Rebel With a Cause – How I Became a Voluntaryist
By Kelly James
I was always a rebel.
One of my earliest memories is of my mom telling me that touching the hot iron would result in burning my finger. Subsequently, I attempted to touch the iron with just my fingernail. Much to my disappointment, I got burned, but the experience didn’t dissuade my affinity for questioning the status quo and inventing innovative ways to subvert authority. My parents are both employed at institutes for “higher” education and always emphasized that earning good grades, going to a good (preferably Ivy League) college, and getting a good job is the way to achieve a good life. To them, such values are intrinsic and thus uniformly the best thing for every individual. I had different ideas.
My grandparents on my dad’s side were Holocaust survivors who met and married after each lost their respective families in the concentration camps. After my grandmother gave birth to my dad and his twin brother, they immigrated to the United States to start anew. My mom is the youngest of three daughters born to Italian immigrants. My parents are products of the sixties; not hippies but the Clinton-esque big government types which that era created. They were also atheists and raised me as such. Upon hearing my kindergarten classmates talk about God I replied indignantly that there was no God; when they asked where I thought the world came from I looked at them as if they were crazy and said “the Big Bang”. As an adult I am no longer an atheist and consider myself deeply spiritual, although I do not subscribe to any organized religion. Instead, I subscribe to my own ideas concerning morality, consistency, and the laws of nature and logic. For instance, human beings must be free to innovate and advance the human race because this is obviously our purpose here on earth, which is so apparent due to the simple fact itself that we are here on earth. Therefore, I was born free by my own nature as a human being and any attempt to take away my freedom, as long as I’m not hurting anyone else, is not only a violation of my rights but a violation of natural law itself; thus a crime against humanity.
The more obvious it became that I had the potential to do so, the better my parents expected me to perform academically. The problem was that I hated school. I hated the pressure to conform, I hated being told how to think, and I hated the fact that I was expected to excel within such narrow standards. In reality, from a very young age I saw beyond the brightly painted paper-mache world presented to me, to the steel wheels, gears, and cogs that propel the great machine of society. It caused me a great deal of unhappiness which manifested itself in various ways, including dropping out of school without even finishing the ninth grade. My parents’ frustration resulted in increasingly desperate attempts to control me, which only served to deepen my distaste for arbitrarily imposed authority. I was extremely lucky to have had wonderful people in my life who treated me like a little sister and kept me out of too much trouble. Unconventional in lifestyle and free in spirit, they encouraged my individualism and introduced me to the ideas of liberty. I read THE FOUNTAIN HEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED and fell in love with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. After being told throughout my whole life that my outlook was wrong, it began to dawn on me that perhaps I was not as wrong as I’d been led to believe.
My parents unfortunately didn’t agree, and I had my first major run-in with the law a couple months before my 18th birthday. I don’t remember the specifics of the argument but I do remember sitting on the curb outside my house simply wanting to be left alone and my dad ordering me to come inside; when I refused he called the police. My stay in the juvenile detention facility extended the better part of a month, most of it in solitary confinement. I’m not sure if the solitary confinement was because I was defiant and uncooperative or because I was so defiant and uncooperative they thought I was suffering from some sort of psychiatric disorder, which I wasn’t. I was just very, very angry at the fact that I was in a cage. Funny that.
Finally “free” of arbitrary rules (or so I thought), I spent my 18th birthday on vacation with friends contemplating the most efficient way to remain free and out from under my parents’ thumb. Upon returning home to Phoenix I packed my things, left home, and found immediate employment as a dancer at a nude club. I was quite aware of the fact that I was essentially pouring a large bucket of water on and thus forever destroying the paper-mache world, but I didn’t care; I had no desire to operate as a well-lubed component to someone else’s machine of looting, destruction, and death. Like John Galt I was on strike; today I call it the practice of counter-economics.
If voluntaryism is the social manifestation of libertarian theory consistently applied than agorism is the economic. My vision of bringing down the state consists of both mass civil disobedience and mass non-compliance. The state must be delegitimized in the eyes of the public while at the same time drained of their financial resources, which are systemically stolen from those who believe in the legitimacy of their monopoly of evil. As more people cease to believe in the religion of government, more will refuse to comply both socially and economically and the state will lose it’s power. I recently discovered the writings of Samuel Edward Konkin III and developed an immediate affinity for his work; I was a conscious practitioner of agorism far before I had ever heard the term. Although much of society considers my job immoral, I’m quite proud of the fact that at 31 years old I have never and will never work to support the state.
