Anarchists: are we pacifists or not?

Leo Tolstoy wrote many novels, but he also wrote the non-fiction “City of God is Within You“. (1894) I would like to consider the idea of pacifism verses defense against aggression based on Tolstoy’s ideas in this very short post today.

Tolstoy’s book in large part deals with nonresistance to evil. Here is the money quote from chapter 10:

The champions of government assert that without it the wicked will oppress and outrage the good, and that the power of the government enables the good to resist the wicked.

But in this assertion the champions of the existing order of things take for granted the proposition they want to prove. When they say that except for the government the bad would oppress the good, they take it for granted that the good are those who are the present time are in possession of power, and the bad are those who are in subjection to it. But this is just what wants proving.

The good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this men must love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the very opposite qualities:  pride, cunning, cruelty.

Without the aggrandizement of self and the abasement of others, without hypocrisies and deceptions, without prisons, fortresses, executions, and murders, no power can come into existence or be maintained.  . . .

. . . ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him to whom force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses the force would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means doing to others what we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing wrong.

… But ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him to whom force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses the force would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means doing to others what we would we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing wrong.

This non-resistance to violence and aggression principle is the main one that Tolstoy advocated in his book and one that later Gandhi used to liberate India from the British.

The argument is that since the good cannot or will not wield power then only the evil men will do so whether or not you have a State. Since having a State just magnifies the power of the evil men, then not having a state is preferable to having one. The many who claim we need the State for protection from the evil men ignore the utter magnitude of the actual existing violence and oppression practiced by governments all over the world right now. The wicked will use the awesome power of the state to amplify their oppression of the innocent. The hazards of the bullies in government far outweigh any hypothetical benefit that one might conjure up. In fact, I have rarely read a better reason to have no state at all than that offered up by Tolstoy in the above quote.

Those of us who follow the non-aggression principle argue that it is immoral as well as unwise to ever commit aggression against the innocent; but we believe we are morally justified in retaliation against anyone who launches an unjust aggression against us. I don’t think Tolstoy would disagree with that moral right; but he would argue that Christ forbade it. I suspect he would also argue that it is unwise to use violence to resist.

What are we modern anarchists to do? First, I believe that there are definitely times when retaliation is warranted and advisable, but there are times when non-aggression is the better policy. Gandhi’s use of non-violent resistance in India may be the prototype movement where violence would have been a disaster while non-violence was a definite winner. I would argue that the modern anarchist should not embrace pacifism but rather view total non-violence as a tactic that might well be the best route in a given situation. I recoil at the idea of announcing to the evil among us that they may oppress us in any manner they so choose without them fearing any repercussions.

If I find that in the next life I am told that I was wrong to ever resist evil by force, I’ll certainly ask for forgiveness — but until then, I expect to defend myself and my family if attacked. (where it is prudent to do so of course)

 

 

The Crucial Question of Liberty

Murray N. Rothbard was one of the finest minds of the 20th century and helped to resurrect the freedom movement seemingly single-handedly. He wrote in 1977:

I have been ruminating recently on what are the crucial questions that divide libertarians. Some that have received a lot of attention in the last few years are: anarcho-capitalism vs. limited government, abolitionism vs. gradualism, natural rights vs. utilitarianism, and war vs. peace. But I have concluded that as important as these questions are, they don’t really cut to the nub of the issue, of the crucial dividing line between us. …

And what did he come up with as the crucial question that we must ask of ourselves and of those who claim to be our allies? His answer was this: “Do you hate the State?”.

There runs through the works of Rothbard a deep and pervasive hatred of the State and all of its works. He saw, as I do, that the State is the enemy of all mankind. Everywhere I look I see problems caused or made worse by the State. I view myself as a “radical” in the same way that Rothbard viewed himself and the reliable members of our liberty movement as radicals.

… Radical in the sense of being in total, root-and-branch opposition to the existing political system and to the State itself. Radical in the sense of having integrated intellectual opposition to the State with a gut hatred of its pervasive and organized system of crime and injustice. Radical in the sense of a deep commitment to the spirit of liberty and anti-statism that integrates reason and emotion, heart and soul. …

The sense of being in total and absolute opposition to mankind’s greatest enemy, The State, is a defining characteristic of my worldview. Anyone can see that means that I was truly a big fan of Rothbard back when he was alive and writing.

