Potpourri, Issues 121 – 150

Potpourri From the Editor’s Desk

Potpourri from Other Issues: 33-48 | 52-68 | 69-96 | 101-118 | 121-150 | 151-166 | 168-193
[This page made possible through the work of Diego Julien. Thanks Diego!]

121-1. “The Brain Tap: A Prediction from THE MATCH”

“The Facial Action Coding System, or FACS, is supposedly going to teach government terrorism experts how to assign values to the minor and transient micro-expressions that flit across a person’s face. Various exhibitions of action by facial muscles are claimed to indicate corresponding mental states. [See Malcolm Gladwell, “The Naked Face: Can you read people’s thoughts just by looking at them?” THE NEW YORKER, August 5, 2002.] …

“[Based on these pseudo-scientific advances,] THE MATCH herewith predicts that within 25 years a way will be found to tap and decode the neural circuits of the brain.

“[S]ome social consternation will arise because the ability of the State to listen to a person’s … thoughts will mean that the last insulation one has from authoritarian prying and investigation has broken down. Prior legal rulings, perhaps from the facial-coding situations just described, will say that there are situations in which it is in the interests of society and the State to overcome the barriers of ultimate human privacy.

“In some criminal cases in which a person refuses to give vital evidence, or in trials where no other means of arriving at the truth will serve, the brain-tap will blare to selected examiners the jumble of words that stream uncontrollably through that self-aware structure known as the mind. …

“Legal opinions granting the State the right to take sample of a person’s blood, and later his DNA … will provide the logical basis for extension to his innermost thoughts.”

—Fred Woodworth in THE MATCH, No. 99, Winter 2002-2003, pp. 13-14.

121-2. “We the People”

[M]ost government projects could be – should be – funded and built voluntarily by private investors, foundation grants, and the like. A free people will do what is necessary and more; they do not need to be forced by pharaohs or politicians. For example, private funds are underwriting the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota; when completed, it’ll dwarf Mt. Rushmore. Project founder and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski believed if people accepted the goals of the Crazy Horse Memorial they would support it privately.

We, the People, can and do build monuments and create real jobs – privately, voluntarily. Good ideas do not require government force or slaves to be fulfilled. When politicians take our money, there is less money for private medical research, for entrepreneurs to fund their ideas and create jobs, for charities to help the needy, for groceries. People freely deciding how to live their lives without government interference – that’s diversity, that’s liberty.

—Kurt Weber, CASCADE [Policy Institute] UPDATE, Summer 2003, p. 2.

121-3. “Taxation: Important Precedents”

There was a strong prejudice against taxation in medieval Europe, but the crusades could not be supported without taxes. By the end of the twelfth century the pope was encouraging the kings of France and England to tax their subjects for expenses of the Third Crusade. A little later, Innocent III imposed a tax on the clergy of Europe, and gave the proceeds to the crusade leaders.

These were important precedents. Taxation brought in more money than rulers could derive from any other source, especially when the clergy, who were exempt from almost all other services, were forced to contribute. The king of England almost immediately began to ask similar taxes for his own purposes and the king of France eventually followed his example. The transition was made easier by drawing an analogy between the crusade tax for the defense of Christendom and the royal tax for defense of the realm. There were resistance and resentment; there were long periods when no taxes of any kind could be collected, but in the end the kings gained their point. By the end of the thirteenth century national taxation, based on the tax for the crusade, was firmly established in both France and England. Even more surprising, the Western kings succeeded in forcing their clergy to pay them the equivalent of the crusading tax to support their private wars. Pope Boniface VIII protested vehemently against this abuse in his famous bull, Clerico laicos, but he was forced to back down by Edward I of England and Philip IV of France. In the end he admitted the clergy, like all other subjects, were bound to pay taxes for the defense of the kingdom in which they lived.

This growth of taxation laid the foundations of the modern national state. The power and institutions of the modern state are based on its ability to tax – on the fact that, in the last analysis, it can raise more money than any competing social group. And the acceptance of the principle that all subjects must pay taxes for defense of the state, whatever their other loyalties and obligations, was a long step toward nationalism. It meant that the primary loyalty of all inhabitants of a kingdom must be to that kingdom, and that supranational or subnational organizations were of less importance.


121-4. “On the History of European State-Making”

Joseph Strayer tells us that the first powerful precedent for general taxation by the crown came from the pope’s promotion of forced contributions to finance the Third Crusade. Kings were not slow in adapting that newly legitimized procedure to their own secular military needs. Up to our own time, dramatic increases in national budgets, national debts, numbers of governmental employees, or any other indicator of governmental scale in European countries have occurred almost exclusively as a consequence of preparations for [and waging of] war. The general rule, furthermore, has been for some contraction in governmental scale to occur after a war – but almost never a return to the prewar scale. Preparation for war [and war, itself] has been the great state-building activity. The process has been going on more or less continuously for at least five hundred years.


121-5. “SOMALIA: From Statelessness to Statelessness”

With regard to the inevitability of the state the Somali experience has further revealed that, considering the matter internally, a society does not necessarily need a state in order to keep law and order, exercise a certain degree of control over the use of violence, achieve social security and economic recovery. … I still consider the collapse of the Somali state as a liberation for Somali society. … The major conclusion that I draw from the Somali experience of statehood and statelessness is that it is society and people that come first.

—Maria Brons, SOCIETY, SECURITY, SOVEREIGNTY AND THE STATE IN SOMALIA (Utrecht: International Books, 2001), pp. 283, 285, and 291.

121-6. “The Right to Kill”

If the State did not have the right to kill, then it could not exist. Without that ability, in the long run, to kill, how would a State impose itself upon other States, or protect itself against them, or even remain sovereign over citizens? The absolute essence of State power, from its ability to collect taxes to its ability to fend off invasion, depends without equivocation on its ability (its ‘right’) to assign its agents to kill someone. The greatest ‘good’ that it does (say, solace the sick with services paid by taxes) is based on the State’s power to punish, and if need be, kill anyone who resists.

—Karl Hess in THE ANARCHIST PAPERS 2 (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1989), p. 177.

121-7. “Kings and Swineherds”

[I]n the eleventh century, Manegold von Lautenbach declared that the state was nothing but the work of man. Kingship, he asserted, was an institution that arose neither naturally nor in consequence of the inherent merit of the person elevated to the throne. The authority vested in the king was given to him by the people as part of the compact they concluded with him; he was made their ruler so that he should defend against their oppressors and so that he might establish good order in society by compelling the evil men among them to live in conformity with its mores. However, should the king betray this trust and assume the role of tyrant, Manegold considers him to have broken the compact upon which his authority rests and therefore to be unworthy of further obedience by the people. Manegold compared the tyrant king to a swineherd who was hired to attend to one’s pigs, and who was discovered, to be butchering them instead of caring for them. In such a case, there would be no question about whether the swineherd should be fired in disgrace, as there should be no question about the appropriate disposition of the tyrannical king. Since the state was based on a contract, a violation of its terms by the king brought about its termination and all obligations on the part of the people similarly came to an end.

