Potpourri From the Editor’s Desk
[This page made possible through the work of Diego Julien. Thanks Diego!]
168-1. “The Lofty Standards of Liberty”
I’ll list some of the big ones here but this is by no means a complete roster: Respect for the lives, property, choices and contracts of your fellow citizens. A healthy recognition that as much as you think you know, there’s a world of knowledge out there that you don’t know. Self-improvement should be a life-long commitment. If you want to reform the world, you must reform yourself first and then be a good example that others will seek to emulate. Refrain from the initiation of force, … . Central planning requires an arrogant, condescending, know-it-all attitude that a person of solid character should shun. Take responsibility for yourself and your loved ones; no one owes you a living just because you breathe. When you see someone who needs and deserves help, remember that the Good Samaritan wasn’t good because he told the man in the gutter to call his congressman; he pitched in and got the job done himself at probably half the cost and twice the effectiveness that any politician could. Don’t assume that liberty is automatic or guaranteed just because you or your grandparents had it; if good people who believe in it don’t work for it, teach it, insist on it and support it, it can be easily lost. Have patience, be courageous, stand on principle, sacrifice if necessary for what you know to be right. Live for the future, not merely for the here-and-now. Be optimistic because pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy; you can change yourself if necessary and you can change the world but not if you think either cause is lost before you even get started. Keep your character up because freedom requires it, and you’ll never regret it.
– DAILY BELL Interview with Lawrence Reed, August 10, 2014.
168-2. “Can Water Ever Be Free?”
“The United Nations says there is a humanitarian crisis in Detroit,” resulting from the City’s bankruptcy. The U.N. “claims the city is violating its citizens’ basic and fundamental ‘human rights to water’ … by shutting off water to those who refuse to pay” their past due bills. After wracking up more than $ 6 billion in debt, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department cannot borrow more money and is threatened with bankruptcy itself. But as Detroit’s current mayor finally concluded, water is not free. Mayor Duggan says he doesn’t “know how to filter water and pipe it from the river to somebody’s house” without incurring a great deal of expense. Someone ultimately has to pay: either the end-user or some “forgotten man” as William Graham Sumner called him. Water isn’t free and those who claim it is should pay for it themselves or find donors who will. [From THE PHILADELPHIA TRUMPET, September 2014, p. 8 and an NPR news program of August 8, 2014.]
168-3. “To Voters in the U.S. Government”
Each voter in the United States Government votes for the war-making power, and acts as a principal in shedding whatever blood is shed by it. Each voter is virtually the jailor and hangman – the war-maker and the commander-in-chief and whatever robbery and murder are committed by Congress and the President – by the army and the navy – are done by him, and he, individually, must render an account thereof to the final Judge.
– H. C. Wright, BALLOT BOX AND BATTLEFIELD (1842), p. 1.
168-4. “Madmen, Martyrs, and Malingerers”
One can only speculate about how the private sector would deal with madmen, martyrs, and malingerers too dangerous to release [or who have refused or who are unable to work off their debts]. These individuals have violated the rights of others in society, so they would have a legal obligation to pay restitution. Refusal should put them outside the protection of the law. In historical restitution-based legal systems, this generally meant ostracism, expulsion, or even death. In a modern society, expulsion may be possible under limited circumstances, but death for failure to pay a debt is not likely to be … acceptable. Perhaps such offenders will be offered a choice between a specified prison term in a conventional “nonproductive” prison facility with few amenities or a prison work program accompanied by more amenities. If they decide to work, some portion of the resulting income can be directed to cover room and board, some to restitution, and some to purchase amenities.
– Bruce Benson, “Let’s Focus on Victim Justice, Not Criminal Justice,” THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW (Fall 2014), p. 233.
172-1. “Property Ownership”
The truth is that all of us are property owners. The clothes we wear are property. The food we eat is property. The home we live in, the cars we drive are all property. And if one has a right to own any of these things, then all have a right to own all of these things. But the owner of one thing has no right to compel another who owns something else, to manage what he owns so that it will make the first owner happy. Each must have full property rights, or in the end, none will have any property rights.
– Robert LeFevre in the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE-TELEGRAPH, December 12, 1956, p. 17.
172-2. “The Enemy Is Governments and Their Wars”
The governments of the world cannot wage war without the participation of the people. Albert Einstein understood this simple fact. Horrified by the carnage of the First World War in which 10 million died in the battlefields of Europe, Einstein said: “Wars will stop when men refuse to fight.” …
The most powerful weapon of governments in raising armies is the weapon of propaganda, of ideology. It must persuade young people, and their families, that though they may die, though they may lose arms or legs, or become blind, that it is done for the common good, for a noble cause, for democracy, for liberty, for God, for the country.
The idea that we owe something to our country goes far back, to Plato, who puts into the mouth of Socrates the idea that the citizen has an obligation to the state, that the state is to be revered more than your father and mother. He says: “In war, and in the court of justice, and everywhere, you must do whatever your state and your country tell you to do, or you must persuade them that their commands are unjust.” There is no equality here: the citizen may use persuasion, no more. The state may use force.
This idea of obedience to the state is the essence of totalitarianism. And we find it not only in Mussolini’s Italy, in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin’s Soviet Union, but in so-called democratic countries, like the United States. …
[W]ar is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations … are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are. …
[W]ar itself is the enemy of the human race.
Governments will resist this message. But their power is dependent on the obedience of the citizenry. When we withdraw our obedience, the government will be helpless. We have seen this again and again in history.
– Howard Zinn, A POWER GOVERNMENTS CANNOT SUPPRESS (2007), Chapter 24, pp. 189-191, 195-196.
