Sellers remorse?

So…

I sold all my bitcoin yesterday.

I’m trying to be stoic about it…  but really I’m having some big weird feelings about this. Some might argue this marks an auspicious day. Either the worst financial decision I’ve ever made, or the best. Hoping for the latter. Usually when I sell a stock I never look at it again. I don’t want to see the opportunity cost of my decision. Unfortunately bitcoin prices are plastered at the bottom of every single news feed and on every second banner ad… so when bitcoin goes to $100,000 I can walk up the hill behind my house and shoot myself.

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It turned out to be quite a whimsical decision in the end. (like most of my financial decisions really)

I used to have a yellow post-it note stuck to the wall next to my framed KAL print. I’d written ‘Pigs get slaughtered’ in thick black sharpie. I wrote it after getting killed on this horrible geared trade that eventually got suspended. Just thinking about it makes me want to punch myself. Gah! I was greedy. And I paid for it. That post-it and the KAL print served as a vague set of guidelines for all future trades.

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Will I make money off this trade? Yes. Am I being greedy by not selling?. Yes. Post-it condition satisfied. Is the bitcoin market completely hysterical? Yes. KAL condition satisfied.

Sell.

In the end all money is bullshit. USD, EUR, Bitcoin. It has value because we believe that it has. Sapiens really got me to look at the world differently… ha ha. Look at me trying to justify my decision with some sort of psychobabble and philosophy shtick. Whats done is done.

I see this post going either of two ways…

Bitcoin hits $20,000 and I delete it… (out of sheer embarrassment)

OR

Bitcoin crashes through the floor and I link it to it at every opportunity.

Ice-bath

I took my first Ice-bath yesterday.

As with most of my short (but intense) enthusiasms, I decided to immediately expose myself to the full brunt of the experience. No easing myself in with cold showers and meditative breathing exercises.

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I watched Atomic Blonde this weekend. Despite the weak plot I (strangely) enjoyed this movie. It had a great soundtrack and the fight scenes were filmed as long, continuous shots (I appreciate this difficult form of choreography). After a short opening scene the protagonist (Charlize Theron) emerges from an Ice-bath that she has completely submerged herself in.

This got Joeys hamster on its wheel. Hmmmm…

Depending on how I feel when I wake up I might do 5km. So usually three or four times a week. Its exactly two and a half kilometers up to the water tower near my house and then two and a half kilometers back down. I’ve recently begun adding sandbags into my backpack to add some intensity to my workout. (currently two 3kg bags of sand) Then I usually stop and pick up coffee on the way back.

Yesterday morning I added two big bags of ice from the freezer along with my Grande Caps. If there was anyone around at 5am it might have been amusing to see someone trundling down the street struggling under the weight of two sandbags and 44lbs of ice.

Filled my bath up with cold water. And then dumped the ice in.

Holy hell!

Initially I just sat there. Hyperventilating.

Eventually after my feet had gone numb and my testicles had retracted further then I thought was absolutely safe, I decided I needed to do a full body immersion. More hyperventilating. I lasted another two minutes…maybe, before I gingerly exited myself from the ice.

By this stage I was shivering uncontrollably and I was numb all over. Tried to dry myself with a towel, which is challenging when your movement are suddenly all leaden and spastic.

There are supposed to be all these benefits to cold (water) exposure. I’m not going to list them. I’ve recently become interested in my health, nutrition and leading a more ancestral lifestyle. So I’ve been devouring books like Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser and his other Paleo book (whose name I forget now). I’ve also been reading some Proffessor Tim Noakes, which has been harder for me, because on some level we just don’t click. I’m not sure why that is, I guess my lego is different from his lego. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some really good ideas. But I have to get over my personal biases first.

Our bodies are constantly preparing for a winter that never comes. I’m paraphrasing. And I can’t remember which author theorized this. But it made sense to me. I am never cold. I am sometimes mildly inconvenienced by the weather. But our modern lifestyle means we never have to endure cold anymore. If I’m cold I turn up the AC or put on my Northface jacket. Besides I live in a very temperate climate, the days where I actually have to layer up number less than two dozen in a year. Food is always available and I never give my body a reason to burn fat.

