The Crash

For a long time I had conflicting feelings about Bureaucrash. On the one hand, I was encouraged to see a well-funded, well-organized libertarian organization that had broken out of the electoralist trap, was no longer focusing on trying to persuade statist politicians to be less statist, or, even worse, to try to replace them with other statist politicians, and that instead was committed to bypassing that whole shell game in favor of a primary focus on culture jamming, street-level organizing, and other forms of activism directed at ordinary people rather than at the political apparatus and its hangers-on. And I know lots of awesome organizers and activists who have come out of Bureaucrash, I think precisely because of that focus.

On the other hand, Bureaucrash always presented itself as a wing mainly of the American libertarian movement; even while many or most Crashers were not only radicals but anarchists, they spent a great deal of their time hanging out with, and promoting the causes of, reformist minimal statists — a strategy I think to be fundamentally self-undermining. And part of the reason for all this was, of course, that there was always the Competitive Enterprise Institute hovering there, in the background. And besides the institutional ties, in site of the shift in focus and rhetoric, there were still the lingering cultural and rhetorical attachments to the old conservative think-tank-tarian world — notably, a lot of cap-doffing, even in supposedly irreverent culture-jamming, to Capitalism, President Thomas Jefferson, and other idols of libertarian respectability; also what seems to me to have been a lot of crude, or even willful, misunderstanding of the counter-globalization movement, and the critique of multi-statist neoliberalism.

However, as you may have noticed, in recent days CEI has taken some major steps towards relieving me of the burden of ambivalence. If you haven’t noticed, former Crasher Xaq Fixx lays out why in his resignation letter:

Hello Crashers,

I have had the pleasure of working with many of you during our time with Bureaucrash, and some of us have only recently discovered each other. Regardless of whether we are new friends or old allies, I thank you all for your commitment to liberty.

As you all know since the beginning of Bureaucrash the position of Crasher-in-Chief has always been held by very principled libertarians. All were welcomed to be members of the Bureaucrash community so long as they shared the desire to decrease the roll of the state in our lives. Passionate freedom fighters Ryan Oprea, Jason Talley, and Pete Eyre have guided the organization as members and not as top down masters by encouraging people to find their own path to liberty and offering assistance along the way. I had hoped to continue in this tradition if I was passed the sledgehammer. Jason and Pete were some of my earliest supporters, and I thank them for that. There were several other applicants for the crasher-in-chief (CiC) position that I would have gladly worked alongside as they followed the trails blazed by their CiC forerunners.

CEI has decided that tradition has no virtue, and crasher quantity is far more important than crasher quality. Over the past several years they have attempted to exert more control over BC, stifling several pro-liberty projects, hamstringing others, discouraging some issues and encouraging others that fit their narrow vision of liberty that coincides with the interests of their donors. Jason and Pete proved difficult to control, and I would be no better so they hired an outsider with no knowledge of our community. They chose someone that they wouldn’t have to fight with or attempt to mold. I cannot blame them for their hiring decision, because to them it makes sense. Bureaucrash became their brand several years ago and they can do with it what they wish.

Lee Doren to some extent is as much a victim as any of us. He was hired to turn Bureaucrash into a youth outreach organization by a conservatarian think tank. Having no prior knowledge of Bureaucrash tt was not unreasonable for him to expect a crowd that shared similar views. He was also not given help for feedback from CEI after being hired; he was given a site and a password and told to make it work. His views may not be in line with ours, but they are what his superiors were looking for. We could perhaps fault him for taking a job with an organization where he strongly disagrees with the majority of active members, or at least being woefully uninformed about the goals of views of that group but, most likely, he was brought in to reform those things anyway. He is just doing his job, and as this is a voluntary organization we should remember that every government employee is more deserving of scorn and ridicule than he.