172-3. “Southern Sentiments”
It don’t do no good to say it, altho Southerners have been saying it for over 150 years to yankee dogooders who won’t be satisfied till they re-make us in their own image, but I will say it anyway: We just want to be left alone. Don’t fix our economy, don’t fix the monetary system, don’t tell me how much water my toilet can flush, what kind of light bulbs to use, or what to charge for cabbages. I can handle those decisions. Just leave us alone. But that’s just the one thing the whole dadburn do-gooding mob can’t do, is leave you alone. They got to make you better. I’m just as good right now as I am ever gonna get or want to be, and I don’t need no Federal Reserve or federal government or state or city government (for that matter) making me better. Y’all just leave me alone, and I’ll be happy. Just get out of my way, & I’ll stay out of your’n.
– Franklin Sanders in THE MONEY CHANGER DAILY COMMENTARY, September 15, 2015.
172-4. “Where Should the Burden of Proof Rest?”
Morally speaking, it would seem that those who opt in favor of coercive arrangements ought to bear the burden of proof. If the state is such a superior arrangement, by comparison with genuine, voluntary self-government, why must the state be propped up by all of its police and armed forces? Why must people be constantly threatened with imprisonment and death in order to bring forth the revenues that support the state’s activities? Walmart does not put a gun to my head to gain my patronage. …
Moreover, we need to be constantly aware that if an arrangement depends on violence or the threat of violence to keep it afloat, it almost certainly has severe deficiencies. Raw force is always the resort of someone who cannot present a persuasive argument in support of his actions.
– Robert Higgs, Excerpts from THE BEACON, January 15, 2012
173-1. “On Convincing Others to Obey the Two Laws”
The Two Laws
Do all you have agreed to do.
Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
These are the two laws that make civilization possible.
Lacking the courage to become a hermit, I try to do my part by writing … because, at bottom, nearly all “public affairs” problems are ones of character. If the vast majority of individuals obey the two fundamental laws that make civilization possible, life will grow better. If not, life will grow worse. Whatever else is done will not matter much.
I am convinced it is that simple. I like Henry David Thoreau’s remark, “The fate of the country … does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on the kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.”
In other words, living in this sea of corruption, the only reasonable, ethical course is to do something to convince our friends, neighbors and families to obey the two laws, both in their private lives and politics. This is why I write the Uncle Eric books … .
– Rick Maybury, EARLY WARNING REPORT, June 2003.
173-2. “The Rattlesnake As a Symbol of Natural Liberty”
After the fighting began at Lexington and Concord in 1775, “the solitary rattlesnake” came to symbolize “liberty of a special kind. The motto summarized it in a sentence: ‘Don’t tread on me.’ This was the only early American emblem of liberty and freedom to be cast in the first person singular. Here was an image of personal liberty, … much like other backcountry expressions of liberty. The leading example was Patrick Henry’s famous cry: ‘Give me liberty!’
“It also warned the world, ‘Leave me alone, let me be, keep your distance, don’t tread on my turf.’ This was an idea that had strong appeal to settlers in the American backcountry, and especially to settlers who came from the borders of North Britain. These people came from northern Ireland, the marshes of Wales, the Scottish lowlands, and the six northern counties of England. They differed in ethnicity and religion but shared a common history and culture that had developed in the borderlands.
“For nearly a thousand years, they had lived between warring governments that turned their land into a bloody battleground. They had long been victims of incessant violence and brutal oppression. Liberty for the borderers meant a life apart from cruel rulers and the right to manage their affairs in their own way. Sometimes they called this idea ‘natural liberty.’
“The British borderers brought to America a fierce attachment to liberty, which they understood in that special way. Natural liberty meant the right of individual settlers to be left alone, especially by governments who had brought them nothing but misery and exploitation. … [T]he image of the singular rattlesnake made a perfect symbol for a highly articulated vision of liberty as the right to be free from government, and to live apart from others, and to settle differences in one’s own way.
“A[s a] writer in the PENNSYLVANIA JOURNAL [Dec. 27, 1775] explained, ‘The rattlesnake is solitary, and associates with her kind only when it is necessary for preservation.’ He added that the rattlesnakes eye[s] … ‘ha[ve] no eyelids. She may, therefore, be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.’ He added that the rattlesnake ‘never begins an attack, nor, once engaged, ever surrenders. She is, therefore, an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.’ Moreover, he argued, that a rattlesnake ‘never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her’.”
– David Hackett Fischer, LIBERTY AND FREEDOM (2005), pp. 80-82. [For a corroboration of this view, see THE VOLUNTARYIST, Whole Number 128 (2006), page 8, “The South Carolina Backcountry Folk Would Like To Be Left Alone.”]
173-3. “Confusion Over the Concept ‘Anarchy’”
There are two radically different concepts – society without government and society with a bad government – which have been united by the same linguistic symbol, the same hellish word: “anarchy.”
The word “anarchy” refers to a kind of society: a society without government, or state. This is a description, not an evaluation. To describe a society as anarchistic means that social order exists in some fashion and to some degree without government, for this is implicit in the meaning of “society,” but it does not tell us anything more specific.
An anarchistic society may be primitive or advanced, violent or peaceful, just or unjust, desirable or undesirable. The anarchist does not endorse every manifestation of anarchy, any more than the defender of government endorses every kind of government.
To determine the nature of a good anarchistic society is the business of anarchism, which is a theory of social order without government. This distinction between anarchy and anarchism is crucial. The former denotes a society, any society, without a state, whether good or bad. The latter denotes a particular point of view – a defense and justification of the good society which includes, as a fundamental precondition, the absence of a state. As stated previously, not every form of anarchy is acceptable to the advocate of anarchism. To eliminate government may remove a major source of injustice and violence in society, but this does not mean that justice and social order will automatically fill the void. In other words, anarchism regards the absence of government as a necessary but not sufficient condition of an ideal society.