The theory that sometimes we need to be cold somehow makes sense to me. Although its also possible that I have lost my tenuous grip on reality and am now in complete mental free-fall. However in defense of masochism at least I am trying something new.

essentialism; The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown

I have a semi-rigid rule that I’ve been trying to follow; Be nice. Its been difficult for me because I’m naturally inclined towards pugnaciousness. So in order to combat my inherent nature I decided that I really had to like a book to blog about it. Besides, why would you waste your time running down a book you didn’t like?  I should just be able to move on….

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Only this book is titled essentialism*. Which is one of my core tenets and I feel this sort of writing needs to be vehemently opposed. Since I can’t achieve the desired level of disapproval by kicking it in the knee cap I have to resort to verbose text instead.

*Capital letters, for example, totally not essential.

I often feel that there are MANY books out there that would have worked better as a blog post. (97.5% of all business books for example) Instead of succinctly communicating your idea in 1000 words, you pad and obscure your idea with one hundred fifty five thousand other words, package it with a well considered dust cover and then market it as something profound. More words are clearly better. essentialism breaks its own rule. Which I think is kinda funny.

Then again you can’t sell a 1000 word blog post for $11.76. Well, I suppose you could try. But then we have come to expect a certain word to dollar ratio.

I couldn’t finish essentialism. I don’t remember how far I got, maybe half way, before I started wondering, do I really need to read the rest of this? I was grinding, bored and wanted my $5.88 back.

<summary>

essentialism is about concentrating on the things that matter to you.

</summary>

See what I did there.

This is not something profoundly difficult to grasp. But if you put your mind to it, you can draw a simple concept out into 12 long chapters.

I should likely mention that Kevin Rose loves this book. In fact he recommended it in his news letter, which is why I bought it. Now I have to treat everything that Kevin Rose likes with suspicion. Annoying. As an aside. I do believe that this book deserves to exist. It might even appeal to some people. For all I know it could be EXACTLY what you’re looking for. So take my criticism with a pinch of salt.

I don’t really know anything about anything anyway.

Minimalism.

I used to be an unrepentant adherent of minimalism. Well… in a way that someone who goes to church at Easter and Christmas is a Christian. I really liked the concept, but serious quantifiable action has, up until this point, eluded me. A lot like an uncommitted jihadist. While supporting the cause I am unwilling to pull the trigger, spread myself thin and paint the world in my blood, ball bearings and fecal matter.

I jest with religiosity because to the faithful, minimalism is a lot like a religion. There is only ONE way to salvation/happiness. The problem I find with minimalism is that it’s the exact polar opposite of maximalism. Which is, apparently not a real word. How can something be diametrically opposed to something that doesn’t exist? This is beginning to taste a lot like conspiracy.

You know what I mean, insane excess, which is combated/countered by owning as little as humanly possible, thereby bringing balance to the force, goodness to the word and freedom to Tibet (or bringing back a sadistic theocracy depending on how you feel about the Dalai Lama).

My first problem with minimalism is that it has crappy champions. This shouldn’t ‘actually’ be #1, but I feel the need to start somewhere. After all every movement needs a figurehead. Someone we can look up to and rally behind, someone that will hold the standard high, that embodiment of perfection, the epitome of all that is holy. Movements need to have charismatic leaders. Maybe I’m in a minority of one here but I like my crusaders to have just a schmear of chutzpah. Minimalists tend to be really weird or just plain creepy. The sort of person that would cause concern if they parked their van near a children’s play ground. I find it difficult to take life style advice from these sorts of people.

