Free Liberal

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Problems with geoanarchism?

by Norm Singleton

P.M. Lawrence sends along these thoughts regarding Fred Foldvary's piece on geoanarchism::

"One problem area, the biggest, is the idea that people could effectively secede as individuals if they didn't like what was on offer in a geoanarchist community. This wouldn't be true if - like landlords - all communities were pretty much the same and had taken up all resources. It would be a hollow mockery like pointing unhappy bank customers to the availability of other banks; in a country like Australia they are all much of a muchness. The problem of states would re-emerge in a different form, with the communities working like ground cover plants to make a network externality preventing any shift in the system of uniform geoanarchist communities. The only way there could be true choice is if there were other communities around that were anarchist without the "geo-".

The second problem area is that it is false that using different revenue bases than land tax would make people pay twice, once for the revenue base and once for increased rent arising from the associated services. For one thing, any such rise would of itself indicate that the group had acted to thrust costs onto individuals indirectly; they would not have individually wanted those services if they disagreed with the cost, so it reflects a failure to connect - a creation of something that governs.

But we can see more than this. The assertion would only be true if by some chance the community were a meaningless cover, allowing absentee landlords to laugh all the way to the bank. Most likely, even with a landlord and tenant split, at least the landlords would be part of the community that was not caught in this bind. But before denouncing even that as a mockery, consider that - done properly, say with a distributist approach - there would not be that split. People would not be paying rent but rather owning their own homes and resources. Geoanarchism, or even anything with that much of a Georgist base, presumes an enduring problem with landlordism and gives up on it, preferring palliative care.

Yet clearly the most that would be needed is a decent way for the younger generation to become owners in their turn, without building any concentrations of land resources. The only practicality of a Georgist solution is to deal with a transition, but it risks seducing people into abandoning a principle of non-intervention. The most I would concede against principle is to work within existing tax bases to reduce them, rather than ever raising any part or introducing a new one. At least that way, like Orpheus, we would be leaving without ever looking back.

That of course begs the question of what should be done instead, to provide a revenue base. One, it is no criticism of a critic to ask him to fix a problem before he has the right to point it out (although, as it happens, I can fix it - read on). Two, it presumes too much in a collectivist direction, rather than letting the atomist/individualist approaches have a go first; it makes a presumption in favour of collectivism. Maybe nothing should be done instead, for most things. Three, there is no reason why a community should not, itself, have a pool of revenue generating resources - apart from the very issue of whether there should be ground covering collectivities putting us all at risk anyway. This, after all, is how mediaeval religious foundations used to work, even the commanderies of military orders working at the edges of Christendom. But even they could be oppressive.

I could go into detail on this approach, but it would be going into a new although related topic, and as it happens it would amount to reinventing checks and balances for something quasi-governmental. Far better to adapt Henry Ford's advice for car components and not put it in in the first first place because 'that way it can't break and it can'tn fall off'."

But we can see more than this. The assertion would only be true if by some chance the community were a meaningless cover, allowing absentee landlords to laugh all the way to the bank. Most likely, even with a landlord and tenant split, at least the landlords would be part of the community that was not caught in this bind. But before denouncing even that as a mockery, consider that - done properly, say with a distributist approach - there would not be that split. People would not be paying rent but rather owning their own homes and resources. Geoanarchism, or even anything with that much of a Georgist base, presumes an enduring problem with landlordism and gives up on it, preferring palliative care.

Yet clearly the most that would be needed is a decent way for the younger generation to become owners in their turn, without building any concentrations of land resources. The only practicality of a Georgist solution is to deal with a transition, but it risks seducing people into abandoning a principle of non-intervention. The most I would concede against principle is to work within existing tax bases to reduce them, rather than ever raising any part or introducing a new one. At least that way, like Orpheus, we would be leaving without ever looking back.

That of course begs the question of what should be done instead, to provide a revenue base. One, it is no criticism of a critic to ask him to fix a problem before he has the right to point it out (although, as it happens, I can fix it - read on). Two, it presumes too much in a collectivist direction, rather than letting the atomist/individualist approaches have a go first; it makes a presumption in favour of collectivism. Maybe nothing should be done instead, for most things. Three, there is no reason why a community should not, itself, have a pool of revenue generating resources - apart from the very issue of whether there should be ground covering collectivities putting us all at risk anyway. This, after all, is how mediaeval religious foundations used to work, even the commanderies of military orders working at the edges of Christendom. But even they could be oppressive.

I could go into detail on this approach, but it would be going into a new although related topic, and as it happens it would amount to reinventing checks and balances for something quasi-governmental. Far better to adapt Henry Ford's advice for car components and not put it in in the first first place because 'that way it can't break and it can'tn fall off'."


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Comments

Regarding Lawrence on: "it is false that using different revenue bases than land tax would make people pay twice, once for the revenue base and once for increased rent arising from the associated services. For one thing, any such rise would of itself indicate that the group had acted to thrust costs onto individuals indirectly; they would not have individually wanted those services if they disagreed with the cost, so it reflects a failure to connect - a creation of something that governs."

I don't comprehend that statement. The fact that people are willing to pay a cost does not imply that the cost is warrented. Demand curves slope down, and at a higher price, fewer will buy a good, but some will. It does not justify a sales tax, just because people are willing to pay it.

# posted at by foldvary

Regarding "People would not be paying rent but rather owning their own homes and resources."

Landowners do pay rent, as the purchase price of land is based on the present value of future rents from it. They also pay rent each time they make a mortgage payment, which is rent disguised as interest.

# posted at by foldvary