Free Market Communism


An article profiling The Farm confirms the late, great Robert Nozick's belief that society-wide capitalism provides a "framework for utopia" within which non-capitalist voluntary communities can thrive. (via Jakeneck)

NEXT: The Volunteer State

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  1. I’ve been to Burning Man and have lots of friends who go almost every year. I often wish that my friends and BM’ers in general were more aware that BM only exists because of the wealth created by a larger world that operates on a very different set of rules than the rules that make BM a very nice vacation from reality.

  2. Well taken fydor — I often hear some of my fellow burners be quite squimish asking for money for stuff they ‘sell’ often just at cost — I always say back — ‘there ain’t nothing wrong with making a buck — wish I had a few more myself’ there ain’t no burning man in cuba, myanmar — take your pick — for a reason…

    for one great burningman business — for all your wearable lighted needs


  3. “there ain’t no burning man in cuba, myanmar — take your pick — for a reason…”

    I thought Myanmar was a right-wing anti-Communist dictatorship.

  4. Mark: Could be, and that would seem to support the point. It would appear that Myanmar and Cuba are juxtaposed as being rather opposite from one another – and neither has a Burningman. Neither permits the freedom to do as you please, so long as you respect (that is, not violate) the rights of others.

    That’s it. Nothing more complicated than that.

    I had a problem with Nozick years back when I attempted Anarchy, State, and Utopia, in that I simply did not have the sufficient linguistic skills and intelligence to penetrate his writings. It would take me hours to get fully through a page, and even then I doubt I had much appreciation of understanding for the material. I then recall trying it again a few years later – I gave up previously before passing the first chapter – and making a good way through it as I could tell I could understand the complexity of it far better. I think, if I can find it, that another attempt should be far more productive this time.

  5. Plutarck,

    Yeah, but you can’t smoke in NYC. 🙂

  6. Commune? These guys are no more a commune than the chocolate candy and ice cream shop down the street. The founder says “we accepted the discipline necessary to [live together].” No kidding. Self-discipline, what a communist concept that one is.

    Then, fifteen hundred people pooled their money and bought land. Wait, wait, don’t tell me. I’ll bet each one obtained a share of the land proportional to their investment. Just like old Karl told them. In a dream probably.

    And then, just to top it all off, in 1983, they all woke up and decided they had to make “every adult responsible for bringing in some cash.” No kidding. “Commune,” she cried. Yeah, okay, whatever.

    And the final insult, they don’t know how much money they make, but one of their divisions brought in $2.1m last year. (Y’know, give or take $10,000 or so.)

    For Pete’s sake. Who writes this stuff.

  7. But, so long as you don’t go into a city, you are pretty much able to have sex with animals – though I would personally demand that one be able to reasonable infer that the animal is consenting to the behavior! – in Alabama. Well, come to think of it, if you are sufficiently out of the public eye you can do the same thing…

    Hm – seems we already have a bit of a Framework For Utopia. It’s just the ability to keep other people from knowing about what you actually do in private.

    Pity that we are already loosing that. I don’t know if I share the linked libertarian’s optimism about the year 3000…eh, but I’ll be dead by then, so screw ’em.

  8. “And the final insult, they don’t know how much money they make, but one of their divisions brought in $2.1m last year. (Y’know, give or take $10,000 or so.)”

    Heehee, sounds like Enron 😀

  9. In the end, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give people who want to create their own societies and governments (or lack of governments) the freedom to do so. However, I think the Tuccille was pointing out that although those who want to create the so-called free-society had better be careful of who their neighbors are. Non-aggression is a great philosophy to follow… when you’re a libertarian. Sadly libertarianism isn’t a philosophy that has a lot of global support, even in “free” societies like our own.

    I seem to remember there was an attempt to create a libertarian society on an island sometime in the mid-1970s. That society was eventually invaded by, of all countries, Chad. (Could anyone with info on this please fill in the rest?)

