A Conversation Between Voluntaryists: What’s with IP?

Kenny Kelly’s Introduction: Kilgore and I have had another discussion. This time about intellectual property (IP) laws and their role, if any, in a free society. This topic is not as much of a debate as the last, but still worth having.

Kilgore Forelle’s Introduction: Kenny and I got together, again — this time to discuss the thing inadequately labeled as “intellectual property.”

As H. L. Mencken once wrote, ” … there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” He must have been addressing the statist response to ‘IP,’ copyright, and patent.

Kenny: Thesis: Intellectual property (IP) is defined by Merriam-Webster as that which “derives from the work of the mind or intellect; also : an application, right, or registration relating to this.” In other words, IP is intangible property that an individual has yet to mix labor with something physical to make an actual thing. “Property rights,” as understood by libertarians, are claims to ownership of tangible objects. Not ideas.

Kilgore: Kenny, it looks as though we are going to agree, but perhaps for different reasons — not that the reasons are incompatible.

I take the very empirical view that an object has to occupy a distinct locus on a space-time continuum. I would state it this way — ideas do not occupy space and cannot be a thing until they do. An object is a person, place, thing, or event.

Although an idea could be called a thing, it is an abstract thing until it is connected with something concrete. Often the concrete association is achieved by monetization.

If you can get someone to pay you for the right to use your idea then it has taken its place among the set of things that occupy unique addresses in time and space.

For example, the Beatles had an idea that became “Back in the USSR.” It is ironic that Paul decided to borrow ideas from Chuck Berry (Back in the USA) and the Beach Boys (California Girls), but to craft these into a third, unique product. So, who owns this musical gem? It is the belonging to an association that makes it an owned combination of things, a thing itself. It is owned by Chuck Berry, one or more of the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, the Studio, the minions, the recording company, the crafters of the Beatles’ instruments and equipment, and anybody who bought an instance of the song (ie. a track on the “White Album”). The free market took care of those single relationships that needed more defining.

Kenny: Yeah not incompatible, because I agree. I guess the question is: do you believe IP should be abolished or reduced?

Kilgore: I believe that IP cannot be codified by the fictions of legislation or regulation.

As we see from the Beatles example, relationships are 1-to-1 but can become very complex. We cannot devise a one-size-fits-all model. The voluntary, individualist market arrangements that arise naturally for the least complex part will suffice to self-govern that part. Complexity only accumulates one relationship at a time. Each relationship has simple self-governance, or else it is a complex relationship where all objects do not have natural, balanced participation.

I don’t intuit that we need IP. An idea that is just a thought exists only within 1 person. It is not shared. Until it is shared, the question of ownership does not arise. When the first question of ownership arises, it is within a 1-to-1 relationship, therefore voluntary agreement can take place, without compulsion. Added relationships may bring complexity, but if each relationship is voluntary 1-to-1 the complex will be simple in principle. Any addition of un-agreed rules adds complexity, necessarily. It does not simplify the complex, rather it confounds.

Kenny: I agree. I mean, ideas are finite and are not subject to “stealing.”

Kilgore: Ok, so where does this leave us now? I think we are both opposed to locking down the access to an idea. But don’t we also respect the person who has committed his idea to a form that can be transferred. Do we, as free marketers, tell anyone that they cannot offer an artifact for sale on the open market? Isn’t that free marketer also entitled to say, “Pass on by if you do not value my product enough to pay an agreed upon price for it. The seller can only create a small monopoly within the bounds of his marketed goods.

Where I have a problem is when middle men become involved, to create an artificial scarcity where one would not naturally exist.

Here’s an example. As a software engineer, I specialized in usability. But an overwhelming part of the research literature was hidden from the public, because it was being held hostage by the two largest research organizations for the purpose of selling annual dues agreements. I was a student at the University of Kentucky (UK), and as such, I could tap both of these sources by going in person to the Engineering School Library. I could not access them at my own school where I worked because the Library at Kentucky State University (KSU) would not pay the steep institutional price. I personally felt that the price for an individual membership was astronomical (probably done to maintain the lucrative major institution gravy train).