To summarize: “anarchy” is a negative term that refers to a social condition – the absence of government. “Anarchism,” in contrast, is a positive term – a theory of justice and social order that rejects government for moral, economic, religious and/or social reasons. Anarchism is a theory about what ought to be, not merely a statement about what is.
We can now approach the meaning of “anarchist,” the third term of our trinity. As indicated previously, the anarchist, qua social philosopher, subscribes to a theory of anarchism, but he does not necessarily endorse all types of anarchy. The rejection of government is not a premise from which the anarchist begins; it is a conclusion based on various ideas about human nature, moral values, social order, institutions, and political power. The label “anarchist” refers to a person who rejects government, but it does not indicate why a person rejects government, nor does it specify what the anarchist means by “government,” nor does it suggest what an anarchistic society would look like (its values, institutions, and so forth), nor does it indicate how or when an anarchistic society can be brought about (if at all). Many variables and permutations are involved here, which lead to radically different kinds of anarchism. To refer merely to a “society without government” tells us nothing about what that society should look like.
– George H. Smith, Introducing ANARCHISM & JUSTICE, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 3 from libertarianism.org, October 2, 2012.
174-1. “Books Received”
“Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, THE BREAKING DAWN, begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems and divides the world into two parts. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds … where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved fifty years behind the times … but where human minds are left to find their own bearings. And from there it goes to places you’ve never imagined.” $ 18.95 in paper, $ 5.95 on Kindle, and available at Amazon: – http://www.amazon.com/The-Breaking-Dawn-Paul-Rosenberg-ebook/dp/B01BTHF1ME. Also recommended is Paul’s email newsletter, FREE-MAN’S PERSPECTIVE, www.freemansperspective.com.
174-2. “What Is a Citizen?”
Being a citizen of today’s nation-states has no relation to being a citizen of a Greek city-state, or even the early Roman republic – the places where the concept arose. A citizen today is no more than a tax slave, really. He doesn’t in any way control, or even mildly influence, the fate of his country. He is really just a serf who is forced to hand over 50% of whatever he earns to be disposed of by his rulers – or else be punished severely. This is one of the most stupid ways imaginable for people to group themselves, if you ask me. It amounts to defining who you are according to which government issues you an ID.
– “Doug Casey on Phyles,” April 13, 2011.
174-3. “Refuse the Money and Run!”
[T]here can hardly be room to doubt that the nation has undergone a grave decline in its moral standards. …
Many reasons for the decline can be adduced, not least among them being the intrusiveness into our lives of the corruption that pervades Washington. Earlier, the Grant and Harding administrations were corrupt, but the scandals had virtually no impact upon society; the federal government had nothing to do, for example, with the way parents raised their children. Now, by contrast, the government pokes its nose into everything, including standards of morality. To cite but one kind of instance, the Catholic church’s charities and the Salvation Army, which have been traditional carriers of religion and morality as well as of succor, now refrain from espousing religion and morality, lest they lose their government funding [or tax exemptions].
It is federal money that corrupts: take their money and they own you. Most people probably know this but are willing to take the money anyway. I once heard Frank Sinatra say on a talk show that it was easy enough to get along with the Mafia. “Just don’t ever let them do you a favor.” The same advice applies to the federal government.
– Forrest McDonald, “Clinton, the Country, and the Political Culture,” COMMENTARY Magazine, June 1999, p. 34.
174-4. “Refuse To Engage in Spiritual Suicide!”
I am not an extraordinary man, and I am quite ordinary. But God chose me for something quite extraordinary.
When I was 23 years old I refused to do something that at the time seemed at the time very small. I refused to say a few words, “I’m with Fidel.” …
If I just said those three words, I would have been released from prison.
My story is proof that a small act of defiance can mean everything for the friends of liberty. They did not keep me in jail for 22 years because my refusal to say three words meant nothing. In reality those three words meant everything.
For me to say those words would [have] constituted a type of spiritual suicide. Even though my body was in prison and being tortured, my soul was free and it flourished. My jailers took everything away from me, but they could not take away my conscience or my faith.
Even when we have nothing, each person and only that person possesses the key to his or her own conscience, his or her own sacred castle. In that respect, each of us, though we may not have an earthly castle or even a house, each of us is richer than a king or queen. …
I am here to tell you that every little act counts. No man or woman is too small or simple to be called to bear witness to the truth. I’m here to remind you that each of you possesses great wealth in the sacred domain of your conscience. And I’m here to tell you that each of you is called to stay true. I am also here to tell you that when you make that choice, from that moment forward, even if you are naked, in solitary confinement for 8 years, you are never alone because God is there with you. …
[S]ometimes your freedom is not taken away at gunpoint but instead it is done one piece of paper at a time, one seemingly meaningless rule at a time, one small silencing at a time. Beware … . Never compromise. Never allow the government – or anyone else – to tell you what you can or cannot believe or what you can and cannot say or what your conscience tells you to have to do or not do.
– Armando Valladares, Cuban dissident in his Canterbury Medal Acceptance Speech (Transcript from the Spanish), May 12, 2016, and partly reprinted in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 24, 2016, page A9. Also see Carl Watner’s article, “Soul Rape,” Issue 163 of THE VOLUNTARYIST.