—Martin Sicker, THE GENESIS OF THE STATE (Praeger, 1991), pp. 8

121-8. “The Fight Against the State”

The fight against the State is not merely a fight against naked power – the battle would be much easier if that were so. The essence of the State is not aggression per se, but legitimized aggression. The State uses the sanction of law to legitimize its criminal acts. This is what distinguishes it from the average criminal in the street.

Unfortunately, the reality of the State – what it is in fact – is not how it is perceived by most Americans. To put it bluntly, the vast majority of Americans disagree with the libertarian view of the State. We may get some agreement on particular points, but the vision of the State as, in essence, a criminal gang, is far more radical than most American are willing to accept.

This defines our ultimate educational goal. We must strip the State of its legitimacy in the public eye. We must persuade people to apply the same moral standards to the State as they apply to anyone else. We need not convince people that theft is wrong; we need to convince them that theft, when committed by the State in the name of taxation, does not differ from theft when committed by an individual. We need not persuade people that murder is wrong; we need to persuade them that murder, when committed by the State in the name of war or national defense, does not differ from murder when committed by an individual.

—George H. Smith, “Party Dialogue,” in NEITHER BULLETS NOR BALLOTS (1983), pp. 18-19.

121-9. “Consent of the Governed”

The Dominican Hervaeus Natalis was a theologian of Paris who became master-general of his Order. In 1323, he presented a systematic argument that all licit government must be based on the consent of the governed. How could a ruling authority [such as a king] licitly arise, Hervaeus asked. He explained that it could not pertain to any person by nature for by nature all were equal. If it were imposed by violence on an unwilling people then it would not be licit power, for violent possession conferred no right. There remained only one possible answer; legitimate ruling authority, Hervaeus declared, came ‘only from the consent of the people’.

—Brian Tierney, “Freedom and the Medieval Church,” in R. W. Davis, THE ORIGINS OF MODERN FREEDOM IN THE WEST, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995, pp. 64-100 at pp. 81-82.

124-l. “What Did Jesus Say About Tax Collectors?”

Staring at the price tag on the item, I observe, “Gee whiz, this is certainly a bargain at $ 15.00. Ill take it.” The clerk rings it up, bags the item and says to me, “That will be $ 16.05.” I say, “Whoa, I thought the price was $ 15.00?” The clerk, hesitating and usually referring to the cash register receipt says, “It is $ 15.00, plus tax of $ 1.05.” Me, in a friendly but insistent tone, “Oh, then you’re a tax collector?” Clerk, often apologetically, sometimes defensively, but almost always negatively, “Oh no, the register adds sales tax automatically.” “I understand, but you are the one collecting the tax, are you not?” “Well,” grinning sheepishly, “I guess if you put it that way ….” “I just like to be clear about who gets my money. Do you get to keep some of it?” “Oh, heavens no! Don’t I wish.” Me, handing the clerk a sheet of paper with a graphic image representing Jesus atop and some printing below. “It amazes me what the state is able to get people to do for it, and do it for free. Well, thank you Mr. (or Mrs.) tax collector. By the way, this may interest you.” Me, giving the clerk a short quote from the Gospel of Matthew (Chap. 18, Verses 15-17): “If your brother sins against you,… treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

—Submitted by Subscriber Jim Russell

124-2. “A Prediction About Frequent Buyer Cards”

Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor of THE FRONTIERSMAN (December 2003), predicts that frequent buyer/food discount cards will become more and more widespread, until such time when it will be possible for the government to “legislate a mandatory ration card requirement. Who’s going to object except for the very small minority of people like me who refused to apply for the cards? We need government ID for almost everything else. We need it to drive, have a job, to get married, and so forth. Our present ability to buy food without permission is a huge loophole in the web of control established by the government. As long as we can obtain cash somewhere and buy food without permission, we can just do without the other stuff and evade the control imposed by the government. However, once we need a government ration card to buy food, our gooses are cooked. The legislation will be enacted and that will be that. No card, no food.”

—1510 North 22nd Drive, Show Low, AZ 85901; frontiersman@ida. net

124-3. “Books Received”

James Payne, author of the Princess Navina series, has written A HISTORY OF FORCE: EXPLORING THE WORLDWIDE MOVEMENT AGAINST HABITS OF COERCION, BLOODSHED, AND MAYHEM’ (2004). Payne “traces the role played by the use of force in the evolution of civilization” and concludes that “the long run tendency in all societies is for the use of force to decline.” Available from Lytton Publishing Company, Box 1212, Sandpoint, ID 83864. List price $ 23.95.

124-4. “The Magistrate Will More Likely Destroy That Which Is Good than Prevent Evil”

That men in power would be tempted to excess, to violation of the self-propriety of others, was something that the Leveller leaders recognized early in their activity: ‘standing water will speedily corrupt, if it have not fresh running springs to feed it, though it were never so pure at first’. At Whitehall, Wildman argued that the magistrate was ‘more probable to err than the people that have no power in their hands, the probability is greater that he will destroy what is good than prevent what is evil’, [citing A.S.P. Woodhouse, PURITANISM AND LIBERTY, p. 161]

—J. C. Davis, “The Levellers and Christianity,” in Brian Manning, ed., POLITICS, RELIGION AND THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR (1973), pp. 225-250 at p. 249.

124-5. “The Miracle and Morality of the Market”

In a free society, no man is required to do work or supply any good he considers morally wrong and ethically questionable. He may earn less from choosing to supply something that is valued less highly in the market, but he cannot be forced to produce anything that God and/or conscience dictates to be wrong.

On the other hand, we cannot prevent others from supplying a good or service we find morally objectionable. The ethics of liberty and the free market require that we use only morally justifiable means to stop our neighbors from demanding and supplying something that offends us. We must use reason, persuasion, and example of a better and more right way to live.

Unfortunately, too many of our fellow men want to preserve or extend a return to a form of a slave society – regardless of the name under which it is presented. Too many want to dictate how others may make a living, or at what price and under what terms they may peacefully and voluntarily interact with their fellow human beings for purposes of mutual material, culture and spiritual betterment.

—Richard Ebeling, “Notes from FEE,” January 2004, p. 3.

131-1. “The War on Terror Is the War on Freedom”

But it’s worse than that. Governments are not only incapable of protecting us from terrorists, they are the very CAUSE of terrorism in the first place.

Just think of all the historical examples of terrorism. In every case it was some group, fighting some government. Sure, they target civilians, but their real enemy is some government. And why is this? Because they claim to have been wronged by some government. They have a grievance against some government. They want to secede from some government.

Terrorists do not have a grievance against Microsoft, General Motors or KFC. They do not have a grievance against your local supermarket. They do not have a grievance against YOU or your family. They have a grievance against your government.

The IRA had a grievance against the British government. They wanted the British out of Ireland. So they waged a terror “war” for ages until it became apparent they could not win by military means – so the two parties sat down to talk.

People in the Middle East have a grievance against some governments in the West, not because they “hate our freedoms,” but because they hate our governments interfering in their affairs.

If they are in our back yard threatening us, it’s precisely because our governments have been in their back yard for ages.