The upshot was that I was not a subscriber to either source of material.

I am struggling with isolating the principles that are involved here.

Kenny: The “monopoly” isn’t the issue. The issue is how that monopoly is formed. If it’s from a producer, that’s okay. If from the government by force, then not so much.

Kilgore: How do you address the example I gave?

Kenny: As long as the organizations didn’t have government protection then it’s a free market thing. If they did, then it’s an artificial monopoly that ought be ended.

Kilgore: Weren’t the teeth behind their withholding of ideas supplied by governments’ willingness to enforce copyright laws?

Kenny: In this case, I don’t know. If so, then it’s an artificial monopoly. If not, it’s the free market.

Kilgore: I think the question is: if there were no government threat of violence would copyright and patent be implementable? A following question is: would civilization disintegrate?

Kenny: No and no. People would have to learn to be more strategic with their work.

Kilgore: So what I’m hearing is that people who learn would become more strategic. It is like the market itself — it changes to fit the situation. If copyright and patent are not there as artificial protections, then creative people will arrive at creative solutions to derive value from their labor.

It sounds as if it could be self-organizing, without threat of government enforcement.

In a voluntaryist society people would either make person-to-person agreements to exchange money, goods, or services for creative artifacts, or the creator who wanted to sell to mass consumers would have to accept the risks of putting a copyable format out there in the big world.

Kenny: Exactly. Rothbard talked about how IP can be protected without government. Rothbard wrote a lot of articles about it. This is one that’s easier to read.

Kilgore: That’s an excellent reference, Kenny, wherein Rothbard emphasizes the organic nature of property holding in an open market with polycentric law. If the property exists concretely it can only change ownership through voluntary transaction or theft. The most basic, natural laws against theft will suffice.

Apart from that, a second market principle applies. A creator must consider comparative advantage when deciding how to protect his own interests. Is it more effective to pursue the casual copier/downloader or the for-profit pirate? Is it more rational to pursue the pirate in the bigger market or the smaller? Does one get more bang from chasing the pirate in the market at hand or in the distant one.

Someone once told me that he was advised to protect all frontiers of copyright or risk being deemed to have waived the copyright. Is this a thing? If so, wouldn’t it make far more sense to rely on common law relating to theft?

Kenny: I don’t know, IP laws are based on coercion. That’s why in today’s market if I record or publish anything I’d put it in public domain so no one can claim ownership of it.

Kilgore: Public domain it is. Anything I do is in the public domain. The fictional legislative interventions bring on a market response — it is too costly in terms of time, effort, and hassle to use copyright procedures.

If I suffer insupportable damages, ie. a real crime has been done, then I can avail myself (having awaited an actual event) of ancient common law, natural law and ethics as they apply. This is an instance of observing Ockham’s Razor.

Kenny: In conclusion, IP laws would be unnecessary in a free market. If you take pride in your work it would be prudent to be patient and form a business strategy. IP laws seem to be supported by impatient people or those who lack business savvy, from the average Joe to corporatists.

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Who Will Build The Roads? Anarchists.

“Who will build the roads?” is a question government advocates ask in discussions with voluntaryists.

The economic answer is quite simple: customers will pay for roads themselves or pay for construction workers do it in lieu of having their money stolen to have it done.

Or they will build and repair the roads themselves. Like the anarchists in the bridge city of Portland, Oregon did in February and March 2017.

OregonLive reports “Pitting the city’s two mottos — the unofficial ‘Keep Portland Weird’ and the municipal ‘The City That Works’ — against one another, a group calling itself Portland Anarchist Road Care [a.k.a. PARC] says state neglect is to blame for the condition of the streets.”

“As anarchists, we seek to bring about a society in which coercive hierarchies, such as government and [state] capitalism … no longer exist,” one of the anarchists told OregonLive. “To be exceptionally clear, anarchists do not desire chaos, we desire freedom and equality.”

The group declares the government ignores the complaints from law-abiding locals about the broken-down roads. Their Facebook page claims these anarchists “will fix the streets.”