175-1. “A Disaster for Human Liberty”
“The centralizing tendency of war has made the rise of the state throughout much of history a disaster for human liberty and rights. …” This observation leads to an even more fundamental question: What makes anyone think that government officials are even trying to protect us? A government is not analogous to a hired security guard. Governments do not come into existence as social service organizations or as private firms seeking to please consumers in a competitive market. Instead, they are born in conquest and nourished by plunder. They are, in short, wellarmed gangs intent on organized crime. Yes, rulers have sometimes come to recognize the prudence of protecting the herd they are milking and even of improving its “infrastructure” until the day they decide to slaughter the young bulls, but the idea that government officials seek to promote my interests or yours is little more than propaganda – unless, of course, you happen to belong to the class of privileged tax eaters who give significant support to the government and therefore receive in return a share of the loot. For libertarians to have lost sight of the fundamental nature of the state and therefore to expect its kingpins selflessly to protect them from genuine foreign threats, much as a hen protects her chicks, challenges comprehension. Imagine: people who recognize full well that they cannot rely on the government to do something as simple as fixing the potholes nevertheless believe that they can rely on that same government to protect their lives, liberties, and property. …
During wartime, governments invariably trample on the people’s just rights, disseminating so much propaganda to the abused citizens that they believe they are trading liberty for security. Yet time and again after the dust has settled, the U.S. government’s wars have yielded the net result that Americans enjoy fewer liberties in the postbellum era than they enjoyed in the antebellum era. This ratchet effect must be expected to accompany every major military undertaking the U.S. government carries out. In every war with a decisive outcome the people on both sides lose, the government on the losing side loses, and the government on the winning side wins. In light of these realities, what sort of libertarian wants to support the warfare state?
– Robert Higgs, “Are Questions of War and Peace Merely One Issue among Many for Libertarians?”
Excerpted from the Fall 2011 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW.
175-2. “The Presumption of Liberty”
The presumption of liberty …is analogous to the presumption of innocence. Both have a common epistemic feature. To be required to prove that one is innocent of a charge is to ask for the near impossible. Each time one managed to show, if that were possible, that one was innocent of a crime, another charge could be brought, and the burden would be on the accused to demonstrate a negative yet again. Similarly, one cannot show why one should be allowed to do every single thing one might wish to do – to wear a hat or not wear a hat, or to wake up at 7:30 a.m. or at 7:15 a.m., or to read this book rather than that; it would be impossible.
Instead of being required to justify and ask permission for all of the possible things we could do, the presumption of liberty requires that the burden rest not on the one who would exercise freedom but on the one who would restrict it. In the permission society, everything that is not permitted is forbidden, whereas in the society of liberty everything that is not forbidden is permitted.
– Dr. Tom Palmer, “Is Liberty an Asian Value?” in the Atlas Network’s FREEDOM’S CHAMPION, Summer 2016, pp. 7-8.
175-3. “Why Do We Measure Air Conditioning Capacity in Tons?”
Here is a perfect example of voluntaryism which demonstrates that government need not establish units of measurement. When Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning in 1902, the most common method of refrigeration and cooling buildings was the use of ice. Blocks of ice were cut in the winter, and stored in specially constructed ice houses in which sawdust was used as insulation. So when Carrier’s new units were first used, engineers equated their cooling capacity to the cooling power of a ton of ice. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers adopted this standard in 1912, and modern cooling units are still rated in the same way.
176-1. “Did John Locke Literally Mean ‘No Taxation’ without Individual Consent?”
The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires, that the people should have property, without which they must be supposed to lose that, by entering into society, which was the end for which they entered into it; too gross an absurdity for any man to own. Men therefore in society having property, they have such a right to the goods, which by the law of the community are their’s, that no body hath a right to take their substance or any part of it from them, without their own consent: without this they have no property at all; for I have truly no property in that, which another can by right take from me, when he pleases, against my consent. Hence it is a mistake to think, that the supreme or legislative power of any commonwealth, can do what it will, and dispose of the estates of the subject arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure. … For a man’s property is not at all secure, tho’ there be good and equitable laws to set the bounds of it between him and his fellow subjects, if he who commands those subjects have power to take from any private man, what part he pleases of his property, and use and dispose of it as he thinks good.
– SECOND TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT (1698), Chap XI, “Of the Extent of Legislative Power,” Sec. 138.
176-2. “What has Government Given to Aviation?”
Before you answer that question, reflect a moment. Government is a gun. Do guns build airliners? Do guns arrange airline schedules? Do guns operate airports?
Do guns invent, devise, plan and implement? Take the gun away from government and what do you have? You have men.
What is the difference between aviation as a thing in itself and government as a thing in itself? Men make both mechanisms work. The only discernible difference is the gun which characterizes the government and which is always lacking in all enterprise by virtue of the basic nature of enterprise.
Now, what has government given to aviation? It has given nothing. I am sorry, gentlemen. It has given NOT ONE THING. It has taken.
Ah, but I can hear you say: “Government has made aviation more safe.”
No, it has not.
That is the illusion carried over from the idea that government sells protection. Did government invent anything? Can a gun contrive? No. Men have made the safety devices. Men have struggled to provide better, faster, cheaper, more reasonably secure flying. And men have financed these things by dint of much labor. They have run risks and they have performed Herculean feats.
“But government has set standards of excellence to which we are compelled to adhere.” Did someone say that?
I deny it. The aviation industry provided those standards. True, there are rules which are now … I use the common term … ENFORCED. Is it the enforcement which we admire, or the intrinsic merit of the rules which, I repeat, were first made possible by the aviation people themselves? Are the rules obeyed because they are sound rules or are they obeyed because fines, imprisonment and FORCE are invoked?
You answer the question. But here is the real problem, gentlemen. When standards of excellence are ENFORCED there is, almost by common consent, a tendency to slacken in the search for excellence. Government enforced MINIMUM standards have a strange way of becoming arbitrary MAXIMUM standards. And these standards are maintained until some air tragedy tells us that the excellence just wasn’t enough. Then we go to work again.