Of course, not ALL the West is a target for terrorists, only those countries that have been actively intruding on the Middle East. That’s why countries like Norway or Switzerland are not reporting any terrorist attacks. The reason is simple. The terrorists do not have a grievance against those governments.

Political leaders like Bush, Blair and Howard have one thing in common. They are all convinced that we can win a war against terrorism – by military means. Well, it isn’t going to happen. They are not even winning in Iraq, a third rate theatre of war if there ever was one. So what chance do they have against a global terrorist network?

Just think about it, these mighty governments and their military forces are bogged down in Iraq by a virtual handful of terrorists – or insurgents, as they see themselves. If we cannot protect Iraqis from such violence, why on earth should we believe their ravings when they say they can protect us?

They can’t. End of story. Which means that all the draconian anti-terror legislation can only have one actual result – the destruction of the very freedoms we say we believe in and are “defending.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it hugely ironic that our “fight” against the forces that “hate us because of our freedoms” means we must lose those very freedoms in the process of defending them.

Who will have won this war, then?

No, the “war on terror” is a scam. It’s a sham. It’s a hoax. It’s a clever ruse to use fear of the unknown to drive a totalitarian agenda through the legislative chambers of so-called democracies in the so-called free world. It’s a pact with the devil.

Freedom cannot be compromised. There is no “new reality” that has to be accounted for with “new” laws. There is no new situation which warrants the destruction of freedom. There is no justification for even the removal of ONE basic freedom in the quest for “security.” Don’t be fooled. Stand up for your rights. Oppose the war on freedom.

—David MacGregor, “The War on Terror Scam,” from www.sovereignlife.com/essays/07-11-05.html.

131-2. “My Vows”

1) I vow to respect, honor, and expand my conscious awareness of how precious life is to all creatures, and I will not knowingly bring pain, injury, or death to any of these, if it is within my power to refrain. However, I will protect the sanctity of the lives of others and my own as the nature of aggression dictates.

2) I vow that I will honor all human interrelationships as voluntary and will use no coercive behavior or action to the contrary. I know that the end is always reflected by the means, and I do not want my victories to be more disgraceful than my defeats.

3) I vow to consciously shun or eschew all organizations, clubs, political parties, and governments who are blind to the nature of cause and effect or the principle of how the means determine the ends.

4) I vow to live quietly, simply, and honestly, respecting the earth that shares its bounty with us all.

5) I vow to resist tyranny using nonviolent strategies and by the withdrawal of my cooperation.

6) I vow neither to be enslaved by anyone’s demands on my life nor to be robbed by their tears. My life is mine, and only I can choose how I want to live.

7) I vow not to pursue vain desires. I will use the razor of reason to cut away all things not in harmony with my major purpose in life.

—Peter Ragnar (November 2005)

135-1. “Williams’ Law”

Whenever the profit incentive is missing, the probability that people’s wants can be safely ignored is greatest. If a poll were taken asking people which services they are most satisfied with and which they are most dissatisfied with, for-profìt organizations (supermarkets, computer companies, and video stores) would dominate the first list while … [government] organizations, (schools, offices of motor vehicle registration) would dominate the latter. In a free economy, the pursuit of profits and serving people are one and the same. No one argues that the free enterprise system is perfect, but it’s the closest we’ll come here on Earth.

—Walter Williams, “The Entrepreneur As American Hero,” 34 IMPRIMIS (March 2005), p. 5.

135-2. “Of Voluntaryism and Geometry”

If one were to have recourse to solid geometry for analogies to social systems, an institutionally dominated society would resemble a pyramid, with [state] authority centered in the hands of a few at the top, and the bulk of humanity responding to the directions issued vertically and unilaterally. A society characterized by individual liberty [voluntaryism], on the other hand, might appear as a sphere. On the surface of a sphere there are no preferred locations, no positions from which power would be more likely to flow than others. Spherically-based relationships would take the form of inter-connected networks, with neither “tops” nor “bottoms.”

—Butler Shaffer, in “What the Struggle Is All About,” August 1, 2005, lewrockwell.com

135-3. “Freedom: The Fundamental Condition of Morality”

Freedom is the primal and basic condition of morality. Without it there can neither be virtue nor vice. When a person is accused of a crime, we consider him exculpated just so far as it can be shown that he was coerced in to the conduct which is laid to his charge. And this irresponsibility holds equally, regardless of virtuous and vicious conduct. A person who was forced to aid one in distress, who in previous years had placed him under deep obligation, could not be accounted grateful, … . Good and evil, in a moral sense, arise out of the free choice of the individual, and can arise in no other way. Coercion, so far as it goes, is destructive of the very soil in which moral conduct is reared – it is pro tanto, a denial of the very opportunity to be virtuous or the reverse.

—J. H. Levy in A. Goff and J. H. Levy, POLITICS AND DISEASE , London: P. S. King & Co. for The Personal Rights Association, 1906, p. 200.

135-4. “Is Punishment Necessary for Law?”

European explorers often said, “Indians have no law.” Why? They couldn’t see the police; they couldn’t find the courts; they didn’t see uniforms, jails, and all the trappings of power. But they also couldn’t see the clan mothers [and tribal elders] who are so important to our Native legal institutions. … We deal with each other in ways to avoid confrontation and the use of force. Force, coercion, and the ability to punish are not necessary to have law [i.e., social order and peace].

—Robert Yazzie, “Healing As Justice: the American Experience,” in JUSTICE AS HEALING (Spring 1995), p. 7.

135-5. “The People Were Reduced to A State of Anarchy”

The old constitution being taken away by act of parliament, and the new one being rejected by the people, an end was put to all forms of law and government in the province of Massachusetts’s Bay, and the people were reduced to the state of anarchy, in which mankind are supposed to have existed in the earliest ages. The degree of order, however, which, by the general concurrence of the people, was preserved in this state of anarchy, will forever excite the astonishment of mankind, and continue amongst the strongest proofs of the efficacy of long established habits, and to a constant submission to [natural] laws. Excepting the general opposition to the new government and the excesses arising from it, in the outrages offered to particular persons, who were upon that account, obnoxious to the people, no other very considerable marks appeared of the cessation of [political] law and order.

—CALEDONIAN MERCURY(Edinburgh), August 20, 1776, cited in Donald W. Livingston, PHILOSOPHICAL MELANCHOLY AND DELIRIUM (1998), p. 313. [Livingston adds “that Americans had achieved the maturity necessary for self-government, because they were able to conduct themselves with propriety in a state without government.”]

138-1. “The New Despotism”

[M]ore often than not in history, license has been the prelude to exercises of extreme political coercion, which shortly reaches all areas of culture. … [V]ery commonly in ages when civil rights of one kind are in evidence – those pertaining to freedom of speech and thought, say, theater, press and forum, with obscenity and libel laws correspondingly loosened – very real constrictions of individual liberty take place in other, more vital areas: political organization, voluntary association, property and the right to hold jobs, for example….

There are, after all, certain freedoms that are like circuses. Their very existence, so long as they are individual and enjoyed chiefly individually as spectators, divert men’s minds from the loss of other, more fundamental, social and economic and political rights.