Up until PARC started being the government’s more successful shadow with the roads, fed-up locals (and in many other areas across the United States) have been planting flowers in potholes or chalking circles around them. The government ignores them.

PARC activists took action, by self-teaching themselves how to repair roads, pooled resources together to buy the raw materials, and utilized free-market economics to get the job done.

“If it’s a city maintained street, then folks should call us and have the professionals do it,” stated Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “It’s generally not safe for folks to be out in the street doing an unauthorized repair like this.”

Rivera was unable to point to any city ordinance or state law that prohibited private-sector road repair. All the while, ignoring the fact locals have been trying to go through proper channels for a long time.

His excuse was “Mother Nature,” citing rain kept public-sector-contracted construction workers from being out on the roads. But anarchists were able to do it.

It should be noted Rivera suggested the anarchists help home-owners with gravel roads, as that is not the city’s job. Ironically, he said only with the consent of those people – all the while ignoring the consent of many by stealing or extorting money from people, via taxation.

While the city has gone on a road-repairing spree after the public-relations blunder, it speaks volumes anarchists did a service to no cost to the community on their own wits. Unlike the government that requires the initiation of force and awful customer service to function in society.

Eighteenth-century abolitionist, anarchist, and entrepreneur Lysander Spooner who wrote No Treason:the Constitution of No Authority, did something similar. He started his own mail-delivery service during a time the government held an unconstitutional monopoly over the service

His American Letter Mail Company quickly became more successful, more profitable, and more popular than the U.S. Postal Service; and to lower cost to customers. When government officials felt the revenue loss, they forcefully shut his company down.

A few decades later, the U.S. government passed partial privatization, which for a long time the market had better services. Today the USPS offers better customer service than before – and definitely better than other artificial monopolies of the government, such as the DMV.

Spooner’s example inspires many anarchists, especially since the 1960s (see: agorism).

According to Reason’s Hit & Run blog, “A 2016 report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, found that 20 percent of major roads in the United States are in poor condition, costing around $523 per motorist (or around $112 billion total) per year in vehicle wear and tear. The report also claims that investment in roads and bridges nationwide would need to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion a year to adequately cover operation and maintenance costs.” Commercial cleaning Hanover PA form professionals is what you need to keep your working environment clean.

The Portland anarchists at PARC are out to fix more roads and serve their community, by voluntary action. Without government permission and at government dismay. Only few anarchists are bandana-wearing, Molotov cocktail-wielding protestors, while many are peaceful, liberty-loving people who want to help their community via voluntary association.

Who will build the roads in the absence of the government? Anarchists.

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A Conversation Between Voluntaryists: Responsible Voting?

Kenny Kelly’s Introduction: One of the best things about voluntaryism is you never know who is a voluntaryist. Kentucky is a big-government, culturally-conservative state, where I was born and raised in. Then I found out I have a like-minded neighbor.

Among the radical libertarians who have made the Bluegrass state their home is Kilgore Forelle. Over breakfast we came up with a voluntaryist thesis which we turned into this dialogue here on EVC.

Kilgore Forelle’s Introduction: Kenny Kelly and I got together for the first time last Saturday, even though we live just about 30 minutes apart. I finally awoke to the idea that we could meet up. I motored over from Waddy to Kenny’s current Bluegrass town. We had a fine breakfast at a place with a history in his downtown.

One of the things we kicked around was the idea of doing a dialogue column in which we bat the parlez-vous to and fro about some voluntaryist thesis. So here we go.

The voluntaryist thesis: Many libertarians frequently say that voting in national elections is not a voluntaryist thing to do. To be clear, among the many candidates in any given political race is “Nobody.” Many libertarians might argue it is useless, in lieu of it being an act of coercion. Is there not a difference between a voluntary choice and a voluntaryist solution?

Taking the red pill

Kilgore: I agree that there is a difference between a voluntary choice and voluntaryism. Voluntaryism is a long term choice made to be responsible in the short term cases. Principles are for the long term. Actions generally affect the cases in the present in the short term, but with long term consequences. The voluntaryist takes responsibility for considering and choosing actions in light of all the consequences.

Let me illustrate with my personal voting principles.

