The Sweet, Animating Contest of Freedom

Guest post by Adam Minson. Catch him on the EVC podcast here.

An important part of the identity of most people is their culture. Where you live in large part determines the type of people with whom you associate, you raise your family, and you interact through mutually beneficial work, trade, business and consumption.

What a very important aspect of your life! Shouldn’t this be something we choose instead of ignorantly accepting the conditioning of the state? “I’m American and we’re the best because… uhh… I was born here.” Most people never actively question that they even ought to have a choice. And if they’re unhappy with their culture they seek to use government to change the culture of everybody to fit their desires!

The destruction of this natural freedom each individual ought to have to choose their culture is one of the greatest evils of government. Why shouldn’t I be able to travel, work and live anywhere in the world? Why shouldn’t I be able to have this very precious freedom?

How often do we hear, “If you don’t like it here then leave!” Who has tried this? I am in the process and trust me, the roadblocks governments put in your way to prevent you from traveling, working and living elsewhere are extreme and outside the capability of most people.

The level of hubris among politicians to force their culture upon everybody is as disgusting as it is angering. But as I sit here waiting on my flight out of the country to investigate another people and place the idea that I even have one additional choice is exciting!

The love for the sweet, animating contest of freedom is something that should be instilled into the souls of children instead of it being conditioned out of them by government schools. Instead of “Do what your told” children should learn “what do you want and how can you achieve it”.

But there is hope for the future because this yearning for freedom is as unquenchable a need for humanity than its need for food. Here’s to an exciting 2018!

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Political Means and Economic Means

Written by Gary Galles.

March 30th (2014) marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of someone who introduced a crucial distinction in understanding political reality–sociologist Franz Oppenheimer. In The State (my English translation of which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year), he contrasted the “political means” and the “economic means.”

There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man…is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others…I propose…to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the “economic means”…while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.”

Oppenheimer directed his distinction toward developing the conquest theory of the state.

All world history…presents…a contest…between the economic and the political means…The state is an organization of the political means…forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished.

Oppenheimer drew some very important conclusions about the relationship between the nature of society and the nature of the State.

[A]lways, in its essence, is the “State” the same. Its purpose…the political means… Its form…dominion.

Wherever opportunity offers, and man possesses the power, he prefers political to economic means…

By the “State,” I do not mean the human aggregation…as it properly should be. I mean…that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought in to being by extra economic power…I mean by Society…all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man…

The “state” is the fully developed political means, society the fully developed economic means…in the “freemen’s citizenship,” there will be no “state” but only “society.”

The “state” of the future will be “society” guided by self-government.

Franz Oppenheimer’s insights were particularly influential on Albert Jay Nock. Particularly in Our Enemy the State, Nock expanded on them, arguing that the State (in contrast with the voluntary arrangements people make to live together, which he called government) was based on theft, so that “the State is fundamentally anti-social.”

The State has said to society…I shall confiscate your power, and exercise it to suit myself.

[T]he interests of the State and the interests of society…are directly opposed…

The State…has invariably, as Madison said, turned every contingency into a resource for depleting social power and enhancing State power…

There are two methods…whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth…the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others…the political means.

The State…is the organization of the political means…[which] stands as primarily a distributor of economic advantage, an arbiter of exploitation…an irresponsible and all‑powerful agency standing always ready to be put into use for the service of one set of economic interests as against another.

The State is not…a social institution administered in an anti‑social way. It is an anti‑social institution…

State power has an unbroken record of inability to do anything efficiently, economically, disinterestedly or honestly; yet when the slightest dissatisfaction arises over any exercise of social power, the aid of the agent least qualified to give aid is immediately called for.

Under a regime of actual individualism, actually free competition, actual laissez‑faire–a regime which, as we have seen, cannot possibly coexist with the State–a serious or continuous misuse of social power would be virtually impracticable.

The distinction between the economic (voluntary) means and the political (coercive) means offers individuals a powerful tool in understanding society. As Nock wrote, “as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalized privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.” Therefore, restraining State power is essential to society, because “The weaker the State is, the less power it has to commit crime.” Having moved far along a mistaken path, recognizing that insight grows ever more important.

Originally published at Mises.org.

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Politics without Romance? Yes and No

James Buchanan, a pioneer in the development of public choice, viewed his approach to the study of government and politics as the analysis of “politics without romance.” But Jim couldn’t really live without the romance, and no sooner had he expelled it out the front door than he let it in the back door, calling it “constitutional political economy” and supposing that “constitutional level” politics, related to the most basic rules for collective decision making, could be separated from and made more durable than the “rent-seeking” decision-making related to ordinary politics.

My understanding of political history led me to conclude that Jim was engaged in wishful thinking in the “constitutional political economy” phase of his project. In my view, constitutional issues are as constantly and as hotly contested as the issues of ordinary politics—politics is politics, and political actors seize every instrument available for attaining their ends.

