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Monday, August 31, 2009
Some people fear the death of the state because of their own financial situation. They are afraid of becoming dependent on charity in a free market where no state exists. Without a state to steal money with which to run its agencies and programs, those who work for the state face the consequences of their choices. In many cases their fears are unfounded.
Not everyone who works for the state will automatically be out of work when the state dies. Some of those jobs would still be useful and even necessary. In fact, some may become even more popular in a free society.
Consider becoming an honest provider of your services sooner rather than later. Those who are doing a job that would have a place in a free society could just divorce themselves from the state now.
The only people who will be automatically out of work when the state dies are those who can't compete without a captive, coerced "customer base". Those who depend on the monopoly of the state and couldn't attract real customers in a free market will lose out. Those whose "services" are generally unwanted and forced upon society at gun-point will find themselves at a disadvantage. Those parasites have no place in a free world anyway and would be thugs either with or without the state backing them up. We may as well expose them for what they really are now.
Let's say you are a meat inspector. I'm sure you know how to do your job just fine whether you are associated with the feds or not, right? In fact, you probably have a great many ideas of how to do your job a lot better and more efficiently, but regulations get in the way. It is already the case that "meets government standards" is a warning rather than a reassurance, and that the good businesses go far beyond those "standards". You know you can do it better. Every industry has similar examples.
Divorce your master and strike out on your own and put those innovations into action.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The federal government is becoming more irrelevant with each passing day. It is chasing its tail, stumbling, and crumbling due to being rotten to the core. That is the good news.
Now for the bad news. Freedom is still in grave danger.
The fact is that the federal government isn't the greatest external threat to your life, liberty, and property. That "honor" goes to the local thugs- bureaucrats, and politicians; to be carried out by their enforcers. How much danger is there really that the FBI will kick in your door tonight compared to the danger that you will be waylaid on your daily travels by a more local thug? What about the danger of being kidnapped and robbed by the ethically empty drones of the IRS? Is it greater than the danger of being attacked and killed by a local LEO hopped up on testosterone and "authority"; looking for an excuse to use his (or her) Taser?
Since it is now apparently a "crime" to be free, and committing such an infraction requires decisive action on the part of the LEOs- like demanding your "papers"; demanding to know where you are going and what business you have there- just the fact of your existence places you in danger if local tools of the state are near. Each and every encounter with a cop has become a life-and-death drama, where one hint that you are not a badge-licker can cause it to escalate out of control.
So, remember this the next time you hear someone complaining about the feds. It's all a matter of proportion and perspective.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I have been recently seeing that some anarchists are rejecting the concept of "private property". While I think this is more "communist" than "anarchist", I also know that in a free society a person can live as they want as long as they don't force their values on anyone else. I have absolutely no problem with people forming little communist enclaves if that is what they want. However, I do have a real problem with the rejection of the idea of private property, as I think it renders "freedom" meaningless.
I suspect that the desire to ignore or reject private property comes from not having "enough" of it. In that case, I should reject it, as well, but I don't. I see the position as a "sour grapes" stance summarized as: "Since I don't have all I want, and I don't think that is fair, then I don't recognize 'private property' anymore and I can take what I need to survive." I could be seriously wrong, of course.
The rejection of private property has some interesting implications. If there is no such thing as private property, then there is no such thing as theft. It would just be a transfer of material with no ethical implications at all If there is no such thing as theft, then taxation isn't wrong. How would you even know if it was "taxation" or freelance "transfer of material" anyway? In either case, it isn't "the state" that is taking the money from you, it is an individual who, in the case of "taxation" is supposedly taking it for the benefit of the state. If you don't own the money, then why would you complain as long as the money is not used to finance coercion?
We can pretend there is a state which uses no coercion, has no enforcers, wages no wars, and doesn't forbid consensual behavior, but only uses the "tax" money to finance welfare programs to make everyone happy, housed, well-fed, and healthy. Under such an imaginary non-aggressive state, even a 100% tax-rate would be fine, since you would have no claim to that money since there is no such thing as property. Under such a scenario, how could you really claim to be an anarchist?
I think to embrace anarchy, you must necessarily recognize that private property lies at the foundation. Even if it means being dissatisfied with how much, or how little, property you have right now.
In almost any rant calculated to justify a government violation of some basic human right which happens to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights, usually specifically the right to own and to carry weapons, someone will invariably bring up the old lie that "you can't yell 'FIRE!' in a theater".
Yes, you can. It is your absolute human right to do so. It may not be wise, and in a free society you will still be held accountable for any harm you cause by doing so, of course. This tyranny-enabling statement gets it wrong on many levels. The real quote asserts you have no right to FALSELY yell "FIRE!", but almost everyone misses that distinction, either through ignorance or by design, and it is still wrong anyway.
Then there is the misunderstanding of where rights come from. I'll give you a hint: they don't come from government or any of its documents. The Bill of Rights doesn't give us any rights at all. In fact, it doesn't even apply to you or me at all unless we work for government. And for those to whom it does apply, its entire purpose is to stop them from violating rights of others.
What the Bill of Rights DOES do is prohibit government from enacting "laws" that restrict (violate) certain rights (think of it as a "government shall not..." list). Since the First Amendment protects ALL speech from government regulation or control, it also protects the right to say things that can be destructive or stupid. That doesn't mean doing so is right.... it usually is not, but government can have no legitimate say in the matter. What government can do (if one exists), or what a private arbitrator should do, after the fact, is hold the speaker accountable for any harm his foolishness or evil caused.
The best thing is that the Bill of Rights could be repealed tomorrow and it wouldn't diminish our rights at all. It might make it slightly easier for government to get away with violating those rights by restricting freedom. We may get a chance to see.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Is it better to teach your children about freedom, and how to value it; knowing the world they will be growing up in (at least until the state fades away) is determined to punish and crush those who exercise* their freedom? Or is it better, for them, to just let them be raised to be compliant, mindless sheep, whose lives will be comfy as long as they "go along to get along"? At least until their deaths are necessary to the state.
