Tag: anarchism

Why Blockchain and Bitcoin Are Becoming a Part of Life

Mason Mohon |@mohonofficial

The Bitcoin naysayers live their life in glee these days, happy that cryptocurrency is finally dead! Well, dead again. Clearly, if something can die multiple times, its death carries far less weight. Cryptocurrency, along with Bitcoin, is in a continuous cycle of death and resurrection. In the short term, this makes it a scary investment. In the long term, though, Bitcoin has a lot of potential and is likely to become a part of the dominant social order. It will do this along with its underlying technology: blockchain.

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Acorn Community: American Anarchism at its Apex

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

America, since its founding, has strongly valued the need for a government to satisfy needs. Rule of law, freedom, and checks and balances are ideals that many of us grow up believing in. But some people believe that freedom is not compatible with the State. The range of anarchist thought varies drastically, from philosophical to political and individualist to collectivist. In 1993, a group of them came together and birthed their ideas. Hence formed Acorn Community.

Acorn Community Anarchism

Acorn Community, as stated above, began as a small project in 1993 in Louisa County, Virginia. It is a member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, a group of rural autonomous settlements throughout the United States. The community professes itself to be anarchist, egalitarian and sustainable. Moreover, it claims to thrive on non-coercive, voluntary interactions.

The group began when a sister group, Twin Oaks, was at its maximum capacity of 100 members. Many more people wanted to join, so the group branched out and purchased another plot of land. Now, both communities are healthy and full. Twin Oaks operates with over 100 members, while Acorn Community has around 30.

Of the many groups that make up the FEC, Acorn Community is one of the few that professes anarchism. Despite this belief, the community nonetheless does still pay taxes. With 501(d) non-profit status, their rates are considerably lower, but unlike some religious organizations, they are not entirely exempt from the state.

Collectively, the roughly 30 members of Acorn Community own the various elements of property present on the site. Large items, such as houses, cars, and the seed-growing business that they use to sustain the group, fall under this communal ownership. On the other hand, smaller items, including those that one can stash in a bedroom, are owned by individual members.

The Decision-Making Process

What makes Acorn Community particularly notable is the way that it reaches agreements. In fact, that’s exactly it: every rule they impose on the community, they all agree to. The group rejects majority rule as a way of disregarding minority voices. Instead, they firmly believe in a process that they call Consensus.

In the system of Consensus, any full member of the community is allowed to propose a new idea. Then, every other member of the community can voice his or her agreement or disagreement. Peaceful discussion and debate follows, and eventually, they all state their preferences. If a single full member disagrees with the notion, then it does not go into action.

This form of decision-making is incredibly uncommon, even among other members of the FEC. It is known by political theorists as unanimous direct democracy, under which everyone’s voice is included and no one member can make a decision for another without his or her consent. In a sense, it gives ultimate veto power to every single member. Some theorists believe that such a system is the only way that both authority and autonomy can exist. Acorn Community, therefore, is a rare example of such a phenomenon of freedom and democracy.

However, for the sake of efficiency, Acorn Community encourages members to listen to each other and seek out compromises. If each member can agree to one, then the motion moves forward.

A Lack of Conflict

In its history of more than a quarter-century, there has not been any conflict between Acorn Community and local police. The group, in order to sustain itself, operates a GMO-free seed business. With their profits, they are able to buy essentials for the members. They also use the excess money for social events such as dances, parties, books, games, and other entertainment.

The distinct peace separates the group from many other exhibits of anarchism in the modern world. Freetown Christiania, for example, boasts itself as another successful anarchist district. Though they have effectively survived without a state for longer than Acorn, they recently have been the victim of several police raids.

On the other hand, Acorn Community appears to function with very limited interaction with the government. This is possible due to their self-reliance; a rotating schedule of farmers and cooks enable the community to thrive off of their own local produce and livestock. Both meat and vegetarian options come from local products. Crops that they cannot grow generally come from other local, organic farmers. Though not every member works in food preparation or growth, all must meet a quota of 42 hours per week, or six hours a day. Yet, non-traditional forms of labor, such as childcare and cleaning, also count towards the total. As a result, many members exceed the quota considerably, thus earning extra time off.

How to Become a Member

The process of joining Acorn Community is quite complicated. First, any interested applicants must fill out an online questionnaire and make a visit to the farm. The visitor period may be from anywhere from one to six months. During that time, the visitor can request that he or she become a provisional member.