My second issue is that everyone that gets into minimalism used to be maximalist! Again I realize this is not a word. When you listen to converts it almost always starts off like this, ‘Well I used to earn a six figure salary’. This immediately gets me riled up and mounting up my hobbyhorse. What does that mean exactly? And I quote…

For us, it all started with a lingering discontent. A few years ago, while approaching age 30, we had achieved everything that was supposed to make us happy: great six-figure jobs, luxury cars, oversized houses, and all the stuff to clutter every corner of our consumer-driven lifestyle

Did you earn $100,000 or $999,999 because there’s a slight difference between those numbers. If you’re going to brag don’t be ambiguous, do it properly. Clearly you want my mind to drift to the upper end of that bracket. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been so vague. Which means, even though you were unhappy before you were a minimalist you still feel the need to impress me with the size of your salary and your corporate success. They want you to know that they were better than you before they discovered minimalism. And they’re better than you now that they are a minimalist.

So let me break this down, you used to think owning lots of stuff and having lots of money would equal happiness. But then you had some life-changing event, and you realised your Prada’s and your Beechcraft King didn’t really equal happiness. So you flipped your lid and did the total opposite. You’re  basically a zealot who flip-flops between extremes. Extremists fly into buildings. And that’s not good for you. Or anyone else really.

Thirdly, Minimalists, like Catholics lay the guilt on thick. I own 51 things. Not me. But there are people out there who Instagram their possessions. This is a weirdly competitive thing that happens among devout minimalists, who can live with the least stuff. Sub fifty as understand is the sweet spot and also incidentally when you get awarded your gold star. You also get to judge other minimalists that are less accomplished than yourself, and get REALLY uppity with people who own more than two pairs of shoes. Do shoes get counted as one item or two? (why we need decent and informed leaders who can clarify these sorts of things)

I do think that you should be suspicious of anyone selling you a lifestyle though. Especially a lifestyle that draws you in by making you feel unhappy/or guilty about the way you’re living right now. Always ask the question, ‘how does this guy, or how do these people make their money?’ People with book tours, movies and a podcast… It just makes me weary. It feels like the commodification of a lifestyle and we are here to sell you the handbook. Just like we used to sell you a cell phone.

I’d like to postulate some sort of alternative. Stuff doesn’t equal happiness. I think all of us know this. We don’t necessarily act on this knowledge but we could all acknowledge this basic truth (if for example someone held a gun to our head) Less stuff doesn’t equal happiness either though. Happiness is not a function of stuff at all. Minimalism sometimes gets us there through a form of placebo. A journey towards minimalism by default is always started through introspection. We examine our lives, realize that we are unhappy and then take steps to rectify the situation.

For some that means giving away all their worldly possessions and paring down to the bare essentials so that they can concentrate on what really matters to them. I don’t think that’s a requirement though.

I’m not extolling the virtues of either extreme. Consumerism and this insane ‘competing with the Jones’ mentality is, in my opinion, incredibly damaging to us all. Way more than minimalism could ever be. I’m most concerned about this apparent lack of middle ground. A mythical center point on the seesaw where we are satisfied with what we have and don’t feel the need to tip toe in any particular direction.

What’s wrong with being a normalist? (If this catches on, TM Mighty-Jo) You know someone who is happy with where they are and with what they’ve got. I’m not saying normalists don’t have any ambition or leave their designation up to fate, it’s just that they are mindful of where they are at and appreciate their place in the universe. Above all they employ reason and logic in their decision-making and interactions with our world and all its denizens.

Look at me, full of hubris, setting a benchmark for the world on how they should behave. If you want to send me money because I changed your life you are very welcome. I will donate it to charity. Or burn it. Depending on how I feel that day.

Presto! How I made over 100 pounds disappear and other magical tales by Penn Jillette

Perhaps the first adherent of the potato diet, fingerling extraordinaire and connoisseur of the nightshade tuber, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome on stage, Mr Penn Jillette.

* cue applause*

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I think you probably either love Penn Jillette. Or hate him.

I fall into the love Penn Jillette camp. I think he has a fantastic mind.

How I made over 100 pounds disappear and other magical tales feels like a 350 page blog. It details Penn’s journey from ‘Fat-Fuck (his words) to skinny but still freakishly tall guy, all done while documenting his newfound relationship with the ambrositic* spud.

* I’m trying turn ambrosia into an adjective. Maybe it will catch on.