I know the answer to that question in my own heart, although it troubles me some.
Yes, I allow my children to observe that the state is their enemy, and that all its enforcers and supporters are not to be trusted. I also try to teach them not to obsess over that fact. The first part is a lesson I wish my parents had taught me a little more clearly while I was growing up, although I learned it soon enough on my own. The second; a lesson I am continually teaching myself.
*Freedom, to be real, must be exercised, not just talked about. Most people who say the word "freedom" have no more clue about what it means than if they were talking about a blue charm quark. These are the people who, like a well-known politician/parasite, claim that freedom is about doing what the government tells you to do or who think "freedom" begins and ends with the Constitution or voting.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I'm going off on a little tangent here, but there is an eventual point.
When I first heard of the show "Survivor", I thought it sounded fascinating. Until I watched the first episode. I was disgusted that it had very little to do with survival, and everything to do with drama and personality conflicts. Behavior that would seriously compromise survival was encouraged and even necessary to "win".
So, out of my disgust grew a better idea.
Let's set up the premise. Why not take a jet, filled with everything a typical passenger plane would carry, except for the passengers, and smash it into the side of a mountain? You could then truck in the "survivors" and let them deal with the situation. Is anything usable in the wreckage? Probably, since you'd have to "gently" crash it in order for survivors to be realistic. Put fully-clothed dead pigs in some seats for some pretend "cannibalism" fun. Could "injuries" be randomly assigned? Perhaps a computer program could follow any treatment the other survivors attempt and determine the progress of the recovery... or "death". Of course, you couldn't give the "survivors" real injuries. Could you recruit car wreck victims from an emergency room? I guess that would be too risky.
The possibilities for excitement are endless. Would predators show up to scavenge the porcine bodies? How could they be defended against? Unless there were an air marshal on board, there wouldn't be any guns available for driving off predators. Hmmm. Unless some were in the luggage; on their way to an Alaskan hunt, perhaps. Filming would need to be as unobtrusive as possible. Maybe cover the area with remote-control cameras to minimize the distractions. There would be no contrived "council meetings" with the show's host. No getting "voted off"... you are stuck until you bail out, in which case you "die" and another pig corpse is substituted for you. The winner would be obvious since he or she would be the last player standing.
Here is the libertarian angle: I propose a new twist to this "reality show" of mine. Let's take a group of people of all sorts- but who all agree to abide by the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP), have gone through the TOLFA course, or who at least understand that ZAP will be the only "law"- put them in my plane crash scenario, or even on an island or in the middle of some other remote location, and see what happens. Let's see whether a group of people can really live by the ZAP under more extreme conditions than everyday existence. Let the fun begin! I volunteer enthusiastically.
I like to do my part and contribute to society in a meaningful way. That is the spirit in which I make this suggestion.
If the LEOs could bring themselves to just get over their authoritarian brainwashing, they would realize that they could ignore all the libertarians without endangering themselves or "the public" in any way.
It could make their lives and jobs so much simpler, plus by treating us as we should be treated, we would gladly take on some of their "responsibility" ourselves, since most of us know we alone are responsible for ourselves, and most of us also accept the responsibility to protect and defend the innocent around us.
Instead, most LEOs insist on waging war on those who otherwise would pose no threat to them at all. This is completely insane behavior on their part.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Bad things happen. That is just a harsh fact of life no matter what else is going on around you. That doesn't mean you have to make it worse. Throwing government on the situation is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It doesn't change the past. It doesn't restore a victim to his pre-attack condition. All it does is feed the blood-lust of those who have been absorbed into the cult of the punishment mentality.
In spite of the claims to the contrary, punishment doesn't serve as an effective warning to others. If that worked in real life, none of us would have to make our own mistakes since we would listen to the admonitions of our parents or learn from the experiences of our friends. It doesn't work that way, as everyone knows from personal experience.
There is also little hard evidence (in spite of wishful thinking by authoritarians) that currently popular forms of punishment really teach anyone "a lesson". Imprisonment does, however, immerse the prisoner into a new, anti-social, culture which reinforces the "us vs. them" dichotomy which teaches them to think it is OK to hurt the "other side". It also forces the prisoner to learn new skills from more experienced or creative fellow convicts. The really tragic part of this is that only a very small percentage of prisoners are there because of real aggression; most are there for victimless "crimes" against the state's insane edicts. All punishment does is strengthen the state.
The only ethical thing to do is to insist upon dispute resolution and restitution, and when that doesn't work, to exercise the right of self defense consistently. Apart from any government enforcement or control. It requires a separation of justice and state- on our way to the real pot of gold: the separation of life and state.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I post my older columns on a local newspaper's website. I also frequently comment on the news items therein. This general vicinity is not very libertarian at all, even though the newspaper is owned by the libertarian Freedom Communications. I am often the only voice for freedom when I comment on a story; the rest of the comments are made by people fully entrenched into, or absorbed by, the punishment mentality- the cult that results in bombed weddings in Iraq, DEA no-knock raids, Guantanamo torture, and automatic guilty verdicts (regardless of the facts) when the magic words "child molestation" or "child pornography" are uttered by the authoriturds.
The rationality of "my opposition" can be seen in this comment left by a reader on my newspaper blog:
"Shut up!~!! Your blogs are not interesting, have no meaning to the
well-informed citizens, and sometimes are just scary to read. Keep your opinions
to yourself and go out to your backyard and fire your gun to keep your sanity!!!
You need to find a support group, or make a friend who shares your interests in
order to keep you from going "postal". Please spare us from having to read your
annoying comments, and give us space to comment to people who care!!!"
Now, I have been told, on more than one occasion, that I am the most laid-back person you could meet. I've never been in a serious fight and I don't think I have ever been in danger of "going postal", as I much prefer to avoid a fight rather than feeling the need to start one if I have been "disrespected". And, of course, I will not initiate force.