Because of CEI’s clear disdain for Bureaucrash’s traditions, and complete lack of respect for all of us, the Crashers, I feel it is time to turn our backs on the Bureaucrash brand. I will no longer be hosting the Podcrash, and will be returning all the equipment to CEI. If they are to offer me the position of Crasher-in-Chief, I cannot in good conscious accept it knowing what they want to turn BC into. I cannot continue to contribute my time, labor, and money to what is becoming a front group for an organization that is aligning itself with the authoritarian right instead of those that love liberty the most.

I would be honored if you would join me in finding somewhere else to unite against the ever growing state. I have created a facebook group, ABC (After Bureaucrash) Action to share some alternatives, and discuss what you want out of them.

Yours in Liberty,
Xaq Fixx

For some excellent commentary, see Brad Spangler’s remarks, Misconception: Radicalism undermines reform efforts. I’d just want to stress, in addition to what Brad has to say, that the kind of co-optation and self-vitiation that Brad talks about aren’t just tendencies, and they aren’t just the work of some clever set of minimal-statist manipulators. I think that they are built in to the electoral-reformist project itself, necessarily and always — that they are structural limitations that you will always face if your politics is hitched primarily to influence the state or trying to gain a base of power within the state. The process itself only admits of certain outcomes, and the process itself also tends to consume those who put themselves into it. (For more on why, see GT 2008-11-14: So you are in favor of personal money holes? and GT 2008-02-25: I am shocked! shocked! to find that politics is going on in here.)

So, depending on how you want to look at things, and how you think of what Bureaucrash was, you might think of this as the dismantling of Bureaucrash by the CEI. Or you might think of it as the liberation of Bureaucrash from the CEI. It all depends on whether you’re interested in the brand or in the substance. If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t matter what kind of shit the CEI decides to call Bureaucrash. What’s matters is what’s going on among those who have come out, who have left the purges and the chickenshit co-optation behind them. And if you’re interested in that, then I think there’s good reason to hope that this particular cutting of strings will lead to a more radical politics of individualism, without the constraints imposed by the think-tank paradigm, and with better connections and stronger ties to their real allies (or ALLies) and conversation partners in the freedom movement — the radicals, not the reformists; the counter-economy, not the Establishment; the anarchists, not the minimal-statists concentrated around the imperial Metropole; that is, the left-libertarians, agorists, mutualists, social anarchists, and the rest of us on the anti-statist radical Left. Here’s hoping, anyway.

So let’s get started. The ex-Crashers are congregating around ABC Action:

ABC Action means After Bureaucrash Action - This group is dedicated to those liberty loving activists that have made BC great over the years but are exploring other options due to the new direction CEI and Lee Doren want to take the organization.

And, for those of you who have a radical sensibility and some rad geekery skills, I especially want to point to Mike Gogulski’s Activism opportunity for liberty-loving geeks, which was the main motivating factor in my putting up this post. Mike says:

I have been asked to start up a small sub-working-group, a task force, if you’ll pardon the term, of active people with the time, inclination, experience and knowledge necessary to provide and manage the technology infrastructure for this effort.

This will include, right away, setup and administration of a new ning.com social-networking site, and probably the same duties for a WordPress blog.

Longer-term, we need to create a new activist platform that goes beyond the capabilities of ning, and which could rival the reach and power of the online campaign management and fundraising systems used by groups like moveon.org, Campaign For Liberty, etc.

Anyone who would like to participate in this tech working group — or perhaps become its long-term leader — is invited to contact me directly, and right now!

Full contact info for me is at http://www.gogulski.com/contact.html

Yours in liberty,
Mike Gogulski

Bureaucrash has long been a focal point for libertarians who are young, focused, practical, radical, passionate, and creative. Now that CEI has made it clear that they want more boring professionalist politicos, the ex-Crasher networks are going to become a focal point for libertarians who are young, focused, practical, radical, passionate, creative, pissed off, and, for the moment at least, have become free of binding ties to gradualism, reformism, conservative small-government types, and their program of governmentalist futility-through-respectability.

A time, then, to strike, while the hammer is free to swing. We are going to dismantle the master’s house, and we are going to build our own damned tools to do it with.

Onward.

