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.

 

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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Voting and electioneering

There are only two ways in which a society can govern itself. One way is by force while the second way is by voluntary cooperation. These two methods of societal governance are mutually exclusive. Just as you can not have a “voluntary tax”, you can not have mutual and voluntary cooperation with a gun aimed at your head. The state is that entity that uses guns and other brutal means to coerce your actions. And that brings us to politics.

We are headed into another election cycle and there is already talk of what candidates the two parties will select to run against each other in the 2016 election for president. I see some people I follow on Twitter claiming that the Republicans need to “win” so that we can “save” the country. Utter horse manure.

There is no amount of electioneering or correct voting going to save us. It does not matter if Mrs. Clinton wins or loses other than we would have to listen to that lying old crone whine about things from “the bully pulpit”. No one can save the U.S. from its bankruptcy. No candidate can save the U.S. from the brutality of the militarized police, the murders by SWAT team home invaders,  or the invasion of privacy by the NSA and other agencies. Politics and voting will not save you from the horrors you see around you and read about at your favorite web sites. It was the voting booth that got us were we are at now!

Do I mean there is no politician that will try to save us? Yes, that is what I am saying. In spite of the fact that some candidates may be marginally better than other candidates, there are none that will save you. The politician must finance his campaign, and that means he will promise to steal (taxes for example) from one set of citizens to give to others. We are talking plunder here. Politics is about plundering those that produce in the market to fund those who want to live by the power of force and coercion.

What about those politicians that tell us what we want to hear?  The politician will make promises to the voter that he knows he will never keep. The politician lies to the voter all the time. Remember that Ronald Reagan continually talked about “getting government off your back” as he increased the size of government year after year. Lies? Am I accusing the political class of telling lies? The most successful politicians are not hindered by having moral principles. They have no qualms about telling the voters they will protect them and their property as they plan the confiscation of their property in order fund their agenda and to pay off their cronies.

Will any politician enact a decent foreign policy and try to bring peace to this war weary planet? Surely you jest. Our children are taught and indoctrinated to respect and give allegiance to a state that bullies, tortures, and murders people around the world. Our foreign policy is that of a brutal, amoral empire that murders innocent men, women, and children every day. The empire also performs similar acts of violence and coercion against its own people. We call that “law enforcement” and we are propagandized from birth to the grave to “respect” the militarized police.

Do you really think that your vote for president in 2016 will change anything? Do you think Rand Paul will cure it all perhaps? The best you can hope for is that a strong, moral, libertarian-leaning candidate might slow the progress towards totalitarianism to some small degree. Do you want to violate the non-aggression principle by voting just to make the progress toward dystopia take an extra few years?

Voting is not the answer. Voting for our rulers got us into this mess in the first place. It is time to stop participating in the State’s ceremonies.

“To replace one set of power-seekers with another affects the distribution of the political loot. It does not stop the looting.” ~ Gary North

As we come into the 2016 election cycle, you may favor one candidate over the next. You may think that one bastard is less evil than the other bastard. But it is still true that the lesser of two evils is still evil. Don’t expect the political process to somehow, by magic, produce good.

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Private Property in Society

There has been a lot of back and forth lately between libertarian supporters of property rights and those who call themselves libertarian (or even anarchist) who think that no one may “own” anything. And so, this post was born in my mind to address a few aspects of the nature of private property and society.

Is there any social problem which, at its core, is not produced by a disrespect for the inviolability of property interests? Wars, inner-city gang conflicts, environmental pollution, the curricula of government schools, the “war on drugs,” restrictions on free expression, affirmative action programs, monetary inflation, same-sex marriages, realty, eminent domain, taxation, gun control, displaying the “Ten Commandments,” violent crime, rent control, terrorism, government surveillance of telephone and computer communications, zoning laws and urban planning, prayer in schools, government regulation of economic activity, . . . the list goes on and on.

In each such instance, conflicts are created and maintained by government policies and practices that forcibly deprive a property owner of decision making control over something he or she owns. Whether the ownership interest is in oneself, or in those external resources that a person requires in order to promote his or her interests or to otherwise express one’s purpose in life, the state is inevitably at war with property owners. ~ Law Prof. Butler Shaffer

One of the problems that arise is that most people don’t understand the definition of ownership in the first place. Ownership means that you have total control over the use of a thing. You may use it, give it away, leave it to whomever you choose when you die, or exercise control over the property for any other purpose. In this meaning of ownership we see that every state that has ever existed was socialistic to some degree or the other.  No matter what form the state’s government took, the state claimed the rightful authority to control the individual’s property anytime it saw fit to do so.