I really enjoyed this book. But am likely compromised (because I have recently joined the potato-cult) and extremely bias (because I really like Penn&Teller). I blazed through this book and was entertained throughout. Penn’s writing style is quite easy going although also a bit bipolar. He can be so unbelievably clever and stylistic with language in one sentence (to the point of awe). And then completely crass and boorish in the next. It tends to lurch from one extreme to the other throughout the book. That’s just who Penn is though. He doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not.

The book is full of wit and self deprecating humor. Although not really big on the science. In so far as there is any science to this crazy diet. I mean there is some science. But its more a psychology battle I feel.

I only did the pure potato diet for three days. I have less weight to lose, so I feel I don’t have to venture into that level of extremism. I’m sure there are purists who will disagree… still it was mostly nice to read about someone else struggling with big weird feelings while their body goes into detox shock. Day four is the tough one.

This books is very niche and I’m weary of recommending it based on that. If you are a fat-fuck however, maybe this will tip you in the right direction. Maybe it will even save your life. Good luck.

Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink

I’m not sure how I feel about this book.

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It is truth wrapped in cold reptilian logic tied with a stark monochromatic  bow.

Let me start by saying that the typeface in this book was tough for me. Maybe that doesn’t really bother other people. I struggled. It was too gimmicky. I also struggled with the short clipped sentences that have had all aggrandizement murdered out of them. It written like Jocko speaks, which is likely intentional because it is completely unlike Extreme Ownership (great book and concept) and The Way of the Warrior kid (which I also really liked, probably because it had pictures).

I find Jocko quit difficult to relate to. Maybe its because I don’t see the world in black and white, good guys and bad guys, right and wrong. Maybe its because I am not a warrior.

I realize that may seem contradictory to everything I have done so far. I have trained in boxing and jujitsu almost my entire life. I am a firm adherent of the right to carry a firearm. Plus the time I spent with the Army and police service. Still, I think I would balk at being lumped into a warrior caste. I would be much happier being thought of foremost as a gardener. Which is something I like doing. Considering yourself a warrior first in my opinion, positions you on a slippery slope.

Although perhaps I can postulate another theory for my weariness, in so far as my father is very much like Jocko. In my case however, the apple fell VERY far from the tree. Likely propelled away by some almost imperceptible decline in the genetic topography. And so having landed decidedly downhill and likely upside I really struggle with this type of mindset.

Living your life like this is so alien to me, so completely devoid of whimsy that I find it a little depressing. Academically this book makes complete sense to me. Sure, if you want to succeed… do this. But first I think you need to have a good hard look at yourself and determine what your metric for success is, and what you deem will have been a life well lived.

If you’re looking to maximize efficiency, boom this is your book. Personally I prefer a gentler operating system with smoother edges. Something that allows me to sleep in every once in a while.

That’s not say I didn’t get anything out of this book. I agree with Jocko on quite a lot of what he writes (especially the martial arts stuff) It more that I think you need to be careful about postulating a personal philosophy. It often relies on the premise that your own personal philosophy is somehow inadequate or flawed. We like to emulate people we admire. Chances are your personal philosophy is just fine. Don’t let other people make you feel somehow deficient.

My concern (as well as my own experience) with life hacks is that we adopt other peoples philosophy to treat our symptoms. Instead of getting to the root cause of why we feel the way we do. Don’t fix yourself with someone else’s band-aid.

However. Don’t always read concepts you agree with. Get out of your echo-chamber once in a while. Challenge why you live the way you do. See other peoples points of view. Poke the box.

Potato diet (3)

One week– Saturday morning

Opening Stat line – Height 6’3”, 105.7kg (233lbs), [-3.2kg or 7lbs]  23.0% Body fat [-0.6%] , Blood Glucose 5.5 mmol/L [-0.5 mmol/L]

So I managed to loose -3.2kg (7lbs) with the potato diet in a week. I have no idea if that’s good or not. I think it is. I only ate cold potatoes for the first three days. Then I switched out to a Paleo-esque type meal for dinner for two days (when I started feeling really weird*). And then added Paleo type lunches after that.

*I think this was me going through sugar withdrawal. I can’t be sure, but I felt really strange and disembodied and just generally unwell. Interestingly the Paleo diet didn’t actually make me feel less weird, I initially thought it might. I think withdrawal just takes time.