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  1. Aster

    Well said! Very seconded! If ALL and ABC could team up, especially if we could encourage them to adopt left-libertarian individualist positions on feminism, ant-racism, LGBT rights, etc., and encourage them to look to the anarchist and radical anti-global-mercantilisation left as potential allies rather than as enemies… well, it would rock.

    Where is the best online frequented by ex-Bureaucrashers forum where passionate conversation could make a difference in changing hearts and minds?

  2. Darian

    Good post, Rad. One thing that might be lost from this is a place to discuss anarchy where it gets the attention of minarchists and hopefully changes their minds. That’s why I hope whatever replaces BC is relatively “big tent” (but not circus big).

    Aster:

    There is a ning network of dissident crashers: http://bureaucrash.ning.com/

    Also http://abcaction.wordpress.com/

  3. Discussed at libertarianchristians.com

    The Fall of Bureaucrash | LibertarianChristians.com:

    […] UPDATE 6/10/09 — RadGeek has a good article explaining the positive aspects of BC’s fall, check it out. […]

  4. Gabriel

    Radgeek do you agree with the sentiment in the letter that every government employee “deserves more scorn and ridicule” than Lee Doren? I used to agree with it, but now I’m not so sure. Surely the thugs running governments deserve the same credit for the present system as the thugs running corporations? And it varies as well - someone working for Toys R’ Us surely deserves less scorn than someone working for ADM or Lockheed; by the same token, professors of Native American Studies deserve less scorn than the people running the DoD. What do you think of all this?

  5. Roderick T. Long

    As a state university employee I must recuse myself on this question.

  6. Rad Geek

    Gabriel,

    Well, I think that Xaq ought to make a distinction between those who work for the parts of government that actually do some governing (e.g. commanders or agents of law-enforcement, the IRS, the military, the regulatory and social work bureaucracies, etc.) and those who work for non-governing institutions that happen, as a matter of historical accident, to be currently under the control of the government (e.g. EMTs and doctors at county or city hospitals, government school bus drivers, professors and researchers at government-subsidized Universities, etc.).

    So for the purposes of deciding who to blame or scorn we need to shift from looking at government as a thing that’s sitting around in particular sorts of buildings, to looking at it as a process which establishes and sustains certain kinds of social relationships. And if that’s what we’re looking at, then it’s going to widen the distinction between, say, cops and EMTs, while also tending to efface the seeming distinction between the thugs who have formal legal power (e.g. legislators or bureaucrats) and the thugs who don’t have a formal title but do effectively act as members of the ruling class and can enlist the power of the State on their behalf through political pull (e.g. blood-money bankers and CEOs of military-industrial complex corporations).

  7. Robert Paul

    Rad Geek,

    I am surprised that you would put all “professors and researchers at government-subsidized Universities” in the non-governing category. While there certainly are quite a few exceptions, such as the Austro-Athenian emperor, many professors today are simply civil servants pushing “scientific public policy.” As such, I think they are unambiguously part of the State and the governing process.

    I feel it is very important to keep this in mind, because even purely scientific fields have been corrupted by this connection.

  8. Discussed at athousandnations.com

    Let A Thousand Nations Bloom:

    The Bureaucrash Crash and Structural Activism…

    Rad Geek has a good post about the recent de-radicalism of Bureaucrash by the CEI, including Xaq Fixx’s statement on his exit as Crasher-In-Chief.  I wore a Bureaucrash “Enjoy Capitalism” jacket today, and Xaq did one of the earliest…

  9. Gabriel

    I think I see what you’re saying; basically people formally employed by the state can be doing things that would be perfectly legitimate if the state didn’t exist, and conversely people not formally employed by the state can be some of the most powerful statists. So I guess professors in literature would be in the former category and professors researching better fighting aircraft and weapons would fall into the latter…

  10. Rad Geek

    As such, I think they are unambiguously part of the State and the governing process.