A century ago, the liberties that now exist routinely on stage and screen, on printed page and canvas, would have been unthinkable in America – and elsewhere in the West, for that matter, save in the most clandestine and limited of settings. But so would the limitations upon economic, professional, educational, and local liberties, to which we have by now become accustomed, have seemed equally unthinkable a half century ago. We enjoy the feelings of great freedom, of protection of our civil liberties, when we attend the theater, watch television, buy paperbacks. But all the while we find ourselves living in circumstances of a spread of military, police, and bureaucratic power that cannot help but have, that manifestly does have, profoundly erosive effect upon those economic, local, and associative liberties which are by far the most vital to any free society. From the point of view of any contemporary strategist or tactician of political power, indulgence in the one kind of liberties must seem a very requisite to diminution of the other kind. We know it seemed that way to the Caesars and Napoleons of history. Such indulgence is but one more way of softening the impact of political power and of creating the illusion of individual freedom in a society grown more centralized, collectivized, and destructive of the diversity of allegiance, the autonomy of enterprise in all spheres, and the spirit of spontaneous association that any genuinely free civilization requires.

—Robert Nisbet, “The New Despotism,” COMMENTARY (June 1975), pp. 42-43.

138-2. “Go Back to Basics”

… [U]se a medical specialist only within his field of expertise.

Also keep in mind that the word ‘patient’ is a high falutin’ substitute for the word ‘customer.’

The words ‘patient’ and ‘client’ make doctors and other professionals sound more noble. But if you think of yourself as a customer, it puts you in control, with the doctor – the lawyer or other professional – a vendor who’s just selling you his services. No matter how sophisticated and professional your doctor seems to be, you are the better judge of what’s best for you and how well a treatment is working, not the other way around.

Many years ago, a friend on his death bed gave me some advice about doctors that has been very helpful to me. In fact, it saved me a bundle in medical fees and probably saved my life. His advice? When you realize that healing is not progressing favorably, it’s time to switch doctors and try another approach.


138-3. “Books Received”

THE ANARCHISTS, Irving Louis Horowitz (ed.):

This is a 2005 re-publication of the 1964 edition, with a new introduction by the editor. Includes numerous essays by classical anarchists of all stripes. Contact Transaction Publishers, 35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8042 or www.transactionpub.com. ISBN 0-202-30768-9.

EXQUISITE REBEL: THE ESSAYS OF VOLTAIRINE DE CLEYRE – ANARCHIST, FEMINIST GENIUS, Sharon Presley and Crispin Sartwell (eds.): Emma Goldman referred to De Cleyre (1866-1912) as one of “the most gifted and brilliant anarchist women America ever produced.” Contact State University of New York Press, 90 State Street # 700, Albany, NY 12207 or www.sunypress.edu. ISBN 0- 7914-6094-0.


Volume I: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300 CE to 1939): Published by Black Rose Books, C.P. 158, Succ. Place de Pare, Montreal, QC H2X 4A7 Canada; Tel. 1-800-565-9523 or www.web.net/blackrosebooks. This is an interesting collection of anarchist essays from all across the spectrum, but with a conspicuous absence of individualist-anarchist materials.


This is the title of a book which carries the sub-title of “A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition, 1742-2004.” “Drawing on records of hundreds of elections from the pre-colonial era through the 2004 election, [author] Tracy Campbell reveals how a persistent culture of corruption has long thrived in American elections…. [It] has not been confined to one party, a single location, or a specific time period. … The history of American elections clearly shows that whenever new technology raised new safeguards against fraud, the manipulators, bribers, and intimidators found ways to adjust…. No matter how many reforms are implemented, no matter how trustworthy new voting devices appear, partisans will find new ways to manipulate and cheat.” [from the front flap, and pp. 331 and 338] Even if none of the moral and philosophical issues raised in DISSENTING ELECTORATE were valid, the stories related here ought to be sufficient to make any thinking person question the electoral process [New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-7867-1591-X].

139-2. “State Control Over Ideas”

The fear of books seems, at one time or another, to have affected most literate societies. It appears in aggravated form (bibliophobia compounded by pyromania) in the person of the book-burner. If he burns only his own books (and takes certain elementary precautions against the spread of fire) he is harmless. If he tries to persuade me to burn my books he is, at worst, annoying. But when he tries to burn my books, without my consent, he [is stealing my property].

For book-burner read censor. The analogy holds. If he is afraid of a book, he need not read it. If he is ready for a good argument, he can try to persuade me not to read it. But when he tells me (and others) what I am and am not permitted to read, [he is wrongfully coercing me]. …

[W]e should insist on the obvious but often ignored distinction between criticism and censorship. The critic of dirty books who seeks to persuade others to alter their reading habits is exercising his constitutional right to free expression. He is operating competitively in the marketplace of ideas in the best American tradition. But censorship is the reverse of the free marketplace; it is state control over ideas….

Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. … In a free society a citizen has the power to choose, and bears responsibility for the choices he makes. Censorship laws [like all government laws] deprive us of choice and responsibility. They diminish us, and they diminish our society.

—John Henry Merryman, “The Fear of Books,” STANFORD TODAY (Autmn 1966), pp. 14-17.

139-3. “Central Banks and Private Money”

[C]entral banks are made, not born. They are products of human design and not of the spontaneous behavior that produced … languages, and systems of weights and measures. This finding is particularly puzzling when one recalls that primitive money did appear spontaneously in similar fashion to languages. …, and various mechanical devices; but unlike these other products of mankind’s advancement, money has hardly ever been free of monopoly control by the state. The intriguing question is: Why would money, originally a natural development from systems of barter, become so universally and pervasively subject to man-made institutions of control?

One might reason that a thing that appeared in so many different circumstances and places on its own best be left alone – that government, having had no hand in the origin of money could hardly improve upon the quality of private media of exchange by any means, no matter how well intentioned. Yet from the time of the ancient Greeks to the present, wherever and whenever money has appeared, state intervention, regulation, and monopoly privilege for state sponsored institutions have not been far behind.

Much of the state’s interest in controlling money has been for the obvious purpose of generating seigniorage. On this score the state’s interest is clear – be it the coinage debasement of the ancient Romans or the central banks’ more sophisticated monetization of government debt in the twentieth century. What is difficult to understand is why popular polity so condones these practices. The simple conclusion is that the popular mind does not understand the monetary machinery and therefore must put trust in “experts” who presumably have in their hearts the best interests of the general public. It is here that the public-choice question intrudes: Since the policy makers are self-interested mortals, can they behave as altruists on behalf of the people they allegedly serve?

—”Preface,” Richard H. Timberlake, MONETARY POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993, pp. xxxxi.

139-4. “No Mention of the Nation-State”

[I]n none of his commandments does God make mention of the idea of nation. He binds man to God himself, to his parents, to his neighbor, to the truth, to property, but by no injunction does he bind man to his nation. Have we not erred in calling upon God for national purposes, even those of us who believe firmly and deeply in him? … He [Christ] did not teach love for one’s fellow countryman, but for one’s neighbor. “Honor thy father and thy mother,” but not the head of the nation. To the latter, render what is Caesar’s, a material sacrifice, but not a sacrifice of the soul. God addresses himself to men and their human ties. The God revealed through Christ takes no heed of races, peoples, or nations.

