs to be to abuse whomever it wants, at will.

That's why the protection of the Right of the People to keep and bear their own Arms figured so prominently in the American Bill of Rights—to prevent any government monopoly on arms.  Any approach that accumulates weaponry in the hands of the few also accumulates Political Power in the hands of a few, and thus is inconsistent with a Free Society.

The other thing contemplated by the U.S. Constitution—a citizen militia—is likewise necessary to the security of a Free State.  The Defense of the State is no more suitable to delegation than Sovereignty itself is.  People who think Civil Defense is somebody else's problem, like people who think Freedom is somebody else's problem, will never live in a Free Society of their own making.

Obviously, not everyone is equally suitable to military combat.  Even the same individual can be unsuitable when very young or very old.  Some people are physically frail.  Some have no bravery whatsoever.  But everyone who expects to be entitled to a place in a Free Society owes some appropriate contribution to its Defense.

It goes without saying that people also should not actively interfere with the Defense of the State, meaning that legitimate political debate over policy ought to be handled in a manner that doesn't endanger the State.  If that sounds like it involves making a judgment call—it does.

And just in case this needs to be made explicit, the military ought to be organized around a chain of command, because that's what actually works in a war.  In other words, the military function would not be Egalitarian like all the other functions of any Free Society.  When someone can invent a more Egalitarian approach and prove that it wins battles, then it'll be time for a re-think.

The same citizen participation that characterizes National Defense in a Free Society also applies to Public Safety.  While peace officers even under government are members of the community and enjoy some measure of support from it, in a Free Society they'd have the advantage of not being positioned between the community and lawmakers who spend a good bit of their time inventing new ways to Push People Around.  Given a purely Defensive role, there wouldn't have to be any uncertainty in the community about whose side peace officers are on.

Vigilantism suffers from a bad reputation.  In part that's due to any tendency it has had to be error-prone or rash, but it's also the product of a smear campaign aimed at boosting Statism, or the delegation of public safety to sometime-Coercive government.

Even on the old TV westerns, it was "taking the law into their own hands" when the townspeople killed the bad guys, but "law and order" when the town marshal got the exact same result.  Real Justice only happens when the guilty are (appropriately) punished and the innocent are not—to the admittedly limited degree that such a thing is possible after the fact.  That has nothing inherently to do with government or any other coercive institution.

Having a professional police force is advantageous from a standpoint of training and experience, but (as realized under government) is disadvantageous from a political standpoint.  It creates a conflict of mission between protecting and serving the public and enforcing whatever made-up, human-invented law got enacted, regardless of its relationship to protection or service.  Further, it serves to reinforce the politically dangerous notion that the public itself has no responsibility for public safety.

Some people are not well able to defend themselves—the same ones who are ill-suited to militia service, in fact.  But citizens who are capable of defending themselves and others should not be officially discouraged (much less prohibited), but officially encouraged to that end, and be given some of the same training and sensibility that full-time peace officers have.

Defense is a job for the People themselves, not a separate Power Accumulation institution like government.  The ultimate check on Tyranny—and therefore guarantor of Freedom—is widespread public outrage and the means to act upon it.  That's why Tyrants put so much effort into taking away the means (disarmament), and preempting the outrage itself by enforcing as much ignorance as possible (censorship).

 

 

 

 

5-5  Political Censorship

 

The political quality of any society will be reflected in—and to a large degree, determined by—the quality of its debate.  For many, debate is all about scoring points (by whatever means) against your opponents and advancing your agenda thereby.  But in Real Debate the object is to discover the Truth, and everyone who does that is a winner.

Junk debate is just the opposite.  There, the idea is to allow only whatever portion of the Truth (if any) that supports your agenda to be revealed, and to obfuscate the rest—taking up any slack with manufactured untruth.  (Sound familiar?  Isn't that what adversarial lawyers do—except for that last part?)