Yes, one can adopt a constitution that makes its amendment difficult, but that very feature explains why, from the outset, political actors in the United States of America usually undertook to amend the U.S. Constitution not by explicit, formal amendment in accordance with the stipulations expressed in the original document, but by judicial reinterpretation of legal and constitutional meanings. Judges that make law, as opposed to merely interpreting it, are not, as many conservatives imagine, a relatively recent occurrence for which Progressives or New Dealers are to blame. Such judicial law making goes back at least to the Marshall court of more than 200 years ago, and conservative justices practice it as well as progressive ones.

Notice how, today, appointments to the Supreme Court elicit such fierce politicking. (Indeed, this heated wrangling has been the case for a long time.) Such would not be the case if there were no judicial law making. All sides expect it, however, and act accordingly.

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I Reject the Right of the Government to Choose My Friends and Enemies for Me

Written by Robert Higgs.

“I reject the right of the government to choose my friends and enemies for me.” – Bill Kelsey

Indeed, Bill, it makes no sense to allow the government to do so.

But the situation is much worse than such nonsensical allowance by the people at large. From time immemorial, the reigning myth of rule has been that the rulers provide a quid pro quo: in exchange for the people’s submission and payment of tribute, the rulers protect the people from the enemies who lurk “out there.” The promise was often unfulfilled, however. The lord of the manor might well flee into his castle, leaving the peasants outside the walls to suffer whatever outrages an invader chose to wreak on them. Or the lord might haul them off to a distant war in which they had no real interest, merely to satisfy the lord’s feudal obligation to the baron or duke just above him in the feudal pecking order.

Most important, however, is the sheer fact that the ordinary people’s most dangerous enemy, the one by far the most likely to plunder and abuse them, was their own impudent lord, the selfsame “nobleman” who forbade them to leave their place of birth or to engage in a variety of tasks and pleasures they might prefer—that is, the man who held and exploited them in a condition of serfdom.

Today as always, the “bad guys” from whom the government purports to protect the people are as a rule not a particularly serious threat to the people’s enjoyment of their life, liberty, and property in their own country. And when the threat is real, it is usually the product of provocation by the presumptive protector who rules the people at home. That people allow this rapacious government to decide one’s friends and enemies abroad (or at home, for that matter) is indeed preposterous. The root cause, however, is now ideological; it is the people’s nationalism, which causes them to stand idly by—or, in many cases, to cheer wildly—as their true enemy, the one who plunders and oppresses them every hour of every day, goes on its merry way of creating and supposedly combating foreign devils in order to frighten the people into submission, loyalty, and continued payment of tribute to their de facto lord of the manor.

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An Argument for a Stateless Society

Written by Magnus Freeborn.

Government is the single most destructive force on Earth, responsible for all its major problems.

If we’re truly honest with ourselves about what it is, what becomes irrefutable is it’s a monopoly on force, using coercion as a means to its ends. No different than the mob, it’s an extortion racket that steals from people with the threat of violence, known as taxes, which is inherently immoral. No matter how virtuous the cause, theft is theft. It cannot be ethically justified. And, as hopefully most of us know, government is hardly virtuous anyway.

I’m advocating for the complete abolishment of statism worldwide, replaced by a society based on the non-aggression principle.

If you haven’t heard of it, the non-aggression principle asserts the initiation of force is never legitimate; that only the use of force in self-defense is acceptable. A simpler translation which resonates with me is do no harm, but take no shit.

All human interactions should be voluntary.

It should be easy for most people of every nation and all walks of life to see the soundness of this logic. Only those who wish to unjustly impose their will on others would deny it. Whether they know it or not, such people are transgressors. No matter how great the majority, you cannot rightfully oppress a minority. Every individual should be free to govern themselves as they see fit so long as they’re not violating the rights of others.

The state fundamentally violates the non-aggression principle. Only its death can absolve its infringement, and I think this simple fact alone is more than enough justification for its termination.

A total free market is the natural, harmonious flow of goods and services. Government disrupts this flow by trying to regulate the market, which inhibits competition, significantly lowering the quality and raising the prices of goods and services the market provides. In fact, the extent our quality of life is being held back by government is so enormous it’s incalculable.

A free market actually regulates itself, more efficiently, through something known as “spontaneous order”; order that’s completely decentralized. It’s organic. Think natural selection. The consumers are now the authority, not the government, and the producers have to meet their demands, rather than consumers meeting the demands of the producers and government. No longer would the masses be subject to the whims of the few, which is undeniably the current state of affairs and always will be, until we’re free.

Common Rebuttals

But without government, who would build the roads?!

…but without slaves, who would pick the cotton? It’s absurd to think things such as roads, a vital organ of our society, can’t be built just as well, if not better, through peaceful cooperation, without the threat of kidnap, imprisonment, and even death if people don’t help pay for them. The free market will ensure the demand for premium roadways and all other necessary infrastructure is more than appropriately met.

Without government, crime will run rampant!

