Perhaps you’ve heard it said that taxes are theft. We work hard for our income, and the government just comes right in and takes the money that we earned without our consent! That’s stealing! The government steals. Now, the government can legally do many things that private individuals cannot do. It can confine and relocate people against their will. It can kidnap children. It can even commit violence if it deems it necessary for a safe society. However, the one thing people cannot abide over any other crime is theft. Nobody cares about foster kids, criminals, and immigrants, and so state intervention only matters where my finances are concerned!

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Big Government when it comes to people I don’t like; small government when it comes to me

One of the more prominent libertarian thinkers that popularized the concept of illicit taxation is Robert Nozick in his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (so titled because libertarianism, as an extreme reduction of state, is inherently anarchistic). Nozick presents a thought experiment which I will paraphrase in order to use really simple maths. You work 40 hours a week, making $100 an hour. You’re doing all right. That’s $4000 a week, but the government decides that it’s going to tax you 10% of your earnings, and takes away $400. What this essentially means is that for the last four hours of your work week, you’re working for free under the authority of the government. The higher the taxes, the more unpaid working hours. This isn’t just theft, it’s slavery! Maybe this is why people just fuck about on Friday afternoons, as a means of sticking it to the The Man for having to endure slavery wages just before the weekend.

While there are certainly problems with this argument, we’ll leave it as is for now.

Let’s turn to the feudal system. The peasant produces $4000 worth of goods, and has to pay his lord $400 each week. Similar to the slavery tax system illustrated above. Now, let’s mix it up a bit. The peasant is still producing $4000 worth of goods, but instead of paying the lord taxes, the lord collects the $4000, and pays the peasant $3600 for his labour. Ha! Ridiculous, right? Okay, let’s be a bit more realistic.

The peasant is still producing $4000 worth of goods, but instead of paying the lord taxes, the lord collects the $4000, and pays the peasant $400 for his labour.

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If that. Isn’t it nice having a say in how taxation will affect the community? Democracy sure is great. I wonder if such a concept has ever been imagined in the second scenario?

If the peasant’s labour really only costs $400 a week, then the extra $3600 is what famed beard-haver Karl Marx called surplus value: money that is added on to the cost of production basically so the person (or minority of people) who own that production can continue to grow their wealth without having to actually do anything. In a word, profit. This money, more or less equivalent to the stolen taxes of our initial example, does not go to community projects, however, but to the pockets of a private owner.

The issue that people are going to take with my examples is likely going to be that of consent. So you might think, well, I didn’t agree to no social contract, why should I abide by it and pay these exorbitant taxes!? And you’re right, that is a legitimate criticism of the social contract theory. Abide by the social contract under which you are born or go to jail is not a meaningful choice in any sense. Social contracts are not inherently just, and resistance against them may be legitimate. Universal acquiescence is no form of morality.

What about our second peasant who is paid wages instead of owning his own labour and paying taxes? Nozick and other libertarians would say that they agreed to this contract with the lord, and if they don’t like it, they could quit and get another job as like a blacksmith or something. Nozick says that not getting a livable wage is like being rejected by the prettiest girl at the dance. Everyone wants to date the prom queen, but if that doesn’t work out, you just keep going down the list of available women until finally you get to the partner that is manipulative and abusive, and you stay with them because nobody wants to die alone. Again, this is a paraphrase of his argument, but he literally says that since it’s fair for women to reject us (he’s big into hetero masculinity), it’s fair for companies to reject us from livable conditions too. Kind of important to consider this the next time the libertarians in the alt-right talk about being entitled to women’s bodies.

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Or the liberal media, apparently

Nozick’s argument makes all kinds of terrible assumptions. For example, ownership is often inherited or influenced by nepotism, even entrepreneurs typically come from already wealthy families, which would be the equivalent of the prom queen being passed down through the generations of prom kings rather than through any merit-based wooing process; women don’t have a systematic incentive to be abusive and manipulative the way profit-driven companies do; and nobody’s child will starve if their parent can’t get a date. If the dating system is rigged so that the suitor has only the most abysmal options available, and they’ll die if they don’t pick one, then the metaphor might be more appropriate. It would also make those dating shows that much more interesting to watch.

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But this time, if you’re voted off, you can’t afford your kid’s desperate medical operation

If we acknowledge that the “choice” between accepting the social contract or jail is not a choice, then it follows that the “choice” between accepting tyrannical labour conditions or death is not much of a choice either. If taxation is theft, it’s not much of a stretch to use the same argument against surplus value. Both involve others profiting off of labour in which they take no part.

Except, in order for a community to function as a community, participation in its maintenance is required. Communities are a collective. It’s not something that’s debatable. Taxation is a fairly straightforward and simple measure to extract funding for that maintenance, and income tax is a fairly equitable way of going about it. Universal acquiescence is certainly dumb, but thinking for two seconds about how a community works and what that would require very quickly reveals the need for public options funded by the collective.

The theft of the ownership class has no other motive beyond personal gain. If you had to choose between one theft or the other, why are we so quick to pounce on taxes instead of the exploitation of labour? Denouncing the community while advocating greed is the whispered maxim of capitalists.

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Maybe not so much whispered as shouted from the rooftops. Remember when unbridled avarice was considered a bad thing?

Or you could abandon both forms of theft and embrace true anarchism. Not the anarcho-capitalism of modern libertarianism, but left libertarianism. Libertarian socialism. Anarchy. Take it for a spin. See how you feel.

As someone on the left wing, communism tends to come up every now and then, often as more of an accusation than anything else. Now, people don’t generally understand what communism is, and whatever, but when people describe what they think it is, what they inevitably end up describing is the basic structure of a multinational corporation: a small, unelected group of elites holding tyrannical power over all those under their jurisdiction, dictating from on high the direction the collective will follow, and also everyone at the bottom is impoverished and starving.

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Communism: Because believing in propaganda is easier than reading books!

If the Soviet Union failed because Joe Comrade was starving rather than living in utopian abundance, then why isn’t Apple considered a failure when it has enduring criticisms of sweatshop labour conditions? Poisonous work environments and suicide epidemics? And of course, child labour, because why not? I mean sure, Apple has made a few people very, very rich to the point where movies get made about them, and now we have a whole new kind of addiction that drug addicts of the past could never even conceive of, which, I guess, kudos for changing the world, but if Stalin invented the iPhone instead of Steve Jobs, would that really change our opinion of the USSR as a country? I mean, for the sake of argument, if a company that had fruit in its name were to indirectly hire a mercenary army to overthrow a democratic government, we’d rage with equal fury to Russian interference in an election, right?

Consider Saudi Arabia. What you might not know about the Saudi kingdom is that it is technically a “socialist” state, similar to the “socialism” of the Soviet Union… Not, you know, real socialism, but the fake propaganda socialism we’ve been talking about that is interchangeable with communism. The Saudi state owns the oil production within Saudi Arabia. And wouldn’t you know it, people go nuts for that shit. People love oil, maybe even more than their iPhones. And much like the Soviet Union, the human rights record in Saudi Arabia isn’t all that great either. And, for added serendipity, it recently endured what could quite easily be compared to a Stalinistic purge. Comparisons for days!

The Saud family is hella rich. Richer than Steve Jobs. Does that mean that we have finally found that successful communist state that those on the Right routinely demand of their progressive interlocutors? I suppose that depends on a long series of ever-changing definitions. Unfortunately, nobody ever calls Saudi Arabia communist, mostly because that would lead to conflicting propagandas.

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MbS: The revolutionary new face of the definitely-not-communist Wahhabi regime

The differences between a privately-owned company and a privately-owned country are slim. The only objective measure of success seems to be economic (Apple would never change its working conditions if it thought it wouldn’t lose any money from the blowback; I mean, they’re still doing it, and still making money, so). Subjectively, all you have to do is play ball with the Western powers, and people will literally define words differently to suit you.

What made the Soviet Union a failure was that the people were oppressed by a tyrannical government. The solution, according to even the propaganda, is having the people direct their own future by collectively agreeing which direction they wish to go: you know, democracy. Well, the same applies to any company: the workers should direct their own future and collectively agree which direction they wish to go: you know, socialism (not communism… it’s different. Learn what words mean).

There’s a lot of accusations flying around about certain groups, individuals, and local white male terrorists saying that they are misogynist. It’s a fair claim. A lot of their actions possess underlying, or even blatantly overt, violence directed towards female humans. Misogyny is the hatred of women, but do these men actually hate women? From the common progressive standpoint, obviously, and to question that canon is essentially to turn in your progressive credentials. However, claiming the alt-right, the incels, the white supremacists, and the Jordan Petersons hate women is kinda like saying terrorists hate our freedom. It’s painting the antagonist with purposefully broad strokes to make the Manichean dichotomy easier to propagandize.

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All this could be solved if our glorious leader and their wicked despot had a cage match on Pay Per View.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote that women struggle to rebel against men because they are dispersed throughout every category; blacks, whites, rich, poor, and so on; all of them have women. Women cannot simply cleave themselves from their biological counterpart, and even though whites and blacks could eliminate one another, Jews could eliminate every last gentile and vice versa (as has been attempted), women cannot get rid of men. This makes rebellion against male dominance much more complicated. While de Beauvoir was writing about the predicament of being woman, the same holds true for men. Man cannot wholly rebel against women. Hatred that longs for catastrophic destruction of the thing hated is a non-starter. Misogyny in its purest sense is just implausible.

Elliot Rodger, the champion of misogyny, killed a whole mess of people because women collectively decided not to have sex with him. Is it fair to say he hated women when Rodger clearly desired them? A love/hate relationship could be argued, but I think that is far too simplistic. Rodger believed that women should have sex with him. They did not, which means that women were not fulfilling their role as sex-havers. It was this dereliction of duty that drove him towards violence.

Let’s look at another example. The Jordan Peterson clip I hyperlinked earlier shows Peterson describing why women cannot participate in rational discourse: men can’t be physically abusive toward women because of social norms, and violence is the only thing that keeps discourse rational between men, therefore women can say the craziest shit in the world, and men can’t rough them up for being so dumb. This creates feminism, I guess. This is stupid for many reasons, the most glaring being that it ignores the fact that men commit violence against women all the God damn time, but what makes it allegedly misogynistic is that it conceives of “woman” in a specific way. “Woman” is not rational, “woman” relies on notions of chivalry for her own benefit, chivalry is a thing, etc. Now I doubt that Jordan Peterson hates women, he makes sure to mention that he married one after all, but it’s clear that his beliefs about women have something wrong with them.

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Women! Amirite?? If men could just somehow commit violence against them, then none of this would ever have happened!

What’s the link between Elliot Rodger and Jordan Peterson? They both define “woman” as something that women as people cannot be. Women are autonomous, freely-choosing human beings. “Woman” is not irrational, nor is she a sex-haver, in the way an inkwell is an inkwell. Peterson and Rodger categorize women in such a way that eliminates her humanity. Certainly women can be irrational; they can also have sex. The problem is that defining women in such a way limits their freedom, and when you demand they act in a certain way that they naturally cannot adhere to 100% of the time, you’re bound to be disappointed (especially during an age when a lot of women have been empowered enough to not give a shit about what you think).

What we’re calling the hatred of women is the enforcement, through words or deeds, of an anachronistic (if not outright fictional) idea of “woman.” If some woman decided to have sex with Elliot Rodger, he likely would have been fine with her (up until she stopped). If a woman agreed with Jordan Peterson, he’d think she was a-okay. Conform to these ideas, and the hatred disappears. It’s not hateful attitudes that is driving these men, but the idea of what a woman should and should not be. Were Elliot Rodger to say, “I want to have sex with a woman,” what he means when he says “woman” and what someone else might hear are two totally separate notions.The problem isn’t hatred; the problem is that these ideas of what is “woman” are wrong.

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Women are biologically determined to conform to their social role

If you believe that women should be or perform Y, and you don’t have any problems with women who are and do Y, you will never self identify as someone who hates women. You’ll just be wrong, and if you act on your wrong beliefs to shame, abuse, or kill women who do not fit into this fantastical mould that you’ve created in your mind, then you are raging against human beings for being human.

And you need to stop.