  1. I will not vote … as a duty owed to any state or other collective.
  2. If I do vote it will be either
    1. with respect to loyalty for family and friends, I may vote for someone like Gary Johnson, who does no particular damage to my principles, and whose quest is oxymoronic, or
    2. for people I know personally, so I can grab them by the lapels, when I see them in town, to learn why things are not going better.
    3. I never vote for a candidate because he or she is a member of a party

Kenny: Fellow EVC writer, Kilgore Forelle, wrote a thoughtful piece explaining why, as a voluntaryist, he votes in political elections. He argues the “voluntaryist takes responsibility for considering and choosing actions in light of all the consequences.”

By voting, a libertarian is wanting to reduce or abolish the government. In the case of the voluntaryist, he is wanting to abolish it, whether or not he goes down the reduction path. The point is to compromise time, not compromise principles.

Kilgore illustrates “I may vote for someone… who does no particular damage to my principles [or] for people I know personally, so I can grab them by the lapels… to learn why things are not going better.”

This is, by no means, a call for voluntaryists to vote for politicians. But a call to understand why they make these decisions and to hold them accountable when they vote for someone who grows government.

It should be noted, many voluntaryists first got involved in libertarianism through the works of Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican congressman and twice a Republican presidential candidate and once a Libertarian presidential nominee. Dr. Paul would refer to voluntaryism and allude to the deeds of nineteenth-century anarchist Lysander Spooner during his farewell address in front of Congress in 2012.

Since then, many influential members of society have come out as anarchists. From former judge and judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano to the eccentric millionaire and software pioneer John McAfee; from actor Woody Harrelson to entertainer Penn Jillette; anarchists are coming out of their political closets. And some are running for public office, to reduce and abolish much of the government as they can.

It would not be prudent to alienate them, but to understand them, praise their actions when the government is reduced, and to criticize their actions when the government grows.

Kilgore: Kenny, I love your line, “The point is to compromise time, not compromise principles.” I’ll tell you why right after a chance for a do-over. Kenny wrote above, “Kilgore [is] … explaining why, as a voluntaryist, he votes in political elections.” I was also explaining why I mainly do not vote in elections. In general, according to my voluntaryist principles, I find that the least damaging option is to not vote, in a particular race. I will not, with my vote, approve the system or block an evil with a lesser evil. My voluntaryist principles, for instance, told me I could never vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Now, why do I like the idea of compromising time? Kenny paints a beautiful picture which shows that a short term compromise can be a choice that is hopeful about the future. This would be unlike many compromises which are actually retreats. For example, I revile the NRA (National Rifle Association) type of compromise, in which we ratchet away from the pure essence of the Second Amendment. The NRA gives up ground in every encounter in hopes of keeping a piece of the original ground, and a piece of the very lucrative pie — worse, they are doing this with the money and proxy of some of, but only an immediate gratification tending part of, affected citizens. They claim to have the same interests as citizens, yet they gamble, poorly, with Constitutional guarantees that belong to someone else. Their compromises are with the principles. They cannot be compromising with time because the ratchet effect takes them farther and farther from the proper goal — a situation in which there are NO “infringements” on the right in question. The NRA defends the slippery slope, where retreat is recognized as strategy.

Kenny refers, I feel, instead to compromising time in order to let our principles grow. Nothing permanent, and hardy, was made in a day. If we have motives concerning improvement, it cannot be an error to accept a step, an increment of better, to keep the momentum going toward the objective. Whereas we started, in the case of the Second Amendment with the freedom to defend ourselves (the goal), we cannot approach the goal again without retreating from it. The NRA is ransoming our guarantee by turning it into their cash cow. In another example, the Russian retreat from Moscow, against Napoleon in 1812, did achieve the subsequent retreat of Napoleon, but at the cost of the burning of Moscow.

Fight your battles, but win your endeavors.

Kenny: Exactly. I would point out that in mainstream politics, the false dichotomies are manufactured to manipulate the people. They do it with guns, drugs, immigration, abortion, taxes, and marriage, as well. They want people to fight within these artificial industries as to prevent free market solutions.