I have to assume that freedom so frightens this person that she is striking out at me in terror without engaging her mind first. Is freedom really this frightening to the general population? I would hope not, but perhaps- to people without self-control, or without the ethical principles to guide them- it is. Especially if they assume everyone else is just like them.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
There are risks that go along with seeking power over the lives of others. It is only right that there should be. If you want that power, but are unwilling to face the risks, you should consider getting an honest job instead. Whether you are a judge who wants more "security" for the courthouse, or a congresscritter who doesn't like facing angry voters "back home", or a president who is worried about armed protesters in your vicinity, if you can't stand the heat, stop feeding bodies into the furnace. Heat, and risk, goes with the territory.
Carrying a gun is not "a threat" unless you are intending to attack the gun owner. Having a gun with you is not "using force". It may offend you, but you have no right to not be offended. None. I have not heard of any real threats made or attempted. So why do these politicians feel threatened by normal people doing normal things? Do you really think that if you are a threat to people- their lives, their liberty, and their property, that there will be no risks? Do you count on the celebrity status and starry-eyed worshipers to keep you safe? Or is this just why no politician I have ever seen can pass "The X-Ray Question"?
If Obama is doing nothing wrong, why would he worry about peaceful armed people in his presence? Politicians should be harmless enough that no one would want to kill them or do them harm. If they are not, it is an indication that they have overstepped their authority and have become a threat to the people who are forced to live with the results of their "laws". It should be a wake-up call to back off and straighten up. Instead it will be seen as an excuse to further illegally expand the power and authority of the state.
Obama, to his credit, doesn't seem to have publicly fretted over the proximity of gun-owners. Why should he, since his security has fully-automatic assault weapons in their hands? Weapons which are unethically prohibited to the rest of us. His reaction in private is a subject for speculation. His supporters have certainly raised the roof with their paranoia and conspiracy theories, though.
When I ran for president I publicly stated that it would be the duty of the people of America (at least the ones who had voted for me), and of my vice-president, to assassinate me if I violated my oath of office, or if I broke any campaign promise, and that I would sign an order upon my inauguration specifying that no charges could be pressed against the assassin. No honest politician can do any less.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
"Do you support the absolute human right of every person to own
and to carry, everywhere they go, in any way they see fit, whatever type of
firearm they wish without asking permission of anyone, ever?"
The answer will tell you all you need to know.
The whole notion of "health care reform" is on just about everyone's mind these days. Obama and his meat-puppets trying to sell their socialistic notions; the Republican marionettes trying to sell their equally misguided socialistic counter-notions. Most of the opposition is completely missing the important part. What everyone needs to remember is that it is illegal for government to have any control over the medical business no matter how much politicians would love to get their hands on the remainder of that pie. Even more important, it is simply wrong for government to attempt the takeover.
Yes, I realize government already controls a lot of the medical services in America. That is what has made medical care expensive in the first place. You don't solve the disease of socialism by increasing the dosage of socialism. Unless your goal is to kill the patient, a possibility which shouldn't be discounted entirely.
L. Neil Smith has promoted a great idea of advocating a Constitutional Amendment mandating a separation of medicine and state. As long as we have to contend with the dying system, you might as well use it against itself if that is your cup of tea.
He and others have laid out the steps to real health care reform, for all who want to see what would really work. Bill St. Clair wrote it out in this way:
1) The end of medicare and medicaid
2) The end of the FDA and the DEA
3) The end of medical licensing
4) The end of prescription drugs and controlled substances. Marijuana in the bulk aisle in the health food store. Morphine over the counter in the drug store.
5) No more insurance tax breaks for anybody (lower all taxes instead, preferably to zero).
6) Tort reform: loser pays.
This will engender a true free market in health care. A doctor visit or
a hospital stay for a broken bone will once again be affordable out of pocket
for most Americans. Catastrophic health insurance will be easily obtainable to
cover the rest. The poor will be very well taken care of with voluntary
Anything else is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The icy water is knee-deep and the deck chairs are floating away. It's time for bold action and substantive change, not more "politics".
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
On the heels of my post on "Intellectual Property", I find myself wanting to spread the "IP" of another. This is one of the clearest explanations of my world view I have ever read.
"A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and
'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of
self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame,
share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters
taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he
knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live
perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his effort will be less than
perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure." - Robert A. Heinlein
(The Moon is a Harsh Mistress)
I guess this means I will continue to refer to myself as an "anarchist" for the foreseeable future. Believe it or not, I am reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for the first time right now. Why did I wait so long? "Finite time" is my only excuse. This isn't my first taste of the wisdom in this book, though. There is another Heinlein quote on the next page that is also a favorite of mine. I discovered it through another liberty-lover long before I even knew where it originated.
"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I
tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I
know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."
Taken together these quotes give a pretty good description of how I attempt to live.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Intellectual property ("IP"), the idea that a person's creative works belong to them even after copies have been sold, is a fairly new thing. Throughout most of human history when a person invented something, or made up a poem or song, once anyone else was introduced to that new creation they could copy the original and no one thought anything of it. Before industrialization it was how progress was spread. I doubt anyone panicked about someone else stealing their design for the wheel or idea for "agriculture"; two examples of things that are much more important than the newest incarnation of the "legally-protected" "Twilight" franchise.
Then some lawyer had an idea. They would get "laws" enacted to give a person control over their creation so that they alone would profit from it (after paying the lawyer and government a hefty fee, of course)- at least for a while. I can understand someone wanting to profit from their creations. I know it would be a nice situation to be in, but is it right to use government to do so?