Is it not possible that with our arbitrary nationalism we have affronted God and practiced idolatry? Yes, in that case the things that are happening would have meaning: God desires to root out thoroughly in all nations the propensity to harness him to their national ambitions.

—Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, “Thoughts of One Condemned to Death” by the Nazis in Helmut Gollwitzer, et. al., DYING WE LIVE (1956), pp. 90-91.

139-5. “Society Contains Within Itself the Capacity to Resolve Conflicts and Create and Sustain Institutions that Further Social Co-operation”

[We do] not suppose that everyone in society is smart, enlightened, talented, educated, and peaceful.

[We say] that society can deal with malevolence through the exchange economy, and in precisely the way we see today: private security companies, private production of locks and guns, private arbitration, and private insurance [as well as the myriad efforts of charities, churches, and other non-profit groups]. The free market can organize protection better than the state. Private enterprise can and does provide the police function better than the state. As Hayek argued, the state is wildly overrated as a mechanism of order keeping. The state is and has been in history a source of disorder and chaos, and the problem gets worse the more the state grows.

—Llewellyn Rockwell, “The Problem With Jail,” in THE FREE MARKET, May 2007, p. 6.

142-1. “True ‘Community Service’”

Merchants of all types give to their community every day. Indeed, in the market economy the only way to make a profit is to give of yourself entirely to the needs of others.

Entrepreneurs spend their lives discerning the needs of others and seeking to meet them in economically viable ways. Their profits provide riches, but only when what they are doing serves others in an efficient manner. Profits are a confirmation that the entrepreneur is doing what is economically right. No one in a market economy can be forced to buy anything. You have to provide a product or service that they [the buying public] prefer more than any other alternative use of their money.

This is true service to the community.

—Rev. Robert A Sirico, paraphrased from ACTON NOTES (October 2007), p. 2.

142-2. Books Received

Edward P. Stringham, ANARCHY AND THE LAW (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2007)

This massive anthology (nearly 700 pages) contains many important and seminal essays in the field of individualist-anarchism. It is divided into four major sections: “Theory of Private Property-Anarchism;” “Debate;” “History of Anarchist Thought;” and “Historical Case Studies of Non-Government Law Enforcement.” It is peppered with names of authors familiar (or that ought to be familiar) to readers of THE VOLUNTARYIST: Murray Rothbard, Roy A. Childs, Jr., Gustave de Molinari, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, and Bruce Benson, to name just a few. If a person was limited to selecting one volume of individualist-anarchist thought, one would be hard pressed to choose between ANARCHY AND THE LAW and I MUST SPEAK OUT. Highly recommended. Available from The Independent Institute, www.independent.org.

Paul Rosenberg , A LODGING OF WAYFARING MEN (Chicago: Vera Verba, Inc., 2007)

This is “the [fictional] story of freedom-seekers who create an alternate society on the Internet – a virtual society with no possibility of [government] oversight or control.” The title, from Jeremiah 9, epitomizes the author’s concern for a safe haven for all the producers and achievers in society. There are a number of voluntaryist statements scattered throughout the book, ranging from “Very few people have ever questioned the nation-state myth at all” (p. 153) to exploding the idea that if government doesn’t provide older people with Social Security benefits they will be bereft of care: “You imply that it is either government or nothing. That is a false assumption. …Everything that … governments do can be done by other means, and done more efficiently.” (p. 347)

Available through Vera Verba, Box 81058, Chicago, IL 60681 or www.veraverba.com. ISBN 978-0-0706011-0-1.

Brian Doherty, RADICALS FOR CAPITALISM (New York: Public Affairs, 2007)

This volume of over 700 pages is “a freewheeling history of the modern American libertarian movement.” It has it all, except for the voluntaryists. The closest it comes is a reference to George Smith, as “an old-fashioned ‘voting is a crime’ libertarian.” (p. 398) Another highly recommended reference. Available from the publisher at 250 West 57th Street # 1321, New York, NY 10107; 1-800-343-4499.

Jim Davies, A VISION OF LIBERTY: AMERICA IN 2030 (Newbury, NH: Boetie Publications, 2008)

Written by the author of “Changing Minds” (THE VOLUNTARYIST, Whole No. 135), the purpose of this slim book (103 pages) is to describe how society will thrive and survive after all coercive government is abandoned in the year 2027. “The most important of the book’s assumptions is that everyone completes” and understands “The On Line Freedom Academy” (www.tolfa.us). A well done job. Available for $10.95 through bopub.bravehost.com. ISBN 978-1-60585- 820-3.

142-3. “Our Property Right in Drugs”

Drugs are a species of property, and hence the right to drugs is a form of property right. Accordingly, I maintain that we have a right to grow, buy, and ingest drugs much as we have a right to grow, buy, and ingest food; and that drug prohibitions, epitomized by our prescription laws, constitute deprivations of our fundamental right to own and use property.

—Dr. Thomas Szasz, OUR RIGHT TO DRUGS (1992).

142-4. “Authority vs. Autonomy”

There is only one political sin: independence; and only one political virtue: obedience. To put it differently, there is only one offense against authority: self-control; and only one obeisance to it: submission to control by authority.

Why is self-control, autonomy, such a threat to authority? Because the person who controls himself, who is his own master, has no need for an authority to be his master. This, then, renders authority unemployed. What is he to do if he cannot control others? To be sure, he could mind his own business. But this is a fatuous answer, for those who are satisfied to mind their own business do not aspire to become authorities. In short, authority needs subjects, persons not in command of themselves – just as parents need children and physicians need patients.

—Dr. Thoms Szasz, from Chapter 12 of CEREMONIAL CHEMISTRY (1989).

142-5. “The Market Economy Was Not Designed By a Master Mind”

There is really nothing mysterious about the market. Every single transaction benefits both parties. The spontaneous actions of individuals aim at nothing other than the improvement of their own state of satisfaction. Thus, it is not surprising that the market economy results in prosperity.

—Paraphrased from Brian Doherty, RADICALS FOR CAPITALISM (2007). pp. 638 and 659.

142-6. “Two Tiny Changes in the Way the World Works to Achieve Market Anarchism”

(1) You can’t make your customers pay for your services by force; and

(2) You can’t drive your competitors out of business by force.

—Randy Barnett in Brian Doherty, RADICALS FOR CAPITALISM (2007), pp. 496-497.

142-7. “What Do You Consider Legitimate Government Functions?”

Well, that’s easy for me, because I don’t believe there are any legitimate government functions. I just am opposed to government as we know it, which is the government of a coerced submission. I consider that criminal and wicked, and everything that flows from it is wrong.

That doesn’t mean that every action the government takes is a wrong action. Government does all sorts of things that in themselves are fine. They’re great. They’re wonderful. But it does this with money it gets from people by threatening to kill them, although they’re innocent of any wrongdoing. That’s wrong. And so this kind of government is wrong. It’s just wrong. I don’t believe in it any longer.