For those of us who have seen that the State is our enemy, the question naturally arises as to what are we to do about it. The radical libertarian thinks of abolishing the State just as the State is always thinking of us as slaves to be used and abused. We do not think in terms of “making it a little bit better” as that just does not work. We don’t think in terms of “Ron Paul as president would fix everything!” as it is no use to use evil to attempt to do good. As radical libertarians we must take every opportunity to cut back the size and scope of the State in whatever way we can. And we must never, ever look to the State to solve our problems — that is to deal with the Devil.

We must try to convince our minarchist friends that there is no way to constrain a State. If you allow a weak, laissez-faire State then sooner or later it will become a tyranny. Want proof? Look at the history of the United States starting with the Articles of Confederation up until the present day. It is the story of a weak, laissez-faire central state becoming a tyranny.

Rothbard once asked:

Why should there be any important political disputes between anarcho-capitalists and minarchists now? In this world of statism, where there is so much common ground, why can’t the two groups work in complete harmony until we shall have reached a Cobdenite world, after which we can air our disagreements? Why quarrel over courts, etc. now?

The answer is that if they were radicals and were fighting the State as the mortal enemy of mankind then we could work with them, but in the end they support the existence of the State and only disagree with Statists over the size of the beast.

murray-rothbard-enemy-stateNothing has changed since the 70s other than the State has continued to grow in size, scope, and intrusiveness. We are spied upon to a degree that would have astounded even George Orwell. We are subject to all manner of impoverishing rules, mandates, laws, taxes, and threats from the power mad ruling class and their puppet masters behind the scenes.

George Orwell painted a picture of a State that seeks the total and absolute exercise of raw power. The State demands blind, unquestioning obedience and allegiance to the all mighty central government. All independent or skeptical ideas are treason and subversion. This picture that Orwell painted in his novel 1984 is being played out to some degree or the other in every country on the planet Earth. Why? Because mankind is trapped in the fallacy that the State is a necessary evil. It is not necessary at all — but it is evil.

Purge from your mind any idea that the State can be tamed or put to good use. It is evil.

 

The Classic Liberals and their mistake

In his book “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” Murray N. Rothbard gives us a little history of the Classical Liberals of the 17th and 18th century. He wrote the following:

The libertarian creed emerged from the “classical liberal” movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Western world, specifically, from the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. This radical libertarian movement, even though only partially successful in its birthplace, Great Britain, was still able to usher in the Industrial Revolution there by freeing industry and production from the strangling restrictions of State control and urban government-supported guilds. For the classical liberal movement was, throughout the Western world, a mighty libertarian “revolution” against what we might call the Old Order — the ancien régime — which had dominated its subjects for centuries. This regime had, in the early modern period beginning in the sixteenth century, imposed an absolute central State and a king ruling by divine right on top of an older, restrictive web of feudal land monopolies and urban guild controls and restrictions. The result was a Europe stagnating under a crippling web of controls, taxes, and monopoly privileges to produce and sell conferred by central (and local) governments upon their favorite producers. This alliance of the new bureaucratic, war-making central State with privileged merchants — an alliance to be called “mercantilism” by later historians — and with a class of ruling feudal landlords constituted the Old Order against which the new movement of classical liberals and radicals arose and rebelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The Classical Liberals sought to overturn the Old Order and level the playing field for all people to the extent that they could, which meant that the State was to be kept extremely small and its tax revenues were to be kept as small as possible. The classical liberals saw that taxes enabled the State and gave it power over the people and they knew that power corrupts.

I once saw a list of beliefs of those of us who urge voluntary cooperation. This list is also a fairly good description of what the Classical Liberals were urging in the 17th and 18th century.

  1. Private ownership of property; not only of personal possessions but also of land, homes, natural resources, tools, and capital goods;
  2. Contracts and voluntary exchange of goods and services, by individuals or groups, on the expectation of mutual benefit;
  3. Totally free competition among all buyers and sellers — in price, quality, and all other aspects of exchange — without ex ante restraints or burdensome barriers to entry;
  4. Entrepreneurial discovery, undertaken not only to compete in existing markets but also in order to discover and develop new opportunities for economic or social benefit; and
  5. Spontaneous order, recognized as a significant and positive coordinating force — in which decentralized negotiations, exchanges, and entrepreneurship converge to produce large-scale coordination without, or beyond the capacity of, any deliberate plans or explicit common blueprints for social or economic development.