We're inundated with junk debate, because people who benefit from it have made sure that the institutions it requires are fully-developed.  It's easily recognized by its use of misdirection techniques like ad hominem attacks and changing the subject in lieu of addressing direct criticism—as well as plain old cooked "facts" and bad logic.

People can have a sincere difference of opinion over priorities—those are, after all, somewhat a matter of judgment, and judgment is more of an art than a science.  Facts and logic, however, are much more immutable.  Things either happened a certain way or they didn't, and logic follows certain uncontroversial (in an apolitical context, anyway) rules.  But while real logic is good for problem-solving, illogic is only good for entertainment and fraud (and guess which of those the politically-corrupt have in mind).

In any Real Debate, the subjective would be carefully separated from the objective.  All alleged facts would be rigorously tested for validity, all bad logic exposed, and all extraneous criticism or dodging of relevant criticism duly noted.  That obviously requires moderators whose only agenda is Truth itself.  And unlike the case with junk debate, institutions supporting all of that remain gravely underdeveloped.

You might not guess it from looking at modern society, but Honesty matters.  It matters because the Truth matters.  Honesty is how the Truth gets spread, and Dishonesty is how Untruth gets spread.

Now, you'd probably be as hard-pressed to find a perfectly honest person as you would an otherwise-perfect person.  And you may sincerely believe that telling Aunt Hattie that her lemon pie was much better than you actually thought it was is an act of kindness, not deception.

But what we're really talking about here is Political Dishonesty—gross, intentional mischaracterization that amounts to Political Fraud.  The purpose of Political Dishonesty is Political Abuse, plain and simple.  No dishonest politician should enjoy a good reputation, and in a Free Society, people who engage in Political Deception would be understood to be unsuitable to any position of Public Trust, period.

It's no coincidence that political thugs are always liars.  There is no reason why people who're happy to force others to obey would refrain from tricking others into obeying instead.  Political Fraud is merely the covert counterpart to its more overt companion, Force.  Lies are cheaper than bullets, and when believed, also more effective.  Fear only works when Tyrants are watching—conviction works 24/7.

Political Dishonesty not only does the direct damage related to whatever deception it involves, it does tremendous collateral damage by eroding Trust and fostering Cynicism and Political Disengagement—a compound Political Attack that a would-be Free Society can ill afford.

Liars insult our intelligence, telling us by their actions that we're stupid enough to believe whatever they hand us.  And while debating sincere but mistaken people isn't necessarily a waste of time, debating liars is nothing but tiresome, because you know from the outset that their objective is simply to deceive.

One of the easiest ways of lying to people is just to prevent them from hearing the truth.  Since political censorship is the best friend of Tyrants, it must be the worst enemy of Libertarians.

A Free Society would not tolerate any political censorship—period.  No speech would be prohibited in a Free Society, including hateful speech, hurtful speech, and flat-out wrong speech.  The answer to such speech is not less Free Speech, but more.  The cure for untruth is rebuttal by truth, not speech restriction.

But shouldn't Germany make denying the Holocaust, for example, illegal?  The Holocaust was a great tragedy, and people who'd lie about a thing like that are obvious political troublemakers.

For starters, such thinking misunderstands the relationship between genocide and political censorship.  Political censorship was the very thing that made the last Holocaust possible, and will be the very thing that makes the next Holocaust possible.

But the bottom line is that the creation of "truth referees" is a Power Accumulation approach—that is, it corresponds to Slavery and not Freedom.  The power to determine what some people can say is to decide what others can hear, and any committee that has assumed the power to regulate some speech can use that same power to regulate any other speech.  In effect, the "truth" will be decided by the elite few, rather than by the People themselves after hearing all sides.

Political censorship does not benefit the truth.  The truth is quite capable of holding its own in any fair fight—only lies need the help of censors.

As for speech that offends, whether true or false, two characteristics of a Free Society offer some help.  First, individuals would be understood to be responsible for their own actions, meaning that vile speech would accrue to the reputations of the people who espoused it.  Knowing who such people are is a good thing.

