Libertarianism is lame.
To put it frankly, libertarianism is an ideology that has a relatively high cost of entry. I don’t necessarily mean monetarily either, I’m also talking about time cost. Though you can get the basics of libertarianism down with a short read of “Anatomy of the State”, “The New Libertarian Manifesto”, or “Getting Libertarianism Right”, or by spending some time on LibertyBlock.com, there becomes almost a wall to the ideology when there are 20+ books some purists will expect you to read and fully understand to be taken seriously. Some books being obscenely expensive for the amount of content they are, Community Technology by Karl Hess comes immediately to mind as my used copy cost me $60 and it’s only 100 pages and some change. We cannot expect everyone to read Human Action, We shouldn’t expect people to read Democracy: The God That Failed, however, this seems to be the air some libertarians have. The other ideologies, save for various flavors of Marxism, can usually get their ideology across by presenting a small shopping list of demands or a mentioning of The Constitution and American Exceptionalism, libertarians can claim to have this, but we immediately get into arguments on whether or not Intellectual Property exists. (it doesn’t). What’s the other barrier that libertarianism has that would normally allow an ideology to be easily understood and broadcasted to the masses?
With few exceptions, libertarianism has failed to capture the hearts of the masses. As time goes on we see the left and even the conservatives maintain a hold on cultural media, be it film, books, television (or in this case, shows on streaming platforms), the list goes on. These mediums of entertainment are held by our ideological opponents with little chance of us gaining traction within them. Sure there are examples of libertarian themes in films such as Dallas Buyers Club, Amy, and even The Incredibles, but these are the exception and not the rule, from the standpoint of books, our relatives the objectivists have managed to make Atlas Shrugged a beloved book for many people outside of their worldview, primarily conservatives. But where is our Atlas Shrugged? Where’s our Brave New World? Some of my fellow Agorists in the room will likely chime in about Alongside Night, the problem we have is that Alongside Night’s book isn’t a common talking point or subject of praise outside of some very niche circles, the other problem is the movie adaptation is horrendously unfaithful to the original work on top of being trash so it fails for two different reasons to be the poster child for the cultural relevance of libertarianism, so what is capable of meeting that cultural niche?
You guessed it, anime.
Anime within the last few years has not only gained worldwide attention, it is now so ubiquitous that we no longer live in the days of having to explain what anime is. If you’ve been a fan as long as I have, you understand this struggle. In a way, this echoes how libertarianism is relatively unknown or if it is known, it’s mocked or even reviled by some who are aware of it but are not a part of it. But why anime, you ask? To put it simply, Anime is capable of broadcasting various messages and philosophies to its audience. An example of our opposition using anime is Hayao Miyazaki, famed director of such films as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and my personal favorite of his: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki is a known Marxist and though he can be subtle in most of his films he also sprinkles a bit of overtness here and there such as Porco Rosso. There are examples already of anime with liberty-minded themes and concepts, these will be explained as the article goes on.
The very basis of libertarianism is economics, namely private property rights and capitalism, and through extrapolation, liberty is the consequence. Anime can be used to explain economics (in this case Austro-Economics) albeit not directly but through a secondary understanding. Let’s take my favorite anime Yuru Camp, for example, a show where high school girls go on various camping trips throughout the series. Each character with their own personality, background, and their own ends. The protagonist Rin is a socially introverted individual who tends to camp by herself on solo camping trips, she also has a propensity to travel far outside her town on her Moped, as these trips, vehicle maintenance, and the equipment itself cost money, Rin maintains this through a part-time job at a bookstore. The deuteragonist Nadeshiko on the other hand is an extrovert who befriends Rin rather quickly, and joins the Outdoors Club on her first day transferring, Nadeshiko is more interested in camping with a group and has minimal to no equipment, the Outdoors Club has a few resources available for members to use but as only one member has a job at the beginning of the series, these resources are scarce, prompting members to get jobs, the same will occur for Nadeshiko though this occurs towards the end of the first season. These two characters are great examples of Human Action: People seeking their own ends through scarce means, each character wants different things from their experience and weighs the costs and benefits.
There’s also a great example for both The Subjective Theory of Value and Time Preference within Yuru Camp as well. For the uninformed the Subjective Theory of Value asserts that the value of an item, service, etc… is entirely based on how much you’re willing to pay to obtain that thing, it’s also not that you value you that thing as equal to what you’re paying for it, you actually value it MORE than what you’re using to pay for it. Time Preference is the concept of how much someone delays gratification for greater gains, those with a high time preference for example would take $1,000,000 now instead of $100,000 a month for the rest of their lives where someone with low time preference would choose the opposite. During the midway point of the first season, the Outdoors Club brings Nadeshiko to an Outdoor Outfitter similar to an REI or the camping section of a Cabelas or Scheels. As Nadeshiko travels the store she comes across a lamp that resembles the old oil lamps of the 1800s, she has interest in the lamp however the price tag is set for ¥4999 or about $50 (though with inflation i could very well be wrong). With no job, Nadeshiko decides to find part-time work to be able to buy the lamp from the store. This is an example of Time Preference because Nadeshiko is willing to delay the gratification of purchasing an item that would be cheaper in an effort to acquire the lantern. This also pertains to The Subjective Theory of Value because though there are other things Nadeshiko could spend her money on, she values this lantern above them, including hours worked and money earned. There are more examples within Yuru Camp that can explain Austro-Economics but if I make this section any bigger it will require a paperback edition, but that’s for another time.