    Surely this is true of some and not of others. A professor who works on, say, engineering problems related to, say, drone aircraft, or biological warfare is undoubtedly working for the governing part of the government (although she herself may not be doing the governing, she is a facilitating agent of those who do). Indeed, I think this is true whether she works for Auburn University, nominally private Columbia University, or a for-profit contractor like Raytheon. I don’t see how it’s true at all of your average professor in the Classics department, or some adjunct teaching English comp or some grad student teaching Introduction to Computer Science. And in some fields (notably, Law, and Public Health) I expect that it depends a lot not only on the nature of their work but also on the details of their stance and their position within their field. (John Yoo has a very different relation to the State power structure than, say, Catharine MacKinnon.)

    Surely, I don’t mean to suggest that researchers or professors cannot be active participants in, and agents of, the process of government. But unlike, say, government cops or government soldiers, they are not necessarily so in virtue of their mere job description, and I’d happily wager a great deal of money that a large supermajority of them are not, under any plausible understanding of what that comes to.

  11. Robert Paul

    Rad Geek,

    I suppose it depends on how forgiving you’re willing to be. I think we’d agree that a science professor at the local junior college likely has little or nothing to do with the governing process.

    However, the humanities and even some sciences are full of governing agents, particularly at the “elite” universities. There are some professors whose jobs consist of little more than recommending policy initiatives to the executive branch.

    You can also find good examples in the social sciences. A lot of “research” boils down to studying the populace and coming up with new ways of managing it. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about what most so-called economists do in leading universities.

    On top of all this, the universities (and all government schools) serve as a giant propaganda arm for the State. That can easily include your average professor in the Classics department. The effects of this might not be as immediately obvious as those of the examples you gave, but I don’t think we can discount them. Most people believe in the legitimacy and the necessity of the State, as well as the State’s versions of history and science, thanks in no small part to these schools.

    (although she herself may not be doing the governing, she is a facilitating agent of those who do)

    Any recipient of government funding who spreads the idea of statism ought to qualify as a facilitating agent of those who govern. I’m not saying everyone who fits this description has malicious intent or even that they are intentionally acting as facilitating agents. But that State-funded English professor’s offhand, disparaging remark about “free market fundamentalism” in class does serve to confuse students and help those who govern — even if the remark was made in reference to some corporatist nonsense.

    There is a single, pervasive ideology which dominates at most universities, and it is inextricably tied together with the State.

  12. Jim Davidson

    I think a great many university professors and other educators do promote statist agendas and get paid by tax dollars to do it. In a better world there would be more choices outside the state for principled libertarian activists to choose. That some feel obligated to make unpleasant choices is a part of the “oppression inherent in the system.”

    In the world we have, it seems to me, those of us outside the state should do our part to create opportunities to move activities that the state should be no part of into our area of activity. I therefore propose hereby to found a new university, to fund it with proceeds from free market activities, and to attract principled libertarians and anarchists to its faculty. If an anti-state university is of interest to you, please contact me, planetaryjim at yahoo dot com.

    Regards,

    Jim

  13. Discussed at aaeblog.com

    Vale Atque Ave | Austro-Athenian Empire:

    […] Bureaucrash is dead. Long live Bureaucrash! […]

  14. Roderick T. Long

    On top of all this, the universities (and all government schools) serve as a giant propaganda arm for the State. That can easily include your average professor in the Classics department

    Bastiat’s essay Academic Degrees and Socialism argues that it’s specifically Classics departments that are to blame for spreading statism.

    I have a rather more mixed view of the classical heritage than he does, though; I think there are lots of deeply statist/collectivist/militarist/patriarchal/antimarket elements and lots of deeply individualist/libertarian/feminist/promarket elements mixed together in Greek and Roman thought. As always, one must chew carefully.

  15. Robert Paul

    Bastiat’s essay Academic Degrees and Socialism argues that it’s specifically Classics departments that are to blame for spreading statism.

    I’d forgotten that! Thanks. I remember what a joy it was to see that essay for the first time. It was one of those cases where you’ve come to some conclusion yourself, and then you see someone you respect had already reached the same conclusion. In this case, it was Bastiat’s targeted attack on state credentialism.

