Tag: movement

Modern-Day Progressives: Regressive Next to Libertarians

By Manuel Martin | United States

Libertarians are true, modern-day progressives seeking to unify and evolve our culture around a common set of voluntary values which the majority of people already hold. Those on the left who consider themselves progressive are not progressing society. Instead, they continue to use an outdated coercive democratic system from 300 years ago.

In fact, modern-day progressives are regressive conservatives. While those on the left who consider themselves progressives wish to change how the political system works, they still wish to conserve the existence of a system which has slaughtered hundreds of millions and continually divides society. Regressing culture to a time when kings and queens had full control over the freedom and self-determination of the average everyday person does not bring progress. It makes no difference if a king or democratically-elected politician strips you of your autonomy.

The truth is, modern-day progressives are not progressive at all. There is nothing progressive about looking to third-party politicians to coercively solve cultural differences. Real progressives seek to free human beings from outdated ideas, old prejudices and the narcissism of those who wish to democratically control individuals within society. Real progressives fight to give everyone human respect to live free from the control of power-hungry politicians. Also, real progressives lift the values and ethics of people in order to unite them and bring about harmony and prosperity.

The Failed Tool of Democracy

The majority of Americans have strong personal values which promote and sustain peace. However, our political values are built upon a regressive democratic system of divisive coercion. Ideas of democracy and coercive government stagnate society in a constant state of actual and social war. The outdated, regressive tool of democracy has led to the slaughter and starvation of hundreds of millions in countless wars. It has democratically caused famines while ensuring power and profits to state benefactors. Democracy is the tool which freed millions from kings and dictators only to simultaneously have them vote for socialist kings and communist dictators.

Democracy was once a promise of a world where people would be free to live the lives they desired, but it has failed. True progressives evaluate the results of their ideas and never double down on failed ones. Democracy or constitutional government may be a good alternative to the unilateral dictates of a king. But by what logic is voting for oppression any better than simply being born into oppression?

It’s time for real progress, a New Frontier if you will; we must progress our culture to one which maximizes human respect, is tolerant of others, values the individual, and respects persuasion and trade over “democratic consensus.”

No Need for Government

Individually and socially, we don’t need government and politicians to live in peace and prosperity.  What society needs is individuals who put character first, value honest relationships, and respect long-held values of responsibility. We need men and women who teach integrity, strong work ethics and respect to their children. In short, everyone must own responsibility for his or her own actions. But moreover, they must take an enlightened position and look out for others, too.

These character traits make someone a valuable and contributing member of society. They are not a result of government, but of culture.

Culture will not flourish if we are naive enough to think voting is anything but an attempt to control the freedoms of others through the use of gun violence disguised as government, law, and democracy.

Your opinion is important, and yes your life matters. However, so does the person who has a different outlook on life. Of course, just because they are different doesn’t mean you should hire a mobster or politician with a gun to force your personal lifestyle on them.

Every action we make in life tilts the world a little bit more towards good or evil. Surely, attempting to control the free will and self-determination of others will always do the latter.

Modern-Day Progressives: Be Consistent

Everything we need to end the ancient idea of coercive government is already out there. Everyone, including you, is already using it. We are all libertarians in our personal dealings with others. Almost no one uses coercion when dealing with others. This, however, is not because governments tell us not to. Rather, we understand that in order for us to be successful human beings, we must rely on voluntary interactions.

We simply need to be consistent in the application of those ideals which we use to guide our everyday actions. We must start voting for politicians who promise to slowly and ethically dismantle the state so we can continue the evolution of our culture to more voluntary interactions, not fewer.

If you’re truly a modern-day progressive that wants to promote peace, prosperity, freedom for all and want to unleash societies ability to maximize human happiness, then we should all extend our libertarian social values to our political decisions. We should start the process of liberating society from the divisive coercion of governmental gun violence.

The best long-term sustainable way to maximize human happiness, peace and prosperity is to raise the cultural ethics of society until everyone recognizes the individual and common benefits of using persuasion instead of coercion, and trade instead of theft and taxes.