I have witnessed many heated discussions among libertarians about "IP", and have read good points from either side of the fence. The two sides come down to this: "Once you buy that CD you should be able to do anything with it, including copying it. What right does anyone have to tell you what you can do with your own property?" vs. "The artist put a lot of work into creating the content of that CD, and the recording company invested a lot of money to produce it. They should profit from their effort and investment, and that profit should be protected for a while." It doesn't take government to protect "IP", of course, but is "protection" justified by property rights, or would that violate the property rights of the person who bought the CD or book? Does the elimination of "IP" protection destroy the incentive to create?
I know that some of my creations have been used here and there, most with attribution; some without. It doesn't really bother me too much. Of course, there isn't any real money at stake either. Would I feel differently if I stood to gain or lose a lot of money? Probably, because I am human. Does that settle the matter? Absolutely not. My personal feelings or wishes have no bearing on the issue.
My opinion is that "Intellectual Property" is a nice idea for the creative person, but is probably unrealistic as we head into the post-government era of easily copied "content". I don't worry too much about protecting my own "IP", but, as a courtesy, I try very hard to not dishonestly benefit from the "IP" of others.
What do you think?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
In almost any vehicle accident, the state imposes a "fine" which is just another way to say that the state uses the accident as an excuse to steal more money. In an accident where damage was done to the property of another I can see a need for restitution, I can even see a point in paying for (illegitimately) state-owned infrastructure that was damaged in an accident, but often the only property damage is to the property of the person in the accident. The state works tirelessly to come up with some "offense", such as "distracted driving" or non-use of seat belts, that can be exploited for money. Even in the case of a private individual's property being damaged, the "fine" doesn't go to him to pay for his damages, but to the state's treasury. If any restitution is paid, it is paid by insurance. The "fine" has nothing to do with it. No matter, "fines" must be imposed to teach a lesson.
I'm sure the state justifies this theft by claiming the money will help pay for enforcers and judges, and for running the criminal universities (absurdly called "correctional facilities"). The truth is none of these things make society any "safer", freer, or better, but only strengthen the state. These things are all a part of the problem, not part of the solution.
This is also the case in many accidents, involving a vehicle or not, where an innocent person is killed or injured. Justice for the victim is measured, by the state, by whether someone can be punished for it. In the instance of a family member of the "guilty" party being the victim, isn't that punishment enough? How does the added punishment by the corrupt state make things any better? To demand state-imposed punishment for every unfortunate accident is perverted and wrong. Those who hunger for blood in these cases deserve to have the tables turned.
There is no clearer illustration that government is not there to "help" anyone but themselves.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Most people acknowledge that anarchy is fine for daily life. Once they think about it, they realize that they live almost their entire lives in a condition of anarchy- where they do not seek government approval for the hundreds of decisions they make each day, nor do they look to government to choreograph their interactions with all the people they come in contact with. Most of their lives are lived on a "is this good for me, and will it have any bad consequences?" basis. This is natural and peaceful. Normally the only non-free moments are when they are forced to jump through some governmental hoops to avoid being kidnapped or killed for not dotting an "i" or crossing a "t" as the state's thugs demand.
That being said, a lot of those people don't think freedom can truly "scale up" to fit the world. One recent comment I got can be paraphrased as "anarchy is fine between individuals, but not when you have to deal with a whole nation". Might that be true? Does it matter?
I don't know about you, but I have never had to deal with an entire "nation" at one time. Only individuals, and not usually more than I could count on my fingers. Normally, no matter how many people may be near, I am only truly interacting with one or two at a time. Almost everyone I meet, even the most blustery, loud-mouthed statists, still behave themselves as though they wish to get along right now. This shows that anarchy is a powerful force for peace and cooperation in the real world.
This fact only breaks down when you add government to the mix. Those in government insanely try to deal with everyone as a collective. They invariably try to brainwash people into thinking and dealing with "society" in the same way. Even under the most extreme circumstances, such as when a government tries to make "one size fits all" rules, there are still only many individuals simultaneously being harmed. When presidents and prime ministers meet, they have only their individual interests at heart, regardless of their lies to the contrary. When wars are declared (or simply engaged in) it is individual politicians trying to advance their agendas by using individual pawns against the agenda of the opposing individual politicians and their individual pawns. Somehow it seems the only individuals to not pay dearly are those who start the war. Let governments and their willing complicit statists fight it out and leave the rest of us, the sane people, out of it.
I can get along just fine, individual to individual.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Is there a danger in agorism- the so-called "black- and gray-markets"- that is not present when dealing with "governmentally licensed" businesses?
Would a loan-shark be more likely to arbitrarily change the terms of your deal than an "FDIC-insured" bank? Or a credit card company? Are you sure? Have you read those notices they send you on a regular basis?
Is gray-market aspirin more likely to be a worthless placebo or to come from a dangerous batch than that which has been governmentally inspected or approved?
Even if this is the case, how much of the danger comes directly from the consequences of government meddling in what should be a free market, and keeping good people out of such endeavors? A lot of otherwise good people still have a morbid desire to be "law-abiding".
If you have chosen to deal with those who, by the very nature of avoiding "imperial entanglements", must remain "outlaws" you can't go running to tattle to the state if they harm you. This leaves private arbitration. Since private arbitration hasn't really taken off yet, you might have a hard time finding someone to act as a go-between.
I don't see this as a flaw in the free markets themselves, but as a temporary danger due to government getting in the way of free trade and interfering with the natural tendency of bad-actors to suffer the consequences of their dishonesty. No one is forcing you to deal with any particular un-sanctioned business. Only government (or other mafia) forces people to do business with its agents and offices. Find out who is trustworthy and who is not. Buyer beware, always.
I think the risk is worth it. Nothing is 100% safe, after all. Free trade, without government "permission", is probably the most powerful place to start, after your recognition of your self-ownership. "Trade" is moving beyond the self into the wider world. If you really want freedom, it is necessary. You have to start sometime and somewhere.