If I had the mental fortitude to stick it out for a full week the results would have been better. I think you need otherworldly discipline to stick with a only-potato diet. You REALLY start resenting cold spuds.

On the upside. Now that I’ve cleansed my body of processed food and sugar. I don’t really want to go back. Mostly because I don’t want to have to detox again. Hopefully I can stick with it and eat clean from here on out.

If you’re interested…

Part one and Part two

Abnormal behaviour

Retirement is an unnatural act.

Perhaps more accurately it is the final act in a series of unnatural events that punctuate our modernity. In the extremely short period of time that the concept of retirement has been around it has managed to become so ingrained into our psyche that we don’t even consider that what we are doing is contrary to our biology .

Let me start my tirade with the industrial revolution. Arguably this is the time where things went both really right for us. And also really wrong. Although maybe we can just skip the evolutionary anthropology paragraph and just agree that we are not designed to sit all day in a cubicle farm, under artificial light, replying to email. Afterwhich we come home, expose ourselves to more artificial light, sleep for five or six hours and then repeat the entire process. For forty five years.

We are essentially large hairless primates. Primates that can cooperate effectively to get stuff done, but basically we are still monkeys. In the wild primates live in large family groups, as did Homo Sapiens, until very recently. In fact imagine for a moment that we lived now as we had evolved to. As opposed to all the craziness we have recently foisted on ourselves. What would that look like?

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Lets imagine that as a social mammal I would have grown up in a large communal home with my grandparents, my parents and all my siblings. Lets just pretend it’s always worked like this. (in my utopian analogy there are strong property rights and everyone believes in Libertarianism) Because our family has never moved and that land belongs to us we have managed to harness potentially the biggest factor in financial independence, inter generational wealth. We pool our resources and share assets like communal appliances and cook communal meals. In fact because there is no food scarcity in our modern world (ie we don’t have to grow our own food or hunt for it), the savings associated with living in community and the level of technology available to us we find that we would hardly have to work at all.

This is obviously in direct opposition to the way we live now. We can’t wait to move out  and get indebted buying our own home. Then we have to repurchase everything we had had while we lived with our parents, and then have to work like crazy to afford all this new stuff. If we are considered savvy we save and invest our money so that we can afford to ‘retire’ in our twilight years before spending our final chapter surrounded by strangers in some palliative care facility our kids have put us in.

Not only do we see nothing wrong with living like this, we embrace it.

In a tribal culture you don’t move out. When you procreate your tribe helps to raise your children. When you get old you don’t get sent off to a ‘home’ to die quietly, you live out your life surrounded by your family and the people you love.

OMG. I hate my parents. They drive me mad. And you’re suggesting I live in close proximity to them… forever?

And therein lies the rub.

On the one hand we are encouraged towards independence, we fight for control, seek out power and dominion over others. All the things that make habitat cohabitation socially challenging.  Yet until recently this is how we lived. In some cultures it’s still how people live. Its just my Western culture seems to have forgotten how to live this way. We perpetuate a broken system that splits up our family’s, destroys our social bonds and makes us poorer, both in monetary terms and in quality of life.  It makes no sense.

I think the misconception is that only new age hippy families live like this. Or poor people. And that you either have to live in a teepee in the woods next to a rusted out Buick or in single room corrugated shack in a shanty. The truth is with modern architecture we can design dwellings that make communal living a breeze. We’d have more money, more free time and likely lead better, more social lives with better mental health.

Probably.

I think we might already be too far gone. Far too self involved. We have taken our biggest asset as a species, our ability to communicate and cooperate and made it redundant. Imagine the possibilities if we worked together like we were meant to, instead of trying to do everything on our own. I think that would be quite something.

Apatheism

I don’t think apatheism is a real word. It’s the smashing together of apathy and theism. For me at least, it’s meant to describe an outlook that I think isn’t neatly intended by atheism (a word that shouldn’t actually exist). This is likely the only blog post I will ever write on the topic.