Kilgore: Distraction is the nuclear weapon of the oligarchs, whom I often refer to as the manipulators. But distraction is also fraud when it is used to boggle our longer term vision. As you suggest, Kenny, the natural and free marketplace is where the solution resides. We don’t need central planning, we need incentives to behave in a simple and natural way.

For instance, if we want a true freedom from infringement, we don’t need hired thugs to coerce the coercers. We just need to embrace the freedoms we want. No state is powerful enough to shut down exchange. How did Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity, in The Matrix, understand, at some level, that defeating the Matrix involved the maintenance of exchange and interaction, despite the Matrix. The Matrix was masking isolation with artificial comfort. To escape, the protagonists had to preserve the longer term options by operating across the matrix structure.

It can be done easily by the voluntaryist. Stay in touch, exchange, communicate. If many of us reject the state’s faux life support (actually life taking), there is some level of voluntaryism that will collapse the state.

Why not just have our guns, our markets, our property, and our freedom. The state may have some short term pushback, but in the long run, it cannot manage its own micromanagement schemes.

Kenny: So true. The government, or the manipulator, relies on the majority being complacent. The minority who prefer natural freedom go the way of voluntaryists and agorists. Agorists actively compete against the state much in the same fashion as the protagonists in the movie, The Matrix. By showing people there is another way, an alternative, they could be persuaded to unplug themselves from the system. The more and more examples of peaceful, voluntary exchange there are, the more power and influence the government loses.

Kilgore’s Conclusion: How refreshing it was to have a real time exchange with an intelligent guy who is as well-versed in voluntaryist matters as Kenny.

Here’s what I take from this exchange:

  • I would vote for Kenny, even if he showed the unexpected desire to seek public office.
  • Voting (or not voting) is only a small part of being a voluntaryist.
  • Those of us who claim to be principled voluntaryists do well to revisit those principles every day, not just during political seasons.
  • Our apolitical actions speak as loudly as our political actions toward long term thinking.
  • Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, that we should consider actions to have both short and long term outcomes and that there are many types of effects for different individuals and groups, applies not just to economics, but to the full range of human actions.
  • Voluntaryism is a 24/7/365 undertaking.
  • We need to be aware that the established order wants us to think only of the short term and only with our narrowest interests at heart.
  • The manipulator can only assert the influences that you grant to the state.
  • Break out! Follow one’s interests but broaden them, think longer term, and think freedom of choices.

Kenny’s Conclusion: It was amazing to have such a dialogue with a fellow voluntaryist Kentuckian. Having a back-and-forth like this would have only been better if we were sitting on rocking chairs on a porch with glasses of smooth Kentucky bourbon between us.

The takeaways from this discussion would be I would vote for a voluntaryist for any public office, so long as they pledge to reduce or abolish any program of the government they have a chance to; such votes would not violate the non-aggression principle; practicing what you preach goes a long way, and is illustrated by your words and deeds; every action, from counter economics to political discourse, has its reactions; and Kilgore himself said it best when he declared, “Voluntaryism is a 24/7/365 undertaking.”

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What Does It Mean To Be Pro-Choice?

On March 7th, 2017, the U.S. Libertarian Party asked the public to vote, via donation, for the theme of the 2018 Libertarian National Convention. Among them is one that is causing quite a commotion in the party. “Pro Choice on Everything!”

Ever since its founding the LP has held a pro-choice stance on abortion. The abortion plank of the 1972 LP platform reads: “We further support the repeal of all laws restricting voluntary birth control or voluntary termination of pregnancies during the first hundred days.”

Today, it reads “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

A few points before the abortion plank, the LP platform firmly states “Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and must accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make.”

The difference between pro-choice and pro-life is not abortion, but the role of government. Pro-choice libertarians base their argument on whether or not the government should prohibit a practice between individuals. Pro-life people base their argument on subjective morality and scientific theories.

Former chairman of the LP and businessman Mark Hinkle opines “whatever you do is tolerated and is not and should not be prohibited by law or government fiat. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to like your decision. It also doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the responsibility that goes along with whatever actions you take.”