Also, since a Defensive Society is not one that overreacts to provocation, then its members couldn't afford to be too thin-skinned, by definition.  If "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me" can be understood by most children, it can be understood by most adults.  Impoliteness and ignorance shouldn't be given any more weight than they deserve—which is basically none.

Some people misconstrue "free speech" to mean that they should be free of any consequences from their speech, but as we've already seen, a Free Society wouldn't force people to support those who offended them.  On the other hand, the ever-popular organized boycott is just the opposite: It isn't about people making their own choices, but trying to choose what others will be able to see and hear (by eliminating someone's voice).

Marxists are famously in favor of "free speech"—for themselves and nobody else.  Wherever Marxists are able to gain the upper hand, as they have done in academia and the media, Free Speech disappears.  That all makes sense because Marxism, like lies in general, is hopelessly unable to compete if given equal footing.

Genuine proponents of Free Speech are obliged to be opponents of censored speech, because that's what the "free" in "free speech" means—uncensored.  In a Free Society, people could advance whatever moral or political opinions they liked, but censorship would be the prerogative of the Individual.

 

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution supposedly prevents Congress (the only entity Constitutionally authorized to make law) from abridging Free Speech, among other things.  That's "supposedly" because, in a Barristocracy, the law is assumed to be whatever the judges-of-last-resort declare it to be, regardless of what it may actually say or not say (in relatively plain English in the Constitution's case).

The courts have focused a lot of attention on obscene and vulgar speech, but of course the Bill of Rights has nothing to do with pornography or "duck hunting" or any of that distractionary nonsense.  It's a political document, intended to protect fundamental Political Rights against government infringement.

Depending upon what Barristocrats decide to do to us (campaign finance reform, anyone?), the First Amendment may or may not protect Americans from government censorship, but it doesn't even try to address censorship originating in the so-called private sector.

In the modern world, political speech is all about mass communications, since literally interpersonal communication is very limited in its impact.  And just as Free Speech means uncensored speech, a Free Press is an uncensored press.

But mass communications infrastructure, like for television, can be very expensive.  If its control can be concentrated in a few (Aristocrat-minded) hands, censorship becomes a very real danger.  A like-minded cartel can easily filter the "information" on every TV channel according to the same political criteria—as we've seen over the past few decades in the U.S. with the rise of the Corrupt Media Bloc, where all facts and opinions unfavorable to Marxism simply disappear.  That's precisely the same script that an organization run by and for Aristocrats would follow.

We know that the Media Bloc is dominated by a political monoculture.  Polls tell us this.  But why?  If some corporation had a cultural problem, with racism for example, we'd reckon management to be responsible, whether through malice or incompetence.  But what have we heard from the Media Bloc about their perceived need to exclude any possible political dissenters from their ranks?

It's ironic that the Media Bloc want to portray themselves as staunch defenders of the First Amendment.  What do you suppose a thing like that is even doing in the Bill of Rights?  Could it have anything to do with the fact that democracy is basically just a winner-take-all popularity contest?  How hard would it be to fool 51% of the people most of the time, given total control over mass communications?

James Madison, who was in a position to know something about the First Amendment, observed that "[an aristocracy could not be safe] without a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace".  This same concept can also be expressed by the more Orwellian formula:

Big Government + Big Media = Big Brother

 

We don't need to be Columbia journalism majors to know the difference between journalists and public opinion engineers.  News is about telling THE story—propaganda is about telling A story.  Political censorship is not something the "good guys" are going to be involved in, nor is it something that competent, real journalists are going to do, whether by accident or design.

The censorship techniques employed by the Media Bloc run the gamut from a near-to-total blackout of anti-Marxian facts and opinion—to singling out anti-Marxian opinion for ridicule—to presenting pro-Marxian and contradictory anti-Marxian opinion without comment (balance??), when even a cursory investigation into the truth would reveal the pro-Marxian view to be without substance.