Libertarianism is a social philosophy seeking to promote this culture: one where individuals hold voluntary interactions as the primary ethic guiding their relations with others. As people, libertarians want to progress our culture to that ethical standard. Libertarians, thus, are the true progressives. Liberals: try to keep up.

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What Will The New Normal Look Like?

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By Craig Axford | United States

The chaotic presidency of Donald Trump and the disruption that has followed closely in its wake is often described by the pundit class as “the new normal.” This is incorrect. The disruption we are currently experiencing indicates we’re a culture seeking fresh norms rather than one that has settled into a new status quo.

It’s easy to conclude that everything that has happened in the months since Brexit and the election of President Trump follows directly or indirectly from these electoral upsets. However, these events were merely the unmistakable signs that a social transformation that had been building for years had finally arrived.

Social and environmental change always leaves large segments of the population disoriented and alienated, creating fault lines that can release their stored up energy through major cultural earthquakes. In 2018 the aftershocks are still being felt and we’re still cleaning up the debris. It’s going to take a while for the dust to settle. Rebuilding is likely going to take a generation or more to complete.

. . .

People are fond of comparing the postwar United States to the ancient Roman Empire. For neoconservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Trump’s new National Security Advisor John Bolton, being the modern equivalent of ancient Rome is the point. For those more inclined toward international cooperation, however, imperialism as a means of spreading a nation’s influence is an approach that should be consigned to the dustbin of history and largely forgotten.

Regardless, recent events have produced a bumper crop of speculative articles about America’s decline by authors from both sides of the political divide. Many contain at least a few comparisons to Rome and suggest America’s current situation is at least somewhat analogous.

Broadly speaking, every civilization’s story follows a remarkably similar pattern. Understanding this pattern can certainly help us recognize shifts within our own society that need to be adapted to if we are to avoid complete collapse.

With that said, analogies to ancient empires only get us so far. For one thing, none of them were democratic. Even democracy in ancient Greece was extremely limited by modern standards. In that case, it lasted relatively briefly at a small scale within a city state.

. . .

In addition, technological innovation in the ancient world moved at a snail’s pace by today’s standards. If it were possible to transport a sleeping Roman living under Caesar Augustus forward 200 years to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, they would certainly notice some architectural additions to their city when they woke up, but would still readily recognize the vast majority of the tools and other implements of daily living. These would virtually all be fundamentally the same as they were two centuries earlier, with changes being largely stylistic rather than functional.

During my lifetime, however, technology has changed far more than it did during the two centuries known as Pax Romana. In fact, there’s been far more technological and scientific development during my lifetime than occurred during the entire Roman period, or, for that matter, from the birth of agriculture to the fall of the Roman Empire.

My mother was born just a couple of years after Charles Lindbergh completed the first transAtlantic flight. I was born just a month before Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon. When my daughter was born, the Internet was just beginning to become widely available. In 2015, I received the news of my granddaughter’s birth on a device that makes the communicators held by the Star Trek characters that were on TV when I was an infant look positively primitive.

When I was in high school, there were nine known planets in the universe (they still counted Pluto as a planet at the time). As of this writing there are nearly 3,000 confirmed planets outside our solar system and roughly 2,600 more exoplanet candidates. Thirty of the confirmed planets are less than twice the size of earth and exist within their sun’s habitable zone. That we could find evidence of life elsewhere in the universe during my lifetime is hardly a remote possibility. That it will be found during my granddaughter’s lifetime now seems a near certainty. What the religious, philosophical, and social implications of this discovery will be are impossible to predict, let alone calculate.

. . .

In the early 1970s, systems theory was still in its infancy. As a discipline it was arising from other fields that were themselves relatively new arrivals on the scientific scene. These included ecology, sociology, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology. All of these pursuits were heavily influenced by the discoveries of the nineteenth century and had spent the better part of the 20th century defining themselves.

If anyone felt that forest ecology had anything to teach us about how societies develop, breakdown, and ultimately either renew themselves or collapse completely they had kept it pretty much to themselves. Then, in 1973, a forest ecologist by the name of C.S. [Buzz] Holling published a paper that began to change all of that. By the end of the decade scholars like Joseph Tainter had taken the idea and begun running with it. The resulting cross fertilization between ecology, sociology, history and anthropology gave rise to what today is referred to as panarchy (Gunderson & Holling, 2001).