The above list is essentially the Classical Liberal vision of laissez-faire capitalism and it is essentially the librarian view as well. The problem is that the list allows for the State in the view of a Classical Liberal. This is the idea of a “night watchman” state where the government is constrained to a few well defined and necessary duties. The government of the US started out just that way under the Articles of Confederation but look at how short a time it took to see power accumulate at the center. After just nine years of the Articles of Confederation we saw the enactment of the present Constitution and then centralized power really took off. From a “night watchman” start, we now have a central government with seemingly unlimited power to do as it pleases. Many recognize that we live in a police state now.

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I have seen many people try to put a date on where America really went wrong. A favorite is the war between the states which meant that no state could secede from the union and “vote with its feet” any longer. Others say that it was WWI and the emergence of Empire by the US. Still others blame the reaction to the great depression by Franklin D. Roosevelt. I reject all the various guesses as to where we went wrong. I think that the new nation went wrong by forming a government in the first place. There was no way to write down some rules on a piece of paper that would constrain power-seeking men over time. Sooner or later the new government would grow teeth and bite the people. History is a testament to my view.

After centuries of experience most people continue to believe that “all good things flow from the compassionate nature of government.” Has the record of the actions of governments in the 20th century not shown us the true nature of the beast?

I am convinced that the Classic Liberals have been on the right path, but they need to recognize that the state is far too dangerous to ever make use of. We need to let people interact via mutual free-will consent. People will need protection since men are not Angels, and so private companies will arise to offer that protection to their customers. The free market can provide anything that the state claims to provide — and without pointing a gun at your head to make you buy it.

Libertarianism pure and simple

As anyone who reads this blog much knows that, for me, there is one correct libertarianism and that is Rothbardian style radical libertarianism. Libertarianism must be firmly predicated on the non aggression principle (NAP) or it is simply not libertarianism. By “firmly predicated” we mean that we honor the non aggression principle at all times and follow it to its logical conclusion in any problem analyzed. In other words, the law (libertarian law) should prohibit the initiation of force or fraud against innocent people and their property. And that, my friends, is the whole of the situation. Other than the implications of the basic axiom, there is no more to libertarianism.

There are conservatives and modern “liberals” alike who want to hijack the good name of libertarianism and call themselves “libertarian” or at least “libertarian leaning”.  Just because we might be allies in opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, bigotry, brutality, war, torture and all the rest, does not mean that anyone is a libertarian unless they base all of their political philosophy on the non aggression principle.

Some right wingers falsely calling themselves “libertarian” urge acceptance of conservatism. We most definitely are not conservatives. We are most definitely not “liberals” as the word is used in modern America. Those collectivist, thieving, government loving cretins are nowhere close to honoring the non aggression principle. On the other hand, our most close allies are the “Classical Liberals” who sometimes advocate a very small “night-watchman” government. Though totally misguided in the need for any government at all, the Classical Liberals are very close to us in honoring the non aggression principle.

Libertarians are methodological and political individualists and we believe that only individuals think, value, act, and choose. We believe that each individual has the right to own his own body, free of coercive interference. This is just another way of saying the non-aggression principle which asserts that it is inherently illegitimate to initiate the use of physical force against any person or property, the threat of the use of force, or fraud upon persons or their property. The non aggression principle does not, however, preclude violent self-defense. We are not pacifists.

When I started this blog, it was my intention to post each week on a small aspect of the topic of freedom and where the world is going now. I always intended to keep each post short and easy to read. My 2015 new year’s resolution is to return to that style of posting. So, I’ll not be tackling the scores of implications of the non aggression principle in this post, but rather, only one. I’ll mention only one aspect of the state and its violation of the non aggression principle (NAP) today.

What better topic than the “taxes” stolen from the populous by the gang of thieves writ large?

“Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.” ~ Murry N. Rothbard

It is most curious and maddening that people tend to regard the state as a quasi-divine, selfless, parental organization. People tend to think that the murderous, thieving, brutal torturers of the government are somehow their protectors. It is for this reason that so many can’t see that pointing a gun at my head and demanding I pay tribute to the state is raw, brutal theft. Taxes are not paid voluntarily and that should tell us right there that the state violates the non aggression principle by taking money from the public by force.

I sometimes see good meaning people advocate a “fair tax”. The problem is there is no “fair tax” and there can never be one. Taxation is robbery. How can robbery be “fair”? Entire books have been written of the wide ranging effects of tax policy and that many unintended results are hidden from view as in the lost opportunity costs. Today, I will ignore all that and just point out the taxation is aggression against us and no libertarian could ever support taxation in any form.

Radical Libertarians — What do we want?