    On a related note, I sometimes wish libertarians talked more about education, especially from a leftist, anti-schooling perspective. There’s a stark contrast between the statist, pro-schooling leftists and the more libertarian anti-schooling types.

  16. Gabriel

    “Anti-schooling” might be a bit too far - libertarians favor non-statist education and “free skools” and the like. It’s statist propaganda and the monopolization of schooling that is a problem.

  17. Nick Manley ~ Legal Name

    Jim,

    I am friends with Marsha Enright on Facebook. We have some likely differences on issues of foreign policy ~ don’t believe she’s as much of a peacenik as me. That’s to be expected of someone more part of orthodox Objectivist thought than me.

    She does seem to be a very well intentioned individual engaged in promoting educational methods that allow individuals to think for themselves. This is why I am very interested in a project she is involved with. A college with a classical liberal bent is coming into existence: http://www.rifinst.org/

    Not sure if all the faculty will be of the political origin you approve of. Nonetheless, it’s an attempt to bring the Mont. method of education to the collegiate level. I may go to the trial seminar of it this July to check it out.

  18. Robert Paul

    Jim,

    That some feel obligated to make unpleasant choices is a part of the “oppression inherent in the system.”

    You are definitely on target with this. State credentialism (which includes legal privileges afforded to holders of credentials, legal barriers that serve to restrict free market activity, and the myth that government-backed credentials really matter) forces people to choose between working to “earn” a State-sanctioned credential at some horrible school and facing unwarranted discrimination.

    I’ll send you an email; I’m always interested in hearing about alternative methods of education.

  19. Robert Paul

    Gabriel,

    “Anti-schooling” might be a bit too far - libertarians favor non-statist education and “free skools” and the like. It’s statist propaganda and the monopolization of schooling that is a problem.

    I know libertarians are not required to be anti-schooling — I was talking about a subset of leftists, including some left-libertarians such as myself.

  20. Nick Manley ~ Legal Name

    She’s actually friends with both Chris S and a left-lib market anarchist, so she seems pretty willing to talk within the broad orbit of what’s considered Libertarian or market liberal thought. I considered going to the college. The educational plan promises an environment where teachers don’t go after you for asking critical questions. It also promises an exposure to both Marx and classical liberal thinkers. The college’s old liberal bent is evident, but they don’t seem to discourage people from being “outrageously” contrary. There are some major financier types behind it ~ people who worked at Merril Lynch or somewhere. I don’t recall how high up they were. There is some guy involved with capitalist pig hedge fund. I imagine this might not be super agorist enough for you, Jim. You should still give it a look.

  21. Rad Geek

    Robert Paul,

    You can also find good examples in the social sciences. A lot of “research” boils down to studying the populace and coming up with new ways of managing it.

    Well, there are a few disciplines like that. And many sub-disciplines within some larger discipline that are like that (e.g. some areas of Psychology and not others). But as I said in connection with public health an Law, I think that a lot of this depends on the details of the situation ad on how influential the person involved actually is in her field. Even some hypothetical researcher who published volume after volume of research on, say, how best to torture people into compliance with arbitrary orders would not, I think, count as being employed by the governing part of the government, even if she worked for a state-subsidized University, unless there was actually some kind of uptake on her proposals in such a way as to influence the actual conduct of government. When Alan Dershowitz writes a book on torture that actually influences legal opinion within the Bush administration, on the other hand, that’s something different.

    On top of all this, the universities (and all government schools) serve as a giant propaganda arm for the State. … Most people believe in the legitimacy and the necessity of the State, as well as the State’s versions of history and science, thanks in no small part to these schools.

    Sure, but…

    Any recipient of government funding who spreads the idea of statism ought to qualify as a facilitating agent of those who govern.

    … this seems obviously way too broad to me.

    There’s a difference between an individual happening to propagandize for the state and an institution functioning as a propagandist for the state (imagine that some random government school-bus driver tells plays “I’m Proud To Be An American” on the PA every morning; that may propagandize the kids in favor of the state, but it’s hard for me to see how that bus driver would count as significantly more a part of the process of governing than any random private person on the street who indulged in the same kind of patriotically-correct propagandizing.)