It took me almost a lifetime to reach this position. If things are worth doing, people will find voluntary ways to do them. I honestly believe that. And I believe the ways they find will work better than having these mendacious, incompetent buffoons with guns try to be the problem-solvers for society. We can all see the product of that. This is not a good way to run things. It perpetuates problems rather than really solving them.

So my answer is just … build a society on the basis of free and voluntary individual cooperation.

—Robert Higgs, “Why Are Politicians Always Trying To Scare Us?,” December 6, 2007. Transcript from the Independent Institute. See concluding question at http://independent.org/events/transcript.asp?eventID=130.

142-8. “Killing Machines”

Since its inception some 7,000 years ago, the state (by which I mean those individuals who, singly or collectively, manipulate to whatever ends the coercive apparatus for which they claim legitimacy) has been the prime killer in human history. Killing is, in fact, in the very nature of the state. States are killing machines controlled by the few to steal from the many. Even if one does not accept the above statement as a definition of the state, even the most sanguine must admit that it constitutes an accurate description of what many states do much of the time. … Most states … use violence … internally against their own citizens or externally against other states … [and] have done so with abandon and have in the process out-killed bandits, dissidents, wife-murderers, sex maniacs, and other assorted murderers by a wide margin.

Indeed, states claim a monopoly of the “legitimate” use of violence – legitimacy defined, of course, by the state killers.

Agents of state power, therefore, seldom admit that they murder, but they cannot deny that they kill. Not uncommonly, they proudly advertise their lethal capacity. Indeed, the kill ratio of [1] state murders to all other murders is a good measure of the efficacy of the state in monopolizing violence. If that ratio falls much below, say, ten to one, there is reason to believe that the state has dangerous competitors … .

As mass murderers, modern states exhibit three relatively novel features. … First, the state machinery of mass killing became industrialized. .. It became a complex, intricately planned enterprise involving the most advanced technology and science and thus virtually every sector of society: research institutes, universities, the transportation system, and, of course, the entire “military-industrial complex.”

Modern state killing is no longer simply a casual, sporadic, spontaneous activity of the police and army … . It is now an essential and permanent ingredient of state planning and policy involving the continuous integration and involvement of the system of production with the system of destruction.

Production and destruction have become the two faces of the same coin of modern statecraft. Indeed, much of the need for state control of the system of transportation and production, even in “capitalist” countries is dictated by the need to control the system of destruction. … [2]

This industrialization of warfare has meant, of course, an ever-increasing scope and scale of violence, at least in international conflicts. …

The escalation of international warfare leads us to the second major feature of modern states as mass murderers, namely a shift from external to internal violence. Outright predation against foreign states has become too risky a game … .

Small, primitive states typically start out as war machines that prey on their neighbors and have little or no machinery for internal repression or expropriation. As states develop, expand, and industrialize, however, they turn increasingly from external predation to internal parasitism. One of the main consequences of modern technology has been to accentuate the disparity of power between the state and its citizenry. The superiority of the state is due not only to its immeasurably greater access to more expensive and complex weapon systems, which in turn require a system of logistics and maintenance totally beyond the reach of private individuals. The modern state also controls the means of transportation, communication, information storage and retrieval, and most basic utilities, notably water, food, and energy in urban areas. Successful revolution is all but impossible in modern states unless the state itself and its repressive machinery collapse from within. …

We come now to the third novel trait of states as mass killers. The modern state kills mostly in the name of nationalism. We now take the statist ideology of nationalism so much for granted that the above statement seems a truism. [4]

– Pierre L. van den Berghe (ed.), “Introduction” to STATE VIOLENCE AND ETHNICITY (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1990), pp. 1-4.

148-1. “Government in Early Washington, D.C.: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

[T]he government of Jeffersonian times was not, by any candid view, one of the important institutions of American society – important as a social presence or important in its impact upon the everyday lives of citizens. It was, for one thing, too new, an unfamiliar social presence in a society whose ways of living and whose organizations of affairs had developed over a century without any national government institution whatever; a society of preeminently provincial attachments. …The early government was…a small institution, small almost beyond imagination. In 1802, the twelfth year of its existence under the Constitution, the entire task force of national government – army, navy, marines and all the civil establishments abroad and in the continental United States – numbered [9,237 personnel]. …Small size indicated slightness of function. …What government business there was was not, most of it, of a sort to attract any widespread sustained citizen interest. …As a provider of services and benefits to citizens, the national government was insignificant, unless one counts the postal service. …Almost all of the things that republican governments do which affect the everyday lives and fortunes of their citizens, and therefore engage their interest, were in Jeffersonian times not done by the national government.

– James Sterling Young, THE WASHINGTON COMMUNITY 1800-1828, New York: Columbia University Press (1966), 2nd printing 1968, pp. 27-31.

148-2. “GOOD MONEY”

When and where it has been tried, free market coins and the monetary systems they have spawned have a much superior record to that of government systems. George Selgin in his new book, GOOD MONEY – Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginning of Modern Coinage 1175-1821 “delves into the fascinating heyday of commercial coining in the 1790s” in Britain. Too bad he did not include at least one chapter on private coinage in the United States, which I discuss in “ ‘Hard Money’ in the Voluntaryist Tradition” (Whole No. 23 and reprinted in I MUST SPEAK OUT). Selgin’s book is published by the University of Michigan Press in association with the Independent Institute. ISBN 978-0-472-11631-7.

148-3. “Government Money”

No more severe reflection could be passed upon the moral and political capacity of the human species than this: Five thousand years after the invention of writing, three thousand years after the invention of money, and (nearly) five hundred since the invention of printing, governments all over the world are employing the third invention for the purpose of debasing the second; thereby robbing millions of innocent individuals of their property on a scale so extensive that previous public confiscations of private property through the adulteration of money – in ancient Rome, in Ireland under James the Second, in Prussia during the Seven Years’ War, in the American colonies and the United States, in Portugal, in Greece, in various republics of Central and South America, even the assignats of the French Revolution – seem pigmy frauds in comparison with the present vast inundation of counterfeit paper money.

– Francis W. Hirst, THE PAPER MONEYS OF EUROPE – Their Moral and Economic Significance, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922, pp. 1-2.

148-4. “Why Not Have Anarchy?”

The fundamental question of political philosophy, one that precedes questions about how the state should be organized, is whether there should be any state at all. Why not have anarchy? Since anarchist theory, if tenable, undercuts the whole subject of political philosophy, it is appropriate to begin political philosophy with an examination of its major theoretical alternative.

– Robert Nozick, ANARCHY, STATE, AND UTOPIA, New York: Basic Books, 1974, p. 4.

148-5. “The Problem Is Obedience”

The greatest danger … [is] civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience [leads] to the horrors we [have seen] in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it [leads] to the public’s acceptance of war.

Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. …Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world.

– Howard Zinn from his book YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN (1994), p. 143 and from his essay, “The Problem Is Civil Obedience” (1970).

148-6. “Small Acts, when Multiplied by Millions of People, Can Transform the World.”