Counter-Economics and Agorism
Within the Liberty Movement there exists a sub-group of people who view the concept of democracy as the enactment of aggression and inconsistent with libertarian values, these are called Agorists, of which I consider myself a member. To save you a multi-page history lesson I’ll simply explain the basic concepts of Agorism and how it differentiates from traditional libertarianism. As mentioned before, Agorists don’t believe in democracy or political action to remove The State, instead, they believe in a concept known as Counter-Economics, Described by Samuel Konkin, the founder of Agorism, as all instances of human action outside the view and allowance of the state. This can include examples such as working under the table, buying products that are either illegal or normally regulated, or my favorite example, simply having a yard sale that did well and NOT declaring the income. This is my favorite example because almost everyone has done this exact thing, people are engaging in Counter-Economics and they don’t even know it. Within anime, you can see examples of Counter-Economics, though these are more far and few between as opposed to Austrian Economics which can be more broadly applied. For what I consider the most blatant example of Counter-Economics in anime, we’ll need to do a quick dive into a show called Sound of the Sky.
Sound of the Sky takes place in a small town within a country that is in the midst of an uneasy armistice. Though the war is over, Kanata Sorami joins the military because she wants to learn how to play the trumpet, and is stationed at the military base neighboring the town. Over the course of the series the viewer experiences both the highs and lows of a military life in a town where nothing is happening all the while characters pick up the pieces of their broken pasts. At the midpoint of the series, Kanata is visiting the town during a market day after she gets paid. To her surprise, she was paid on time and in cash, which according to her is different from how things are normally done where soldiers are paid in scrip and usually weeks late. Well, there’s a reason for this, her unit is actually running a distillery in the basement of the base, creating alcohol without licenses, permits, or anything of the sort (i know I’m just as appalled as you are.) over the course of the episode the rest of Kanata’s unit is busy dealing with the mafia from the capital trying to step in on their turf, so they give them a reason to stay away, non-violently of course. It’s revealed that the punishment for committing this “crime” is pretty steep, but the group took it upon themselves after the previous unit that originally produced the alcohol left. It’s actions like these that are representative of Counter-economics.
Private Societies and Security
Within the ideas posited by the Great Hans Herman Hoppe, he asserts that governance in a private society would not be every individual atomized to be their own citizen, but covenants of people would create a multitude of competing governances that would each have their own rules and structures. If one doesn’t find the terms of the community they’re in to be suitable for them, they can more easily transfer their citizenship to another covenant, and while on the surface this may appear to be overwhelmingly similar to what our current system is, there would exist contractual obligations of the Covenant owners to their customers, otherwise private arbitration will find them liable to damages and also the risk of losing customers to a higher quality covenant. One Thing That cities in our current system are supposed to provide is security, considering the state of the average urban area and the public opinion on the police as a whole, it goes to show that the security forces have failed to do their jobs, security would also be in competition with one another to provide the proper services at a competing price for the populous they’re serving. This however can include escort services for businesses that travel to make their money such as shipping. A great example of this comes from an oddball of a show called The Magnificent Kotobuki.
The story of The Magnificent Kotobuki (From here on out just Kotobuki for short) takes place in a dried up land with spots of communities dotting the world, the primary cast of the show is the Kotobuki Corps, private security contractors for a courier service, they provide security with their World War 2 era fighter planes escorting a large dirigible, over the course of the series the group engages in dogfights of a varying challenge to execute their contractual obligations. To put it simply, Kotobuki is set in a pure AnCap world, however, not everyone believes in respecting the private property rights of others as Sky Pirates are a regular problem (hence the need for dogfighting security firms). Each of the characters has their own personal motivations from as simple as the main character Kyrie wanting to fly, to the captain who runs an orphanage in her spare time. Throughout the series, the viewer is shown examples of how regulation enables the monopolization of force, how democracy is easily corruptible, and how communities and even individuals have differing values thus differing needs that need to be met. The Antagonist of the series Isao is a Maoist who creates statist policies that hinder both the heroes but allow a corrupt system to take effect. At the end of the series it cuts to each character detailing what they want to do with their lives and it’s portrayed as heroic, not selfish. Though the series is not without flaws, namely the fact that without the advent of inter-dimensional wormholes the world will not innovate on the technology it has, if you know what happens to technology when put on the free market, you know this is silly. However, I believe this show is a great representation of a private society, and if an AnCap is to watch only one anime, it would be this one.
And with that, I have provided three examples of how anime is a useful tool for both explaining and professing Liberty. Though there are many more examples I feel it’s safe to say this article has gotten to the point of being a small pamphlet and we can leave it here for now. So from that where do we go? Libertarianism amongst the Japanese is growing rather steadily, but over here in the states, we can also join in. Be it simply getting interested in anime and supporting works that reflect our values, if one is a graphic artist with skill in drawing manga I’m sure The Manga Guide to Anarcho-Capitalism would sell well if the characters were cute and we might educate a few people to boot. If one is more of a writer than a designer, there’s a middle point between Novel and Manga called Light Novels which features a few anime-styled illustrations within a small book, works like this from members of the Liberty Movement already exist like Scott Reavy Jr.’s Hex | End series who’s 2nd volume is being worked on. Maybe the young libertarian anime fan possibly reading this will go on to make something great too.