A public development of my political and philosophical musings. Occasional thoughts on current events. Primarily for personal satisfaction.

Monday, December 22, 2003


Hello and welcome to my web log. As with most blogs, I established it and now write it because I want to find out if I have anything worthwhile to say. A somewhat vain and probably vain attempt to help develop and organize my political and social thinking and get your feedback to polish it.

I used to be much more informed about issues I care about and had well developed thoughts on most areas of public interest. And because I used a process different in some fundamental way from everyone else’s, I generally came to conclusions sharply at odds with the prevailing points of view. That made political discussions cumbersome—not only did I have to explain what I thought on some particular topic, but I had to explain the entire structure of my thinking on that topic. This constant necessity of educating the other person made debates something of a pain in the ass, limited my discussion partners to the patient and the passionate. So I picked my battles carefully and over time increasingly just kept my mouth shut—it’s too much trouble. Nobody whose opinion matters cares what I think anyway, so it’s all just so much wheel spinning and masturbation. Life’s too short.

But I’ve noticed a problem creeping in. Since I don’t generally subject my thoughts to criticism, my thinking is becoming sloppy. Finding out what parts of my arguments aren’t convincing to others (and why) is vital for properly formed thoughts. Besides, all sorts of things sound wonderful when they live only in my head, but when I try to put them out into the world, I’m surprised at how weak they sound. They’re incomplete or don’t add up. I’m sure you’ve experienced that—trying to describe a thought and, when you’re done, wondering “is that all there is? I must be forgetting something.” The structure was so beautiful in your head, what happened? It’s just not as brilliant as you thought and you didn’t realize it until you said it out loud.

With the wonders of modern technology, I can fix this whole problem at once. Instead writing everything down in a journal, showing that journal to nobody, and then trying to recreate my arguments at a party and generally failing (in part because I get interrupted at precisely the wrong moment so that people think I mean something very different from what I do mean), I can now put it here, look at it, revise it, get other people’s thoughts, revise some more. A great process if it works.

As for me, I’m an idealistic pragmatist. Although I arrived at my point of view independently of any political philosopher, it seems most closely to fall into the category “anarcho-syndicalist.” In politics and government, I’m basically a libertarian; in economics, I’m basically a communist. My preference is for a society without private property or governmental coercion, where people live together and cooperate because they want to, because they believe it is in their best interests. And I believe this is in everyone’s best interests and they would choose it if they made a truly informed and free choice. But I’m not stupid—I know that’s not going to happen. Within the realm of the possible, the best system is clearly a sort of capitalism-lite: a market-driven economy with a strong social safety net.

You will probably find me surprisingly conservative for an anarchist. Sometimes my pragmatic side will support something quite different from what my idealistic side wants, because I feel it represents the compromise most in keeping with the central goals of my ideal (human dignity, freedom from coercion, and communal rights to basic resources). I have no patience for the “smash the state” anarchists whose tireless dedication to the most superficial and self-congratulatory aspects of their belief system guarantees their marginalization and failure.

Since I will probably spend a lot of time criticizing the United States and it’s culture and economy, I feel the need to be clear on one point: I am an unreserved and unapologetic patriot. Whatever its faults (and, yes, there are many), the United States is still the world’s greatest exporter of freedom, democracy, and basic human liberty. You can argue that no country should have the power we have, but you cannot argue that some other country would be more responsible with it. Since a superpower does exist (for the time being anyway), the world is damn lucky it’s us.

Probably, this blog will develop two areas: general political philosophy, which my idealistic side will rule, and some current events, in which my pragmatic side will dominate. Try not to make any assumptions about my thoughts and values. I will do my best to mean precisely what I say, and I rarely mean more. Occasionally, I’ll make reference to myself as a ‘one worlder.’ But I have no faith whatsoever in the United Nations. None. I simply observe that there are so many resources, opportunities, and lives wasted for no better reason than to maintain national borders—and the borders are maintained to protect the power structures within each border, rather than the inhabitants. Nations are artificial constructs and ‘national sovereignty’ is an concept unworthy of the respect we give it.

So when I describe myself as a one worlder, I’m thinking of that waste. As far as the government, I suppose I’m picturing something like the United State of Planet Earth. For my first essay, I’ll explain what I mean by the United States because I’m starting to see that if I allow this introduction to meander to a natural conclusion, it never will. This should be good enough to get started.
Just in case: All rights reserved, Copyright 2006 Ignatius Byrd

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