Which is in line with both past languages of the abortion plank of the LP platform and the writings of many seminal libertarians.

Vice chairman of the LP of Kentucky and Ron Paul Revolution activist, Bryan Short, echoes Hinkle’s point, “the only absolute we advocate is freedom for the individual.”

Radical libertarians (e.g., voluntaryists) may or may not support abortion, but they do support choice. More importantly, the ones who oppose abortion directly advocate, not government intervention, but the free market.

A 2016 study by the Guttmacher Institute found the abortion rate to be much higher in South America when compared to the U.S., despite the former having harsher restrictions on abortion. By contrast, the abortion rate in western Europe is about the same as the U.S., all the while having more access to abortion.

When comparing pro-choice regions and those who that are considered pro-life, the abortion rate is higher with restrictions and lower with choice. Just as is common knowledge among libertarians with gun control and the drug war, prohibition actually increases abortion.

Pro-life people tend to be conservative, some are libertarian, who have a stated distrust of the government. They argue prohibitions or even slight restrictions on guns, alcohol, and a slew of other things they deem desired increase related violence. Alcohol prohibition, for example, fostered alcohol-related violence, even provided a fertile ground for organized crime.

Abortion control reaches the same logical conclusion. More abortion! Before the Supreme Court landmark case Roe v. Wade in 1973, illegal abortions were routine for generations. These unsafe circumstances not only terminated many pregnancies but sometimes even the mothers in the process.

Similar to how conservatives, rightfully, argue gun control only helps those who do not follow the law (e.g., criminals) while helping keep “law-abiding citizens” defenseless. Abortion, drugs, and a slew of other things they deem undesired suffers the same fate. In other words, in regards to the “abortion is murder” crowd, abortion bans help keep “unborn individuals” defenseless.

To combat this, libertarians, unlike conservatives, either abandoned or never joined the pro-abortion and anti-abortion industries and opted to seek free-market alternatives instead.

Biomedical research scientist and LP veteran Dr. Mary Ruwart has written extensively in regards to abortion. She is the author of the popular libertarian book Healing Our World.

Dr. Ruwart opines “The only way to stop the debate is to make abortion obsolete. Because a libertarian society would be wealthier than today’s, it is best equipped to develop the technology for fetal transfer to a willing woman. No physician will likely perform an abortion with this option available, so it will become obsolete. The right to life and a woman’s body will both be protected.”

However, the pro-abortion and anti-abortion industries siphon support and keeps people with good intentions trapped in a false dichotomy.

The good doctor, with a PhD in biophysics under her belt, says “”Pro Choice on Everything” is something that resonates with me personally, but I’d hesitate to support that as an LP slogan. It will alienate pro-life individuals both inside and outside the Party. Finding a theme that unites us all, rather than divides us, would be preferable.”

Co-founder of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus (anarchists in the party), Susan Hogarth, another woman with a background in biology, seems to agree with Dr. Ruwart, “It does seem to bother the pro-lifers, so I’d prefer something less contentious.” She cites the fact pro-choice views are common with libertarians.

It should be noted, a voluntaryist does not need to join the LP to make a difference. But this LP controversy opens up a new discussion about what it really means to be pro-choice. One does not have to be pro-abortion to be pro-choice – but one must be anti-government to be a pro-choice libertarian.

Two things are evident. First, libertarians seek free-market solutions to society’s problems, not the government and its schemes. Second, libertarians can peacefully co-exist with those who differ from them, unlike the average self-described conservative and liberal in the U.S.

Want to see an end to abortions and to prohibitions? Make the debate a thing of the past, through voluntary association.

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What A Constitution Is And Is Not

What is a constitution? People talk about and hear about this word when debating politics or watching mainstream media. It is common knowledge that the United States is host to the U.S. Constitution and that it is the “supreme law of the land.” But what does it mean?

A constitution is a set of laws and regulations. Each provision, each word, is written for a reason. There is nothing cryptic about the language or provisions themselves. There might be a slight language barrier if centuries separate the past and present.