The communist system is based on the premise that the state owns all productive assets and that there is no private ownership at all. Other socialist systems nationalized only certain tools of production and communication, at least openly, but all socialist systems asserted the right of the state to take anything at any time from any subject under its rule. Fascism is a socialistic system in which title to property remains in private hands, but control is exercised by the state and always remember that control is ownership. In reality, the modern U.S. is not all that unlike the fascist systems of the past.

The question of how property is to be owned and controlled and who has this control is the most fundamental question we must address because the answer tells us whether the state owns us and we are slaves, or if we own ourselves as free men and women. We hear many claims that the communist regimes of the U.S.S.R. were the polar opposite of the fascist Nazi regime and most people do think of these two regimes as polar opposites;  but they were exactly the same in that the state claimed total control over the lives and property of every single subject within its geographic borders. Both systems thought that no one could exist outside of the state. These two states were both extreme examples of the totalitarian state — modern real world examples of dystopia.

All political systems are wars against the private ownership of property but most desire to hide that fact and so build up myths that make it appear like the people are able to “own” property and personal items. The state does this by excluding property rights from almost every political argument or policy. For example, if a company pollutes a river and thus harms people downstream, the company will face sanctions for breaking the law of the state and harming the environment, but in a just society it would be the owners of property downstream that would bring suit against the company for damages to their righfully owned property.

Ludwig von Mises once wrote that private ownership of the means of production is the fundamental institution of the market economy. He wrote that private ownership was the institution that characterizes the market economy and if it was absent then there could be no question of a market economy. The U.S. is a country that pretends to be a market economy but, in fact, is a crony-capitalist or corporatist economy.

We could go down a list of “social” problems and see that each one is easily solved if there is private ownership of all things, but becomes intractable if the matter rests in the hands of the state. One of the most important examples is the difference between a crime committed against a victim like murder, rape, assault and so forth and a “victim-less crime” like drug use, prostitution, gambling and so on.  Victim-less crimes are an assault against the property rights and liberty of the people. I have every right in the world to bet my money on a pony if I chose to do so. The criminalization of any voluntary action is a violation of individual property interests.

Should prayer be taught in schools? What about the new Common Core State Standards for Math and Language? If there were no government schools and all education was a private mater then there would be no controversy at all. It would be a matter of the family’s choice on how and were to have their children educated.

We should all know about the economic problem often called “the tragedy of the commons” were “public” property is mismanaged and overused while private property is maintained and used as wisely as the owner can. The state can not manage anything as well as the highly interested private owner can, nor can the minions of the state even have access to the vast array of information that is available. What over 300 million Americans know by daily observation and experience is not available to a relatively small, finite bureaucracy in the capital.

Individual liberty and social order are the two sides of the same coin. Individual liberty can not give rise to the voluntary and mutually beneficial division of labor that leads to social order and stability without the basis of private property.  If “everyone owns a thing” then in reality no one owns it, but in fact the criminal gang called the state does. The modern Americans who call themselves “liberal” (but are anything but that) love to claim that they are working for “social justice” by using the state to impose their vision upon the rest of us by force, fraud and intimidation. In reality, they are just making all of use poorer than we would otherwise be as they make themselves feel good. As the wag once said, it is easy to be very generous with other people’s money.

6a00d83452719d69e2014e86055c29970d-800wiWe have the situation were there are “things” and “land” on this earth that have economic value because people need or desire them. We have far more needs and desires than we do things, so there must be some way to balance out the needs and desires of the many — a hard task for anyone or any group to do. The way to do it is to let the free market and private property sort out the needs and desires via the free economy where the price signal will properly ration these “things”. It is only through the peaceful market rather than by the force of the state’s guns that we may achieve the maximum peace, prosperity, and pleasure in this world.

If you find someone who claims to be an “anarchist” or a “libertarian” who is against private ownership, then you have found one who is deluded or untruthful. There is no freedom without private ownership of property. Maximum liberty is when there is no state at all and all property is in the hands of individuals or groups of individuals.