I used to be a hardcore Catholic, the product of childhood indoctrination. Throughout my entire schooling I attended a Catholic convent school (the kind crewed with sadistic nuns and zealous laity). My best friend in my mid twenties was a Catholic priest* (who was more or less the same age as me). This was likely the beginning of the end because it allowed me to pull back the veil (so to speak) and get a clear glimpse into the inner workings of the Catholic church. And it is not pretty.

*he eventually had a spiritual breakdown and as I understand it became a Buddhist. Neither of us were in a good space during this transition period in our lives and it ended our friendship.

Primed now, I was given three audio-books by a friend of a friend who had recently unfucked herself from her own kooky religious upbringing. She thrust a thumb-drive* at me with an impassioned ‘YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO THESE’. They languished on my iPod for months before I undertook a long, fourteen hour road trip. Bored of music I decided, rather whimsically, to listen to Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion. This is also the first audio-book I had every listened to. I can still remember the exact point, driving through hilly, scrubby desert terrain where I lost my faith completely. By the end of that road-trip I was a complete and total atheist.

* I have since bought all these titles legitimately as paperbacks and audio-books.

I followed this up with Sam Harris, The end of faith. And Julia Sweeney, Letting go of god, on my return trip.

For a while I became what some might term a militant atheist. I simply replaced one creed for another and began fervently proselytizing my new found insight. I had seen the light and I desperately wanted others to see the light too.

I devoured everything I could get my hands on. Christopher Hitchens. Dan Dennett. More Sam Harris. More Richard Dawkins. I became super-combative and argumentative, assuming that if I could appeal to peoples logic and counter all their weird beliefs with reason they would come to the same realization as me. You can imagine how that worked out for me.

Δ One of my favorite memes from www.samharris.org

For a while I became very disillusioned with humanity and hit quite a rough patch mentally. All my Catholic coping mechanisms had suddenly been taken away, I intensely disliked my social community and I felt very isolated and alone. I imagine this is quite a common feeling among new atheists who suddenly find themselves on the outside.

As it happens I found new coping mechanisms and new community. Eventually though, I realized my atheism was at odds with my libertarianism. It suddenly dawned on me, do I really care that other people believe in fairies, the Loch Ness monster and god? The answer was a resounding no. This wasn’t my cause or crusade. My atheism didn’t really define me other that it subtracted a whole lot of hassle from my life. Not having to put in the required maintenance to insure your immortal soul goes to heaven frees up a lot time (and money).

Do I really want to fight with people about the veracity of their make-believe? Is this something that I should really devote ANY* time to. Do I think its right to try convert others? The answer to all of those questions is no. Just like I can’t be bothered to discuss fairyology at length I can’t really be bothered to discuss religion. I do not care.

*Important caveat. Religion that espouses violence and intolerance needs to challenged! I don’t really care what a Jain or a Mormon does in his free time. But if your religion has adherents that pour drywall screws into pressure cookers or even just make life difficult for apostates you need to be opposed. 

There is nothing new in the atheistic spectrum of arguments that are likely to convince more devotees of religion that it’s all pretend. They need to come to this realization on their own and when they do there’s more than enough material out there to reinforce their new convictions. I heartily recommend Christopher Hitchens  – god is not great, on audible. For me this was a seminal work, he just nailed it so succinctly and eloquently. I wish he wasn’t dead.

If you are religious and teetering on atheism, I wish you good luck. It was an emotional roller-coaster for me.

‘I think my parents would more likely accept me for being gay than being an atheist’ is a quote I can completely relate to. It can be a lonely place. You often feel like the only sane person surrounded by madness and that is not in the least bit comforting. Having been unplugged from ‘the Matrix’ you have no way of going back, you have to go forward which is difficult when you don’t know the way.

For me my entire operating system got ripped out and I didn’t have anything to replace it with. If you are used to functioning in a highly regimented, codified way to be suddenly ‘free’ is almost agoraphobic.  I don’t know what will help you get through it, other than I believe that you can. If I can do it, anyone can. If you are religious, I think you’re wasting your time, but really what you spend your time on is your own business. That’s as far as I’m willing to take it these days. Life is too short to waste on this nonsense.