– Robert LeFevre, “Think It Through,” (Colorado Springs: Pine Tree Press), Banquet Address before the National Aviation Trades Assoc., Dec. 6, 1962, Las Vegas, NV, pp. 11-12.
176-3. Book Received
BOUNDARIES OF AUTHORITY explores the claim of modern states to exercise “rights of jurisdiction and control over particular geographical areas and their associated natural resources.” The author “explores the possible moral bases for such territorial claims by states, and in the process” argues “that many of these territorial claims … lack any jurisdiction.” A. John Simmons, BOUNDARIES OF AUTHORITY (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). ISBN 978-0-19-060348-9; www.oup.com.
180-1. Constitutional “Food” For Thought From Your Editor
Re: Monetary Debasement
Article I, Section 10 of the U. S. Constitution reads that no state shall make anything but gold and silver legal tender in payment of debts. Why didn’t the delegates to the Constitutional Convention apply this stricture to the new central government?
Article 1, Section 8: “To lay and collect taxes”
In “The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania To their Constituents” it was noted: “By virtue of their power of taxation, Congress may command the whole, or any part of the property of the people.” [December 18, 1787 quoted in Herbert J. Storing, ed., THE ANTIFEDERALIST (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 210] History has proven this true, even if it was not part of the “original intent.”
Re: The Constitution in general
“Whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or been powerless to prevent it.”
– Lysander Spooner, circa 1868.
180-2. “Freedom: Because It Works or Because It’s Right?”
[O]nce the libertarian has persuaded someone that government interference is wrong, at least in a certain realm, if not across the board, there is a much smaller probability of that convert’s backsliding into his former support for government’s coercive measures against innocent people. Libertarianism grounded on the moral rock will prove much stronger and longerlasting than libertarianism grounded on the shifting sands of consequentialist arguments, which of necessity are only as compelling as today’s arguments and evidence make them. Hence, if we desire to enlarge the libertarian ranks, we are well advised to make moral arguments at least a part of our efforts. It will not hurt, of course, to show people that freedom really does work better than state control. But … [i]f we are ever to attain a free society, we must persuade a great many of our fellows that it is simply wrong for any individuals or groups, by violence or the threat thereof, to impose their demands on others who have committed no crime and violated no one’s just rights, and that it is just as wrong for the persons who compose the state to do so as it is for you and me. In the past, the great victories for liberty flowed from precisely such an approach – for example, in the antislavery campaign, in the fight against the Corn Laws (which restricted Great Britain’s free trade in grains), and in the struggle to abolish legal restrictions on women’s rights to work, own property, and otherwise conduct themselves as freely as men. At the very least, libertarians should never concede the moral high ground to those who insist on coercively interfering with freedom: the burden of proof should always rest on those who seek to bring violence to bear against innocent people, not on those of us who want simply to be left alone to live our lives as we think best, always respecting the same right for others.
– Robert Higgs, Excerpts from THE BEACON, December 27, 2012.
180-3. “Doug Casey on the Migrant Crisis”
I’m all for open borders. Anybody should be able to go anywhere if they can support themselves. In a free market society, however, nobody’s going to give you money just for existing. You have to produce goods and services in order to be able to buy food, shelter, and clothing.
This is how the migration problem could be solved. You don’t need the government. You don’t need the army. You don’t need visas or quotas. You don’t need laws. You don’t need treaties to solve the migration problem. All you need is privately owned property and the lack of welfare benefits.
– CASEY DAILY DISPATCH, Published October 9, 2016, Part II.
180-4. “What State Licensing of Marriages Means”
Marriage licensing means the government can decide who marries. By engaging in this act you are basically saying that someone has the right to decide who can get married and who can’t. I mean, technically, we could go into City Hall and ask for a marriage license, and they could say, “No, you can’t have one.” They could say, “Well, she’s too short and he’s too tall, and we want five foot five, blond-haired, blue-eyed people, and we don’t think you should get married.” I mean, it doesn’t happen that way, fortunately, but it says they have the power to decide.
– Quoted in Anita Bernstein (ed.), MARRIAGE PROPOSALS (2006), p. 95.
181-1. Excerpts from Delmar England, MIND AND MATTERS: THE WORLD IN A MIRROR (1997)
Suppose this individual [who refuses to pay his taxes] approaches every finite human individual in the United States and ask[s] each individual, “Do I owe you money?” Suppose that in every instance he receives the answer, “No.” From what then comes the argument that he “owes” money [to the government]? Here we have literally 100% of the individuals saying as individuals that he does not owe, yet via the magical governmental system and “divine abstracts,” the 100% no’s become a yes upon threat of life and limb. Suppose this individual refuses to accept the declaration that he “owes,” physically resists, and is killed in a hail of gunfire. Wherein lies responsibility? The one that pulled the trigger is “just doing his job according to law and for God and Country.” Those that made the law made it because it is the “will of the people.” The lawmaker exists by “majority rule.” Literally no participant in the sequential action accepts responsibility. All is in the name of the nonentity’s non-existent abstracts. No individual responsibility. Thus do we have the miracle of effect without cause. [Chapter xvi]
Government is simply, unequivocally, and always initiation of force or coercion and nothing else. To be sure, official government is organized, politicized, centralized, canonized, and revered initiation of force, but it is no less initiation of force and coercion than any unofficial singular act of the same offensive content. So, let us be clear from the outset. When someone seeks to control, limit, or reduce government, what they are clearly saying is that they wish to direct the centralized coercive force to compel all others to conform to their personal values, to act for their personal benefit, i.e., to claim ownership of all other individuals. [Chapter viii]
181-2. “Attila and the Witch Doctor”
To maintain order and unity in a group larger and less homogeneous than extended family systems is a complex and difficult task. Mere force is seldom sufficient in the long run. The most common solution has been to endow the ruler who controls the physical apparatus of state coercion with a sacral role as head and symbol of the people’s religion.