In order to be a provisional member, the current members hold a test for excitement. As a majority, they must determine they are “excited” for the new applicant to join. If they vote “accept” or “have reservations”, then the vote continues. Every “have reservations” vote cancels one “excited” vote. A single member can also entirely block the process, halting the initiation at once. This fits the method of unanimous direct democracy that Acorn Community practices.

If the applicant gets enough “excited” votes, they then must complete a round of Clearnesses. This essentially means that he or she must meet individually with each of the existing members. There, members can express their concerns about the new member or just get to know him or her better. After this, one more test for excitement occurs, and if the applicant passes, he or she becomes a provisional member. Every six months after this, a new test for excitement will occur. At this point, the members can vote on whether to make the provisional member into a full member. If at any point, the members reject an applicant, he or she has two weeks to leave the community. Members can extend or shorten this timeframe if need be.

Culture and Entertainment

Though Acorn Community places an emphasis on work, they are not without recreation. Living on a farm, they frequently use their outdoor space for sporting events. Wrestling, volleyball, and croquet and particularly popular. They also enjoy swimming in the nearby river and holding bonfires. In the winter months, they often soak in a hot tub, play board, card, and video games, and practice yoga.

On occasions, the community organizes events with the neighboring Twin Oaks community. The two groups are very close with each other, even though Twin Oaks does not claim to be anarchist. All in all, Acorn Community is a thriving example of what simple life can be, without the influence of a coercive government.


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Populism and Elitism: Two Sides of an Evil Sword

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In American politics, we often see the switch between populism and elitism. In the 1890s, for example, the People’s Party took the nation by storm. Many of their policies, from the direct election of senators to a shorter workweek, eventually went into effect.

Not long after, Woodrow Wilson came into office. At this point, the pendulum of politics swung toward elitism, with resegregation and Wilson’s own attitude of superiority following WWI taking a hold. But of course, what swings in one direction must come back.

The McCarthy era saw a quick snap back to populism, though this time, it was of the right wing. Presidents Johnson and Nixon followed suit. A few decades later, the focus shifted back to the elite in the Bush/Clinton era. Now, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have reignited the populist flares of both sides. Like left and right, populism and elitism run, always opposed and never in control for too long. But do either of them have any merits?

Elitism: The Ultimate Gamble

A system that practices elitism has a fairly small number of people making most of the decisions. In a sense, it suggests that people are not properly equipped to decide many things for themselves. Instead, those who are most qualified and specialized should make more important decisions. For example, an elitist is more likely to support the appointment, rather than election, of senators. They believe in reduced importance and role of the people.

Without a doubt, elitism opens itself up to a number of problems. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that a monarch in elitist country X makes most or all of the policy decisions. The people have little to no power and can’t vote for a new leader if they don’t like this one.

Three possibilities occur here. First, the leader may, as an expert, do a good job fulfilling the needs of the populace without harming them. Second, he or she may do a poor job in doing so. Third, it is possible (and even likely) that some combination of these previous two outcomes happens.

The Benign Elitist

In the first situation, the leader of country X knows what is best for all of his or her people, and makes decisions that make them happy. Yet such a feat would require a superhuman ability to please. The simple fact of the matter is that no leader can adequately know what is truly best for everyone. The second he or she makes a decision that helps most people, others may see harms.

There are far too many people in any country to make them all happy. Thus, it is impossible for any elitist ruler to do so; the idea is a contradiction. Different people have different needs, and no leader can wave a wand and meet them all. The individuals themselves are far more likely to make these decisions best. After all, they have a vested interest in the situation. For instance, imagine a trial lawyer trying to determine whether to take a risky case. Though his financial advisor may be rich, powerful, and brilliant, he alone truly knows the case; hence, he is the best person to make a final decision about it.

On the contrary, some may state that elitism is necessary for certain functions of life. A baseball coach, for instance, is far more useful than a novice player in teaching how to swing the bat. But politics is not a sport. The swinging of a bat harms nobody unless the player decides not to grip it well. Unfortunately, politics does not work in this manner, and the decisions have much greater impacts. Moreover, political events affect individuals in ways that no elitist can truly understand without being involved. Due to the size of an elite, though, it is almost impossible for them to have knowledge of all people’s needs.

Hit or Miss

Alternatively, elitism offers the possibility that the leader in charge does not satisfy the peoples’ needs. In this case, the power that an elite has can lead to dangerous consequences. Tyranny grows even faster when all of the people in power share it. Without any strong resistance from other people in power, there is not much short of a revolution to stop an unjust elite.

