Without Government Who Would Pay for My Stuff?

infographic, libertarian, voluntaryist, voluntaryism, Statism, Taxation is theft, government spending

Yeah, yeah. Taxation is theft and all that – and you’ve doubtless heard the canned response of “But without taxes and government spending, what would we do about ________ ?” Well, we saw a pretty great little chart floating around on the internet recently that does a nice job of answering this question in a simple and effective way. So we cleaned it up and gave it a little more design (as presentation is everything), and have added it to our library of resources and infographics for you to use in impressing your Statist friends (ha ha)! Meanwhile, if you’re interested in checking out more of our graphics or libertarian cartoons and artist interviews, check out some of our tabs up at the top of the page (or click the prior links). And if you have any thoughts about voluntaryism, libertarianism, muh roads, Frederic Bastiat (who talked a lot about taxation being a form of plunder) or anything else that’s on your mind – just let us know in the comments! Until next time!

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Hey Patreon, Not Every Artist Supports Theft!

taxation, taxation is theft, cartoon, illustration, libertarian, libertarianism, socialism, theft, force, coercion, bully“Will you stand up for art?” So said the subject line of the recent email I received from Patreon recently. “Yeah, sounds good,” I thought. “Why wouldn’t I want to embark on some grandiose social crusade to stand up for fellow creatives here in America and around the world?” Well, turns out it wasn’t quite that simple.

Upon cracking Patreon’s email open, I was instantly greeted with #FORTHEARTS, and the following text: “We need your voice to help make a difference. A recent decision by the US government could cut funding towards supporting the arts in America…” Oh boy. Here we go with this again. Of course my libertarian / voluntaryist readers will automatically see the lunacy of using State to fund art (as evidenced by the popularity of the whole “taxation is theft meme”). But for those on the left or the right who is in love with a holy empire that uses force and coercion to legislate their beliefs and fund special interest projects like dung covered Mona Lisas…well, you can smell what I’m stepping in here.

Anyway, Patreon went on in their email to rally the troops to utilize #FORTHEARTS to share via social media just how important art is to the world, and thus speak a message to the US Government about just how dastardly and despicable it is that they’re not funding art. Like, you know, art can’t EVER be created unless it’s through some government handout. A government handout which isn’t provided voluntarily, mind you. And furthermore, a government handout which is taken through force from fellow creatives and people in your community who are also scraping by in life.

Sure Patreon. Go ahead, you’re a privately owned business (as far as I know). Maybe you’re just another one of those leftist internet businesses where you can’t take four steps without finding someone getting their knickers in a twist over their “god” State doing something wrong, but a business none-the-less. So Patreon is obviously free to take whatever stand they want – even if that stand is throwing a tantrum over the oh-so-nasty stance of someone they don’t agree with. But come on, if you want to support the arts, fine. That’s cool. I can get behind it. But by trying to get artists, who used to be anti-authoritarian and anti-establishment, to support what is essentially art sanctioned by the State (propaganda?)…well, you can count me out.

In the meantime, I figured I’d have a little fun and create my own art to share a message. All without the use of tax dollars. Hope you enjoy it! Until next time, peace.

Thoughts or suggestions? Leave a comment! And if you’re the type that might enjoy a little humor over all the lunacy out there, then you’ll definitely want to check out our graphics page for even MORE of our exclusive libertarian art and infographics! Because let’s face it…sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh!

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Awesome T-Shirts (and More) Brought to You by the Free Market: An Interview with Libertarian Country

interview, libertarian, libertarian country, free market, capitalismAre you a free market libertarian who is interested in starting your own business? If so (and even if you’re not), you’ll find the following exclusive interview with Libertarian Country a fascinating journey into the world of capitalism, entrepreneurship and yes, even personal freedom. But there’s also plenty to talk about here in regards to designing culturally relevant artwork for clothing, as well as how an individual might break free from the whole left/right paradigm – and end up on the road to liberty. So put on your favorite libertarian shirt (that you’ve hopefully bought from Libertarian Country), and enjoy this awesome and honest discussion about all the cool stuff that makes libertarianism great!

