Molto Grazie

They say nobody knows you when you’re down and out – but wow, it sure isn’t true in my case. The outpouring of support and assistance from the libertarian community has been tremendous – over $5000 in gifts and loans in just two days, from all around the world, whether from old friends or from people I’ve never even met. To say that it has exceeded my expectations would be an understatement; it simply takes my breath away. Thank you all so much.

Once I’ve got my own situation together again I’d like to do what I can to “pay it forward” by contributing in some way to the creation and funding of some sort of libertarian mutual-aid network. Any thoughts or suggestions on how this might work?

In other news, my radio interview from this afternoon with “Little Alex in Wonderland” is now online to play or download. We ended up talking about natural law, racism, children’s rights, anarchism, class conflict theory, and left-libertarianism rather than about agorism specifically. He also has interviews available with Scott Horton (just before me on today’s show) and Gary Chartier (from the previous show), which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet.

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44 Responses to Molto Grazie

  1. Kevin July 23, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    I was thinking the same thing about the mutual aid network. You’d need some trustworthy admin probably elected by all contributors. It’d be a big bank account that we could set up as a non-profit or something (you know many people who know more about this than I do).

    Then the network could make gifts or loans to members of the network as circumstances warranted. Founding members of the group could specify conditions for gifts and for loans, whether and how much interest to charge, etc. It’d be different from credit cards and banks because the conditions would be ones of mercy and mutual aid. And it’d be different from charities because everyone would contribute and everyone would have the same rights to money given certain circumstances.

    It could always be for profit as well. The interest rate on loans could exceed the interest paid to contributors to the degree that it covers all relevant costs. Interest might help to enlarge the network.

    One potential problem is that it will probably be mostly left-libertarians that pitch in on this and, to be honest, most left-libertarians are pretty poor vis-a-vis lots of other groups. Further, lots of left-libertarians are friends and if the project went awry, lots of people might be upset. It’d be the job of the founding members to make dispute claims clear enough at the outset. But that strategy is far from fool-proof.

    A cool thing about doing it would be to show people that left-libertarians really can put their money where their mouth is and run a cooperative venture together (at least some left-libertarians). Anyone else have thoughts?

    • Roderick July 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

      I don’t think it should be limited to left-libertarians. I wouldn’t write off right-libertarians either as donors (I’ve been getting donations from across the libertarian spectrum) or as recipients (right-libertarians aren’t all rich, y’know).

    • Less Antman July 24, 2009 at 4:55 am #

      Kevin, I believe you’re now officially a vulgar left-libertarian. 😉

      I think an experimental Libertarian Mutual Aid Organization is a great idea. Someone who knows David Beito should ask him for his thoughts, given his expertise.

      A club account linked to PayPal should work, and since the Treasurer will need to be someone without any outstanding liens, you’ll obviously need to have one right-libertarian involved. 😉

  2. Kevin July 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm #

    I also thought of a name: Alliance of the Libertarian Left Mutual-Aid Society (ALLMS).

    • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 12:18 am #

      How about Libertarian Mutual Aid Organization (LMAO)? 🙂

      • dennis July 24, 2009 at 12:49 am #

        How about “the People’s Front of Judea?”

        • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 1:24 am #

          Or Radical Organization To Fund Libertarians (ROTFL).

      • Neil July 24, 2009 at 4:15 am #

        Funders Underwrite Keeping Independent Teams Of Libertarians (FUKITOL)?

        • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

          Send The Anarchists The Equipment (STATE)?

  3. Kurt July 23, 2009 at 8:33 pm #

    I’m not sure I consider myself a “Left Libertarian,” but I donated $100 because I saw a fellow libertarian in need. Where I fall on the libertarian spectrum fluctuates from time to time, but I greatly appreciate the work you do, Mr. Long, and I am glad I could help.

  4. Angus July 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

    Does it really have to be geared more toward the “left libertarian” crowd? It would seemingly be more sustainable by catering to a broader spectrum, no?

  5. Anon73 July 23, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    I don’t know about making a profit; the forces of “law and order” in the U.S. seem to be much more aggressive and hostile to start-ups making profits than to charities, non-profits, or established corporate entities.

  6. James Tuttle July 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    Count me in on ALLMS.

    I am willing and able to contribute a sizable initial donation and a sustained monthly contribution.

    There have been too many people falling on hard times and this just might be what we need to keep us in this fight against the state.


  7. Black Bloke July 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    …Gary Chartier (from the previous show), which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet.

    The .mp3 is nothing but noise passing for music for the first part, some fine Dead Prez after that (“Police State”, track 5 off of their album Let’s Get Free), some silence, some more noise, and the actual interview begins around the 44 minute mark.

    • Roderick July 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

      So you didn’t enjoy the debate between the minarchist and anarchist mimes?

    • Gary Chartier July 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

      But after The Police and the random noise, there’s some great stuff, I can assure you.

      Seriously: Alex encountered some technical problems; but I was also very late in calling in, so feel free to blame me for the delay.

      • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

        I blame the state.