We forget how often in this century [the 20th Century] we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people’s thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible.

Political power, however formidable, is more fragile than we think. (Note how nervous are those who hold it.)

Ordinary people can be intimidated for a time, can be fooled for a time, but they have a deep-down common sense, and sooner or later they find a way to challenge the power that oppresses them. …

Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zig-zag toward a more decent society.

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

– Howard Zinn from his book YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN (1994), pp. 207-208.

148-7. “The V-50 Lectures by Jay Stuart Snelson”

The V-50 Lectures were originally created under the auspices of the astrophysicist, Andrew J. Galambos, and his Free Enterprise Institute in the early 1960s in California. These sixteen full-length lectures serve as an introduction to Galambos’ theory of property. They are now available in a set of six mp3 CDs, along with a very attractive 87 page booklet with pictures of the lecture slides, as well as short essays about Galambos, Snelson, Bob LeFevre, and others who helped create the Galambos legend. Highly recommended. Contact the project publisher, Charles Holloway at chasholloway@cox.net or see the website at www.V-50.org.

148-8. “The Problem Is Politics”

I just hate politics. Politics stink. … But let’s make a distinction between politics and politicians. Because there are a lot of people who are under a misapprehension that the problem is certain politicians that stink. …

The problem is not really politicians. The problem is politics. Politicians are chefs – some good, some bad – but politics is road kill. The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the cookbook. The key ingredient of politics is the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically.

– P. J. O’Rourke in CATO’S LETTER (Cato Institute), Spring 2008, pp. 4-5.

148-9. “Stealing Is Wrong”

I would point out that one can prove stealing is wrong by other than referring to the Ten Commandments. Stealing is wrong simply because a society based on theft cannot exist – if everyone is busy stealing from everyone else, nobody has time to produce any goods or services, and thus pretty soon there is nothing to steal. …I would say that stealing is wrong, not because some guy supposedly came down off the mountain and proclaimed it so according to what his god told him, but rather because it is counter-productive to human existence and progress.

– David Pearse, reprinted from “Letter to the Editor” in “Potpourri from the Editor’s Desk,” THE VOLUNTARYIST, Whole No. 110.

148-10. “The Sin of Coercion”

Out of the exercise of his [Roger Williams] imagination he perceived that no man can be so sure of any formulation of eternal truth as to have a right to impose on the mind and spirit of other men. Williams further realized that he who does so impose truth on others is no longer concerned, in his heart of hearts, with the truth; but only with the imposition… . [W]hat he stood for, and still stands for, is the certainty that those who mistake their own assurances for divinely appointed missions, and so far forget the sanctity of others’ persuasion as to try reducing them to conformity by physical means, commit in the face of the Divine a sin more outrageous that any of the statutory crimes.

– Perry Miller, ROGER WILLIAMS (1953), “Epilogue,” p. 256

148-11. “It’s All In Your Head”

[A]s vicious and destructive as “government” can be, the real problem resides, not in Washington, but between the ears of several hundred million Americans. The only way a few hundred politicians can continually extort and control several hundred million citizens is by first convincing them that such extortion and control is legitimate. By labeling oppression as “law,” and condemning as “criminals” any who disobey any of those “laws,” tyrants – throughout the world and for thousands of years – have successfully trained the peasants to enslave themselves. As long as the common folk measure their goodness by how well they obey their masters, they will never be free and oppressing them will be easy.

– Larken Rose, “Stop Saying ‘Please’,” September 16, 2009.

148-12. “The Most Fundamental Lesson of Political Economy”

Where is this money [to do all the things government does] coming from? You can use all the fancy words you want, but in the end government has no money. Everything the government has it gets from you. That is the most fundamental lesson of political economy, without which no clear thinking takes place.”

– Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “Mortgage Socialism,” THE FREE MARKET November 2009, p. 4.

149-1. “Legitimacy: The State’s Need for Moral Validity”

Despite an institutionalized authority structure, an ideological basis, and a monopoly of force, the rulers of states share at least one thing in common with chiefs and Big Men: the need to establish and constantly reinforce legitimacy. In complex as well as simpler societies, leadership activities and societal resources must be continuously devoted to this purpose. Hierarchy and complexity, as noted, are rare in human history, and where present require constant reinforcement. No societal leader is ever far from the need to validate position and policy, and no hierarchical society can be organized without explicit provision for this need.

Legitimacy is the belief of the populace and the elites that rule is proper and valid, that the political world is as it should be. It pertains to individual rulers, to decisions, to broad policies, to parties, and to entire forms of government. The support that members are willing to extend to a political system is essential for its survival. Decline in support will not necessarily lead to the fall of a regime, for to a certain extent coercion can replace commitment to ensure compliance. Coercion, though, is a costly, ineffective strategy which can never be completely or permanently successful. Even with coercion, decline in popular support below some critical minimum leads infallibly to political failure. Establishing moral validity is a less costly and more effective approach.

– Joseph A. Tainter, THE COLLAPSE OF COMPLEX SOCIETIES (1989), p. 27.

149-2. “Some Basic Truths”

The most basic principle of all is that of not harming others, and that includes all people and all life and all things. It means not controlling or manipulating others, not trying to manage their affairs. It means not going off to some other land and killing people over there — not for religious or politics or military exercises or any other excuses. No being has the right to harm or control any other being. No individual or government has the right to force others to join or participate in any group or system or to force others to go to school, to church or to war. Every being has the right to live his own life in his own way.

Every being has an identity and a purpose. To live up to his purpose, every being has the power of self-control, and that’s where spiritual power begins. When some of these fundamental things are learned, the time will be right for more to be revealed and spiritual power will come again to this land.

– Doug Boyd, ROLLING THUNDER (1974), p. 199.

149-3. “Show Him Your Badge”

A DEA officer stops at a ranch in Texas and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.” The rancher says, “Okay, but do not go in that field over there,” as he points out the location.

The DEA officer verbally explodes saying, “Mister, I have the authority of the federal government with me.” Reaching into his rear pants pocket he removes his badge, and proudly displays it to the rancher. “See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish. … On any land. No questions asked or answers given. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?”

The rancher nodded politely and apologized and then went about his chores. A short time later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the DEA officer running for his life, chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull. …

With every step, the bull is gaining ground on the officer, and it seems likely that he’ll get gored before he reaches safety. The officer is clearly terrified. The rancher throws down his tools, runs to the fence, and yells at the top of his lungs ….