However, that would not be an issue if judges, or whoever is delegated the responsibility of interpreting the “supreme law of the land,” made decisions based on the original intent of the authors. By doing so would mean the interpreters would have to research the foundation of the authorship – in the case of the U.S. Constitution, there are several documents, such as the Federalist Papers, the constitutional convention notes, and the notes and letters during the state ratification conventions.

It can be argued that the first president of the United States violated the constitution he helped write, but his immediate successor, John Adams, routinely violated it. Every president since has violated it – from mildly like under Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge to severely like under Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

So what is the point of having a constitution if the government believes it is okay to violate it when it suits its members?

There is no valid point.

As the nineteenth-century abolitionist, author, and anarchist Lysander Spooner, who fought the U.S. government’s postal monopoly via a successful postal service of his own, stated in his book No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”

In all honesty, the written, codified U.S. Constitution is pretty clear, it is not cryptic. Yet, members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government continue to deliberately misinterpret the commerce, general welfare, necessary and proper, and supremacy clauses to mean whatever they want them to mean.

While completely ignoring much of the bill of rights, especially the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth amendments.

The violations are blatant and unapologetic. Ironically, these violations are neither conservative (conserving limited government) nor liberal (liberty with economic exceptions), nor do they preserve the rule of law.

Government advocates oppose freedom and voluntaryism because “lawlessness.” But lawlessness is a prime descriptor of government itself. Both major parties act the same way no matter which is in power, and said behavior is often pretty lawless.

The “catch-all” argument government advocates will fall back on is the social contract. There are a plethora of problems with this argument, however it should be noted that a contract can only be explicit to be legitimate, not implicit. And it is not a “social” contract if future generations are forced to abide by it.

Ironically this argument violates the principles of both conservatives and liberals. Conservatives put a lot of stock in contractual agreements, but the U.S. Constitution does not follow traditional contractual law. Liberals oppose the idea of a small group of “old white men” making decisions for the rest of the people, but that is how the U.S. Constitution was written and enacted.

Libertarians, on the other hand, argue for voluntary association.

If a constitution is anything other than a strict code of laws, despite the political beliefs of legislators, executives, and judges, then it is arbitrary. If it is arbitrary, it is subjected to be challenged – either by nullification or secession.

If a constitution is merely a loose, living document, then it is not lawful and ought to be discarded or reconsidered.

U.S. presidents, from Washington and Adams to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have vindicated Spooner’s Jeremiahs of constitutions. What is a constitution if not just a piece of paper of subjective opinions?

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Libertarian Ideas are not Forced

Good ideas don't require force

In the interest of politics, the word “force” is usually defined, according to the third entry of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, as “violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing.”

(Side note: the first and fourth entries are about the science of physics, the second entry is about the will of a group whether voluntary or mandatory, and the fifth entry is about argument and persuasion which is not the definition of force in regards to politics)

In the philosophy of libertarianism, the initiation of force is immoral and unethical in a free society. The initiation of force is different than self defense. When acting in self defense, one is not initiating force, but reacting to an initial force against the individual.

This doctrine is called the non-aggression principle. It does not exclude self-defense. If a mugger threatened to hurt or kill you unless you give him your money, the mugger is initiating force. If you punch him or otherwise fight back, you are using self-defense, and perfectly acceptable under the non-aggression principle.

The issue some libertarians have is in regards to the semantics of the use of force. Defending oneself is still force. But it is, what objectivist philosopher and author Ayn Rand called, retaliatory force; or what anarcho-capitalist economist and historian Murray Rothbard simply called self-defense.

There are pacifist libertarians who believe the non-aggression principle as generally defined is immoral and impractical in a free society since they believe all force is illegitimate. But they are of a minority within the libertarian community.

Not to mention, the words “aggression,” “coercion,” and “violence” are synonyms of the initiation of force. While synonyms of self defense include “protection,” “safeguard,” and “security.” Source of definitions: the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

As the saying goes in regards to statism, “ideas so good they have to be forced.” In this context “force” means the initiation of force. This statement makes the argument that the statist government makes its ideas mandatory, not voluntary. The counter to that is the libertarian belief in the opposition of initiating force.

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