Even if the leader violates the laws of logic and makes truly everyone happy, there is no guarantee that he or she will continue to do so. Moreover, a term of rule is never permanent, and future rulers are unlikely to carry on an identical legacy as past ones. Even if a ruler pleased absolutely everyone, the successor, more than likely, would not.

Thus, it appears that elitism is not an adequate way to promote good. The elitist cannot be truly good, for there are too many people to tend to; it is impossible to do so for all of them. When he or she is bad, the consequences are far too dire. We must not entrust power to those who will be unseeing at best and despotic at worst.

Populism: Lukewarm Water

Populism, on the other hand, gives a far greater role to the people. As stated previously, they tend to support more policies that reflect the desire of the majority, which usually is the working and middle classes. For example, they may strongly support unions and oppose giving government elites too much power. This does not, however, necessarily mean they support smaller government, as many populists support a strongly graduated income tax and high tariffs.

Populism and elitism both are ridden with issues, but a particular one is unique to populism; so many people are in the decision-making processes that the voices of legitimate experts are weak. Populism is more likely to be democratic and give strong favor to the majority. And if the majority is wrong? Tough luck, it isn’t the will of the people.

Despite its prevalence on both the left and the right, populism generally limits the realm of acceptable thought. As masses of people must approve policies before they go into action, it is hard for an individual with an innovative idea to further it. Majorities are often wrong, as are elites.

The Moderating Effect

Imagine that 10 people in a room of 30 are fascists. 10 more are standard American liberals and conservatives, but the last 10 people are anarchists. In a populist system, each opinion receives equal weight, and those that do not have the support of the people will falter. In this case, the ten fascists will not see much support from the other 20. So, it is safe to say that populism has a moderating effect on tyranny. In an elitist system, if the one or few in charge is or are fascist, then fascist policies will rule. A populist system, however, can quench the fires of extreme tyranny.

Yet, this same effect happens on ideas of liberty. The 10 anarchists, under populism, are not going to receive support from the 20 who do believe in a state. Similarly, populism has a moderating effect on liberty, preventing true freedom from ever occurring. Where elitism takes a gamble, populism removes both the risk and the reward. In place, there is only a system of lukewarm moderation, in which no forms of true liberty are likely to exist.

Majority Rule

As stated above, people have drastically differing needs. An elite leader may or may not attempt to make them all happy. The populists, on the contrary, are far more likely to do so. But is this a good thing?

If ten people believe in a free society that benefits all, but fifty people propose a notion that they believe will benefit the people (as the majority, whatever they believe will benefit them will benefit the most people in a disagreement), then the fifty, however right or wrong they are, will take precedence. Generally, populism, like democracy, places tremendous importance on the people are stresses equal say.

On the other hand, if the roles are switched, the fifty people in favor of liberty will see their idea gain more momentum. However, this is not due to the merits of the idea itself, but simply due to a majority holding the opinion and the majority can certainly be wrong.

In fact, most Americans do not even know the basic functions of their own government. In a recent poll, 37 percent of Americans could not name a First Amendment right. 74 percent could not name the branches of government and more than half said that illegal immigrants have no Constitutional rights. Are these really the people that should be making the decisions that affect us all?

Populism and Elitism: Shared Faults

Populism and elitism, without a doubt, differ considerably in their means and implementations. Also, they have some distinctly different flaws. Despite this, there is a key piece that the two ideas have in common; they both suggest that others can and should forcibly make decisions for you.

In a situation in which you are not the expert, it is wise to allow one to step in. On the contrary, it can be beneficial to take a poll of many other perspectives to see the merits of an idea. Yet, populism and elitism do both of these things by force, imposing them through the will of the government onto the people. In neither case is anyone really free, with the possible exception of the rulers in an elitist system.

The court case example from above applies to populism as well. There is nothing necessarily different about a majority and an elite. Both may have good intentions and be correct. But, both may also have wicked intentions or be incorrect (or both). For this reason, it is highly irresponsible to give the power of decision-making to anyone but the individual. In most cases, the individual is the most capable of making his or her own choices. Exceptions certainly exist, but nothing is stopping people from choosing to seek the opinions of majorities or experts. But overreliance on one, the other, or both is a road to disaster. We must, in order for a free society to prosper, allow each of us to make our own choices. Populism and elitism simply are not compatible with this idea.


