[Editor’s Note: the following post is by TDV Correspondent David Giessel]
A couple weeks ago while visiting friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found myself driving north to Berkeley with a friend to spend the evening wandering Telegraph Ave. To get there we decided to take I-880 North along the East Bay. This route takes you past two interesting complexes: Solyndra and Tesla Motors.
For an anarchist, driving past the Solyndra buildings (now for sale!) provides an entertaining and highly visible example of the failure of central economic planning, which goes well with the terrible rush hour traffic on 880 caused by the socialist road system.
Even normal people often find the Solyndra situation funny, they just don’t understand exactly why. Of course my friend and I discussed this briefly as we drove by. She observed it as yet another failed program of the Obama administration, but did not indict the state itself as the more fundamental cause. It’s a start though. Baby steps.
The Tesla complex is a bit north of Solyndra and much larger. They are not bashful about their brand and have TESLA written in massive letters on all of their buildings. My favorite aspect of their complex however is the flags out front. On the tallest pole, the American flag, on the middle pole, the California flag, and on the shortest pole, the Tesla flag. I thought about this for a second and commented to my friend how awesome it was that so many Bay Area companies have their own flags out front. Notably, Apple used to fly a pirate flag in front of their campus in Cupertino, hence “Pirates of Silicon Valley.”
Upon my comment about the Tesla flag, my friend said that she thought it was a bit ostentatious of them to put their flag right next to two “real” flags. I could feel my inner anarchist twinge a little and as gently as possible I explained that the Tesla corporate flag IS the real flag and that the ostentatious ones were the two flags representing theft and violence. Tesla’s flag represents a business that only exists through voluntary exchange, subsequent wealth creation, technological development, and ultimately human progress. The two other silly flags that happen to cutter their yard represent institutions based solely on coercion. Tesla Motors offers electric cars on a take it or leave it basis, only ultimately succeeding if people like what they have to offer. By contrast the State of California and the United States Government present you with a different offer: your money or your life. If you choose not to buy their product (the main one being murder of foreigners) you are either kidnapped and locked in a cage or murdered for resisting. They even go as far as to codify how their symbols of theft and murder (their flags) are to be displayed, stating that they should be flown higher than symbols of peace and prosperity (i.e. private flags).
After explaining this to her I commented that, “Once two of those flags go away we’ll have it made.” Indeed, I have long-term hope for parts of the United States and California in particular. There is a strong anti-state sentiment among many technology moguls, with people like the late Steve Jobs going so far as to point out to the Cupertino City Council that if they want to make things difficult for Apple (the largest target for their expropriation) he would simply move the company elsewhere.
Those in the tech industry who are successful have become so by seeing how things can be done better. Monopolistic political rent seeking behavior doesn’t work as well for them as it does for slower paced industries because product cycles are short and they compete in a global market. From repeated conversations with another good friend of mine who has been very successful in her own right, many in Silicon Valley see the nation state as a albatross around their neck and eagerly anticipate the era of the Sovereign Individual.
As the State of California goes into fiscal collapse due to its massive debt burden, I am hopeful that the productive companies will seize the opportunity. Companies like Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, etc already have large campuses in the South Bay that are largely autonomous. Many have their own child care, their own green spaces for recreation (accomplished without so-called “imminent domain” property theft), and in many cases their own power plants. They have their own private road systems within their campus and their own security to keep their employees and buildings secure. Apple and others even run their own bus service for their employees (see the video above). Companies like these are already existing example of Hans Hoppe’s “private law society” despite the existence of the state.
In many cases these companies are also sitting on large piles of cash and would be well positioned to re-negotiate the terms of their property rental from the real Pirates of Silicon Valley, the Municipal, State, and Federal Governments.
When the Federal and State debt collapse goes into full swing, they could offer something like a one time cash payment to bail out the state in exchange for true property ownership, free of expropriated rent that is euphemistically referred to as “property tax.” True property ownership would also legally exempt them from being forced to fund the murder of potential customers through the Federal corporate income tax (which is essentially purely a war tax). They could bid on residential and commercial properties nearby, offering their employees a lower cost of living with far better services than the state provides now. No more rolling blackouts. No water shortages. Services and resources would finally be allocated efficiently and costs for everyday goods and services in the area would plummet just the way they have in the technology industry. Free from the state, the South Bay area could make even relatively free areas like Singapore look like a stone-age city in a matter of years. There would be enormous pressure around the globe for other areas to compete with this growth and there would only be one possible way to do so: roll back the state and ultimately abolish it, one city, state, and country at a time.
It is possible. It is happening already because of economic law, even in the presence of the state. Whether or not it is taken to its conclusion remains to be seen, but to the extent that we recognize the legitimate flags and laugh at or ignore the pirate flags of the state, we will bring the private law society one step closer to being reality.
David Giessel is a professional engineer, amateur economist and philosopher, AM talk radio host in Fairbanks, Alaska, and aspiring perpetual traveler. Since 2009 David has organized an Austrian Scholars’ group in Fairbanks with other like minded friends. This group seeks to educate its members and the local community by studying works on economics, philosophy, and politics. David also co-hosts the Patriot’s Lament radio show and writes for the Patriot’s Lament blog.