And, who knows, maybe you are just the right person to start a counter-economic career arbitrating, under the radar, for the real free market.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I have caused some confusion with my assertion that it is never OK to attack someone. This is an old issue that crops up constantly in comments from those who do not like (usually because they do not understand) the Zero Aggression Principle, even though it seems perfectly clear to me. If one person expresses disagreements, many more probably have disagreements they do not express. So I will try to go through this as carefully as I can. This means I will be repeating myself a lot, just to be thorough. I hope I can make things clear.
The ZAP states, and it seems self-evident to me, that no one has the right to "initiate force" against another human being. "Initiate force" is another way of saying "attack". The ZAP does not address the right to use defensive force, which almost everyone agrees is a basic human right. The ZAP is not saying what is right; only what is not right. Self defense is never an "attack", although it may include the use of violence. You are not obligated to act in your own defense, nor in the defense of others, although I believe you should. That is a value judgment on my part: that innocent life is worth defending- your value judgment on that point may differ.
I understand "it is never OK to attack others" to be a principle. I think the difficulty some people have with this concept is that we are using the word "attack" in different ways. I think they mistake "attack" as any use of violence or force, which it is not. Some "attacks" involve violence; some violence constitutes an attack. Some, but not all, in both cases.
Here is a useful analogy: "Attack" is to "self-defense" as "theft" is to "trade". The final action may appear to be the same, but only if you miss the initial interaction between the involved parties.
Using this analogy I can state with confidence that it is always wrong to steal. If I walk into Walmart and simply walk out with a gallon of milk, I have stolen it, and that is wrong. However, if I give the cashier the money Walmart requires in exchange for the milk I have not "stolen" it, but have "bought" it. The circumstances of me handing over the money before walking out the door with the milk alters the morality of my actions completely. This is what happens when you respond to a violent encounter, which you did not start, with violence of your own. In both scenarios, same action on your part, with the exception of an important key condition. In the one case, you trading money; in the other case, you being attacked or threatened first. To claim that responding to initiated force is an "attack" is like saying purchasing the milk is "stealing". You would be ignoring a condition which makes all the difference.
So, I hope you can now see that circumstances can change the situation where use of violence, which would not have been right, now becomes a moral thing to do. This is not based upon your trying to justify your actions, but upon the actions of the person who chose to initiate force against you. Once he does that your response is not an attack, although it may include the use of force. He initiated the force; you responded. He attacked, you reacted. The given circumstances dictate whether the violence which ensues is an "attack" or not. Force? Yes. Violence? Yes. Attack? No. Because YOU did not "start it". That is the key.
Can a person "reasonably attack" if there is imminent danger? No, because if there is imminent danger, you are not the "attacker", reasonable or not. You are reacting to the attacker. Can you "retaliate with an attack" in self-defense? Not really. You can respond with force, but because you are "retaliating" you are not "attacking"; you are responding. "Imminent danger" and "self defense" mean that whatever you do it is not an "attack". Again: A response to a credible threat, or self-defense is not an "attack". An "attack" is when YOU "start it", not when you react to someone else who has "started it".
This is the problem with people who say "all violence is bad". No, it isn't. Sometimes "violence" is the proper response. You can't always properly respond to an attack (someone starting violence toward you) without reacting violently. Your violence is not an attack since you did not set the circumstances in motion. You were responding to someone else's choice to start violence with you, or to their believable threats to do so.
If you saw a kid with a BB gun which he was handling safely; posing no threat to anyone, and you tackled him because of his weapon, you would be attacking him. If that kid aimed the BB gun at an innocent person and you tackled him because of this action, you did not "attack" since he made the choice to act in a threatening manner, which any sensible person would interpret as a real danger. If, instead of aiming his BB gun in your direction, he claimed he was going to call down lightning from the sky to roast you where you stand, you would be justified in thinking he was crazy, but not in thinking he made a threat which he was capable of carrying out. You would not be justified in tackling him because of this ludicrous threat. If you do so, you would now be the "attacker".
What about a kid racing down a sidewalk on a skateboard who points his finger at a smaller child and demands that he "Move, or be hit"? I would take that as aggressive behavior on his part. That means he has "started it" and your reaction to protect the smaller child would not be an "attack", but a response. Once again, your response might be violence, but since it is a reaction to a credible threat, it is not an "attack".
Now, might there be disagreements as to whether a threat is "credible" or not? Yes. That is why there would be arbitration to settle matters like this. This is where "value judgments" would come into play. It is not a value judgment that it is wrong to attack, but it might be a value judgment as to whether a particular incident was an attack or not, due to surrounding circumstances. You make your choices and take your chances that others will see things as you do, if it comes down to arbitration.
I sincerely hope this has made the issue more clear. If not, discuss it in the comments, and I'll see what else I can do.
Monday, August 10, 2009
My most recent crazy idea can be found in a letter to The Libertarian Enterprise. After reading the short description, browse around for a while. You will learn something.
Just last week I had another idea. This time for a flintlock AK-47. Is this a practical idea? I don't know. It would be very functional, interesting, and pretty (in my opinion). I'd love to have it in my hands.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
I get quite a few comments from people who are just certain there must be good reasons for initiating force, in violation of the Zero Aggression Principle. Fair enough. I am willing to look into just about any aspect of freedom.
So what if you feel you MUST initiate force? It could happen, even with the most ethical person. Let's look at some situations, think them through to see if they are good enough reasons and real exceptions, and examine the fallout in a free society with private arbitration instead of government "laws".
Yesterday I mentioned the scenario of pushing an old woman out of the path of a bus. Almost anyone would forgive this breach, as it is obvious that the alternative is worse. Still, it is possible that you could cause some real injury in the process. My thought is you act on your best instincts and deal with any consequences as they arise. Maybe the woman was trying to commit suicide. You may not agree with that decision, but it is hers to choose. She, of course, would have been violating the rights of the bus driver if she chose to use him for her own demise. In such a case there is probably no arbitration that would penalize you for your initiation of force. Even if she did not intentionally step in front of the bus, perhaps she thinks you were too rough, or thinks the bus would have missed her without your intervention. Once again, probably no private arbitration would penalize you, or if they did, the circumstances would cause the penalties to cancel one another. On the other hand, if you hear of people being punished for doing similar "good deeds", you could make up your mind to never repeat their mistakes. It is your choice. It is obvious to me that this is the situation in which we find ourselves today, living under government as we do.