Thanks for talking with us! To start with, could you tell me a little bit about your involvement as a libertarian artist / business owner? 

We started Epicdelusion Clothing Company in 2011 (which is currently being revamped) that offered Libertarian tees among various other types of cool shirts. We soon ran into an issue; some of our conservative followers were offended by our “liberal” material and some of our liberal followers were offended by our “conservative” designs (namely our pro gun shirts). It was through this schism that we decided to open a secondary niche store that would carry only Libertarian products and so Libertarian Country was born.

People sometimes downplay the role that a Libertarian clothing store can play into the liberty movement. In actuality It’s culturally effective. What would the 60’s Anti-War movement have been without the music, the clothing, the style and the culture?

As a businessman I have a monetary interest in selling Libertarian clothing, to which I have no qualms in admitting, but we are also passionate about liberty and we see that creating these designs, advertising our clothing, signing on affiliates etc. is a way of spreading the liberty message. The exposure of these ideas via t-shirt designs validates them and they become culturally significant in some regard. We’ve had young Libertarians email us a thank us for doing what we do because they don’t feel like outcasts in the political world anymore; a world where it seems like you have to be either red or blue. Being a part of the Libertarian movement and this great community is something we value highly, and above all else we hope we can help make a difference and bring more awareness to the important issues our country and our world faces.

Have there ever been any particular media that helped raise awareness of libertarian issues in your life? Would you mind describing this process?

Our Grandfather was a delegate for the Democratic Party in the late 80’s/early 90’s when my brother (co-founder of Libertarian Country) and I were kids. Surprisingly, however, we were rarely exposed to political rhetoric or political influence growing up. It wasn’t until high school that we took any sort of interest in politics, and this was through our own volition.

Our eventual involvement with Libertarianism cannot be accredited to any specific writer, speaker, movie etc. In our teenage punk rock years we enjoyed freely discussing ideas that were unpersuaded by previously established philosophy. We would find someone to buy us beer, sit in the woods with a few friends, drink and have deep, intellectual conversations; which was something of a rarity for 15-year-olds to be doing (having political discussions that is, not the drinking part 😉 ). It was through this freethinking discussion that we learned of philosophers and political writers; we would befriend intellectual types and were frequently given recommendations of writers to check out based on our own ideas that we were presenting.

bumper stickers, libertarian, legalize freedom, libertarian country, interviewAs politically undeveloped teenagers we began reading Nietzsche, Proudhon, Marx, Anthony Burgess, George Orwell, Schopenhauer, Camus, Machiavelli, Voltaire, Descartes and various other political writers and philosophers. We wouldn’t necessarily read them to teach ourselves, but rather to weigh our own ideas against established writers to see how they compared and contrasted. By our late teens and early 20’s we were predominately reading left-wing and anarchist literature which would eventually serve as the catalyst to our entrance into Libertarianism (although at the time I had never even heard of Libertarians.) I began to detect fundamental flaws with left-wing ideology (anarcho-communism, socialism etc.) and as I educated myself further I started rejecting it altogether.

The first time I heard about Libertarianism was at a party. We were having a political discussion and I expressed a severe distaste for leftism, the democratic party, the green party as well as religious right-wing conservatism and the Republican party. I laid out my political beliefs and in frustration declared that I didn’t fit in anywhere. My friend’s older brother then said “dude, you’re a Libertarian.” I will always consider myself a freethinker who transcends political affiliation, but after reading the platform of the Libertarian party I understood that this was the party that most closely resembled my political stance. I thus became a registered Libertarian.

Do you have any unique experiences so far through creating content and marketing to the libertarian community?

The Libertarian community attracts a lot of debate. Even if someone isn’t a self-proclaimed Libertarian, they realize they are more likely (in my opinion) to find honest and intelligent political discussion among Libertarians than with other groups. With any community that largely prizes itself on its intellectual capacity, there’s always an anticipated level of disagreement. This is a good thing. It is through this debate and discussion that we evolve. I love watching people debate in an intelligent, respectful manner. It’s quite an experience to see how people are thinking whether you agree with their ideas or not. Our t-shirt ads are responsible for a lot of this type of debate 😉

What might your goal be for the future working in this area?