Allegations of voting irregularities, for example, are very serious—whether they turn out to be true or untrue.  Wouldn't Real Journalists care which was the case?  Would Real Journalists showcase pro-Marxian academicians so much more enthusiastically than subsequent revelations of academic fraud?  Would Real Journalists relentlessly "investigate" anti-Marxian politicians and just as relentlessly cover-up for pro-Marxian politicians?

There are several ways to spot liars, like if the walk doesn't match the talk, or if there has been a track record of dishonesty, or if you're fortunate enough to have first-hand information about the topic of discussion.  In a way, the Media Bloc shot themselves in the foot when they jumped on the civilian disarmament bandwagon, because firearms are something millions of Americans own and know something about, enough to recognize a political hatchet-job when they see one.

Given a genuinely competitive media environment, whatever censorship regimen any one mass communications entity imposed would be of no material consequence, so long as competitors were there to take up the slack.  Much of the content on the Internet, for example, is also censored, but the much lower (than TV) "barrier to entry" means much more competition.  The overall result is that the Internet is uncensored—except of course by government in places like communist China and communist Cuba.

The lesson for a Free Society is clear.  The most Power Retentive approach is for every individual to be a broadcaster, so to speak.  The next best thing is at least to avoid Power Accumulation, by distributing decision-making regarding content among as many competitors as possible.  A lot is going to depend on technology costs.

Monopolies should be avoided like the plague.  Wherever prohibitively expensive technologies (or anything else) make de facto Monopolies unavoidable, then some sort of strict oversight is an absolute necessity.  However, placing such oversight authority in the hands of a few is just more Power Accumulation and does nothing to solve the problem.

Because it's so inexpensive to purchase a "voice" on the Internet, it's probably the closest thing to a Free Press that's ever been created.  But the Internet also illustrates a couple of censorship vulnerabilities.  One is the aforementioned government censorship (via filtering technologies).

The other is taxation.  Whatever can be taxed can be eliminated for all but the wealthy.  That and growing government are taxation's two main purposes, and both are antithetical to Freedom.

The bottom line regarding a Free Press is that if censorship can't be prevented, then neither can Political Fraud—better known as covert Coercion—better known as Slavery.

 

 

 

 

5-6  Capitalism

 

Unlike Marxism, Capitalism is a robust performer, benefiting from 2 huge advantages over its competitor: (1) it isn't an outright scam and political abomination, and (2) it taps into one of the most potent psychological forces known—greed.

But although Capitalism doesn't systematically violate Real Law to the degree that Marxism does, neither does it systematically embrace it.  In other words, where Marxism is immoral, Capitalism is merely amoral.  Whereas Marxism is (intentionally) compatible with Slavery and incompatible with Freedom, Capitalism is amenable to either.

Capitalism has several notable shortcomings.  In theory, consumer demand in free markets automatically assigns the "right" value to goods and services, but that's obvious nonsense.  When he was with us, mentally-ill Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh couldn't give his work away.  Now that he's gone, it's considered to be beyond price.  The "market" has assigned grossly different values to the exact same product.

Something similar happens on the other side of the equation.  By egregiously miscalculating real costs, something like strip mining can be made to appear profitable.  Evidently, ignorance can play havoc with the operation of free markets.  Looks like a job for Marxian central planning, right?

Wrong.  Coercion is no cure for ignorance, simply an encouragement to maximum ignorance because people who can conduct business at gunpoint don't have to be right.  The real answer to Capitalist miscalculation—better-informed consumers—is something Statists have to avoid at all costs because when it comes to Slaves, better-informed means less happy.

The much-talked-about Social Justice is conspicuously absent from a Slavery-based approach like Marxism, but what about Capitalism?  How does it fare on the Social Justice meter?

For starters, the actual capitalists—that is, the people who finance business ventures—are hardly the vermin they're made out to be.  Fair is fair.  If gamblers are entitled to their losses, they must be equally entitled to their winnings.  The world needs people who're willing to take a chance on the best ideas out there.  The Human Project itself is basically one big gamble.