“Holling and his colleagues use a three-dimensional image to represent the relationship between a system’s rising potential and connectedness and its declining resilience. The shape looks like a distorted figure eight or infinity symbol floating in space. In the foreground is the growth phase-a curve that moves upward as the system’s potential and connectedness increase. At the same time, the curve moves forward in three-dimensional space-toward the observer-as the system’s resilience declines. Holling and his colleagues call this part of the adaptive cycle the ‘front loop.’ It represents a process of incrementally rising complexity. At the top of this curve, the system collapses. Things then happen fast as the system descends into the ‘back loop,’ where it undergoes a rapid process of reorganization before beginning once more the slow process of growth.” (Source: Our Panarchic Future, World Watch Institute)

The possibility that cultures and ecosystems might follow similar patterns of development, change, decay and renewal has, in retrospect, a certain slap to the forehead quality to it. As the years have gone by, the notion has become increasingly obvious in retrospect. Even though thinkers like “Buzz” Holling and Joseph Tainter have remained largely unknown outside of academic circles, their ideas have begun working their way into the zeitgeist.

The implications of panarchy for contemporary society are incredibly profound. Dramatic disruptions like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump look, even to those unfamiliar with the theory, like the kind of event which the panarchy model depicts as a systemic release. Such events mark the beginning of the breakdown triggered when a system has reached peak or near peak complexity.

Using Holling’s original comparison with a forest ecosystem, such occurrences are analogous to a fire or windstorm that takes out many older trees and disrupts (or in extreme cases destroys) the complex relationships that exist within a diverse mature forest. Ideally, this kind of event will stop short of causing a complete collapse. Instead, the release will make room for new growth and the formation of new relationships, causing the cycle to begin again following the exploitation and reorganization trajectories that eventually lead to the reestablishment of a highly complex interconnected system.

But sometimes ecosystems, like societies, collapse more or less completely. The void these failed systems leave behind is ultimately filled by something distinct enough from the previous system to qualify as a new system in its own right. This is widely considered to have been the case with the Mayan and Anasazi civilizations in the Americas, and ultimately with the Roman Empire as well. Naturally these civilizations still left a legacy that lives on to this day. However, for all practical purposes these societies were completely replaced by their successors.

None of this is to say that we are on the verge of collapse. Predictions of imminent societal collapse have consistently outnumbered the actual events themselves. More often than not, societies experience disruptions that trigger a period of breakdown followed by some kind of renewal.

A culture might even survive several such events before ultimately experiencing complete failure. When breakdown does occur, the society experiencing it might never regain its former glory, but will live to fight another day. The British Empire is a classic contemporary example. Britain did not cease to exist following its devolution from empire to titular leader of a commonwealth of former colonies. Its cultural influence in the world remains great even if its military power and political influence is substantially diminished.

The United States, in all likelihood, is headed for a fate more like Great Britain’s and less like that of the ancient Romans. Its role in the world will be permanently diminished, but it won’t be coming to an end. Internally, power has already begun to shift away from a substantially weakened federal government and back toward the states and local communities. We’ve seen similar movement toward decentralization in the UK as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have gained greater autonomy from London.

In a 2006 paper on navigating complexity, the anthropologist Joseph Tainter argued, “It is important to emphasize that complexity is not inherently detrimental. If it were, we would not resort to it so readily.” Tainter continued, “Complexity is always a benefit-cost function. We increase complexity to solve problems because most of the time it works, and the costs either seem affordable, are not evident, or can be shifted onto others or the future. It is the cumulative costs of complexity,” Tainter warned, “that causes damage.”

Every challenge is, in the end, an opportunity. Resiliency is defined not by the ability to preserve the status quo, but the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. We have entered a period of heightened uncertainty and disruption. There’s no going back. For the United States the coming years will be about redefining its role in the world and reassessing its values at home.