A friend asked me the other day, “what in the hell do you people really want?” I promised a short answer and today I feel like providing it. Note; the emphasis is on a short answer. So many great thinkers have gone on at length about how real world libertarianism might work and there are complete books on every aspect of the issue: I only want to tell you what I think we radical libertarians want, not go into a long proof of how it would all work.

First, we ask that we not be the innocent victim of aggression. This is summed up in that old saying, “live and let live”. As long as I am not attacking you or your property then you should not be attacking me in any way. I don’t steal your stuff so why do you send armed men to take my stuff and abuse me if I decide to smoke a weed or drink big sugary soft drinks? (disclaimer: I don’t do any drugs — legal or not) Why does everyone think my city government has the right to demand I pay tribute (get a city permit) before I can put a new door on my house? Hell, I did not need the damn door until the city cops failed me and someone broke my old one. So I had to pay the thief, the city, and the door supply house! A damn ring of thieves.

I don’t want the state or its minions meddling in my life. I read recently that Tennessee will be investigating women to see if they took any illegal drugs during their pregnancy and may well take the child if they think there was any drug use. However, taking doctor proscribed dangerous drugs would be just fine apparently. I know from my years of experience that parents are often not ideal and some kids have a bad home life — but does the state own the children? I say the state does not.

“All we ask is to be left alone by those who would control or meddle; to live our lives as we see fit, harming no innocent person as we do. We will deal with any aggressors we encounter ourselves without asking to be “rescued” by other aggressors in silly suits. It is the only civilized way to live.” ~ Kent MacManiga

But the state sure does think they own the children. Take the horrifying story of a family who had their children kidnapped by the government after they took one child to the ER on the orders of their family doctor over a cut on his tongue. The state was not satisfied to steal just one kid; they took them all. A maddening tale of abuse by the state.

Another of the uncountable aspects of “meddling” by the state is that the state has made it illegal for many people to find work. By enacting various laws governing minimum wages, minimum age, and multitudes of requited employer paid expenses we have made millions of young men unemployable. I started with my first job at ninety cents an hour and I probably was not worth even that low wage. I worked in a processing plant and learned a lot about responsibility — much more than school ever taught me. In a way, I should have paid them the ninety cents an hour. I am lucky they did not think of it!

All the young men sitting around unable to get work due to the laws and regulations of the state are angry. They are on the “pipeline to prison” and they can be very dangerous to “normal” citizens. In a radical libertarian world they would be able to find work and earn money — and learn from the experience.

There is no case that can be made for the state (always in the guise of “society”) meddling in my choice of what drugs I choose to use or anything else I choose to do that is not an aggression against others. There is no case to be made that money should be stolen from one party and given to another party at the point of a gun; no matter if that theft is done by a private individual or by employees of the criminal gang writ large that we call the state.

I can hear my friend now: “get to the point Stoval; what the hell do you want?” I want a society where no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. I want a world were the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else is not legal. Aggression is synonymous with the state so I want no state. I want free people to cooperate by mutual voluntary agreement without the use of force or fraud being involved.

Do we need a state to be protected from “bad guys”? No. Let the private sector produce “protection agencies” and insurance agencies to protect people. Besides, people could protect themselves a hell of a lot better if the state did not make owning guns illegal in most instances. And armed populous along with a laissez-faire economy would go a long way to making for a polite society.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable. ~ H. L. Mencken

I guess in the end, I just want people to be free.

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A few quotes and comments

Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing and posting here on my little blog in the backwaters of the internet. At the end of the year I happen to be off work on Christmas vacation and so I have a chance to do some scribbling. I though I would share a few quotes today. I have not done that here in some time. Today, I would like to share a few randomly selected items in no particular order or importance.

I have long maintained that the State is the greatest source of evil in our world. Mr. Knapp asks a pertinent question:

“Is it to the benefit of humankind to exist in, and be driven in all collective action by, perpetual and pervasive fear? The answer to that question is also the answer to the question of whether or not we need — or, indeed, can tolerate the continued existence of — the state.” ~ Thomas L. Knapp

The question of why more people can’t see that the state is a gang of thieves writ large and continue to think that we need the state is a mystery since all history shows that all states will abuse their own people and start wars with other nation-states. Why do people not see this. One reason may be that the have been trained to think like slaves and think of themselves as helpless to do anything without the state’s blessings.