Libertarians are sometimes accused of disregarding the world outside of themselves. One of the key interests we have, contrary to this notion, is growing monetarily in order to financially support the charitable organizations we are passionate about. We currently donate to pit bull rescues and have donated to cancer benefits, but would like to expand our business so we can branch out to fund more charity projects. One of my personal interests in relation to the liberty movement is eventually becoming involved with film writing/film making. Some of which would bring libertarian ideas to greater audiences through creative cinematic exhibitions.

Any recommendations on how liberty-minded people could get involved (or start their own business) in their community, and be a positive ambassador for libertarianism?

libertarian country, interview, make taxation theft again, muh roads, tshirts, shirts, libertarianMy advice to anyone who is interested in starting a business is to always remember this key to success: Do not accept failure as a possibility. You will throw many gutter balls before you get a strike, but always keep rolling. The moment you give up is the minute that you’ve failed. Many great entrepreneurs were forced to declare bankruptcy, their business didn’t work and they had to start from scratch. What allowed them to become successful is that they remained intrepid, determined and never gave up.

When you’re the business owner you’re the leader, you’re the boss. This means that you have to implement strategic business tactics, manage yourself and others, and ultimately rely on your own judgement. Hear other people’s advice, but listen to your own decisions. To give an example of this: in 2013 I was faced with a business related dilemma. I was gainfully employed at a respectable company working full time. I was also working on our business every other waking hour I could give. I realized that in order for us to effectively grow that I needed that extra 9 1/2 hours that I was losing to my job every day. Only being in business for about 2 years I was heavily advised NOT to leave my current employer. Our counselor from the Small Business Association warned against quitting my day job. Aside from a couple die-hard believers, everyone thought I was crazy to take a pay cut to work at my own business (which at the time was hardly lucrative.)

On paper it was a bad idea, but in my mind I knew it had to be done. So in 2013, just turning 30 years old, I respectfully waved goodbye to my old career and settled in for the bumpy road ahead; the road of self-employment. There were many times in that first year where I thought I had made a huge mistake, but we persevered. Today I can say that they were wrong. I made the right decision. We were able to rapidly grow by giving our full focus and we owe, in part, our current status to that one big decision. I’m not telling people to quit their jobs on a whim and start a business… all things must be carefully calculated and considered, but I do believe fortune favors the brave.

As far as being a positive ambassador for Libertarianism, I think that whether a person is a Libertarian or not they are representing a very Libertarian idea when they start a business and compete in the marketplace. If you are a Libertarian business owner you will find that credential and financial stability are valuable not only to yourself but to the community that shares your ideas; as you are a demonstration of your own conviction. This will serve as an example that Libertarians are successful, good people with valid ideas.

Where can readers find out more about what you do?

We have a few blogs up that go into what we’re all about that you can visit at http://www.libertariancountry.com. If you have any specific questions you can email libertariancountry (at) gmail (dot) com or come hang out at our facebook page via www.facebook.com/libertariancountry.

I don’t have any specific libertarian artwork at the moment. We keep our tee designs relatively simple. I’m not the greatest artist in the world, but I did a recent drawing of Hunter S. Thompson as a psychedelic bat. I feel that Hunter S. Thompson encompassed a lot of the Libertarian attitude. Thanks again!

libertarian country, libertarian artwork, Hunter S. Thompson

If you thought this interview was pretty cool, don’t forget to take a look at our libertarian artists page for more great artist interviews and artwork from a variety of different artists in our community! You can also check out Libertopia’s own artwork page here, or download our 60 page art ebook at Libertopia: Collection One! Also, if you have any thoughts about the free market or a recommendation for a libertarian business owner interview, please let us know! Thanks for reading!

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“Comics Preaching the Principles of Liberty”: An Exclusive Interview with Voluntaryist Comics!