The United States is hardly alone. Nations are no longer as isolated from one another as they once were. For the world too, old roles and values are being challenged. As the nation-state becomes less important and regional/international cooperation becomes more critical, continental organizations like the EU have a chance to emerge as new and influential players. China and India are also now far more likely to become central figures on the world stage given America’s recent abdication. Looming over all of these changes are global problems like climate change and mass migration, both of which are undermining traditional notions of sovereignty. These environmental and social disruptions will make moral, economic, and technological leadership far more important in the future than brute military power was in the past.

Growing up during the Great Depression, my mother could not possibly have imagined that just months after she turned 40 people would be walking on the moon. Likewise, I can’t begin to imagine what may be in store for the second half of my life, let alone the remainder of my daughter’s and granddaughter’s. In The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, Thomas Homer-Dixon wrote, “In a moment of contingency, the struggle over how we should frame our options and our future is a battle of ideas.” We had better get busy thinking up and experimenting with some new ones, and get used to doing so for a while. This transition won’t be ending any time soon.

Follow me on Twitter or read my work on Medium.com.

Other stories by Craig Axford that you may enjoy:

While People Are Busy Tearing Down Walls, Some Governments Still Insist On Building Them

By Craig Axford | United States

We’ve always been a mobile species. Religious beliefs, art, technology, and genes have for tens of thousands of years consistently overcome the physical, linguistic, and tribal barriers in their way.

The birth of the nation-state and the emergence of stronger notions of sovereignty have done nothing to change this. In fact, thanks to modern technology millions of people each and every day literally fly over the obstacles governments have erected to inhibit freedom of movement. The customs agents awaiting them at the airport are too outnumbered to prevent more than a handful of the masses passing through their checkpoints from entering. Once they’re in, it’s extremely difficult and costly to track down and remove an individual that’s not willing to leave.

The state’s ability to regulate the flow of ideas is even more limited. Most of us share at least a few thoughts each day on the World Wide Web, making them available to virtually anyone with a computer or cell phone that cares to look for them and read them. Short of denying access to the Internet altogether, there’s nothing any government can do to completely obstruct the flow of ideas. Guttenberg’s printing press is now practically as antiquated as the quill pen, and only slightly more relevant. Traditional books are valued more for qualitative than practical reasons these days. We could get by with our laptops and Kindles if we had to.

. . .

The other day I visited a museum located next to Salt Lake City’s main library. Among the several exhibits was one dedicated to the history of flight. Like most museums, this one strove to maximize the information it shared with visitors by covering its walls with displays and boldly painted paragraphs containing relevant facts. On a panel beneath the wing of an old World War II plane suspended overhead the curators communicated in large dark letters the fact that the Salt Lake City International Airport saw more than 24 million people fly in and out of it in 2017. It struck me as remarkable how unremarkable I found this bit of trivia.

I, like virtually all of us, have grown rather accustomed to living on a small planet. For two of the first three months of this year I worked at a convenience store not far from the Salt Lake City Airport. I estimate that at least 5 to 10 percent of those coming in for gas or to buy some coffee were foreigners. A hundred years ago a resident of this part of the world wouldn’t see as many visitors from out of state in a week as I did Australians, Mexicans, Canadians, Germans, English, Chinese, Indians, and citizens of various African countries each day.

. . .

In 2015 my wife and I became grandparents. We received word of our granddaughter’s birth while living in Victoria, British Columbia. The wonderful news flew at the speed of light through wires that crossed the United States, but it did not originate there. The announcement came from Mexico.

Though my wife and I are both native to the US, and our daughter was born and raised in Utah, we were living in Canada when our granddaughter arrived, and our daughter was residing near Mexico City. She had moved south to be with her boyfriend shortly before we moved north. There’s a good chance that within five to ten years my family will consist of citizens of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. We already have two of those three covered. We’re working diligently on the third.

As you can imagine, each member of my family has an opinion on immigration. We’ve each experienced the ups and downs that come with unintended errors on forms that immigration officers are trained to sniff out and punish with rejection. There have been trips to an embassy as well as anxious last minute rushes to acquire documents needed to renew a visa expiring at midnight that we thought we had dealt with.

None of the paperwork, fees, or other inconveniences we’ve encountered have deterred any of us. In fact, I’ve grown to rather like straddling two sides of the border while a good chunk of my heart lingers in Mexico. Feeling like a citizen of the world pales in comparison to actually living like one.