A slightly less clear example would be tracking down and killing someone who raped your sister years ago. We are assuming he survived to walk away, and was not subsequently killed in another such assault later. This would probably be the most common outcome of aggression in a universally armed, POLITE, society as we are discussing here. Since the attack is not in progress, this would fall under "revenge" rather than "self-defense" or "rescue". Are you 100% positive you have the right man? Are you prepared to die in the attempt to kill him? Are you willing to pay any penalty imposed by arbitration between his survivors and you? Are you willing to open your family up to the possibility of an ongoing blood-feud between his family and yours? If you still feel you must track him down to teach him a lesson, do so with your eyes open, and don't whine about the results.
What about breaking into someone's home for food or medicine in an emergency? It is still wrong, but could easily be made right by paying restitution and an "apology fee" as soon as the crisis passed. Are you willing to take the necessary steps and accept responsibility? Then do what you feel you must.
What if you really believe you will be attacked in the future if you do not strike first? How sure are you? Could you be misreading or exaggerating the situation? Does the person simply bluster when they get mad? Are you willing to accept the consequences if no one else believes the person was a real threat to you? If your choice is between being harmed in the future, or paying restitution today for your first-strike, are you positive it is worth it? If you are sure, what are you waiting for?
I am not claiming that all aggression would be eliminated in a free society. What I am saying is that it would be better understood, and it would be dealt with more appropriately if we had private, competing, arbitration instead of government which gets its power through "punishment"- which it absurdly calls "justice".
It is a fundamental truth that is is never OK to attack others, nor to take their property away from them against their will. You can not act in this manner and still fulfill your obligation of right conduct. This is "aggression" and is a completely separate matter from "self defense" which is responding to aggression. It matters not if you are doing this strictly on your own, or if you are doing it on behalf of an organization that claims to have the consent of its victims. It doesn't matter if you are wearing jeans and a T-shirt, or a business suit and tie, or a uniform of any kind. It is still absolutely wrong. This is what the ZAP is all about- it illustrates that there is a level playing field and if it is wrong for you to do in this instance, it is also wrong for me to do. There are no extenuating circumstances.
You can not make a subjective estimate of whether it is OK to attack an innocent person or to steal from them. Well, you can try, but you would still be wrong even if you decided it was OK today or under "these circumstances". This is where statists go wrong. Acts that harm the innocent are excused as long as it is "them" who are harmed. And of course, to the statist, being "them" makes a person guilty anyway. This is absurd and contradictory.
It is not a subjective estimate if it harms someone who does not deserve to be harmed right now. It is objectively wrong.
Does this mean that you will always do the right thing? Of course not. Does it mean that you and I will never cause any harm? No. If an action is that important to you, just do it and then attempt to convince others that it was necessary at the time. Imagine tackling an old woman to get her out of the path of a bus. You would probably cause harm to her in the desire to protect her from potentially greater harm. Ask her forgiveness, and if she refuses to give it, make it right or seek arbitration. Do what you feel you must, and if you cause harm, face the music like an adult.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Trying to achieve freedom by using government is like trying to ride your bicycle to Mars. There is not even a rational "starting place". However, you don't need to destroy all the bicycles in the world in order to get to Mars, just ignore them because they are irrelevant and make a vehicle that is appropriate for the task.
The allure of the state is real for a lot of people. It is easy to get seduced by the power and even by the big buildings, built with stolen property, that those who play the game get to use. Keep playing the state's game, with rules established, interpreted, and enforced by the state, and you will keep losing freedom. While the general drift of history is toward more personal freedom, the trend of all states is always toward more state power at the expense of personal liberty. This also means all states are doomed from the beginning. Placing your hopes and dreams in them is a dead-end prospect.
Whether your preferred government is based upon a Constitution or a religious book, the end result is the same: A consolidation of power at the expense of personal freedom and dignity.
When I discuss everyday anarchy, some people try to claim that my circumstances must be unusual. Yet anarchy works as our private, daily lives illustrate to anyone who cares to pay attention. Anarchy is a self-regulating and self-correcting system. The things that don't work will get replaced by new things that do. This is because there is no one "at the top" demanding that failed ways be adhered to because of "The Law" or "tradition".
I like for the world to be rational. I like for it to make sense by all parts fitting together in a unified whole. That is why I value liberty. It fits well with the rest of the universe, making a coherent whole. Science and liberty are just different parts of the same spectrum of rationality. Statism, on the other hand, is an irrational mythology that claims that either people are so bad that they need people to control them, but the controllers will not be bad, too, or that those who seek to control others are only doing it for selfless reasons and will never take advantage of their position.
We all know what is wrong with the world. Yet, we can't fix the world all at once; we must do it one individual at a time. So lets start trying to fix our own lives and make them a little better and ourselves a little more free. It really is up to you.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I am going to make an assumption. If you are a regular reader of this column, I will assume you are at least somewhat interested in individual liberty, and are not an enthusiastic parasite wanna-be.
So, what can you do, today, to start living your freedom?
First, I would suggest "divorcing" the state. If you ever "married" it in the first place, that is. "Common law marriages" between you and any governmental branch that you didn't actually agree to are nothing more than "implied consent" and are meaningless. The state is an intruder which moved into your home and decided to stay. Being nice, you didn't kick it out immediately, and now it seems uncomfortably rude to do so. Get over it. Stop feeling loyalty to the state. Stop defending its indefensible aggression. Where there is no "relationship" there is no such thing as "cheating".
