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Idle questions

Here’s regular Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and occasional libertarian Vin Suprynowicz, in a recent column against so-called Political Correctness in American Universities:

Internationally renowned Austrian economics professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe used a standard textbook example of investment time preferences in a classroom lecture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a few years back, pointing out that gay couples often invest with shorter time horizons[*] because they are less likely to have children to profit from investments that mature after they’re gone.

— Vin Suprynowicz, las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-06-07): Discussing guns dubbed academic misconduct

Actually, what happened is that, in a lecture on time-preference in economics, Hoppe listed homosexuals alongside small children, muggers, murderers, rapists, and democratically-elected politicians, as an example of a group of people whose supposedly high time-preferences supposedly led to destructive or antisocial behavior.

Suprynowicz describes this as a standard textbook example of investment time preference. That’s a claim that makes me curious. Is it really? Can anyone name at least one college economics textbook in common use that cites homosexuals as an example of a group characterized by high time-preferences?

* Actually, the lecture had nothing especially to do with investments or investing in the conventional sense of the word. Hoppe’s examples of actions driven by high time-preference included consumption of snack foods, muggings, rape, and tax increases. On the whole sorry, stupid affair see Jason Kuznicki (2005-02-12): Last Words on Hoppe and GT 2005-02-08: Hoppe and Churchill: On the Justice of Strange Bedfellows.

Dear LazyWeb: local anarchist seeks suggestions for Anarchist Classics Series

Dear LazyWeb,

A lot of my time in the past couple weeks ended up getting eaten by a scheduling issue over Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe which is now seems — insha’Allah — to be resolved. It means we’ll be moving from Wednesday nights to Thursday nights, but it also means that we have a definite reservation in, which is all nice and written down and has a contact number where they can reach me if they need to let us know about anything. And now that we have the scheduling issue apparently resolved, and a stable time more or less locked in, we are planning to expand out our Free Speech Soapbox Series (see GT 2009-01-27 and GT 2009-02-03 for previous mentions), and hopefully to make it a regular thing. One of the ideas that we’ve batted around for slow weeks is to do an Anarchist Classics Series — where the idea would be to read aloud, and then discuss, some classic Anarchist lectures (or, as the case may be, roughly lecture-length essays that are conducive to being read aloud). There are lots of them out there — public speaking, to both general audiences and to movement audiences, used to be a much bigger part of our movement than it is today, and one of my hopes is to do a little something towards reviving that tradition — and some of them are really good. Each reading would hopefully be done by someone who’s relatively familiar with the essay being read, and then followed with some Q&A and discussion.

Before the scheduling troubles cropped up, our plan was to kick off the series with Tucker’s classic, State Socialism and Anarchism: how far they agree, and wherein they differ. Presumably, once everything is firmly back on track, we’ll be able to cover it after all.

But, here’s my question for you, gentle reader: if you were scheduling an event in this series, which lecture or short essay would you recommend to Vegas Anarchist Cafe for a reading and discussion? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Which ones do you think are the most important or interesting to cover, and which are likely to stimulate the best discussions afterwards? (For reference, we have about an hour for the whole event — so the Anarchist Classic in question should be something that can be read aloud in about 30-45 minutes.)

ALLy ALLy oxen free….

Guess who wins a government award, from the Ministry of Cultural Exchange in this secessionist republic of one, for the most attractive ALL local outreach logo?

The answer is Shawn Wilbur, of the Northwest Alliance of the Libertarian Left, with his call for ALLiance in Occupied Cascadia:

Northwest Alliance of the Libertarian Left - Join!

Sure beats my photoshop defacements of tourist traps and paint company logos, anyway. Congrats, Shawn!

Alliance of the Libertarian Left Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee

Now, then. Do you know any individualist anarchists, agorists, mutualists, left-Rothbardians or others on the libertarian left in or nearby any of the following metropolitan areas, who might be interested in getting involved, or getting more involved, in local activism and organizing? (If that description matches you yourself, that's good enough, too.)

If so, please drop me a line with their contact information. I have some requests from prospective local organizers who are looking for people to start locals for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I would love to be able to put them in touch with anyone locally who might be interested.

On the subject of the Organizing Committee website, I’ve been getting some very good suggestions from other ALLies about materials to make available up there, and sketching out a few ideas of my own on paper. Most of these I hope to be adding over the next several days.

The main one that is now available, more or less live, is a feature to provide contact pages specific to each location where the Organizing Committee has gotten inquiries (click through on the links to each city above — for example, Baltimore — to see what it looks like). The main point is to have a landing-pad for each place we get an inquiry from, and to give prospective ALLies more information about how many people are interested in getting organized. Right now, this consists of a landing page, a map with one or more pins representing inquiring ALLies, and a quick count of the number who have inquired. My hope is to make this somewhat more sophisticated over time (right now, it’s mainly just some pretty wrapper over an e-mail form; I hope to add some features to find, e.g., how many people are interested in a particular state, possibly some sort of public Wall feature, etc.). But this will do for a start.