On the other hand, the gross overcompensation of executives appears to have less to do with justice of any sort than it does with the biggest pigs having first crack at the trough.  Are CEOs really 1,000 times as "productive" as the people who do the actual work?  Is competent management really so expensive, or is the goal to wind up with a bunch of corporate scammers by dangling the thing most likely to attract such people as bait?

Monopolism is even more unjust.  There's seems to be some misconception that to be pro-monopoly is to be pro-business.  Competition is pro-business—anti-competition is anti-business.  The whole purpose of having a captive audience (of customers, in this case) is to be able to abuse them.  Coercion is an excellence-killer, and not all Tyrants go into politics.

Not that Monopolism has anything to do with business per se.  The ultimate Monopolist is government itself.  But wherever Monopolism rears its ugly head, the effect on merit is the same.

It's too bad that a lot of people who claim to favor "competition" and "free enterprise" don't want to defend Real Competition more vigorously.  Competition is one of the most potent spurs to excellence known.  Under it, everyone is a winner because doing our best is what we all came to Planet Earth for.

To hear Monopolists make cynical remarks about "healthy competition" is frankly disgusting.  What's so "healthy" about a contest where one competitor kills off all the others, and chains all the spectators to the bleachers?

In truth, while selfishness can even be beneficial to the degree that it invigorates people and contributes to autonomy, at some extreme point it ceases to be anything remotely healthy and instead becomes pathological.

Pathological greed has given Capitalism a bad rap—somewhat unfairly, since it's really a problem with human nature itself.  Capitalism is deficient, however, in that it does nothing on its own to discourage such excess, and even creates the appearance of rewarding it.

It's not news that in a free-for-all, the ruthless will tend to rise to the top.  But how valuable is ruthlessness to the Human Project?  There's no reason to think that the dinosaurs were insufficiently ruthless—now they're ruthlessly extinct.  Evidently something more than ruthlessness is required for Success.

Capitalism's missing ingredient has to be supplied from the outside, and goes by many names: class, decency, morality and fairness.  Not only can this happen, it does happen all the time.  The business community is chock full of the kind of people who provide valuable products and services at a fair price, and who treat employees, customers and competitors with respect.

As for all the Crooks and Exploiters, vast government (surprise!) has been put forward by Marxists as the antidote, but its interference and dead weight aren't just limited to the evildoers.  Everyone is affected, including honest businesspeople and consumers.  There's a much better method of treatment that avoids big government's politically dangerous side-effects—publicity.

The real antidote to corruption is scrutiny because most people know that corruption is nasty.  Abusers must rely on stealth because too many people are turned off by abuse.  But if all those potential customers had a reliable way of learning the real "cost" of doing business with a particular company, a whole new set of business incentives could be created.

It's depressing to realize what an inability to develop self-policing and a general attitude of denial toward Capitalist excess have cost the world of business over the years, in terms of a ready-made excuse to grow government beyond the bounds of reason.

An unwillingness to take criticism and self-police almost never leads to good things, politically.  Yet, we seem unable to figure that out.  Denial is what outright crooks do when caught red-handed.  People who really are on the up-and-up ought to be equally up for some honest self-assessment.

The problem, of course, is how to accomplish the necessary Vigilance.  Unholy political ambition didn't die with Caesar and Hitler—it lives on in globalist mega-corporations and globalist Marxian politicians.  Aristocrats infest every sphere of human activity, and while they may fight among themselves, they're all on the same page when it comes to what needs to happen to Real People.

The major media are already in the grip of Aristocrats, as we've seen, and government and business are headed that way.  To expect all these Elitist types to hold each other in check rather than to conspire together is unrealistic.  The vast fortunes amassed by pirates and the vast power accrued by government are all being focused on the triumph of global Marxism—the Aristocrat's junk religion of choice.

If Libertarians hope to prevail, they need to become much better organized.