    It all boils down the classic libertarian quandary. We may want to live in a “live and let live” world, but most humans are more than willing to use force to invade, kill, and violate others just because they can. In order to protect that freedom a society may need guns, soldiers, tanks, warships, fighters, and a disciplined military structure to defend said freedoms. That needs a government which requires money. Can a national defense get by on non-coercive means of funding and organization? Or does freedom ultimately defeat itself by demanding taxes, conscription, and authoritarian government in the attempt to secure it?

    Thoughts anyone?

  10. Mark S.,

    I am afraid that we ultimately live in a Hobbesian world. Or, to put it another way, everybody is always your brother until the rent is due.

  11. BTW, Chad is a landlocked country, so unless the island was in Lake Chad (which as I recall is a salt lake), I don’t think it was Chad that was invading. Plus, if anyone was invading anyone, it was Chad being invaded by Libya.

  12. Jean:

    It was some African country that came in and took over. I can’t remember which one, but I had heard it was Chad or something. That’s the whole reason I asked if anyone had info on the island.

  13. I’m not really Wavy Gravy–I’m Monty Burns. And all this time I’ve been smoking harmless tobacco!

  14. In the wake of the artificial island craze, Michael Oliver’s Phoenix Foundation announced plans to build a platform in the south Pacific, declare it independent, and use it as a tax shelter. Construction began in 1971, and Minerva was declared independent on January 19, 1972. The only nation which responded to Minerva’s application for recognition was Tonga. The kingdom sent out a convict work detail to haul down the Minervan flag and build over the platform. Tonga later annexed Minerva to ensure the upstart nation would not re-emerge. Undaunted, Oliver later attempted to set up the nations of Abaco in 1973 and Espiritu Santo in 1980.

    Apparently the nasty Tongans are the villains in your story. 🙂

    Abaco is an island in the eastern Bahamas. Its population is divided between West Indian blacks, and white descendants of English settlers. Many whites on Abaco opposed the independence of the Bahamas, attempting to retain colonial status under the British crown. It is unclear whether these Bahamians were motivated by a sentimental attachment to the Empire, or whether they were unsettled by the prospect of government by blacks from Nassau. In June of 1973, a month before independence, the Abaco whites gained the financial support of Michael Oliver, who had earlier attempted to set up the nation of Minerva. Oliver hoped to turn Abaco into a libertarian enclave, where he could profit from a market free of all government intervention (and taxation). Oliver bankrolled a newspaper and organized a militia, which he planned to fly to Georgia for military training by Chuck Hall, who supported the Abaconian whites for less savory reasons. Hall backed out at the last moment, however, and the Abaconian revolution ran out of steam. Oliver later attempted a similar action on Espiritu Santo, with the same disappointing results.

    Hmm, unsavory white supremecists. 🙂

    In 1980, Vanautu gained its independence from an Anglo-French condominium. Jimmy Stephens, a native of Espiritu Santo in northern Vanuatu, was head of the New Hebrides Autonomy Movement (MANH). MANH had previously declared the independence of Espiritu Santo as part of the NaGriamel Federation in December of 1975. Shortly afterwards, Stephens became involved with the Phoenix Foundation, a group of American businessmen organized by Michael Oliver. Oliver was the driving force behind Minerva and Abaco, earlier attempts at nation-building. Following MANH losses in Vanautu’s post-independence elections, Espiritu Santo seceded as the Republic of Vemarana, which the Phoenix Foundation hoped to shape into a haven for unfettered capitalism. The Vanautuan government appealed to Papua New Guinea, which quickly crushed MANH with a battalion of crack troops. The Phoenix Foundation also encouraged the revolt on Tanna in the south of Vanuatu, although there is no evidence of contact between Oliver and the Tanna separatists.

    Crack Papau New Guinea troops kick the crap out of the Libertarians.

  15. Mark S.:

    Actually, I believe that’s the point. You can’t have such a free society if everyone isn’t at least passively libertarian as a matter of framework – isn’t that a little ironic?