“Helpless people take orders well, they don’t have minds of their own, they are predictable, they won’t surprise corporations or governments with resistance to the newest product craze, the newest genetic patent — or by armed revolution. Helpless people can be counted on to despise independent citizens and hence they act as a fifth column in opposition to social change in the direction of personal sovereignty.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

How does the state keep people so slave-like and helpless? The state has many minions that live off the populous and butter their bread by protecting the villains in charge. The mainstream media in all its forms has always been a willing partner to the state and is perhaps its most important propaganda arm. (if not the public schools)

“The ‘mainstream’ media simply can’t be trusted. That’s why newspapers are losing circulation at a rapid clip, and television news is fading in importance. It’s not the Internet that’s killing off the sainted mandarins of the “mainstream” – it’s their role as transmission belts for official propaganda, whether it be from the government or the partisan opposition. They’re shills, and everybody knows it.” ~ Justin Raimondo

On Twitter I seem to have many friends who tend to think that an answer lies in “more and better” politicians of whatever type they prefer. Some think voting libertarian will help, or voting Republican, or even voting in more Democrats. Well, I can’t understand how they think voting will help since voting in politicians got us to the place we are at now. It boggles my mind.

“There’s no policy change that’s going to save us. There’s no election that’s going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It’s here already – this country has changed for the worse and will continue to change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.” ~ Nick Monahan

Some people call for “limited government” like Don Cooper does in the following quote, but there is a problem with that idea. The U.S. started with a very, very limited government under the Articles of Confederation but we have moved toward ever more power in the central government ever since. And the “states rights” crowd forgets that your state government is no saint either. For my money, only the total anarchy of Murry N. Rothbard will do the trick in the long run.

“It would seem though that the only way to ensure lack of government intervention is to limit government. Since even such a clearly written document as our constitution isn’t able to invoke the necessary integrity and morality in our federal civil servants, it’s clear that the only solution is to limit the federal government to nothing and allow the states to govern and trade amongst themselves and with other economic agents.” ~ Don Cooper

We now have warrantless wiretapping, no-knock home invasions by the police, widespread spying on innocent citizens by the state, suppression of information under the cover of “state secrets”, torture, continual imperialist wars and much much more all paid for by taxes stolen from the public at the point of a gun. America’s permanent “shadow government” – the military-intelligence-corporate apparatus” is well funded by your money.

“Don’t think “Taxation is theft” is merely a libertarian bumper sticker. No amount of spin, slant, cant, parsing, philosophizing or any other wordplay can turn government-imposed taxation into a voluntary activity.” ~ Garry Reed

Garry Reed is right. No service or product of any kind should be provided at the barrel of a gun. There can be no exceptions unless you think people have no rights to not be the victim of aggression. It does not matter what lie the state uses as a cover for their theft no what “good deeds” they claim they will use the stolen money for. It’s time to stop the excuses and the real thieves and murderers who are politicians, government bureaucrats, and all the other minions of the state. It’s time to do away with them forever.

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Will Green Politics soon be a thing of the Past?

Someone asked on the internet if “green politics” will soon be a thing of the past. After all, the earth has not warmed any for approximately 18 years while at the same time the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has skyrocketed, thus disproving the wild idea that CO2 will somehow kill us all. But even if the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming scare dies off, will “green politics” be a thing of the past? No, it will not. The ability of the greens to use our love of nature to control us may well abate in the near future but they will continue to be a force for a long, long time.

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Part of the reason is that most people want a clean planet and love wildlife. We want clean air, clean water, and all the other warm and fuzzy things that go with good environmental stewardship. The greens play on that desire for good conservation practices to slip in their socialist dreams of total control.

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. ~ H. L. Mencken

The greens also have a very, very powerful co-conspirator in all of this. Politicians and bureaucrats love power over the “mundane” unwashed masses more than life itself. The greens offer “saving the planet” to the state’s minions as a cover for their raw power grabbing. It is all for your own good don’t you know.

The press is another powerful co-conspirator. The lazy people in the mainstream media are in reality just printing and mouthing government press releases. You have to dig deep into the alternative press to find out the truth surrounding the green’s claims that CO2 is a dangerous poison that will destroy life on this planet if it passes a certain “tipping point”.

Recall that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming was not the first scare coming out of the watermelons. (watermelon = green on the outside and red on the inside) Once upon a time, DDT was going to wipe out all bird life and was said to have driven the bald eagle to the point of near extinction. And whatever happened to worrying about the “ozone hole”? I am sure others reading here could name many other examples dating back before the CAGW hysteria.

Also, notice that the EPA is formulating a tsunami of new regulations as I write this according to recent reports. The war against the greens’ socialistic agenda will go on for a long time I am afraid.