– Author Not Known

149-4. “On Deleting the State”

Say for the sake of argument that the state is illegitimate, that it is true that all states violate rights and hence lack true authority. Would it follow that violent action against the state would be justified? I suspect the answer is no, for the following reasons. For better or worse, the state exists, and most people regard it as legitimate, … So a small-scale act of destruction such as killing a judge or blowing up a federal building would only be perceived as a nihilistic and destructive act, one which itself lacked moral legitimacy. And since such acts would likely harm people who are not active participants in the state’s coercion, those acts would lack moral legitimacy. … On the other hand, what of large-scale acts of violence against the government? Say we took a page from contemporary thrillers and managed to destroy the Capitol Building, while the entire legislature and executive branch was inside. That would not mean the end of government at all. People for the most part would consider the state to still exist and have legitimacy, and would call for all the vacated positions to be filled. Put more theoretically, destroying the current members of the government would not destroy the idea of government. The vacuum would be filled immediately, and no one’s mind would be changed about the ideas of spontaneous order and social rules, or the relationship between liberty and human flourishing, or the coercive nature of government. Anarchism on a libertarian model is only possible when people’s ideas about freedom and the state change, and this cannot be accomplished by violent means, only by philosophical means. … Deleting the state means something more effective than violence: it means deciding the state is not necessary. It means deleting the notion that we have no choice but to submit. The point is to peacefully change people’s minds by reasoned argument, and ultimately to create the conditions in which they can flourish, not to kill them. So my philosophical defense of anarchism is not violent and doesn’t entail violence, but rather implies evolutionary change in attitudes and institutions.

So if it is not justified to take violent action against the government the other side wonders, what is the point? What is the ‘payoff’ of a theory in which government is illegitimate? It is to undermine the idea that coercion is necessary for social order, or that it is beneficial to human society. … It is to affirm the priority of liberty and its necessary connection to human flourishing, and keep us mindful of the ways in which the state, and our often unthinking obedience to it, hinders that flourishing.

– Aeon J. Skoble, DELETING THE STATE (2008), pp. 118-119.

150-1. “So What About Virtue?”

The fundamental difference between the society that the [coercionists] want and the society that Americans have is that the [coercionists] seek a country where the life of the citizens is directed by others, while Americans live in a nation where the life of the citizen is largely selfdirected. The central goal of American freedom is self-reliance: the individual is placed in the driver’s seat of his own life. The [coercionists] presume the moral superiority of the externally directed life on the grounds that it is aimed at virtue. The self-directed life, however, also seeks virtue — virtue realized not through external command but, as it were, “from within.” The real question is: which type of society is more successful in achieving the goal of virtue?

Let us concede at the outset that, in a free society, freedom will frequently be used badly. Freedom, by definition, includes freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. Thus we should not be surprised that there is a considerable amount of vice, licentiousness, and vulgarity in a free society. Given the warped timber of humanity, freedom is simply an expression of human flaws and weaknesses. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives deserve our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option. Even amidst the temptations that a rich and free society offers, they have remained on the straight path. Their virtue has a special luster because it is freely chosen. The free society does not guarantee virtue any more than it guarantees happiness. But it allows for the pursuit of both, a pursuit rendered all the more meaningful and profound because success is not guaranteed: it has to be won through personal striving.

By contrast, the externally directed life that [coercionists] seek undermines the possibility of virtue. If the supply of virtue is insufficient in self-directed societies, it is almost non-existent in externally directed societies because coerced virtues are not virtues at all. Consider the woman who is required to wear a veil [by law]. There is no modesty in this, because the woman is being compelled. Compulsion cannot produce virtue; it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue. And once the reins of coercion are released … the worst impulses of human nature [may] break loose. …In externally directed societies, the absence of freedom signals the absence of virtue. Thus the free society is not simply richer, more varied, and more fun: it is also morally superior to the externally directed society.

– Dinesh D’Souza, WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT AMERICA (2002), pp. 189-191. (References to Islamic fundamentalists have been changed to coercionists.)

150-2. “Free Trade versus the Law”

“Free trade,” said Gabby, “is just the opposite of unfree trade. In free trade you takes no notice of what the King agreed with the bootmakers, but just goes ahead and sells your goods anyway.”

“It is,” said Gabby. “But I am not a man to get involved with the law. It muddles me head something awful, like that alphabet with them letters that sounds alike but are as different as knighthead and ruddle pintle. What you got to look out for, young feller, is to do what’s sensible and never mind the law.”

“But supposing that what’s sensible is contrary to the law?” asked Peter.

“Then heave the law overboard, books, seals, wigs, whereases and all the rest of that tackle,” said Gabby.

“Wouldn’t that be revolution?” asked Peter.

“It would,” said Gabby.

– Leonard Wibberley, JOHN TREEGATE’S MUSKET (1959), Chapter 7.

150-3. “Moses and the Slaves”

Moses wanted to turn a tribe of enslaved Hebrews into free men. You would think that all he had to do was gather the slaves and tell them that they were free. But Moses knew better. He knew that the transformation of slaves into free men was more difficult and painful than the transformation of free men into slaves. The change from slavery to freedom requires many other drastic changes. … Moses discovered that no migration, no drama, no spectacle, no myth, and no miracles could turn slaves into free men. It cannot be done. So he led the slaves back into the desert, and waited forty years until the slave generation had died, and a new generation, desert born and bred, was ready to enter the promised land.

[Editor’s Note: This passage implicitly points out that unless the ideas, attitudes, and mentality of men and women are changed, they are likely to continue to accept their own enslavement, regardless of what circumstances or environment they find themselves in. And it is the rare individual who will break out of his or her mental strait jacket of habitual acceptance of tyranny. Hence, the importance of teaching and explaining (and practicing) voluntaryism to our children who have not yet been brainwashed by the State.]

– Eric Hoffer, WORKING AND THINKING ON THE WATERFRONT (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1969), p. 179. Reprinted from THE VOLUNTARYIST, Whole No. 110.

150-4 “On the Wisdom of Insecurity and Uncertainty”

[W]ith detachment there is freedom to create. …

People are constantly seeking security, [but] you will find that seeking security is actually a very ephemeral thing. …

[S]ecurity can never come from money alone. …

The search for security is an illusion. In ancient wisdom traditions, the solution to this whole dilemma lies in the wisdom of insecurity or the wisdom of uncertainty. This means that search for security and certainty is actually an attachment to the known. And what’s the known? The known is our past. The known is nothing other than the prison of past conditioning. There’s no evolution in that – absolutely none at all. And when there is no evolution, there is stagnation, entropy, disorder, and decay.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, is the fertile ground of pure creativity and freedom. …

You don’t need to have a complete and rigid idea of what you’ll be doing next week or next year, because if you have a very clear idea of what’s going to happen and you get rigidly attached to it, then you shut out a whole range of possibilities. …

The Law of Detachment does not interfere with the Law of Intention and Desire – with goal setting. You still have the intention of going in a certain direction, you still have a goal. However, between point A and B there are infinite possibilites. …

[Your] state of alertness … allows you to seize the opportunity [of change]. What’s the opportunity? It’s contained within every problem that you have in your life. Every single problem that you have in your life is the seed of an opportunity for some greater benefit. Once you have that perception, you open up to a whole range of possibilities – and this keeps the mystery, the wonder, the excitement, the adventure alive.

You can look at every problem you have in your life as an opportunity for some greater benefit. You can stay alert to opportunities by being grounded in the wisdom of uncertainty. When your preparedness meets opportunity, the solution will spontaneously appear.

What comes out of that is often called “good luck.” Good luck is nothing but preparedness and opportunity coming together.

– Deepak Chopra, THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS, from the Sixth Spiritual Law – Detachment, 1994.

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