    So, you see, without libertarianism as a framework there is no framework for utopia, and as such no utopia. I think utopia is prevented both by human nature as it stands and still-existing technological constraints (so we have to totally surpass the need for survival, then effectively reprogram and engineer ourselves to be properly fit and evolved for the world that exists not out of any form of fashion of struggle for survival), but I’m perfectly willing to accept something a bit less than ideal reality, so long as I can find a place where people will stay the hell off my back unless I was violating their rights – if nothing else it would be psychologically reassuring just to know that there is a place somewhere where I could have such a thing.

    Though I do believe the problem with national defense isn’t much a problem in modern, or at least not 100% anti-coercion libertarianism – or at least mine, anyway. In short, the only way for coercion to be at all good is to fully serve the interests of all, or at least nearly all, of those who pay the not-all-that-voluntary taxation system – or at least collect the taxes on a system which is not purely neccessary for living in the society. So you could tax only the non-spartan goods (not food, or a place to live, or water, or clothing, or even some degree of rudimentary education – no, I don’t mean the government would pay for everyone’s education 100%, nor run the damn thing itself) – and as such all taxation would be damn near free of coercion, because you really do not have to pax taxes if you really don’t want to (oh, and no income tax – and if you are really into sliding-scale taxes according to individuals, targetted rebates – though I think they are a horrible idea, it at least goes to show that you can be largely free of coercion).

    You could in fact live a pretty reasonably good life without paying a dime of tax. Sure, they’re free riders in paying for the indirect (and direct, as in police) government protection they receive, but free riders aren’t a problem, so long as they aren’t very many of them and they aren’t very expensive. Hell, poor people who live out in the country are free riders to that extent anyway, but they’re a pretty unobstrusive sort. So long as we don’t end up in a country of coast-to-coast hippees and radial minimalists, we’d still manage to muster more than enough taxes to support a modern military – even if it is possible due to historical oppression.

    Could be a better, realistic way of doing it, but that seems largely unobstrusive. The worst thing I can see it leading to is the whole damn country having to pick up the tab for everyone’s health care – which, with no income tax or accompanying IRS, doesn’t seem so bad. Just switch the tax collection over to expenses and away from income, and exclude the neccessities – stay light on the taxes of the widely used stuff and it could even work.

    Course, the government is only as good as it’s people permit it to be bad, so it would in all likelyhood go to hell in a handbasket like every other country has in history in a few hundred years at most. But I’ve pretty much come to expect life cycles, the cycle of birth, decay, and death, as unavoidable in absolutely any field or operation in life. Might as well include countries and governments that are nice to live under, too.

  16. BTW, doesn’t the first scheme sound too much like “Water World.” 🙂

  17. “I gotta warn you, though. Once you’re up there in that tree, you can’t come down for ANYTHING. Not for a Phish concert, not even for Burning Man…”

  18. please………explain……….joke………

  19. “Burning Man”? Isn’t that like the Wicker Man? Hasn’t Sgt. Howie been roasted long enough?

  20. a liberterian society would defend itself the same way america does now. everyone would have 4 or 5 guns in their closet.

  21. SPUR,

    Now that you bring up Karl Hess, the Farm also sounds like the houseboat community he was living in around 1970.

  22. Sgt. Howie could never be roasted long enough!!

  23. While we are on the subject we should all remember Karl Hess and his uptopia in downtown Washington Dc and the overlooked booked that was created out of his experience “Community Technology”

    imagine — libertarians bad at foreign policy — I think it’s rather unfortunate the guy didn’t fight ther south pacific nation — kill 20-100 solidiers, offer a peace treaty, yearly triubute or something an hey — freedom. We had to kill kill kill what makes the grass grow blood blood blood during the revolution, why not kill some south pacific islanders for freedom in our time?


  24. Actually, the militia served the US well through most of its history, with only a small standing army (but a decent standing navy most of the time). Only post-WW2 has the US maintained a large standing army. Of course, the militia system wouldn’t work as well without large Oceans protecting the borders.

    The US was a pretty good libertarian experiment.

  25. “I’m a level 5 vegan. I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow.”

  26. Free market economics: the art of making the comfortable feel comfortable.

  27. a libertarian pooicie is not an utopia. It only begun his frame work like US liberalism policy today. If we accept this kind of politics maybe the system will change in favour of the pours


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