I arrived in Richmond early. The plan was to go out and spread some anarchy on the VCU campus, as the folks at Liberate RVA have been doing for years. I first discovered the work of Kal Molinet from his videos, which feature conversations about liberty, consensual relationships, and free marketswith people in the streets and at the VCU campus. Some really interesting discussion takes place, though the number of people who are educated in matters of self-ownership, law, and economics is not high. Most will be apologists for the statist assumption that we need government to keep the order. It’s always interesting when you witness someone realizing for the first time that the whole idea is illogical and contradictory. Using violence as a means of maintain the peace is preposterous.
And yet this is the reasoning. Give a few people power to use violence for good, and they will make everything safe. Let’s search for examples where it’s worked – where making laws and using violence to enforce them has actually created a society without crime…
The thing is, government has never accomplished what it promises. It’s been one long saga of empires and slavery and war. The authority governments claim and assert is nothing more than a swindle. Violence is the only thing backing the authority of the state. They do not have consent or agreement from those whom they govern. The legitimacy of all governments must be called into question. They are bold enough to assert their authority, surely they can prove to us that their claim is legitimate.
This concept is crucial to understanding the vision for a liberated world. Many people have been seriously researching ways that we could still have a functioning society without any use of aggressive force or violence. A totally voluntary society. This is what we want. This is what anarchy is about.
And it’s what Liberate RVA has been contributing to the public conversation for the last several years. I was excited to get out and participate. I met up with Kal at his house, where I also met Galen, who also lived there. We talked for a bit at the house and gathered up the gear.
Once on campus, we set up a table at the compass, the center of the VCU campus. Many other groups were set up around the courtyard as well. Kal got his camera set up and laid out the books on the table. They had some giveaway stuff, an email address sign up list, and fliers for an event that was upcoming. They had books about basic economics to give away, supplied by a group called Students for Liberty.These were just little intro books, though Von Mises, Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, Ayn Rand, and Samuel Konkin are all on the reading list for those who really want to dive in.
We had a great afternoon. I talked with several people who came by, with several long, in-depth conversations. A few debates got going, but nothing riveting. Few people can take on the inescapable logic of non-aggression. I enjoyed meeting several other of Kal’s friends. Many of us were to be meeting up later at a Triple Crossing, a brewery and bar that accepts bitcoin.
Kal made a couple of videos with people, though it was far more mellow than some of the other videos he’s made recently. For a time, there were some communist groups setting up tables around the campus, and Kal considered it his duty to run them off. All he had to do was challenge them to debates on camera, which never turned out well for them. I saw one of these videos and it was pretty funny.
“They don’t come around anymore,” Kal said, proud to have defended his turf. “We can’t have them spreading that garbage while we’re trying to spread liberty!”
Certainly, liberty is the only kind of political message I’ll get behind. I believe that most people would agree, if they weren’t so caught up in all these divisive terms. I contend that most of the time when people argue over concepts like communism, capitalism, feminism, or God, they are not even defining these terms the same way. With better agreement about terms, the debates would be far more productive.
I got a better sense of what anarcho-communism is about by learning about the debates the Liberate crowd has had with an-coms. I have met several people who identify with communism, and I always find that they define it very differently than those who hate communism. To them, it's a reaction to the atrocities of what they call capitalism (again associations are all we have when we hear these words, not succinct definite descriptions), such as the devastation of the environment, the slave trade/sweatshop work force, and the massive disparity of wealth that has billions starving while the very few coast around on yachts...
This is another discussion for another time, though. Essentially, I think an-coms and an-caps are ultimately after the same thing - liberty. As Kal points out to the communists in the above video, if they are not advocating for the invasion of his private property, they aren't true communists. The idea that different communities could set different arrangements and forms of "governance" (policy making, not rule by force) comes up, and seems to be an obvious answer to the problem of so many of us having different versions of what we'd like to see society become.
While on the campus that day I was asked by a young lady about what anarcho-capitalism is all about, and what separate it from anarcho-communism.
“It’s kind of like monogamy and polyamory,” I said. “An-coms like to share, an-caps like to keep theirs to themselves.” The common thread is that we don’t advocate force. Both communism and capitalism are concepts that were given to us by the true controllers of society. Red team or blue team. I advocate that we put less emphasis on controversial terms and just keep on the idea of consent.
At Triple Cross, I gave a brief presentation of my journalism, my book, and my journey up the east coast. I got into some great conversations with guys I have been friends with on the web for a while, Carl and Luke, and with some new folks I had met that day. They were interested in hearing about permaculture, and we talked at length about agorism.
That night back at the house I stayed up really late, talking with a guy named Jacob, who was deep into his journey. The true nature of reality, the structure of the conspiracy, metaphysics, philosophy, and revolution were all covered. Reminds of my days in college when I had such conversations fairly regularly.
I had another conversation that went really deep, and all over the place, with Galen. Galen is young, by my point of reference. Just eighteen. He’s got a great head start on the world, knowing all that he knows. He seemed quite interested in many of the things I have some knowledge in, and we talked about the power of life energy and how that pertains to sexuality. I told him about Joel’s journey in Portlyn, discovering a totally different approach to cultivating and applying his life energy.
It was good night. Galen and I also had a great jam session when he brought out an electric keyboard that hooks up to his computer. He is a talented musician, and we jammed on a few tunes. I played the Sandbox Song, which he of course appreciated. Only voluntary exchanges are legitimate, peeps.
One morning during my stay in Richmond I woke up with a desire to hike somewhere, and lo and behold Luke messaged me to see if I wanted to go out to Belle Island with Sarah and him. What good fortune! We crossed over to the island on a massive footbridge that is suspended from the freeway overpass that crosses the James River.
It’s a wide river, shallow in several places with small rapids. Luke told me the water was clean, at least enough to swim in. It was actually a warm day so it was tempting, but we bound for the interior of the island, where there are fewer people. We explored the ruins of an old hydraulic power plant and we hiked around the island. A very nice place. I was reminded of many fun romps through Cameron Park in Waco, with Justin, Nathan, Travis, Phil and David.
After our walk, which lasted for close to three hours, we went to lunch in town at a nice local place. Luke and Sarah are great people. I said goodbye after lunch, likely not to see them again on this visit. I took a walk through downtown Richmond for a couple of hours before going back to the house.
The next day I was to depart for Washington DC. I thanked Kal and everyone at the house for their hospitality and I got on the road after a leisurely morning of getting ready. Next stop, DC, where I was to put on a presentation at the Glowhouse, an intentional community there.
I had a great time in Richmond, and I hope to continue to develop relationship with the movement there. It would be great to see more community groups starting up and getting active. Lots of people in the anarchy scene are keyboard warriors, but inactive in their own neighborhoods. This is why the message of agorism is so relevant. It’s all about making it happen in our communities. It’s about getting together around goals and making real changes, on the ground.
And so the journey continues! I look forward to more there is to see!