        • Black Bloke July 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

          My favorite whipping boy…

        • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

          Well, when you tune in to hear an anarchist, and you hear the Police instead, it’s pretty obvious that the state is involved.

        • Black Bloke July 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

          Which reminds me of the Dead Prez track, “Radio Freq” (track 7 of their album RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta). In one segment of the song you can hear a phone call to a radio station identifying itself as “Peoples’ Radio”, and the artists advise the listener to “hang up, that’s the police.”

        • Black Bloke July 24, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

          I just remembered that YouTube has these things online:

          “Police State”

          “Radio Freq”

  8. Stephan Kinsella July 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    Roderick, this is a good idea, but I’m not sure how to make it work, divorced from calculation and profit. Damnit, can’t I just be Mr. Libertarian-Southwest without being called on for more? I want OUT and you people keep calling me back IN!

    (he writes from Banff after a couple of scotches, recuperating from a 4.5 hour drive here from Dinosaur Provincial Park… egads)

    • Roderick July 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

      So is it true that Banff is named after the “BAMF!” sound that Nightcrawler makes when he teleports?

      That would also explain Mt. Sulphur ….

  9. Anna Morgenstern July 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    hehe interesting how this in some way proves everything we’ve been talking about.
    In a world where (cue movie preview voiceover) people have much more resources to their own disposal, and the charitable impulse has not been stymied by primary education and the “I gave at the Congress” mentality… how much of ill fortune could be corrected by the good will of humanity at large?
    I think if we can uplift one of our siblings in arms this much while the SuperMafia is crushing us, under better conditions, none would go without.

  10. Bob Kaercher July 23, 2009 at 11:25 pm #

    I think this is a fine idea, but I agree that we shouldn’t narrow it to just the Libertarian Left. It should be open to the broader libertarian movement.

    As far as calculation and profit–just sort of off the cuff here, I don’t know–I think one of the main reasons that so many of us (well, at least for me) felt compelled to help out Roderick was his substantial contribution to spreading libertarian philosophy. He’s an academic, a prolific writer and editor, widely published, maintains this blog, runs the Molinari Institute and is involved with a host of other projects and programs. So the “return” on our “investment” is his ability to keep doing the voodoo he does so well and not, well, get thrown out into the street and starve.

    So with that in mind, perhaps this could be done with some pretty stringent standards. Candidates for grants/loans could be only those who substantially contribute to the libertarian movement in some way. *How* they contribute could vary widely from person to person. (They all don’t necessarily have to be published authors, for example.) Perhaps in this way we avoid attracting any old Joe and Jane Schmoe claiming to be a “libertarian” just so they can get an easy hand-out.

    How this would work in practice, I don’t know. Just a thought.

  11. JL Bryan July 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    Maybe it could be more of an information resource than an actual bank account or insurance policy–keeping track of who is in need, and who’s given in the past to others in need.

    People who have built up ‘credit’ in the past by giving more donations will have greater credibility when they ask for relief.

    You could avoid discriminating against people with less money by weighting frequency of aid more than the amount–so, even if you can only spare five bucks at any particular time, people can notice how frequently you help out. That kind of information will influence their choice as to whether/how much to help you out when you need it.

    • johanna July 24, 2009 at 8:20 am #

      Maybe to take this further (off the top of my head so could be a bad idea), rather than a centralized account, have each member reveal to the group a pot of funds that he/she commits to the cause (bank account, paypal account, whatever) without giving up control of those funds. Helping out would be a personal decision, so a consensus would just arise for each occasion (only those who wish to help would do so) rather than it being imposed or rather than attempting to get consensus across the whole organization.

      I don’t recall where I read this, but the mutual aid organizations from the past used social gatherings and rituals to bind folks together — as long as you went along with all that, when you were in need, no questions were asked. Not sure that this is doable with people who are geographically far removed from one another. I suspect there was a degree of privacy relinquished, but I don’t see how you can avoid that. At least in this decentralized version, people can choose how revealing they want to be and others can decide based on that how much to trust you. Maybe eventually a balance is reached but it’s not imposed from above.

      Just some random thoughts …

      • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

        mutual aid organizations from the past used social gatherings and rituals to bind folks together …. Not sure that this is doable with people who are geographically far removed from one another

        Maybe the modern equivalent is the Group Blog?

  12. Shawn Huckabay July 24, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    Clearly us greedy libertarians are more capable of helping our friends in need than the “selfless” big government lefties. 🙂

    I think the “mutual aid” network is a good idea. A good starting point for learning how such a system could work and avoid possible problems would be an analysis of the fraternal organizations that were common in the United States prior to the welfare state.

  13. Anon73 July 24, 2009 at 4:49 am #

    The main problem with a mutual aid network online is that it would be difficult to discern when people are genuinely in need. Roderick is trustworthy sure, but in general how do the social anarchists and other such groups determine how the mutual aid actually works?