    And, further, there’s a difference between functioning as a propaganda ministry and being employed as a propaganda ministry. If Goebbels had suddenly decided to stop advocating the party line in his radio broadcasts, then he wouldn’t have kept his job within the Nazi regime. But in the present cultural context in the U.S.A., Classics professors can generally go on being Classics professors whether they advocate hyper-statist, mixed, or anarchistic views of Antiquity; they can be militaristic or pacifistic; they can be patriarchal or feminist; and still keep their position more or less as-is within the academy. (And there are lots of well-respected people in Classics who do advocate the less statist, more liberatory, and more anti-militarist views.) In a situation like that, it seems clear to me that they are clearly being employed for something other than just the facilitation of governing, and they don’t deserve the same response as those who are more clearly acting as hirelings.

    Of course, that’s dependent on, among other things, the University system preserving a certain amount of cultural autonomy and academic freedom. If we were in a social context without that kind of autonomy and intellectual freedom, my attitude towards the position of University professors and researchers would be correspondingly different.

  22. Rad Geek

    Robert Paul,

    On a related note, I sometimes wish libertarians talked more about education, especially from a leftist, anti-schooling perspective. There’s a stark contrast between the statist, pro-schooling leftists and the more libertarian anti-schooling types.

    I definitely agree with you about that, and I think it’ll be a damn shame if the right-wingers (what with their home-schooling movement connections) end up being more credible on alternatives to institutionalized mass education than left-libertarians do. It makes me want to tear my hair out any time some liberaltarian type starts talking about government schools as obviously one of the social programs to oppose-in-principle-but-deproiritize-fighting-against in the revision of libertarian priorities, as if they were of a piece with WIC or food stamps or other crutch programs the state currently runs. In fact, while I have no desire to go around shuttering the doors of existing government schools, I think that the abolition of state-controlled accreditation and of mandatory attendance laws is one of the most important things that left-libertarians need to get behind, because institutionalized schooling is one of the most actively harmful rights-violating programs that the government runs outside of the actual dropping of bombs and shooting of people. Most kids would be better served by spending all day eating Cheetos playing Wii than they are by the government schools that they are forced to attend; Wii, at least, does no real harm, whereas elementary, middle and secondary school do active damage to kid’s ideas, attitudes, habits, and reasoning capacities; subjects them to constant prison-yard terror; and typically leaves most kids actively worse off than they would be if they were just left the hell alone.

  23. Gabriel

    Left libertarians for… kids goofing off playing the Wii? Somehow I don’t think that will work as a good slogan, true though the thought behind it may be. :)

  24. Roderick T. Long

    I know some constituencies with whom it’d work pretty well ….

  25. Darian

    Reminds me that I meant to finish that ALL antischool zine this week.

    Shit. I gotta get busy.

  26. Discussed at rmangum2001.wordpress.com

    Bureau crack-up « A Terrible Blogger is Born!:

    […] weeks because I’ve been swamped with writing for my other job. Suddenly, I hear that all the radicals are fleeing from Bureaucrash. It seems that the new “Crasher in Chief” is a conservative named Lee […]

  27. Robert Paul

    (imagine that some random government school-bus driver tells plays “I’m Proud To Be An American” on the PA every morning; that may propagandize the kids in favor of the state, but it’s hard for me to see how that bus driver would count as significantly more a part of the process of governing than any random private person on the street who indulged in the same kind of patriotically-correct propagandizing.)

    The difference here seems obvious to me. The bus driver is funded by the government, and is afforded a captive audience by the government.

    Of course, that’s dependent on, among other things, the University system preserving a certain amount of cultural autonomy and academic freedom. If we were in a social context without that kind of autonomy and intellectual freedom, my attitude towards the position of University professors and researchers would be correspondingly different.

    Ah, I think this is the source of our disagreement. It is true that, in theory, the university system is meant to have academic freedom, and there are plenty of examples of professors loudly proclaiming anti-statist views without being fired. However, as in any rigidly hierarchical system, those who parrot establishment views are at an advantage.