If you have a job working directly for any government entity I recommend that you quit. I realize that some will tell you that you might do some "good" from your position. I think the harm outweighs the good, especially the harm to your psyche. Stop giving government an air of legitimacy by its association with you, and stop depending upon stolen money to buy your groceries.
Start making the default assumption that anyone involved in an altercation with any enforcer is probably innocent, and instead assume that the enforcer is the attacker. This is more realistic and the assumption will serve you well.
If possible, shun those who continue to work for government. No matter if they are on your city council or on the Supreme Court, their job is causing harm to the cause of freedom. If they wear a badge, then they are the foot-soldiers in the "War on Freedom". The cops are being taught during their training that the equation is "Us vs. Them"; we can learn that lesson as well. Take it to heart.
Start exploring gray market opportunities, and even the black-market where your principles do not clash with the activity. You will need these skills sooner or later, and it is good to start making connections and learning the ropes before it is truly necessary. This also helps starve the state of "tax" money. Just remember to mind your own business, and as long as someone is not harming the innocent, they are within their rights, even if what they do offends you.
Avoid, but don't worry about, governments. They are not omnipotent or omniscient. They are also doomed. Learn whom to trust and who is a toady for the state. You may get clues in many ways, including this observation from Will Grigg: "(T)he TV series COPS.....is a kind of authoritarian pornography for the badge-licker population." These are the people who may turn you in for a pat on the head. Keep them in the dark about your life.
Do what you can, and don't wallow in guilt for the things you can't change right now. It is your life. Take it back.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Listening to people talking at a recent family reunion, I overheard a couple of political discussions, even though I really tried to avoid such pointless yammering. That there is widespread dissatisfaction is obvious, but it seems bizarre to me that the foundational concepts are not questioned. How much and what type of slavery might be acceptable is discussed; never whether slavery should be allowed to continue at all. I admit they don't discuss it quite that honestly, usually pretending it is a "conservative vs liberal" issue, thereby ignoring almost all of reality, but whether or not slavery is OK is what the question ultimately boils down to.
Do you recognize that you alone own yourself? Or are you content with undeservedly living the life of a slave? I ask again- Do you own yourself, or does the government own you? I will let you in on a secret: the government could never own you even if you tried to sell yourself to it. Government has nothing with which to purchase you, since government can't legitimately own anything. And, if it did try, you would be admitting that you own yourself in order to legitimately sell yourself to the state.
If you own yourself, why would you let any government assert control over your life? Why would you let a government deny you the proper tools for self defense? Why would you let any government dictate what you eat, drink, or smoke? Why would you ask any government for permission to do things that are your right to do simply because you exist? There is no reason, and most assuredly no silly "social contract" that says you implicitly agreed to do so.
As long as you are harming no innocent person, no one, and certainly no government or its agents, has any authority to stop you or coerce you in any way. If they attempt to do so, they are committing an act of pure evil.
Since the entire political process is only established to let you choose what color your chains are to be, not whether they should be on you or not, some of us just smile at ourselves when we hear the clueless debating the brainwashed.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Do you think "the policeman is your friend"? If you are a gun owner, you may think that since LEOs carry guns they have something in common with you. If you read any gun magazines, you will see articles about guns written by cops and ex-cops. You may not even notice the "Only Ones" attitude, in spite of the sprinkling of abominable phrases like "properly licensed", or "where permitted".
You would do well to recognize that the reality is different than what you may assume.
Cops, for the most part, see guns as something only they should have unless they decide to permit you the same "privilege". If you properly beg their permission, and obey all the unethical "laws" their cronies enact (and which they enforce), you might be "allowed" to own a gun, and maybe even carry it - until they get twitchy about it. Then the first thing that will happen is that your gun will be taken or you will be shot as a potential danger to "officer safety". Forget all the nonsense about "street cops" having a different attitude about "citizen" gun ownership than their masters at the hive- um... "headquarters". Just walk past a cop with a holstered gun on your hip, in most places in the country, and see how well he respects your rights.
Once, as I left a gun store in a city far from here, I was approached by a nice older gentleman. He warned me that the store proprietor was an ex-cop, and that a lot of off-duty cops were among the store's customers. He said I should trust no one in the store and watch what I said. The funny thing was, I had not spoken a word other than "Hi, just looking" as I browsed and could not have come across as "governmentally skeptical". It was simply assumed that I, an obviously "non-LEO" gun appreciator, should be warned about the treacherous vermin inside. A sign of the times if there ever were one.
Monday, August 03, 2009
I am just a little conflicted.
I know I can live free. I also see the power of the state grow each day to the cheers of the ignorant individuals who make up our "Idiocracy". I know that the long-term direction of civilization is toward greater individual freedom, even though short-term (still often longer than a human life-span) detours through horrendous slavery and coercion ("enforcement") are common themes. If I could only be happy; if I only considered myself "free"; if all of society recognized and respected freedom and turned its back on authoritarianism the way I do, I would be very sad indeed. Fortunately, that is not the case.
Some days I focus more on my personal freedom to live according to my principles no matter what surrounds me. Other days I focus, at least in my columns, on the growing threat of the state. Yet other times, I celebrate the general historical trend toward freer individuals. I see no contradiction in this. Some seem to. Perhaps the perceived " contradictions" (comment from 1:25 PM) are only seen by those who can't think beyond the false "conservative vs. liberal" patterns. Or maybe I am missing something else altogether, and I am contradictory in other ways.
Even when exposing the state for what it is, I am not pessimistic about long-term freedom. I am not even pessimistic or worried about my own future. I do not sulk, pout, or look with suspicion or hatred at every person who is going about their own business. I almost never encounter anyone who is behaving in any way other than glorious personal anarchy. Most statists prefer to send agents of the state to initiate force on their behalf rather than committing evil acts in person or instead of risking alienating those they must deal with in order to survive, and actual violent aggressors are really pretty rare. I attempt to avoid those organs of the state, who, by their dress or attitude reveal themselves to be without principle. It may not always work, but so far it has been a decent strategy.