Voluntaryist, Voluntaryism, Origins, Comic Book, Art, illustration, libertarian, superhero, statism, interview, comic creator, libertopia cartoonsIn a time when libertarians sought for more meaningful entertainment and positive ways to engage the culture around them, one person stepped forward with a unique comic series that explores what it truly means to be free! It’s the Voluntaryist Comic – an epic story of a superhuman hero who finds himself pitted against dastardly foes, giant monsters and timely super-villains almost ripped from the headlines of today! According to the Voluntaryist “About” page, “the purpose of this comic is to give a sense of what is going on in America and, in addition, to offer the reader inspiration that something can be done to stop the coming dystopian future. It also promotes voluntaryist values in the narrative. (If you don’t know what that is, simply google the ‘Non-aggression principle.’) The idea for the comic was created by Voluntaryist fanatic and costumer Jamie S., whose passion for liberty is only matched by his passion for dressing in spandex super-suits. He began the long process of creating the series while trudging through his studies in school.”

Thanks for talking with us! To start with, how would you explain your involvement in the various libertarian/voluntaryist communities?

I’ve been involved with liberty crowds since 2008, helping to promote the Libertarian party for election season. Since that time, I’ve moved on from mainstream politics and have been more passionate about ethical philosophy. I’ve produced videos, written articles, shot pictures, and created comics preaching the principles of liberty. What motivates me the most is seeing people have that “ah-HA!” moment when they realize that goods and services should not be provided at the barrel of a gun.

Yes, absolutely! As a fellow artist, I can completely relate to this. So what was it that you would say helped raise awareness of libertarian issues in your own life?

I don’t think that my parents necessarily pushed my views toward liberty in a direct way, but they were both avid educators who valued freedom and autonomy in learning. I think I gained some sense about the value of individualism and self-direction from that upbringing psychology.

The most artful articulation of Voluntaryist principles I think comes from Zander Mars’ Beyond the Government-Haunted World: A Comic Guide to Voluntaryism, Free Markets, and the Non-Aggression Principle (as seen here). His book is a type of comic-styled treatise on the philosophy of voluntaryism. It’s extraordinarily accessible. Pretty much anyone aged 13 or older could read it and readily grasp what it means to live by the non-aggression principle.

Very cool. Do you have any unique experiences so far through working in the libertarian/voluntaryist community? 

Voluntaryist, Voluntaryism, Origins, Comic Book, Art, illustration, libertarian, superhero, statismMeeting Pasha Roberts when he was on tour for the Silver Circle film was an important development in my comic building process. Pasha created a pro-liberty, anti-Federal reserve comic book (as seen here) and animated film that focused on a group of rebels taking on banksters to free the monetary system. Speaking to him about his work helped me to hone my own production skills to reach the libertarian community.

What might your goal be for the future working in this area?

I plan to take the Voluntaryist comic to Marvel and D.C. heights with animated films. I know it’s ambitious, but I think that if I continue to do speak on the government’s misdeeds as the world awakens to the problems of government, there will be a great demand for Voluntaryist-styled entertainment. There’s too much mainstream media that won’t touch on meaningful ethical discourses. People are tired of it and crave some intellectually meaty storytelling.

Any recommendations on how people can get involved as positive ambassadors for libertarianism/voluntaryism in their own communities?

Do whatever you already do well and add a touch of liberty. Whether that’s working on cars, sewing, mathematics, or cleaning pools, there’s always an opportunity to integrate the message of liberty in your work. Even something as simple as a “how-to” video with a link to the Mises Institute in the description can wake people up to truly voluntary living.

Where can readers find out more about what you do?

Readers can check out more at our HQ Website volcomic.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/volcomics.

Voluntaryist, Voluntaryism, Origins, Comic Book, Art, illustration, libertarian, superhero, statismAnd last of all – do you have a favorite piece of libertarian art that you’ve created or relates to you in a personal way? (Note: we always think it’s fun to end our interviews by asking those individuals we’ve chatted with if they’d mind sharing a cool piece of artwork. This can be anything from a simple sketch to a piece of music or poetry that they’ve created, or even a favorite graphic that relates to them personally in some way.) Voluntaryist replied with, “I don’t draw the art for the comic, so it probably wouldn’t be that impressive. LOL. But I did attach the cover image for the latest comic campaign (as seen at left)! Thanks again Lewis for your kind thoughts and help!”