    Thanks to the university system’s ties to the State, self-selection causes universities to fill up with people who sincerely believe in the benevolent power of the government. Again, there are many exceptions, but the prevailing ideology in universities is overwhelmingly statist.

    The modern university system is now far, far removed from the ideal of a free center of learning and research. As I said, universities have been so corrupted by State incentives that the truth is now stifled even in the natural sciences.

    The uniformity of thought seen in today’s universities is striking. The university system today plays the same role the Catholic Church once did. Professors (again, with some exceptions) form the priesthood, and they use State power to spread lies which not coincidentally lead to increases in State power. And again, malicious intent is not even required.

    Not all of this speaks directly to your point, but I wanted to emphasize just how severe the damage has been.

    I definitely agree with you about that, and I think it’ll be a damn shame if the right-wingers (what with their home-schooling movement connections) end up being more credible on alternatives to institutionalized mass education than left-libertarians do.

    Hear, hear. Opposition to institutionalized mass education is about as left - libertarian a position as can be.

    Most kids would be better served by spending all day eating Cheetos playing Wii than they are by the government schools that they are forced to attend; Wii, at least, does no real harm, whereas elementary, middle and secondary school do active damage to kid’s ideas, attitudes, habits, and reasoning capacities; subjects them to constant prison-yard terror; and typically leaves most kids actively worse off than they would be if they were just left the hell alone.

    I absolutely agree with this. It applies to universities as well — perhaps to a lesser extent, though, since the coercion used is more subtle and the students are older.

  28. Marja Erwin

    It’s not like we have any shortage of intelligent, unemployed, and highly-educated left-libertarians (except in the sense that we have a shortage of every type of left-libertarian).

  29. Rad Geek

    Robert Paul:

    I absolutely agree with this. It applies to universities as well — perhaps to a lesser extent, though, since the coercion used is more subtle and the students are older.

    I think there’s an important difference between those schools that handle students under the age of 16 and those that handle students over the age of 16. The reason is because, while it’s true that a lot of students are pressured into finishing high school and going to college who might not otherwise choose it by (among other things) state-sponsored credentialism, they can’t send a cop to arrest you if you choose not to go to class, and they don’t presume to have the right to physically prevent you from leaving campus if you choose not to go. (Even upper-level high school tends to be a lot better, in various ways, from the first couple years, in spite of sharing an institutional structure with those lower years — simply because students do have the option to drop out.)

    I could spend a long time complaining about all the problems I have with the American University as it currently exists, and the ways in which state funding and state control have burdened, co-opted, corrupted, brutalized and distorted it. But it’s a very different sort of thing from, and it’s really got nothing on, the sort of minimum-security prisons (or not even minimum, if you happen to live in poor neighborhoods in, say, Detroit or New York) into which younger children are marched and corralled.

    The difference is a lot like the difference between, say, working for some state-capitalist minimum-wage hell like McDonald’s or Taco Bell, and working prison labor at 25 cents an hour. Both are objectionable and both would be undermined or eliminated in anarchy, but there is an important difference between the two, which is closely connected with their different relationships to the direct exercise of State power.

  30. Robert Paul

    I think there’s an important difference between those schools that handle students under the age of 16 and those that handle students over the age of 16.

    I agree, although it seems to be a difference in degree and not in kind, as libertarians are fond of saying when we discuss slavery and taxation.

    Both are objectionable and both would be undermined or eliminated in anarchy,

    Agreed.

    but there is an important difference between the two, which is closely connected with their different relationships to the direct exercise of State power.

    In the context of schools and universities, what do you mean by this? High schools and universities seem to have much more in common than McDonald’s jobs and prison labor, even if we’re only talking about their relationships to the direct exercise of State power.

    I don’t disagree with your very negative evaluation of minimum-security prisons for younger children, as you called them. I guess, when it comes to the university system, my view is even more negative than yours?

