Paradoxicalism as a Political Belief
by Ethan Glover, Wed, Feb 21, 2018 - (Edited) Sun, Feb 25, 2018
I've been taking the time to actually learn about a wide variety of beliefs. I've been taking on a detached point of view. I've stopped allowing myself to respond before I have full empathy for what I'm hearing. For the most part, this has resulted in me rejecting my established libertarian anarchist beliefs. But it hasn't resulted in me taking on a new political identity. If someone were to ask me what I am in a political context, I wouldn't have a clue. In fact, on most specific issues, I would admit total ignorance.
1-2 years ago I would plug whatever the issue is into a For A New Liberty style framework. I would "solve" the issue by framing it in a utopian anarcho-capitalist world.
When I wrote Open Source Government in 2014, I was first exploring the idea of anarchy as a system of competing governments. Not tied to any geographical location. When I wrote You'll Never Have Your Anarchy in 2015, I was first recognizing the fact that human nature doesn't change just because government goes away. People will still call for gun control after shootings. They'll still want to illegalize drugs and gay marriage. Your neighbors don't suddenly change just because the system they live under does.
Today, in 2018, I have to admit that I'm questioning my status as an anarchist. I've never denied the need for governance. Police, court, systems of discipline and reparation. Posse justice is not justice. But I have to recognize the need for society to collectively work on problems other than those involving violence.
Let's use an easy example. The black rhino was once considered to be extinct because surveys could not find any in the wild. Poachers were killing them in mass for their valuable horns. The solution was to allow hunters like Corey Knowlton to kill one for a very large amount of money. Knowlton killed an old rhinoceros that was both killing other males, and incapable of reproducing. Africa got $350,000 for rhino conservation and enforcing poaching laws. Something they would not have gotten from tourism.
Libertarians held this up as an example of the great governing force of capitalism. But the legal hunters weren't shooting any or as many rhinos they wanted. They weren't taking the horn and leaving the corpse to rot. Only poachers, who hunted with only greed in mind, did so. Even today, poaching decimating populations is a problem. But the black rhino population is making huge gains due to regulated hunting.
Libertarians have this idea that the best way to conserve a species is to farm them. Period. But farming doesn't address the actual issues of endangerment and extinction. When a species leaves a natural environment and stops interacting with it, it has far-reaching consequences on the whole ecosystem.
Regulated rhino hunting happens in the wild. The anarcho-capitalist would say that all land, including the wild where these rhinos live naturally, should be privately owned. But that's unrealistic and doesn't solve the problem. Poachers don't care about the boundaries and rules of public land. They're not going to care about the boundaries and rules of your private land.
Nor does it address the issue of the greed of poachers to begin with. They can buy up land and hunt animals to extinction because in anarchy it is the property owners who are king. They can make their money, throw it into a decent investment account, and be set for life.
The idea that greed isn't a problem here because it goes against self-interest can go right back where it came from.
What saved the black rhino was capitalist policy enforced by government. On wild land owned and regulated by society as a whole. Government saved the black rhino.
And so we get to my current conundrum. In order to understand the beliefs of others, I have to take a look at human nature. Something anthropologists like Steven Pinker and psychologists like Jordan Peterson have helped me do. On one hand, the bigger the government, the more corruption you get. A one world government isn't bad in theory. But it offers no way out of corruption. There is no one to stop bad actors in power. Or to stop good actors in power from becoming bad actors. Which is inevitable.
On the other hand, that inevitability is what causes multiple governments to go to war with one another. Or to play the game against and in competition with one another. To the detriment of its own citizens.
With no government, people still group up. Influence spreads. You could make government illegal to watch out for that sort of thing. But you would need a government to enforce it.
Even if, theoretically, government didn't arise out of anarchy, anarchy comes with a whole host of problems involving violence, fraud, theft, and the destruction of the natural and human environments.
I don't want to get caught up in imagining and constructing worlds to illustrate the effects of any one system. That's how I propagandized myself into anarcho-capitalism to begin with. By constructing a universe in my imagination governed by a human nature that doesn't exist in the real world.
Rather, here's the point I'm trying to make. I don't know what the hell the answer is to anything. I want to imagine that my thought of decentralized capitalist governance in which everyone still has a responsibility to their surrounding community is realistic and worth thinking about. But it's not.
I wouldn't even say there's anything wrong with the current system. Because I don't know. I could say that there are a lot of things in society that is wrong. I might even have a few things to say and a solution or two to suggest. But for the most part, I don't know.
In my journey to learn about other peoples beliefs; how people think, where they're coming from, and why they believe what they believe I've come to fully understand that the most important tool we have for solving problems is communication. It gets said often. That we just need to talk things through. But it doesn't happen often.
Propagandists on social media are skittish about any hints of disagreement. They throw temper tantrums and block people before they know what's going on.
There are, however, important thinkers like Jordan Peterson, Steven Pinker, Malcolm Gladwell, Jonathan Haidt, Sebastian Junger, and Dan Carlin who are all advancing modern thoughts and ideas. They welcome challenge and take it head on without allowing ego to get in the way. But they don't hold the answers. Maybe some answers. Or many answers. But not the answers. No one does.
And that's why in order to survive as a species, to continue to grow, we have to learn to listen to one another. To talk and develop new ideas and solutions. To accept solutions that aren't our own and simply be happy that progress is being made.
Everything isn't going to work out your way in the way you want it to. You can't exist in a vacuum. That's the thesis I made as in anarchist in You'll Never Have Your Anarchy. I also say that as someone that doesn't know whether anarchy or government is better.
There is definitely a problem with the fact that politicians pay no attention to their constituents. Facebook has a 'Town Hall' feature that allows you to easily follow your government representatives. On mobile, there is a dedicated feed for every post they make. Do they ever consult people about policy? Do they openly explore ideas they're unsure of? No, they brag about votes they made and send out "prayers and wishes" during times of tragedy.
On a day to day basis, they do the government work to fight for their own personal beliefs. Without interacting and collaborating with the community on an open level.
In a society we see a problem with a lack of openness and a lack of conversation. Extreme politics among the SJW's and alt-right is a small sign of this. When no one is having a real conversation. When politicians are selfishly misrepresenting us. When everyone is fighting for the self, no progress is made. You get chaos.
I'm all for individualism. The self should be everyone's primary concern. But the self is not the ego. Nor is it being selfish. Throwing temper tantrums because someone might disagree with you is no way to move forward. We must balance taking care of ourselves with taking care of the community. We must take care of our selves by taking care of others.
And so, however you structure society and community, it must take into account the paradoxical natures of humanity. The wish of peace with a drive towards violence. The wish of individualism with a drive towards collectivism.
I think any group of people should be able to remove themselves from their current system of government and try something new. As long as it doesn't have a negative impact on others. The problem is, it will inevitably have a negative impact on others.
I think the whole world should be under one simple, enforceable set of rules, as long as it doesn't grow out of control, and as long as it's possible for people to discuss and implement new things. The problem is, it will inevitably grow out of control and restrict the possibility of discussing and implementing new things.
Maybe the answer is a balance between both. Maybe what we have now is our best march towards perfection. Perfection isn't possible, but moving towards perfection is. Maybe what we should be doing, instead of constructing utopian visions of the future, is doing our best to advance ideas and thoughts. Maybe what we should be doing is putting one foot in front of the other on that slow march towards improvement. Not towards a perfect vision of utopia. But towards improvement itself. And maybe we should leave the ego behind and start accepting that everything isn't going to work out our way.