Also, don’t forget to take a look at our libertarian artists page for more great artist interviews and artwork from a variety of different artists in our community! You can also check out Libertopia’s own artwork page here, or download our 60 page art ebook at Libertopia: Collection One!

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I Don’t Need Your Civil War

Leftism, Conservatives, Left or Right, libertarian, cartoon, illustration, progressivism, modern society, western societyCivil War. It’s a term irresponsibly bandied about as of late, and unfortunately it’s not in reference to that awesome song from Guns N’ Roses. Which if you haven’t heard, you should. I fully recommend it, kind of like I do Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. But, hey…slow down! This isn’t a post about the healing power of rock and roll, as cool as that would be. Rather, it’s about all these bad vibes man. I mean, at this point you’ve probably noticed the simmering “Cold War” like tension brewing between people of differing political ideologies who, unlike Rodney King, just can’t seem to get along. I mean, whatever happened to Bobby McFerrin’s don’t worry, be happy? Meanwhile, you’ve got all these well-funded celebrities and establishment overlords on the Left and Right who wander around smackin’ their gums and shaking their fists at the sky, all while practically praying for some politician to smite their foes with hellfire and brimstone. Yeah. Seriously. Ridiculous. And I’m like Stealers Wheel when they said, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”…except here I am as a libertarian. Stuck in the middle with you.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people haven’t really learned anything from history. Especially when it comes to the power elites on the Left and the Right wittingly or unwittingly taking old ideas, giving them a little dust off, and painting them up with a new disguise. Perhaps if more of us had been taught how to think, and have a deeper understanding of the repeated mistakes, terrible wars, and the tragic scale of human suffering throughout history, we’d be a little less enthusiastic about our attempts to bash the daylights out of someone we don’t like. And no, I didn’t forget about that majestic and infallible governmental enterprise known as public stool…er…school. While our parents sent us away for convenient baby-sitting, we all learned how dull history could be when compared to the more immediate pursuit of popularity amongst our peers.

But as someone who has spent countless hours studying various time period in history, I can confidently say that we have absolutely zero understanding of the degree of terror and utter depravity that has taken place when people can’t figure out how to live together. Irregardless of which side of the fence you might think you sit on, you’re still sitting here in a society relatively free from disease and death, sipping fancy coffees or munching potato chips while playing Halo. Sure, you might think it’s fun to light your leftist, intolerance, cartoon, illustration, political cartoon, conservative, diversity, intolerance,keyboards on fire with all kinds of vitriol, spit on people you don’t like, flip someone the bird for having the wrong bumper sticker, or write articles for Mother Jones or Huff Post that talk about how stupid people are who don’t agree with your enlightened and oh-so-tolerant view, but honestly. You and I simply have no idea the amount of suffering some of our ancestors experienced when things went really bad. Take the American “civil war” for example. It was a war of losers, as all wars are, with effects that are still felt to this day. But ultimately, people just couldn’t figure out how to peacefully resolve their problems. The politicians and media darlings of the day just kept flinging poo on their neighbors at every chance they got, until finally it turned into a huge, horrific mess in which 600,000 to a million people (including civilians) lost their lives.

So on a final note, I guess what I’m saying is that like Guns N’ Roses, I don’t need your civil war. It feeds the rich while it buries the poor. Yeah, we don’t have to like each other, or be forced to join hands and sing kumbaya. And just like people do all the time in the real world, maybe we can even part ways if our relationship isn’t working out. But whatever the case, we’d all be a lot happier if we stopped behaving like a bunch of whiney little jerks. Go ahead. Just put a little love in your heart…

Thoughts? Suggestions? Leave a comment! We’d love to talk more about collectivism, tolerance and intolerance, leftists and conservatives, liberty, progressivism, modern society, western civilization and more! Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our many other amazing libertarian cartoons (which can be found here), and our cool 60 page book with some of the finest libertarian art content around at Libertopia: Collection One!

