Friday, February 15, 2013

Praxeology, Peace, Comedy and Music

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"These Boundless Wonders" is an original weekly column appearing every Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Avery M. Tolliver. Avery is a writer, basketball player, musician and queso dip aficionado. His personal blog can be found here. Archived columns can be found here. TBW-only RSS feed available here.

In the United Fascist Police States, working, saving money and acting within the world of commerce as an employer and employee are radical acts; the banking cartel, bureaucratic power elite, crony capitalists, merchants of war and mercantilists who use force and compulsion to achieve their corrupt ends are the eternal enemies of Peace and Prosperity, so finding ways to “break bad” and circumvent this Empire’s grimy tentacles with peaceful, voluntary transactions is heroic. Sometimes dealing with companies that receive subsidies, use intellectual property laws to “protect” profits, lobby for favorable regulations, etc. is unavoidable. But to the extent that you can work and conduct business outside of this felonious realm, you are a champion of all that is good. Today, however, I’m going to focus on the four most revolutionary activities outside of the radical world of free markets (or, in our mixed economy, free market approximations): studying economics, loudly promoting peace and anti-war sentiment, laughing and creating art.

The Ruling Class is a gang of men and women that produces nothing but war, economic depressions, prison industrialism, institutionalized poverty and hegemonic terror. Sure, these glorified criminals collude with each other and their accomplices to monopolize important services like defense, police and fire protection, road construction and certain “utilities,” but this is ultimately disguised expropriation, not genuine production or provision of services. As Nietzsche once wrote, “Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.” Everything monopolized by the State could be provided by free individuals pursuing profits within the context of the laissez faire aesthetic. All of the laws, regulations, executive orders and tyrannical decrees which the elected and unelected demagogues promote are either camouflaged special interest kickbacks or paternalistic inroads on the few freedoms and liberties that remain. Virtually every congressional session, presidential briefing, and secret meeting of industry and government is intended to promote the cause of the few against the interests of the many. Understanding the real nature of this charade requires a deep understanding of economics and praxeology, an understanding that your rulers don’t want you to possess.

Studying economics requires the ability to understand and make logical and sometimes abstract deductions based on axiomatic principles regarding fundamental human action, with human action defined as all purposive behavior designed to eliminate some uneasiness or produce some form of improvement upon current conditions. The methodology for studying economics in this manner, praxeology, is based on man as he is, not homo economicus or some other ivory tower construct. It makes no value judgments about the specific ends that acting man chooses. Value is subjective. It does, however, use logic and reason to determine if the means sought to achieve certain ends are useful or destructive.

This type of scientific reasoning is usually not automatic. It takes conscious effort on the part of the economics student to “think like an economist” and analyze the world with neutral even-handedness, rather than blind partisanship or unchecked emotionality. Once that lightbulb turns on, however, the student soon realizes that, as the great Ludwig von Mises wrote in his magnum opus Human Action, “[economics] is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man’s human existence.” Being galvanized by the brilliance and reasoning of the great economists makes it impossible to separate what once seemed like non-economic realms of human activity - politics, education, scientific research, art - from the scrutiny of praxeological economics. Praxeology and economic thinking become the lenses through which everything - whether minimum wage laws, bank bailouts, “quantitative easing,” intellectual property, student loans, or art subsidies - is scrutinized.

After the “economic way of thinking” becomes engrained, the abject failures of the Ruling Class’s attempts to centrally plan and manipulate society with intervention after intervention become glaringly obvious. The praxeologist begins to question the very necessity of the State. But what tends to propel many minarchists (those who believe that the government’s role should be that of night watchman - to protect private property and promote contracts) into the radical fields of anarcho-capitalism and voluntarism is the brand of philosophy and ethics that some of the great Austrian School economists have written. Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and others in the Austrian tradition have crafted some of the most poignant indictments of State intervention in the history of recorded thought.

The total integration of logical ethics and sound economics continues to shape and contribute to the intellectual forces so vital to the success of the contemporary liberty movement. Reading Rothbard and Hoppe is important, but you can also help expose The Man Behind the Curtain by communicating, expounding, and applying these ideas on a regular basis. The truth must spread. Nothing short of the survival of mankind is at stake.

Promoting peace and anti-war sentiments is, in addition to studying praxeological economics, a revolutionary act in this early 21st century. The U.S. government is a ruthless Empire that uses terrorism, lies, propaganda and endless bloodshed to maintain its grasp on power. It now spies on American citizens, assassinates whoever it wants, imposes poverty- and death-inducing sanctions on countries that dare to defy its will, and attempts to normalize the modern domestic police state, armed with its flying death machines and cadre of useful idiots. It employs agent provocateurs to collect information on peaceful citizens, including those who attend anti-war meetings. Being anti-war makes you a de facto enemy of the State.

Support websites like Anti-war.com and writers like Glenn Greenwald. Keep-up with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Start a blog, talk to family members and friends, and help spread the message of Peace. No contribution is negligible. As Michael Rozeff wrote on LewRockwell.com, “The U.S. government is currently being run by war criminals... I suggest that Americans donate nothing to either major political party. I suggest not voting at all, but if you feel that you must vote, then write-in a candidate who stands for peace... I suggest boycotting the intellectuals and media figures who support these war criminals. There are hundreds of nonviolent things one can do to register one’s antipathy for war criminals running the U.S., ranging from videos to bumper stickers to T-shirts to banners and more. Free speech is more important than ever. Use your imagination. Do what you can in light of your personal situation.”

Comedy and music are also revolutionary in nature. In the Austro-libertarian world, it can be easy to get bogged-down with heavy reading material and downright melancholy revelations about our existence in a world of violence, taxation, inflation, depressions and wars. Exposing the State is not for the faint of heart. However, it’s important to remember that the State relies on, among other things, fear and intimidation to accomplish its ends. When we can find little moments of silliness, laugh until we cry, or make our spine tingle with musical ecstasy, we are defying the inherent coldness of statolatry and embracing our humaneness. Small acts of rebellion are still acts of rebellion.

The intellectual world of Austro-libertarianism has no shortage of dull and uncreative schoolboy philosophers who can at times exude cringe-worthy pompousness. Some of these bloggers, podcasters and social networking rabble-rousers need to learn how to dance and make fun of themselves, so to speak. Consuming art and comedy and possessing a since of humor are as important as consuming economics-related works. One-sidedness, boringness and myopia are weaknesses which must be crushed.

During my stint in law school, an institution bombarded by statist psychopaths, one of the most spiritually and intellectually stimulating things that I did to counteract my macabre surrounding was to write, record, arrange and produce a rock album. My home studio was my sanctuary. The creative process was grueling, but in the end I produced something that will last forever. Creating a work of art is as much an ego check as it is an ego booster. Understanding and appreciating this dichotomy allows for a unique kind of levity which can be useful in all areas of life.

The acts of studying praxeological economics, supporting peace/anti-war causes and embracing comedy and music have perhaps never been more important or revolutionary. There is nothing more potent than the combination of intellectual and spiritual ammunition. In the Battles of Ideas this combination is, in fact, paramount.