… [I]n the Middle Ages … there were rulers who aspired to supreme spiritual and temporal powers. The truly exceptional thing is that in medieval times there were always at least two claimants to the role, each commanding a formidable apparatus of government, and that for century after century neither was able to dominate the other completely, … . This situation profoundly influenced the development of Western constitutionalism. The very existence of two power structures competing for men’s allegiance instead of only one compelling obedience greatly enhanced the possibilities for human freedom. …
… It is hardly proper to speak of a conflict of church and state in the eleventh century at all, for there was then no real idea of the state, of a public authority exercising powers of legislation and taxation and administering uniform laws according to a rational system of jurisprudence. The only theoretical defense of monarchical power available was a theological one, an assertion that the emperor or pope was the minister of God on earth and so qualified to rule all the affairs of men. [I]n the thirteenth century, the rediscovery of Aristotle’s POLITICS provided a new philosophical basis for reflections on the very nature of the state itself. By the end of our period [1300 AD] it had become possible to construct sophisticated theories of state power which rested more on rational argumentation than on biblical exegesis. Indeed, one of the most important developments in the history of church-state relations during the Middle Ages was the emergence of the idea of the state itself.
– Brian Tierney, “Introduction,” to THE CRISIS OF CHURCH & STATE 1050-1300 (1964), pp. 1-2.
181-3. “Bitcoin’s Parabolic Chart”
All parabolic charts end up as exploded bubbles. They all end the same way. … Let me throw one other thing in: I believe in REAL wealth, not paper, not virtual. The wealth of the world come from the things men take out of the ground. All else is simply processing. I am biased: I only count as wealth REAL things, or concerns that produce REAL things. Might I miss a thousand speculations? I sure hope so. I got caught in the Get Rich Quick mentality once early in my life, and the outcome was so hateful, so painful, that I changed my motto to “Get Rich SLOW.” Takes longer, but lasts longer, too.
– Franklin Sanders in THE MONEYCHANGER Commentary Dec. 4, 2017, written when bitcoin was over $ 16,000.
186-1. “You Always Have A Choice”
No matter what happens, you have a choice. Someone insults you, you choose whether you’re going to be offended, whether you’re going to respond, whether you’re going to let it go. You roll your ankle in a game, you decide whether you’re going to tough it out or rest. You knock over a cherished family heirloom and it shatters on the floor, you choose whether to be devastated and for how long. You are clapped in handcuffs and thrown in jail unjustly, you choose what you will do with that time, what it will mean for you. Even if events put you at a complete loss and leave you just sitting there, that’s a choice. As the Rush lyrics go,
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
That’s the essence of Stoicism right there. We always have a choice. In any and every situation, even if only in our attitude and our orientation, we still have a choice. It’s an incredible power. Relinquishing that power? Being upset that it can’t magically solve everything or turn back time? That’s a choice too. Because you always have one.
– THE DAILY STOIC, August 18, 2017.
186-2. “Creativity Against the Machine”
Information is surprise. Creativity always comes as a surprise to us. If it wasn’t surprising, we wouldn’t need it. However useful they may be, machines are not capable of creativity. Human minds can generate counterfactuals, imaginative flights, dreams. By contrast, a surprise in a machine is a breakdown. You don’t want your machines to have surprising outcomes!
– The Weekend Interview with George Gilder, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, September 1-2, 2018, page A11.
186-3. “You Are In Charge of You!”
Epictetus emphasizes time and again the fact that a man who lays the causes of his actions onto third parties or forces is not leveling with himself. He must live with his own judgments if he is to be honest with himself. “But if a person subjects me to fear of death, he compels me,” says a student. “No,” says Epictetus, “It is neither death, nor exile, nor toil, nor any such things that is the cause of your doing, or not doing, anything, but only your opinions and the decisions of your Will.”
“What is the fruit of your doctrines?” someone asked Epictetus. “Tranquility, fearlessness, and freedom,” he answered. You can have these only if you are honest and take responsibility for your own actions. You’ve got to get it straight! You are in charge of you.
– James Stockdale, “Master of My Fate: A Stoic Philosopher in a Hanoi Prison,” THE WORLD AND I, May 1995.
186-4. “It remains to be seen whether or not things will get better.”
That will depend not on me, but on other people. They need to do what’s right, instead of what’s easy. That doesn’t mean that we need groups of activists trying to regulate the behavior of everybody but themselves. Such evangelism is part of the problem, not part of the solution. What we need is for each individual to educate himself, to stop being brainwashed and mentally conditioned, to start thinking for himself, to stop whining to [the] government to coddle him, to govern his own behavior with an understanding of its consequences, and to be considerate of the effect that he has on others.
– Sam Aurelius Milam, III in the September 2018 FRONTIERSMAN.
186-5. “Doug Casey on The State”
A key takeaway, and I emphasize that because I expect it to otherwise bounce off the programmed psyches of most people, is that the very idea of the State itself is poisonous, evil, and intrinsically destructive. But, like so many bad ideas, people have come to assume it’s part of the cosmic firmament, when it’s really just a monstrous scam. It’s a fraud, like your belief that you have a right to free speech because of the First Amendment, or a right to be armed because of the Second Amendment. No, you don’t. The U.S. Constitution is just an arbitrary piece of paper…entirely apart from the fact the whole thing is now just a dead letter. You have a right to free speech and to be armed because they’re necessary parts of being a free person, not because of what a political document says.