  31. Rad Geek

    Robert Paul:

    In the context of schools and universities, what do you mean by this? High schools and universities seem to have much more in common than McDonald’s jobs and prison labor, even if we’re only talking about their relationships to the direct exercise of State power.

    Well, the salient point of analogy has to do with whether you can leave if you choose to, or whether trying to leave will get you arrested, shackled or beaten up by a heavily-armed Enforcer type.

    People who would otherwise prefer not to work at minimum-wage hellholes, or who continue to slog through high school and college, and who aren’t getting much out of it, often choose to do so anyway, because they feel they don’t have a lot of viable options — and, as it happens, although they may not realize it, the constraints on their economic options have a lot to do with the ripple-effects of background government constraints on alternatives to the economic status quo.

    On the other hand, people who would otherwise prefer not to do prison labor, or to go to classes at an elementary school, middle school, or high school, do so anyway because the know that if they did not go a cop or a prison guard would come around to beat them up for their impudence and force them to do it against their will.

    Being financially pressured into being somewhere you’d rather not have to be sucks, and if it’s the indirect ripple-effect of background state coercion then the Revolution repudiates it, but it is importantly different from being physically forced into being somewhere you’d rather not have to be by the direct threat or use of physical violence. It’s importantly different for the students, and also importantly different for the teachers (=) who then have to teach under such conditions. The institutional environments that result from the former will have certain things in common with, but many important differences of, institutional environments that result from the latter.

    (=) Which is why I quit substitute teaching in government schools, which I did for a while back in Michigan, but continue to teach kids at CTY. The important difference has nothing really to do with performance on academic tests and everything to do with the fact that my students at CTY aren’t forced to take my class against their will.

  32. Robert Paul

    Rad Geek,

    I think I understand your point. But for some people, it does work out that the K-12 system is easier to escape from than the university system. Although this freedom is under attack, if a child’s parents are willing (yes, a big if), it is still relatively easy to opt out of K-12 and take the GED later to satisfy any legal requirements. The university system, on the other hand, doesn’t have any simple alternatives. Want to go into a career that has some bullshit credential requirement? Too bad, you have to go to school. Want to get a well-paying job? Odds are, your potential employers don’t care at all about your K-12 schooling or lack thereof. But they do expect a four-year university degree, because, hey, it matters so much and everybody has one anyway, right? The result of this is more and more young people facing enormous pressure to attend four years of university, and probably load up on debt in the process. It’s generally much more difficult to make up for the lack of a college degree than it is to take the GED.

    I do agree that K-12 schools are more prison-like than universities, but I don’t think we can say with absolute confidence that, for any given person, K-12 caused more damage than the university system.

  33. Discussed at darianworden.com

    DarianWorden.com» Blog Archive » New Liberty Activism Group:

    […] who found that their interests do not match those of the Competitive Enterprise Institute have left Bureaucrash. Some of them are building a new independent organization, the Free Agents Network. They’ve […]

  34. Gabriel

    What do you mean by “regulatory and social work bureaucracies”? The other agencies you listed (IRS, military, etc) are all pretty clearly associated with “governing”, but what are the other kinds of branches of government you have in mind that necessarily are evil as part of what they are doing?

  35. Rad Geek

    Gabriel,

    What do you mean by regulatory and social work bureaucracies?

    Alphabet-soup regulatory agencies like the FTC, FCC, SEC, EPA, and so on, as well as state-level regulatory bodies like medical boards, Departments of Public Health, and the like, all have substantial autonomous power to frame and to enforce legally binding rules, independently of elected office-holders, and have the power to impose fines or criminal punishments for violating their rules. Similarly for case workers from the social work, public health, and child welfare bureaucracies, like DCFS, Departments of Public Health, and Departments of Mental Health, who can, on their own authority, forcibly abduct children, commit parents to prison, or force clients into a locked psychiatric ward.

    (The main difference between the two kinds of bureaucracy, for whatever it’s worth, is that the regulatory bodies typically govern by inflicting general rules on everyone, whereas social work and child welfare bureaucrats typically govern by edict in particular cases.)

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