As to the state's expectations and demands: I will not comply. I will not submit. I will not consent to be used against innocent individuals by the coercive state. I will not allow the state to use me as an excuse to steal from you, or to kidnap you. This is the essence of my individual freedom, and it is something for which agents of the state may one day kill me. I refuse to worry about it, though.
I will just keep trying to live by my (grammatically clumsy) credo: "On my honor as a human being, I will give zero respect or obedience to counterfeit 'laws' or systems of belief, present or future. I do not give, nor have I ever given, consent to be subject to the whims of the criminal collective known as 'government'. I will strive to avoid aggression, and will defend myself and others in whatever way I see fit against all attacks. I will seek to live as free in my body as I already envision in my mind."
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Don't dare speak the truth where the military is concerned. Your point will be ignored while "patriots" use the opportunity to denigrate you personally. I learned this lesson long ago, yet still speak out when I feel it is important to point out a hard truth. I am either stubborn, or love to be abused.
A military "murder-by-remote control" story in the local paper caused me to speak up yet again. The sad thing is that I didn't even really speak out against the program or its pawns; I only pointed out a basic flaw in the thinking of the quoted official.
It is disturbing to me that "bravery" and "honor" have come to be measured by how willing a person is to attack others. This doesn't seem at all "brave" or "honorable" to me, but cowardly and despicable. To me, real bravery is having the principles to wait until you are attacked, or credibly threatened, before acting in face-to-face self defense. Self defense is honorable. Sending robots to do your killing for you is not.
There is a glaring discrepancy buried in such military actions. The military can use machines to remotely go to other people's homes and kill them. Yet, if I rig a shotgun to the door of my own home to kill an intruder, I would be charged with murder. I am not even rigging the burglar's house, but my own. Where is the sense in that?
On second thought, speak the truth about the military at every opportunity. By their comments you will know who can't be trusted.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
While you probably regulate your own behavior, and therefore "rule yourself", I do not consider you a "ruler" over yourself, as such, since you still will probably act according to your own values and principles. You are on equal footing with yourself, and not "over yourself". That is why, when I use the word "Ruler" I am referring to someone external to yourself.
I believe everyone does this, but if they do not buck the status quo, no one notices. There is no way for you to mean every dictionary definition each time you use a particular word. Not unless you have many different personalities inside you giving you conflicting ideas.
Therefore I make an effort to tell people what I mean when I use a certain word in order to minimize confusion. In order to facilitate this I decided to define the words that receive the most attention.
Just use the "definitions" label if you ever get confused about my usage of a word. If the word is not there, ask me to post it here.
Technically, when most people use the word, they actually mean "State", but through common usage the words have come to mean the same thing to almost everyone.
"Government" can be thought of as an organization of individuals who attempt to make the rules for a particular geographical area. Regardless of their claims, they are not voluntary or consensual, as "voting" and other participatory acts never really make a substantive difference because of the rules which the government has established to regulate the election process.
Government employees allow no competition with their organization and no opting out. Government acts are financed through "taxation", which is merely statist-speak for "theft by government". It holds a "legal" monopoly on the use of force, enforced by its own hired guns and backed up by the courts it runs, and is perpetuated by youth indoctrination centers ("public schools").
Because government employees are expected to enforce the rules that limit their own power, there is really no limit to what they can get away with, given time.
The belief in the existence of "government" is based on the superstitious belief in "authority".
Unless I qualify the term by placing "self-" in front of "government", I am referring to an external coercive force, and not the necessary condition of "self-control".
I realize that the dictionary has a lot of "chaos" mixed in with its definitions of "anarchy", but that is not ever what I mean. If you have a better word, just substitute that when I write "anarchy". OK?
Philip Zimbardo, in The Lucifer Effect, defines it thusly: “Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others—or using one’s authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf.” So he includes those using their (imaginary) "authority" to influence others to be evil under his definition of evil. I agree.
(*An "innocent" person. No one is "innocent" all the time, nor is anyone never "innocent". All you can do is judge their innocence or guilt at this moment.)
Recently I was taken to task for characterizing a need for government as a weakness. My actual words were "I am not so weak that I need anyone to 'govern' my neighbors". I stand by that statement.
Now, I will preface this by saying this is how I see it. This is what I do- I explain my views. Advocating or supporting government is a weakness in my eyes. How could it be seen in any other light? Government is only "useful" if you feel you can't do something on your own, right? Something "too big", "too expensive", or "too dangerous" for you to attempt on your own. Otherwise, what would be the point? Government is very good at co-opting large numbers of people and taking over a large segment of the market to do its work. It is also very accomplished thief with armies (real and figurative) to make sure its victims pay up. Government is also able to waste a lot of lives in pursuit of its goals with no real regrets. Things accountable people with actual moral character couldn't - no, wouldn't do.
Which gets back to my main point: Government is a crutch. Just as there are physical weaknesses (such as my 20/1600 eyesight), there exist character weaknesses and moral weaknesses.
Needing government is a character weakness. Desiring government is a moral weakness. Just why would you advocate for government? Do you need to be protected from others? I see this as an indication of a character weakness. Do others need to be protected from you? I would say that is a sign of a moral weakness. Do others need to be protected from other others? I think this is the most common excuse. I also think this is a rational disconnect; blaming your advocacy of institutionalized theft and coercion on ambiguous "others". Or does everyone need to be protected from themselves? If that is the case, why not just bubble-wrap the whole world or make the world one big padded cell? It would be less harmful in the long-run. Actually, this is what government is trying to do, but using coercion instead of logic and reason.
One question keeps coming to mind- If government is such a grand and noble idea, why does it always have to be forced on people, and maintained and protected with a monopoly on force?