Even though the essence of the State is coercion, people have been taught to love and respect it. Most people think of the State in the quaint light of a grade school civics book. They think it has something to do with “We the People” electing a Jimmy Stewart character to represent them. That ideal has always been a pernicious fiction, because it idealizes, sanitizes, and legitimizes an intrinsically evil and destructive institution, which is based on force.
– From Doug Casey’s “The Deep State,” INTERNATIONAL MAN, October 5, 2018.
188-1. “Loyalty to a State Just Because You Happen to be Born There Is Stupid”
If you earn a good living, certainly if you own your own business and have assets, your fellow Americans are the ones who actually present the clear and present danger. The average American (about 50% of them now) pays no income tax. Even if he’s not actually a direct or indirect employee of the government, he’s a net recipient of its largesse, which is to say your wealth, through Social Security and other welfare programs. …
I’m necessarily at odds with many of “my fellow Americans;” they’re an active and growing liability. Some might read this and find a disturbing lack of loyalty to the state. It sounds seditious. …
[Treason is one of the two crimes] specified in the US Constitution. … Treason is usually defined as an attempt to overthrow a government or withdraw loyalty from a sovereign. A rather odd proviso to have when the framers of the Constitution had done just that only few years before, one would think.
The way I see it, Thomas Paine had it right when he said, “My country is wherever liberty lives.”
– An excerpt by Doug Casey from his INTERNATIONAL MAN, October 12, 2018.
188-2. “How the Collectivist Myth Fades”
This is the fulfillment of statism. It is a state of mind that does not recognize any ego but that of the collective. For analogy one must go to the pagan practice of human sacrifice: when the gods called for it, when the medicine man so insisted, as a condition for prospering the clan, it was incumbent on the individual to throw himself into the sacrificial fire. In point of fact, statism is a form of paganism, for it is worship of an idol, something made by man. Its base is pure dogma. Like all dogmas this one is subject to interpretations and rationales, each with its coterie of devotees. But, whether one calls himself a communist, socialist, New Dealer, or just plain “democrat,” each begins with the premise that the individual is of consequence only as a servant of the mass-idol. Its will be done.
There are stalwart souls, even in this twentieth century. There are some who in the privacy of their personality hold that collectivism is a denial of a higher order of things. There are nonconformists who reject the Hegelian notion that “the state incarnates the divine idea on earth.” There are some who firmly maintain that only man is made in the image of God. As this remnant – these individuals – gains understanding and improves its explanations, the myth that happiness is to be found under collective authority must fade away in the light of liberty.
– Frank Chodorov, THE FREEMAN, “The Dogma of Our Times,” June, 1956.
188-3. “Consider the State de novo.”
We will explore the entire notion of a State-less society, a society without formal government, in later chapters. But one instructive exercise is to try to abandon the habitual ways of seeing things, and to consider the argument for the State de novo. Let us try to transcend the fact that for as long as we can remember, the State has monopolized police and judicial services in society. Suppose that we were all starting completely from scratch, and that millions of us had been dropped down upon the earth, fully grown and developed, from some other planet. Debate begins as to how protection (police and judicial services) will be provided. Someone says: “Let’s all give all of our weapons to Joe Jones over there, and to his relatives. And let Jones and his family decide all disputes among us. In that way, the Joneses will be able to protect all of us from any aggression or fraud that anyone else may commit. With all the power and all the ability to make ultimate decisions on disputes in the hands of Jones, we will all be protected from one another. And then let us allow the Joneses to obtain their income from this great service by using their weapons, and by exacting as much revenue by coercion as they shall desire.” Surely in that sort of situation, no one would treat this proposal with anything but ridicule. For it would be starkly evident that there would be no way, in that case, for any of us to protect ourselves from the aggressions, or the depredations, of the Joneses themselves. No one would then have the total folly to respond to that longstanding and most perceptive query: “Who shall guard the guardians?” by answering with Professor Black’s blithe: “Who controls the temperate?” It is only because we have become accustomed over thousands of years to the existence of the State that we now give precisely this kind of absurd answer to the problem of social protection and defense.
– From Murray Rothbard, FOR A NEW LIBERTY, Chapter 3, “The State,” (1978 and 2006, 2nd edition) pp. 84-85.
191-1. “The Man Who Knows Freedom Will Find a Way to Be Free”
But though our attachments can be taken from us by force, our free will cannot. … Because (these) attachments increase the likelihood that we will cooperate with those who would control us, it should be evident that only our attachments can enslave us. We are only free when we are complete within ourselves. Only when we value something outside ourselves more than we value the inviolability of our will do we make ourselves vulnerable to the loss of our freedom. Because we cannot lose our free will but can only choose to relinquish it, we have nothing to fear from others. The realization of that fact is freedom. …
Neither you nor I will recover our freedom through petitions, elections, or legislation: … . We will become free not when our neighbors understand what it means to be free, but when you and I do. We will not become free when the State goes away; rather, the State will go away when we become free. We have no saviors – be they religious, political, ideological, or technological – to whom we can turn for salvation: the passion to live as free men and women will either arise with us, or we shall not experience it at all. Since freedom is a condition natural to us as human beings, we need do no more to reclaim it than to resolve to exercise full control over our individual selves. …
In the words of a sign that hung above the road at a school in Colorado … ‘the man who knows what freedom means will find a way to be free.’ Our freedom will not be attained by political revolutions, but only by a spiritual revolution within each of us.
– Butler Shaffer, CALCULATED CHAOS (1985), pp. 223-224.