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The Boogeyman: Fear of the Unknown

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the vast majority of the world and all of recorded history, there have been tales of boogeymen: monsters in the dark to punish the disobedient and the susceptible. The Boogeyman goes by various names with the male, female, or neutral gender. These include the Bogieman, El Coco, Sack Man, Ou-Wu, Babayka, El Ogro, The Devil, and more. Most of the story origins are unknown. It is as if they are a part of human nature and a mechanism for control or protection.

Most of the time, the boogeyman is a threat that adults use towards vulnerable children who may be misbehaving. The character has a number of different commonly said actions. Some say it eats children, holds them hostage in a hellish place, or even scares them into correcting their behavior. Overall, the boogeyman is, unfortunately, a socially approved terrorizing mechanism that plagues the mind with fear of the unknown. By presenting the monster as too strong to fight, society instills a fearful reaction of flight over fight.

The Beast in the Dark

When we were children, we usually heard of such a beast in the dark, under our bed, in the closet, or in a forbidden area. In each of these cases, an adult probably told the child the story or scared the child enough to make him or her invent the demon on his or her own. On the contrary, some cultures have a protective guardian angel of sorts to save children it deems good. This invisible protector is all that can immediately protect a child from the bad one out to get them.

Even as adults, the boogeyman may still come to mind in places we deem as dangerous: in dark places, after deaths of bad people, and in some unknown futures. When many adults think of robots and artificial intelligence, they also think of the boogeyman, but in a different form. With super intelligent computers constantly improving around the world, many people will propose that these unknown machines will become sentient and seek to enslave or destroy humans and the world.

In the case of robots conquering the world, it is nothing more than a Nietzschean Übermensch: a Superman that all aspire to become but none can. This super demon then begins to wipe the world clean of humans or enslaves them for its own gains. Similarly to that of the Übermensch, we find the boogeyman again in space exploration, with the idea that evil aliens are waiting to harm us.

Protection from Unwarranted Fear

In both of these cases, the fear of an unrealized boogeyman limits success and progress. Many people will turn towards religion and government to protect us from the unknown monster. They present these organizations as the fairy godmothers that will protect our soul, body, and future with regulations, limitations, and letting someone else decide what is right. Religion can become a government, and the blind allegiance to the government can become a religion of its own: Statism.

Statism is the belief that a government should control an individual’s economic and social decisions in order to prevent deterioration of society, corruption, losses, heinous crimes, terrorism, and more. Proponents of Statism view it as avoiding a Hobbesian regression to the turmoil and chaos of human nature. The ideology of Statism declares that government can, at least theoretically, control every aspect of one’s life. In fact, Statists have manufactured boogeymen of their own throughout history. Without a doubt, Statism becomes an endless, warrantless hunt for the outsider: non-Christians, non-Muslims, witches, spies, Communists, terrorists, drug dealers, immigrants, and more.

Statism: Fearful of Freedom

Statism has also provided the fear of Liberty, of not having a central government, and of no government at all. The State portrays this in the images of utter chaos and the threat of a power vacuum or void. A power vacuum, or power void, is the idea that without one government, other, more evil governments will take over. This proposed boogeyman is said to appear when the coercive control of the few (government) goes away, leaving the helpless and hapless people vulnerable to this invisible monster.

The devout followers of the State will use this boogeyman as a form of mental terrorism that instills fear into the minds of the impressionable. They propose that the only guardian against such a boogeyman is that of the omnibenevolent, omniscient, and possibly near-omnipotent government that staves off the evil, lurking, monsters in the unknown darkness. The closer people move towards Liberty or freedom, the more that Statists will pontificate this fear of the boogeyman into the hearts and minds of all that listen. As the fears build within society, Statists require more and more control. Thus, policing, laws, regulations, spying, recordkeeping, and taxing increase.

The Boogeyman Is Getting Stronger

As time moves forward, the boogeyman, or Übermensch, is always growing stronger and more cunning than its potential victims. It is like the nightmare in which you are forever running away from the unstoppable monster. In Statism, this all-pervasive boogeyman begins as a child’s common fear of the unknown. But relatively quickly, it becomes a psychological defect, leading to the embodiment of a boogeyman in the monster of an oppressive government. It matters little that the State was supposed to protect against this monster: it nonetheless becomes it. This idea that such a boogeyman exists slows human progress by creating a real one from the idea.

If anything, not teaching our children of such monsters as a boogeyman, not scaring them in the dark or around corners, while encouraging them to learn about what makes us scared or fearful, can help them understand the world in a more realistic manner. It will teach them to be less afraid of the unknowns in our lives. At the same time, they will learn to pursue difficulties, rather than back away from the unknown. These constant fears of boogeymen do not need to exist when it comes to peaceful, free, and voluntary action; the fears of boogeymen instill fear of the unknown, inhibit actions, and bog down growth.