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“Find what you love, and let it kill you.”: An Exclusive Interview with Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos, libertarian, libertarian national committee, libertarian party, interview, libertopiaLibertopia cartoons recently had the privilege to talk with the creative and talented Caryn Ann Harlos, the Region 1 Representative of the Libertarian National Committee (amongst many other things, which can be read about in more detail below). As well as a unique and influential voice within the libertarian community as a whole, Caryn  has also been known to visit our growing community here at Libertopia on more than one occasion. She was also recently a guest on the Tom Woods Show (Ep. 844), in which she discussed where the Libertarian Party is today, and where it might be going in the future. So we hope you’ll enjoy this exclusive interview, and find out how people just like you are out there making a positive difference in a wide variety of ways!

Thanks for talking with us Caryn! To start with, could you tell us a little bit about your involvement as a libertarian?

I am the Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee representing Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming as well the Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado and Colorado State Coordinator for the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus.  What motivates me?  A deep and abiding conviction that this is the right solution for humanity that honours each person’s inherent rights and will lead to the greatest human potential and prosperity.  I have come to earnestly believe that the initiation of force and abandonment of natural rights is inherently wrong and wish to see it eliminated as much as can be achieved. I most enjoy speaking with other people and seeing the light bulb go off as it did to me, and in assisting other libertarians in spreading the word.

Caryn Ann Harlos, libertarian, libertarian national committee, libertarian party, interview, libertopiaHave there ever been any particular writers, speakers, books, movies etc. that helped raise awareness of libertarian issues in your life? Would you mind describing this process?

No writers or persons “brought” me to libertarianism.  I think like many libertarians, I can point to that spark throughout my life, but my realization came more through huge life changes and self-examination.  I don’t particularly like bringing this up because we all have agency, and I don’t think we can always lay the blame for past experiences totally on other people (some exceptions of course), but I was previously in a very bad and controlling marriage and involved in a pretty fundamentalistic Christian church that did not equip me to deal with getting out of such a situation.  But when I started to break free of that, it really opened the flood-gate for libertarian and liberal ideas without me realizing that is what they were, and my views started changing out of that more rigid mindset and ideas.  During that time I became much more “liberalized” in my faith and views and disillusioned with nationalism and the mixing of politics and religion, so by the time I was exposed to the Libertarian Party I was ready, and I made the jump literally over a lunchbreak simply by reading the Libertarian Party platform—and at that time I had completely abandoned the political sphere.  The me of today is, dare I say, radically different from the me of yesterday, but more in line with what I think I have always intuitively known about the nature of rights and freedom.  The one strand that has been consistent is an abiding love for the absolute right to freedom of speech.  I participated in anti-censorship events in my youth and am now in a lawsuit with the State of Colorado over political free speech in the form of “ballot selfies.”

Caryn Ann Harlos, libertarian, libertarian national committee, libertarian party, interview, libertopia, taxation is theftDo you have any unique experiences so far through working in the libertarian community? (fun memories, unusual stories, interesting people you’ve met, etc)

I don’t know that any experiences were unique, but I think that meeting so many different people with different lives and stories and wants and needs has made me a much richer and certainly a much better person.  I often joke that if you asked the me of ten years ago what scenario was more likely to be true today:

  • a. dead
  • b. have ten children
  • c. founded a nudist camp
  • d. become an anarchist on the governing board of a political party

I would have laughed my ass off at option d. I don’t even like politics.

What might your goal be for the future working in this area?

I have learned now not to anticipate.  I honestly don’t know.

Any recommendations on how liberty-minded people could get involved in their community, and be a positive ambassador for libertarianism?

I love the expression I heard lately, “Find what you love, and let it kill you.”  Find your niche and passion in liberty. For me, right now, it is the Libertarian Party.  If that can be yours too, the field is wide open, and there is plenty to do in every interest and skill to pour yourself out to the extent you wish to for liberty.  There are state and county affiliates hungry for your help.

Where can readers find out more about what you do?

I am prolific on Facebook, and of course, very active in the Libertarian Party-so that is where to find me. Within the internal specifics of the policy, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus, and we can be found at lpradicalcaucus.org and our FB group (link here) – I hope to see you there.