191-2. “Dave Ramsey on Nonprofits”
God did not anoint nonprofits; the IRS did. Prior to the tax code being put in place in the last century, there was no such thing as a nonprofit organization. Sure, there were churches and charities, but the word nonprofit didn’t really exist. This is an IRS designation, not a biblical designation.
– Dave Ramsey, THE LEGACY JOURNAL (2014), p. 147.
191-3. “Guess Whose Family?”
“A well-to-do family earns $ 330,000 a year – yet spends $ 410,000 a year. This family put a staggering $ 78,000 on its credit card last year (2018), even though it already had $ 2,150,000 in credit card debt. It pays $ 37,000 a year in interest, and it no longer pretends to have a plan to pay off its debts.” Add seven zeros to these figures and you have a close picture of the United States government with $ 21.5 trillion in debt.
– suggested by Andrew Miller, “When Will the Dollar Collapse?” THE PHILADELPHIA TRUMPET (May-June 2019), p. 15.
191-4. “All the Relevant Alternatives”
There are only two relevant ideal types of social patterns: the pattern of voluntary contractual interrelation, and that of hegemonic, coercive interaction. A can interact with B, in other words, in either of two ways: by free gift or exchange – voluntarily – or by coercion. And these are all the relevant alternatives. Now, if a society is voluntarist and contractual, this freedom will develop the personality of each and permit that great growth of living standards that makes modern civilization possible, that raises us up from the caveman. If the society is markedly coercive, not only will it stunt each individual’s development, it will plunge humankind back to primitive living standards and not permit any maintenance of civilization.
– Murray Rothbard in David Gordon (ed.), STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (2010), p. 46.
191-5. “What Is a Tax?”
A tax is the coercive expropriation of the property of an individual by the rulers of the State. The rulers use this property for whatever purposes they desire – usually the rulers will distribute it in such a manner as to ensure their continuance in office, i.e., by subsidizing favored groups. In addition, the rulers decide which individuals will pay the taxes – the decision consisting of expropriating the property of groups disliked by the rulers. A price, therefore, is a free act of voluntary exchange between two individuals, both of whom benefit by the exchange (else the exchange would not be made!). A tax is a compulsory act of expropriation, with no benefit accruing to the individual (unless he happens to be on the receiving end of property expropriated by the State from someone else).
– Murray Rothbard in David Gordon (ed.), STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (2010), p. 226.
193-1. What Does Your Appearance in Court Mean?
When you walk into a courtroom, you submit to the jurisdiction of the judicial system, regardless of what you may say to the contrary. No amount of disclaimer on your part will change the fact that you are there. When you submit your case for judgement, you implicitly, if not explicitly, acknowledge the judicial system’s just right to render in your case a decision by which you are bound to abide. Unless you were dragged there physically, by force, against your will, you are a voluntary participant and you exonerate the court of any deficiency of jurisdiction under which it might have suffered. Viewed in this way, any action [or appearance] in court should be preceded by a lot of soul searching.
– a letter from Sam Milam III, December 8, 1988.
193-2. Book Received
Louis E. Carabini, author of LIBERTY, DICTA & FORCE (2018), founded Monex, a precious metals trading company, in 1967. He was a student of Andrew Galambos and a friend of Harry Browne. His story of “How I Became an Anarchist” can be found at http://voluntaryist.com/how-i-became-a-voluntaryist/how-i-became-an-anarchist. “The thrust of this book is not about changing public policies, limiting or abolishing government, ‘fixing’ America, or trying to change the world. Nor is this book about a crisis or the notion that if we don’t do something soon, civilization will collapse. I hope to convey an appreciation of liberty as the natural common sense way to view the social world and interact within it. The inherent moral compass that guides our behavior in private matters can serve us just as well in public matters.”
193-3. “The Social Contract”
The so-called social contract is neither a contract nor is it social. A contract is a consensual agreement that presupposes a right for parties to opt out. Without the right to opt out, it is not a contract. “Social” is a friendly relationship, the antithesis of force. The “social contract” is simply a proclamation backed by physical force that all who reside within the geographical boundaries claimed by a ruler are by that fact consenting subjects to his edict. In principle, the effect is no different than that of a divine right; however, in practice the concept seems to yield far more plunder.
– Louis E. Carabini, “Individualist Anarchism,” July 13, 2012.
193-4. “Protection of Property Ultimately Depends on Human Decency”
As we have observed many times before, Rose Wilder Lane pointed out in THE DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM (pp. 109-110 in the 1943 edition), that the protection of our property ultimately depends upon human decency. “The only safeguards of property seem to have been possession of the property, individual honesty, and public opinion…. [C]abins were never locked on the American frontier where there was no law. The real protection of life and property, always and everywhere, is the general recognition of the brotherhood of man. How much of the time is any American within sight of a policeman? Our lives and our property are protected by the way nearly everyone feels about another person’s life and property.”
Along similar lines, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel has noted in Volume 4 of THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS (pp. 110-111) that, “Society is much more prosperous if we all cease to steal and cheat, but the single individual is better off still if everyone else behaves ethically while he or she steals and cheats whenever able to get away with it. Thus, everyone has a powerful personal incentive to free ride on other people’s ethical behavior. If we all succumbed to that incentive, society would be very unpleasant.”
“… A cursory glance at varying crime rates, over time and across locations, clearly indicates that the total stealing and cheating in society is far from solely a function of the resources devoted to the police and the courts. Certain neighborhoods are less safe, making an equal unit of police protection less effective, because they contain more aspiring ethical free riders. If all members of society or even a substantial fraction became ethical free riders, always stealing and cheating whenever they thought they could get away with it, the police and court system would collapse under the load.” For whatever reasons, most people respect the property of others as they would have others respect their own property.