A Hindrance to Human Progress

Furthermore, the fear of such boogeymen inebriates the infected individual’s will to better their own life, progress, and success, leaving them timid and unsure how to guide their own life. This removal of the individual’s capability to properly lead their own life also restricts their moral gauge, furthering their dependence on the guardian in control while making them more susceptible to relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism. In response to their fears of boogeymen, many will not only embrace religion and government. Moreover, they may cling to collectivism to help combat the invisible boogeyman. This is because they believe their particular group should survive, and perhaps their group knows how to best fight off the boogeyman better than others’.

If the fear of the unknown and creation of evil to fight it is a natural process, then Reason, peace, voluntary exchange, and Liberty will rid us of these deplorable thoughts. This is a way to become stronger than the fictional beast of Statist myth. This is a way we become our own heroes. In a world where are the biggest hindrance and threat to our own betterment, it is the way forward.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”Friedrich Nietzsche.


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Is This Community the “Last Free Place in America”?

By Clint Sharp | United States

The United States of America has always been considered a country rich with liberty: so much so that many call it “the land of the free” from the national anthem. However, with ever-increasing unjust laws, regulations, and control, the country is only free in a relative sense. There is, however, a place in America that still remains free; where the heavy iron fist of government does not land and people are free to do as they choose. That place, of course, is Slab City.

What does living without laws in Slab City really look like
Slab City’s East Jesus sculpture garden

Situated about 150 miles northeast of San Diego, California, in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, Slab City stands as a monument to those who wish to experience freedom in its most pure form. The community attracts a wide array of individuals, from anarchists to outlaws to aging hippies and retirees. For all, Slab City offers a simple, off the grid lifestyle free from the influence of society.

The History of Slab City

Slab City’s history begins in the late 1950’s during the height of the Beat Movement in America. Immediately following World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps began to abandon Camp Dunlap. Eventually, they fully demolished it in 1956, leaving nothing but a maze of concrete foundations in the desert sand. These concrete “slabs” are what gave Slab City its name. It was only a matter of time before beatniks, hippies, and the homeless discovered it and set up camp. Since, the vans, RVs, and tents added up, until the people established the settlement that we know today.

Life in Slab City requires one to be self-reliant, to a certain extent. The only running water, electricity, and sewage systems are what the inhabitants build themselves. Most settlers with electricity use solar panels that drink their fill of California’s limitless and scorching sun, providing a cheap and clean form of energy for the lawless settlement. The only form of sewage lies in the innumerable outhouses and latrines that litter the landscape. To get water, they must either go to a nearby canal or the neighboring town of Niland. Inhabitants usually also obtain groceries in Niland. However, many residents manage to get their food from other sources such as farming and hunting.

Slab City » Dominik Wojtarowicz Blog
A camper in Slab City

It is important to note that Slab City is not without its problems. Theft is a very prevalent issue in the area, and the Niland police rarely make appearances. Thus, the residents provide most of their own law enforcement, which has been a general success. In the rare instance of vigilante justice, the group tends to shun the perpetrators.

A Land of Freedom

What the citizens of Slab City may lack in the realm of personal comfort and amenities, they make up for in pure, unfiltered freedom. There are no taxes, no rent, and no mortgages. The community does not prohibit drug use or nudity if one so desires to partake in either. Each individual in Slab City can do as they please as long as they do not harm another individual’s person or property. In effect, their unwritten code of agreement is quite similar to the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). This unregulated and fence-less way of being paints a beautiful picture of life as it is intended to be: peaceful and pleasant existence without control from someone hundreds of miles away.

Slab City, California – LonCooper.com
Slab City’s Salvation Mountain

The only other problem that the people of Slab City face is the ensuing wave of boredom that comes from living in the desert. One way to beat it is to visit one of Slab City’s many attractions. There’s East Jesus, a sort of art district complete with a sculpture garden, Salvation Mountain, a three story tall hill covered in paint, as well as The Range, a nightclub centered in an amphitheater where bands play concerts weekly. Additionally, the citizens of Slab City throw a huge “prom” every year for the whole community.

Slab City serves as an experiment of anarchy. Without a doubt, they prove that people can live together beyond laws or rulers without it turning into a Mad Max film. So next time you’re in California or are sick of the government, head on over to Slab City and hang out with the Slabbers in the “last free place in America”.


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