There are those who claim that what opponents of border walls and other tough immigration policies actually favor is open borders. I can’t speak for everyone that opposes hardline immigration proposals, but I can say without reservation that in my case the people making these statements are right. I remember being able to drive into Canada or Mexico with nothing more than a driver’s license, and I wouldn’t mind returning to those days again.

The war on immigration, like the war on drugs, has been an abysmal failure. It will continue to be a failure no matter how many walls are built or Border Patrol agents are hired. Donald Trump could send the entire United States Marine Corps to the Mexican border without it having much of an impact. People would continue to do exactly what most of them are doing now: fly over the international boundary without even noticing there’s a wall and approximately 17,000 agents 30,000 feet below whose job it is to stop them from entering the country. Open borders aren’t a liberal wet dream. They are, for all practical purposes, already a reality.

Consider the Salt Lake International Airport again. It’s no JFK or LAX. It is a Delta Airlines hub, but even so, it’s still just an average airport serving a mid-size inland metropolitan area located on the south end of a dead sea. Of the 24 million passengers that came and went from Salt Lake’s airport in 2017, nearly 1 million of them were arriving or departing international passengers.Probably at least two or three million more were either boarding or disembarking domestic flights to or from a larger airport that got the honor of listing them in its international passenger statistics.

It’s safe to say that about 1 in 5 of these passengers, if not more, were actually citizens of a foreign country as opposed to Americans travelling overseas. That’s nearly 200,000 foreigners a year with a direct flight into the Salt Lake City area, along with probably at least another 500,000 or so arriving in Utah via a domestic connection. Multiply these numbers many times over for airports in states like California and New York, then multiply many times over again for the rest of the country. At the end of all your multiplication you’ll have some idea how many foreigners enter the US every year just through its airports. That customs and immigration officials fail to catch more than a small fraction of those likely to overstay their visas for one reason or another is quite understandable once one begins to wrap their arms around the shear magnitude of human movement now taking place on a daily basis throughout the United States and around the planet.

. . .

In 2013 the US Census Bureau issued a press release. In it they reported that one in five US marriages included at least one partner that wan’t native to the United States. Most of these partners (61%) had acquired US citizenship.

I’m not sure how many marriages in Mexico involve at least one partner that’s originally from another country, though I’ve already mentioned one case with which I’m personally familiar. According to one recent CNN story, “roughly 1 million US citizens live in Mexico.” A new US News article mentions a 2013 study prepared by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography that found “a stunning 91.2 percent of Americans in the country don’t have their papers in order.” It seems the US isn’t the only nation with an illegal immigration problem.

In spite of all the data regarding a global population increasingly on the move — often without much regard for national immigration laws — there will still be those that insist open borders are impractical. To be sure, the bureaucratic and physical barriers currently separating many nations will not come down all at once. It would be foolish to suggest they should. As is the case within the European Union, open borders will initially be a fact of life only between nations that share a common border or region with one another.

With that concession to incrementalism out of the way, the trends clearly show that it’s those opposed to open borders that are likely to end up on the wrong side of history. Technology is enabling humanity to fulfill its lust for travel like never before. For more and more of us the capacity to easily visit other countries is already being taken to the next level. More than 9 million Americans are currently living abroad, approximately 4 million more than in 1999. Millions of students around the world now routinely incorporate at least some time at a foreign school into their higher education. For tens of millions of couples, to say nothing of their children and immediate relatives, multinational families are a fact of life. Governments will ultimately have little choice but to accommodate these realities.

I don’t know if the border wall between the US and Mexico will be torn down like its Berlin predecessor was, or will simply comply with the second law of thermodynamics and rust slowly away into the desert soil like an old broken down car abandoned along some forgotten dirt road. Regardless, I’m confident one of these or some similar fate eventually awaits it. Because technology facilitates it and people want it, freedom of movement is here to stay. Though media coverage often makes it appear as though xenophobia is on the march, the data reveal just the opposite to be the case. The nation-state may not be going quietly into that good night, but it’s still going.

You can also follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com.

Other recent articles by Craig Axford that you may enjoy: