Thoughts on Blogging

There were times, before I started this blog, that I thought I had what it takes to be a Pundit. I do have a point of view that is unusual, and that helps. It's ideologically pure and seamless, so far as I can tell. I am, in a word, Right, and the world (including practically everyone who'll ever read this), Wrong. But especially for an ideologue, I tolerate human difference, ideological impurity, and just plain error. I hate the immoderate language that characterizes too much of our modern political discourse. I understand my liberal enemies; after all, at one time I was one of them, or at least, one of them on certain ideological points.

But these things do not make for good punditry. A good pundit needs the desire to be heard, most of all. But also: motivation to write even for nobody, and an eye to controversy. Oh, and also: the ability to write really, really fast, so as to develop volume, volume, volume.

Most of those things I'm just not that strong on. I can, if I work at it, generate a post or two a day. I did for months, anyway. But in the long term, unless I was getting more out of it than I do, I just can't sustain that. And in any case, in this biz you need more than a post a day to keep the traffic coming.

But anyway, the dream of being a Bigshot Pundit was never much more than that. This blog remains of interest to me, because it allows me to "say" all the things I'd like to say to people I may not know now, or ever. It's a diary, but public. It gives me a voice to whisper with, into the darkness perhaps. But even a whisper is enough for I told you so's, or to tell someone who you are. And for that I think, in this internet era, that laying down a record is a great thing. Ten years from now, people will be able to look back and see that way back when, I was a libertarian anarchist with exactly the same views as I now have. (Indeed, you can look back into usenet and see some of my views if you know how to find them, and I've been ideologically pretty constant since about 1995 when I got interested enough in refining my already libertarian political ideology to purchase The Machinery of Freedom and Anarchy, State, and Utopia, on the recommendation of net anarchists that I respected for their writing ability and style.)

Anyway, this brings me enfin to the proximate motivation for all that, which is a letter received from the blue from a reader, one Frank Kelly, who likes this blog. He's just started his own, and thus far I like his stuff. Let's see if he can sustain it; good luck and welcome to the show, Frank.

A little shout-out from the ether keeps you going.

Where Will Anarchists Keep the Madmen?

Actually, the question about the madmen is not really answered, unless you identify them with criminals. But this article by John Sneed is worth the time, laying out the structure of anarchic law and order as many have seen it. Here's Sneed on the advantages of anarchic "prisons" over state-run prisons:
If we assure mobility and a competitive gross wage, then the effort expended by the convict is directly rewarded with a shorter period of confinement or probation. He would have an objective yard-stick by which he could measure his progress. The present parole system administered by often corrupt, bigoted, or politically minded minor bureaucrats would finally be put to death. Prisoner morale would improve, making eventual rehabilitation easier.

As an extension of this point, the convict would be shown directly the value of education. If he committed his particular offense primarily because he had no trade, he will find it to his advantage to learn one. The penal agency may supply education on a profit-making basis, or allow profit-seeking educators to do business within their walls. Thus the convict would have a better chance of returning to a normal life when he regains his freedom.

The penal colony would also generally continue employment of the convict after he has retired his debt. It would be foolish to in effect fire a worker with experience simply because he has now regained his freedom. He will still remain employed by the penal agency but will become free of security restrictions and will be an ordinary worker. Indeed, an agency which does provide employment for 'graduated' convicts would have a strong competitive edge in the recruitment process.

The convict will have a direct incentive to exhibit good behavior. The better risk he appears to the penal agency, the more likely he is to be allowed parole or other freedoms in the interest of increasing his productivity. Good behavior will be rewarded monetarily also, reflecting such declines in marginal cost of security provision as reduced wear and depreciation of guards.

Finally, the agency would be responsive to the demands of the convicts, for they are mobile employees, and not literally prisoners. Thus, with whatever net wage they keep after making their agreed-upon payment to the penal agency or defense company, the convict would be allowed to purchase goods from the non-prison main economy, subject naturally to security constraints, thereby eliminating the current extortion and black marketeering rampant in our prisons. Visitors and mail would no longer be arbitrarily cut off. Conjugal visits, or in some cases the moving of one's family into the prison, would be allowed. Our analog to prison would not be, as today, a brutal institution primarily functioning to teach brutes how to be more brutish, but would become almost a treatment center, a place to learn how to live peaceably in outside society. Our present system only teaches a person how to live in prison.
Similar to my own thoughts on the matter, but this is from 1972. !