  14. Tom G July 24, 2009 at 7:18 am #

    I am not currently in a position to contribute monetarily but I think the idea is a great one. Roderick, I read this blog and many that you link to on a daily basis and I definitely owe you something as soon as I can repay – in whatever form.
    One idea I had was to have a secured database for jobs – being convicted of certain “crimes” against the state probably is a detriment to getting hired again and being a productive person. Employers who didn’t care or mind about convictions for tax issues, prostitution, drug possession, resisting arrest and so on could put up positions needed.
    Obviously the basic idea needs LOTS of detail worked out, but essentially a secured jobs site aimed primarily at grey market and agorist sympathetic people is surely needed these days. There must be many people who are released from prison who are want to get a job, whose sentence is a dark mark to the usual HR personnel.

    • Anon73 July 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

      Well TomG like most great ideas there are legions of people determined to stop them from being implemented. In this case disaster would strike if such a database ever fell into the wrong hands. :/

      • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

        Well, it’s not illegal to hire people with past convictions.

        • Anon73 July 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

          I’m sorry I misread his post as advocating prostitution, tax avoidance businesses advertising in a database…

          Anyway, how difficult is it for people with past convictions to get hired in the current corporate culture? How about academic culture like yours? Do they make a distinction between “felonies” and “misdemeanors” or is it just a blanket show-you-the-door policy if anything turns up? Any websites you know about this stuff? This sounds like an interesting avenue for libertarian discussion in the current economic crisis.

    • Stephan Kinsella July 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

      Tom G: re jobs database for criminals: this is a great idea. I recently in a private way helped out an employee of our company arrested for skipping out on a court hearing for a previous victimless crime. I persuaded the powers that be to fully support the guy and tell the judge he could have his job back any time. Who cares what the state says about people?! The main problem is not enough libertarians have jobs, much less are owners of companies.

  15. Jeremy July 24, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    I’d be interested in the mechanics of such an organization with respect to the fund. We should definitely not de-emphasize the establishment of a network to get the word out so people can choose to assist. The problems I see arise from achieving consensus on how a pre-ordained fund is spent – who “deserves” aid?

    • Soviet Onion July 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

      The problems I see arise from achieving consensus on how a pre-ordained fund is spent – who “deserves” aid?

      Presumably anyone that pays into the virtual pool thereby gains the right to draw from it in the event of a relevant emergency, just like an insurance policy. Those who give, get.

      A more relevant problem would be the moral hazard inherent in socialized risk. That can be solved through requiring people to follow simple basic security protocols and common sense, but investigating to see if they were followed or not is another matter.

      For a brokerage rather than insurance model of mutual aid/security, I would also endorse Chuck’s strategy below.

  16. Kyle b July 24, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    I wasn’t in a position to contribute to Roderick this time, but would definitely try to scrape something together for a mutual aid society. I think being based on the internet will pose some disadvantages to a local organization, but look forward to seeing how this comes together. I’m sure a lot of other people will be watching this as well.

  17. Raimundo July 24, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    Regarding an earlier post,

    Amazon’s attempt at expiation for their recalling of digital Orwell books:

  18. Chuck Grimmett July 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    It does not have to be a large central account that pays out to a predetermined individual… it could just be a network where libertarians post their need and give an explanation, then other individuals choose and give directly to the individual in need. Sort of like microlending (like ). Since individuals choose how much and when they want to give, the need to vote on who to give money to or determining when someone is really in need is no longer an issue. This also gets rid of the need to put a single person in charge of a large bank account.

    • JL Bryan July 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

      That seems the most libertarian approach to me. It could be that someone posts when they’re in an emergency, and other people could add comments to it, vouching for the person’s reputation, encouraging others to donate, or else pointing out that this person is a known scammer or whatever. Make use of that Hayekian distribution of information.

      It was also be good if it could track–by email address, probably, since that’s where you’ll send the PayPal donation–how many times an individual has donated to others in the past, and also how many times he/she has asked for donations.

      So, if RadGeek is attacked by a pack of rabid squirrels and needs help with medical bills, he can post that to the site. Then other people can vouch for him, enhancing his credibility to those who don’t know him (in this case, they could also look at his website). Those other (non-RadGeek-familiar) libertarians could check his profile on this site to see how much he’s helped others in the past, and also whether he posts every couple of weeks claiming to be attacked by random packs of rabid animals (I’m sure he wouldn’t, I’m just stuck referring to RadGeek at this point in the example)

      Reputation, persuasion, consent, noncoercion, and very little room for abuse.

      • Roderick July 24, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

        random packs of rabid animals

        Nothing random about it. It’s all organized by the Beastmaster.

  19. Stephan Kinsella July 24, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    I think we should give some of it to Israel.

  20. MBH July 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Cool interview! I really like how you handle the aggressing-against-a-child-about-to-be-hit-by-a-car argument. But a few points remain unclear to me (not cause you weren’t clear, but because there wasn’t much follow-up questioning). I understand that the overarching approach is to say that the child would-have-willed-to-be-removed-from-the-car’s-path. But does that mean that we cannot ask questions about the moment of action itself? Don’t we have to talk about situations in which a joint will takes precedence over an individual will? If not, isn’t it a tautology to say, ‘aggression isn’t aggression whenever we say it isn’t aggression’?

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