Unfortunately, while we may peacefully ignore the state, it doesn’t necessarily ignore us. In 2000, I had a particularly unpleasant encounter with the local masters in which I was charged with cocaine possession. Believe it or not, this topic comes up to this day when I am faced with police encounters even though my charges were dismissed without prejudice. Due to the fear ingrained in me from my negative experiences, I went out of my way to avoid the growing regulatory-industrial complex and the development of the militiant police state which is it’s direct corollary, yet the state still wouldn’t leave me alone. In 2003, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s SWAT team showed up at my house as part of an investigation they had been conducting at my job. Charges against me and dozens of others ended up getting dropped because of proven police misconduct and entrapment. The game of cat and mouse that I was forced to play with the state continued.
In 2007, I’d decided I’d had enough. The city of Scottsdale had just instituted their system of using cameras on the freeway as speed traps, and I was ticketed three times over the summer. I’d heard that if one simply ignored such tickets that the state could not prosecute, so that was what I did. What I didn’t understand was that, because I used my parents’ house as my mailing address, my dad had accepted the paperwork from the process server and I was considered served. Therefore, when I failed to appear at my court dates, warrants were issued for my arrest. In 2008, I was arrested six times, forfeited thousands in bail money, lost my drivers’ license, had my car permanently impounded, and picked up two class 4 felony charges (which were eventually dropped when I challenged them in court) . I only began to comply when my bail (blackmail) fee reached five thousand dollars cash and I had to borrow the money to pay for my freedom. By this point, I was mad as hell. My solution was to educate myself.
I learned about 9/11 truth and realized exactly how out of control the state had truly become. I wasn’t surprised, I’d always suspected something of the sort had been going on, but the more I learned the more confident I was that I’d been right all along. I learned about propaganda and developed an understanding of how certain ideas can be indoctrinated within the very roots of a nation. I learned about the violence of the police state and realized that I was only one of its many victims. As time went on I also began to realize that the state itself IS violence, and as more time went on I came to the conclusion that the state MUST be violence by its very own nature as the state. According to Max Weber’s definition, which was commonly accepted by most 20th century political science, philosophical, and economic theorists, the State is an entity which is recognized as rightfully controlling a monopoly of violence over a given territory. Territory was also deemed by Weber to be a prerequisite feature of a state. Such a monopoly, according to Weber, must occur via a process of legitimization, wherein a claim is laid which legitimizes the state’s use of violence (Wikipedia).
I learned about Austrian economics and free markets and decided that the economic condition in which we live in this country and call “capitalism” is most certainly not entrepreneurialism, based on free and fair competition; but corporatism or, as Mussolini himself defined it, fascism. I learned about fiat money and the conspiracy by the Federal Reserve to perpetrate fraud against all citizens of the earth. I learned about Nazi Germany and the frightening similarities between 1930's Germany and the United States today. I learned about the historical development of and sociological and philosophical implications behind tyranny and evil. I learned about American history and the wars fought in the name of “our” freedom, I learned about the Constitution and the carefully contrived system which has failed to protect that freedom which so many have died for. I learned about federal funding, the public/private paradigm, and the corruption pervading the fictitious entity that is “our” government. I learned about the arbitrary nature of man made “laws” and decided that the only laws I recognize are the objective laws of nature and of the universe – the true laws of God. I came to understand the truth and could no longer keep silent. I became both an anarchist and an activist.
Due to the law of consistency, the violation of one individual’s rights is equal to the violation of all individual rights. Activism became a full time project in the year of 2011, motivated partly by the egregious nature of the violations on individual rights happening in my home state; particularly the murder of Jose Guerena by the SWAT team in Tuscon and the persecution of political activists by the police and town council in Quartzsite. I worked tirelessly; I advocated, I wrote, I traveled. I had previously read about the Free State Project and became extremely interested in the civil disobedience taking place in Keene, New Hampshire when I saw video of Ian Freeman sitting in front of a police car to protest the arrest of another activist. Here, I thought to myself, are people who aren’t afraid to stand on their principles; I too feel that truth cannot be compromised. To quote John Galt: “When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by scoundrels–and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.”. Without truth or consistency, one is left with nothing at all. I spent September visiting Keene and moved permanently right around the first of December. Since moving to Keene I have been caged for civil disobedience twice; once for refusing to stand for a judge, and once for chalking “Free Ademo” on the front of the Manchester District Court building in protest of my friend’s caging. I am no longer afraid of the criminal gang nor of the cage. The state has proved to me that they will most likely throw me in a cage eventually anyway, so it may as well be for something I believe in and as public as possible.
And what is it I believe? I believe all human interaction should be voluntary and I believe in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I believe that “an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral, and the advance of man’s knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters. (INHERIT THE WIND)”
I believe that anything is possible. I believe that we as a people can be free.