Libertarianism

Libertarianism. Noun. Comes from the Latin. Libertas, meaning freedom. And suffixed with -ism because all ideologies get an -ism and it didn’t necessarily want to be left out.

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Wikipedia defines Libertarians as seeking to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association, individual judgement and self owner-ship.

I think Libertarianism means different things to different people. For me, at least, Libertarianism is this…

I believe that I have NO  idea whats best for you. I don’t know what makes you tick, what motivates you, what makes you happy and what makes you sad or what you even need to lead a full, happy and complete life. In the same way I don’t think other people know what makes me tick, what motivates me, what makes me happy or makes me sad etc. At the core of libertarianism is not inflicting your dogma on anyone else. Live and let live.

Libertarianism is not wanting to take ownership over someone else and deciding whats best for them.

In my family unit I have to make decisions every day for my progeny. My two year old makes pretty crap decisions (as far as I’m concerned) insofar as she tries to eat things off the supermarket floor and has a penchant for fingers in electrical sockets.

I try and make the best decisions I can for her based on my ability. Me and my wife collectively decide to severely limit sugar in our household, we considered what sort of kindergarten our daughter should attend. At some point when she reaches a certain age I would obvious like like her to train in Brazillian jujitsu. But what if she wants to do ballet instead? Do I nudge her in a particular direction or do I let her make that determination on her own. These sorts of decisions keep me up at night.

If I struggle with these sorts of decisions in my own family, how am I supposed to make decisions for other people most of whom I have never met and who are completely different to me. Who am I to decide on anything that affects that persons life in any way? How can I decide who that person should be allowed to associate with, who they are allowed to marry, what sort of healthcare that person should have, what they should be allowed to smoke or imbibe, what sky god they should worship? I have no idea whats best for them. Are we really so conceited and egomaniacal that we think that this is okay?

Today, this is what governments are, be they nominal democracies or run by despots. At the core of any government there is a group of political elite who want to tell you what to do and how you should live your life. You are given rules to follow and if you don’t follow them, someone from that organization will come with a gun and lock you up (or kill you).

People often associate Libertarianism with anarchy. It is argued that government and regulation offer a supportive framework without which there would just be chaos. Anthropologically we are tribal, social mammals. We do well in groups of about 150 individuals. Anything larger and the social bonds start to fall apart. The polar opposite to the environment that we are supposed to thrive in is grouping us in countries of several million people in an area spanning several thousand miles.

It is argued that the government provides education, healthcare, infrastructure and security. All without which nothing would work and society would fall apart. Through taxation (extorting money from us through the threat of violence and incarceration) the money gained by the government from its citizens is pooled and then distributed among various government run departments that use that money efficiently to provide its citizens with healthcare, welfare, education and roads. On our behalf the government will fight wars in faraway foreign countries, clamp down on undesirable and immoral behavior of its citizenry, support employment through a bloated civil service, kick back money to corporations and disproportionately distribute benefits to the benefactors of the political elite.

The problem with Libertarianism is that I don’t feel I should try convince you of its merits. After all, you should be able to do and follow any political system you want. I can extol Libertarianism for its perceived benefits as I see them. Maybe we can agree that big government and over regulation isn’t making us better or happier. Let cut the government down to the bare minimum required. Then again, maybe we can’t.

I would advocate decentralizing into small communities. The most amazing trait human beings have is the ability to cooperate. Its what allowed us dominion over this planet. Smaller groups cooperating with a ‘live and let live’ philosophy could achieve much more and achieve it much more efficiently. If the community over there wants to practice polygamy, smoke mushrooms, worship a giant oak tree and fly kites for a living that’s fine with me. As long as they let me be and don’t want to hurt me. I’m sure we can still agree to cooperate with one another for mutually beneficial reasons like, safety, healthcare, science and the maintenance of infrastructure without the need for an overarching government forcing us to tow a particular line.

Libertarianism is not a Utopian society or fix all solution. I do however think its better ideology than anything that we have at the moment. But I’m happy for you to disagree.