Caryn Ann Harlos, libertarian, libertarian national committee, libertarian party, interview, libertopia, abolish all the thingsAnd last of all – do you have a favorite piece of libertarian art that you’ve created or relates to you in a personal way? (Note: we always think it’s fun to end our interviews by asking those individuals we’ve chatted with if they’d mind sharing a cool piece of artwork. This can be anything from a simple sketch to a piece of music or poetry that they’ve created, or even a favorite graphic that relates to them personally in some way.) Caryn notes that the “abolish all the things” image at left “is a meme someone made of my activities at the National Convention as I walked around with Radical Caucus thumbs up/thumbs down signs and a light saber for proposals.” Enjoy!

Also, don’t forget to take a look at our libertarian artists page for more great artist interviews and artwork from a variety of different artists in our community! You can also check out Libertopia’s own artwork page here, or download our 60 page art ebook at Libertopia: Collection One!

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The Kowloon Walled City: Embarrassing Problem or Unregulated Utopia?

Kowloon Walled CitySince it’s complete destruction by the government in 1994, the Kowloon Walled City has attracted a fair amount of interest over the years as either an embarrassing problem of crime and cramped living conditions – or as an intriguing example of a population that lived without rulers and their regulations. Existing within the much larger city of Hong Kong, Kowloon was a complex society of around 33,000 – 50,000 people living out their lives in a roughly 6.4 acre area. It was one of the most densely populated places in the world, and it somehow all worked.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t become familiar with Kowloon until recently. As an artist, I sometimes look for inspiring images or interesting subject matter online in order to help spur a little creativity. This particular search (which had something to do with unique places in the world), somehow brought me to Kowloon. I first saw the photo of Kowloon from the air, with it’s roughly 14 story buildings crammed together as if it were almost one huge block – except with open spaces here and there, and varying levels to the top floors. Meanwhile, within the city itself, there were walkways, rooms, hallways, passageways, and streets where daylight hadn’t shone for decades. Without a doubt, it was chaotic in appearance. But it was also a testament to architecture being transformed and altered over time to meet the many needs of it’s occupants (similar to what was portrayed in the iconic architectural look seen within the film “Bladerunner”).

Kowloon’s near anarchist society came about as a result of a dispute between Great Britain and China. Neither could figure out who owned the space on which Kowloon sat, so it really didn’t have much of a government presence. As a result, thousands of people saw opportunity to be had here, free from harsh or burdensome red-tape, fees and fines. For example, while there were many dentists which worked out of Kowloon, there were also schools, shops, places to eat and socialize, rooftop gardens, areas for children to play, places of worship, small manufacturing facilities and more. All unregulated.

To be fair, Kowloon was not without problems. There were drugs and prostitution, as well as organized crime – all problems that exist within any city, even highly controlled ones. And there was the problem with lack of space as well, with many families having to share rooms, or spaces having multiple uses throughout the day. Some people even had to haul water from various water sources located within the city. But it was far from being a slum. Many people who lived here took pride in their homes and the businesses they ran, and liked the close-knit communities they formed with their neighbors. And when you consider all the thousands of men, women and children that lived here, with many fondly reminiscing years later about their experiences of growing up there, it’s pretty remarkable.

No, this society didn’t turn into some kind of barbaric Mad Max scenario, or implode on itself from some lack of a “guiding hand of progress”. In the end, it was doomed by a government that seemed to have felt embarrassed that such a place existed outside of their control. People were forcibly evicted (although compensated, many simply didn’t want to leave their homes), and the entire place was razed and turned into a park.

What do you think? Would a free society be able to function very well without central planning, eminent domain or a controlling force at work? Would a place like Kowloon work in other areas of the world? If Kowloon had more space, and the people who lived here were able to have access to free market resources outside the city, how would it possibly have been different? What libertarian/voluntaryist lessons can be taken from Kowloon in regards to decentralization, urban planning and architecture that is able to more effectively meet the needs of people?

If you’d like to learn more about Kowloon, check out the following:

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