What I’d like to work on for the next few days is adding advice on getting started, on organizing, on ideas for activism, and so on. I’ll be incorporating some of the suggestions I’ve gotten already, and I’d like to put together some pages specifically on:

  1. A step-by-step guide to starting a new ALL local (along the lines of guides like Seven Steps To Starting A Food Not Bombs Group);

  2. Some advice focusing on organizing locals on college campuses, in particular;

  3. A sampler platter of actions and projects that existing ALLs have worked on, with an eye to giving people ideas for what they can do to kick off their ALL local, and what they might do as they get themselves established.

Which leads me to ask you all, gentle readers:

  1. If you have any suggestions, either for particular ideas or pieces of advice to add, or for focused sections that you think would be particularly useful, let me know. Let’s discuss in comments. And…

  2. If you were to pick out a sampler of four or five actions or projects that your own ALL local has worked on, or that some ALLies you know about have worked on, which you would like to add as suggestions for ALL organizers trying to make plans for a new ALL local, what would you pick? Let’s discuss in comments.


See also:

Tribal feud body counts: help me out here

Dear LazyWeb,

Jared Diamond makes the following claim in [his recent article on tribal blood feuds in New Guinea:

Without state government, war between local groups is chronic; co@@c3;b6;peration between local groups on projects bringing benefits to everyone—such as large-scale irrigation systems, free rights of travel, and long-distance trade—becomes much more difficult; and even the frequency of murder within a local group is higher. It's true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

— Jared Diamond, The New Yorker (2008-04-21): Vengeance is Ours

I don’t think that anything interesting about anarchism turns on where this factoid comes from or whether it’s true. (It’s not as if I’m suggesting personal vendetta or communal blood feud as the anarchistic replacement for state court systems. Anarchy as I understand it is an achievement for the future, not a recovery of the past.) But it is a very strong claim, which Diamond asserts without providing a citation to the source for these figures or an explanation of how they were calculated. Presumably he has a particular source, but I’m curious as to what it is.

Anyone know a likely anthropological source for this factoid, or for factoids in the general neighborhood? Help me out here.

ALLy outreach in Vegas: help me out here

Dear LazyWeb,

I am interested in establishing an Alliance of the Libertarian Left chapter in Las Vegas.

My idea is largely to meet a small working group which would be partly about meeting and hanging out with like-minded anarchist types in the neighborhood (potlucks, movie nights, blah blah blah), partly about distributing left libertarian agitprop (for example, William Gillis’s excellent Market Anarchy zine series), and partly a source of contacts and a springboard for affinity groups and new local projects. At least, that’s how I see it; of course I’m just one dude, and I’m also interested to hear more about what other people in the area might be interested in getting set up.

If you’re in the area and you’re interested, feel free to get in touch and I’d be glad to talk some shop via e-mail or over coffee. I live near the UNLV campus, so there are lots of convenient meeting places.

My immediate question, though, is a bit off to one side. One of the things that I hope to do to help make contacts is print up some sheets of business cards that can be clipped in to dropped literature, tacked on bulletin boards, slipped into books, etc. The idea would be to have a card that gives a quick overview of what the Vegas ALL is about, which would be attractive to left-libertarian and black flag types, and then to provide a link they can use to get more information and get in touch with the group. What I’m picturing is a two-sided card, with a logo, Vegas Alliance of the Libertarian Left (or whatever less-boring name we might adopt), and contact information on one side, with a short tagline or paragraph on the other side of the card. My question to you, gentle reader, is what that tagline or paragraph should be.

The ALL website offers the following self-description:

The Alliance of the Libertarian Left is a multi-tendency coalition of mutualists, agorists, voluntaryists, geolibertarians, left-Rothbardians, green libertarians, dialectical anarchists, radical minarchists, and others on the libertarian left, united by an opposition to statism and militarism, to cultural intolerance (including sexism, racism, and homophobia), and to the prevailing corporatist capitalism falsely called a free market; as well as by an emphasis on education, direct action, and building alternative institutions, rather than on electoral politics, as our chief strategy for achieving liberation.

Which is true enough, as far as it goes, but ridiculously long to put on a business card and not much of a hook for getting an interested new contact involved.

After thinking about it for a while, I shortened and spiced it up a bit into something that I’d be glad to use on the local working group’s website, or on a printed flyer, but which is still too long for the back of a business card. (I can, at least, physically fit this on one side, but only with a hard-to-read font and at the cost of making that side of the card look very busy.)

We are individualists, agorists, market anarchists, mutualists, voluntary socialists, and others on the libertarian left. We oppose statism, militarism, sexism, racism, and the prevailing state capitalism fraudulently labeled the free market. We are for peace, individual freedom, truly freed markets, solidarity, voluntary cooperation, and mutual aid. We fight for liberation in Las Vegas through education, nonviolent direct action, and cooperative counter-institutions–not petitions, symbolic protests or electoral politics. We are working to build a new society within the shell of the old.

Given a group that could be accurately described using long descriptions like these, what do you think would make a good fractional, one, two, or (possibly) three sentence slogan, tagline, or introduction for Vegas ALL, to be printed on the back of a business card, with the aim of directing interested sympathizers (who are likely to be heretofore isolated anarchists, or possibly anti-statists currently embedded in other local activist groups) to our website and/or local contact person?

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