This notion’s also absurd. Government is crime. Organized crime. It’s the biggest criminal of them all, so putting it in charge of our lives makes no sense whatsoever. We’re letting crime run rampant right now.

That’s just never going to happen!

That’s not an argument. That’s an attitude. If a critical mass of people subscribe to this thought process, the government will simply cease to exist by default. If you don’t know what a critical mass is, it’s when an innovation’s growth becomes self-sustaining and exponential, leading rapidly to its universal adoption. Examples are fire, the wheel, the lightbulb, telephones and the internet. All we have to do is keep sharing these ideas until enough people want a world without government, and in the blink of an eye we’ll have one. It’s really that simple, and for the first time in human history, thanks to the internet, this is possible.

What would protect local communities from foreign invaders?!

Again, this would essentially be a completely decentralized, peaceful society, worldwide. Any attempt to openly create a centralized authority or initiate force within it would immediately be met with overwhelming resistance.

We’ve been conditioned to believe it’s in our best interest to give agency over our lives to something outside ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government always leads to tyranny and oppression. History has absolutely proven this. The only solution is its orderly dissolution as soon as possible before it’s too late.

That this isn’t common sense shows just how indoctrinated into a false reality we are. We’ve been thoroughly duped. Hard as it may be, admitting’s the first step.

In my opinion, you can already see the curve. The world’s growing increasingly smaller. We’re approaching the proverbial singularity. Not a matter of if, but when, every day the elephant in the room gets bigger and bigger: government is obsolete.

I know my argument seemingly leaves more questions than answers, but I’m confident it’s actually technically the only answer to every question, because by removing government from the equation, whatever spontaneously, voluntarily, peacefully manifests in its wake, will be the best possible solution to any of the challenges we face. It has to be. How could it not?

Originally published and subsequently removed from reddit.com.

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Anarchy in the United States

Written by Jesse Mathewson.

It is well known that commonly accepted history is not always what is right, but what has been propagated the most. There is, however, a level of comfort afforded those who may be mistaken regarding our past. After all, what is repeated most often becomes reality. The Wild West gained its colorful reputation through the propagation of dime store novels and poor Hollywood representations. The formation of the legendary Wild West show in 1883 by Buffalo Bill Hickok and others, helped to spread the myths long before television. These shows, books, and movies demonized the injuns’ and glorified the rough and tumble of the outlaw’s lifestyle. Instead of showing millions of people the truth, which would have never sold a book or a ticket, they showed the highlights. What was glorified and eventually memorialized via film by stalwarts like Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne, were the negatives. The Wild West became a place where every day at noon there was a shootout, facing your opponent and gunning him down was accepted as long as you had a badge. The Earps were happening and the Indians were crazy savages that always lost to the cowboys.

I grew up believing this. I lived and breathed the cowboy versus Indian meme. I built six-guns and lever action repeaters from old pieces of two by four. My brothers and I shot and killed each other more times than I care to count, and finally we found daisy bb guns and our fathers welding goggles. Now death had pain involved. The agony of bb’s at 300 fps and the welts raised generated little question that we were men at a young age, and men didn’t complain about war wounds. I was 13 when I found my first previous encampment from a U.S. Calvary bivouac. I remember seeing a piece of leather and metal sticking out of the ground and so I returned with a shovel. After three weeks of digging, I had everything from old copper spoons to buttons with US Calvary on them and laudanum bottles. After dusting it off and polishing the metal pieces, I placed it all in a horizontal box and entered them into the local fair. One first place ribbon later, and several moves left me with nothing of that collection but memories.

What was the Wild West outside of the tourist traps we see now and the stupid reenactments by second rate actors? Was it actually endless gunfights and hangings, or was it more than this? The truth is often over shadowed by that which allows us the most flexibility in discussions and interpretation.

In their ground breaking book, The Not so Wild, Wild West: Property Rights in the Frontier, authors Terry Lee Anderson and Peter Jensen Hill go back through their grandfathers experiences in the Wild West from Montana to Wyoming. They negate the common myth of the daily gunfight and the outlaws ruling everyone. They define a story of hard work, hard choices, and the resulting success of two immigrant businessmen, one who did not even speak English, making their fortunes during the roughest, toughest era of American history.

This was the real Wild West, a land of hard work, hard choices, and true liberty. A country where you worked closely with your neighbors to survive the winters, and took personal responsibility for your decisions. Statistically, the gentle East was more crime ridden following the War of Northern Aggression than the Wild West ever was. In the entire history of the Wild West there was only one confrontation on main-street ever recorded, and that was the shootout between the organized crime leaders the Earps and the vaunted cowboys. Contrary to the myth propagated by Hollywood and modern Tombstone residents, the Earps were not reasonable guys. They were well armed, badged killers who knew that they needed to control the way others in Tombstone spent their money because they would never be caught working a mine or any legitimate enterprise.

The largest amount of deaths that occurred in the Wild West was accidental and work related. Doctors and timely medical care was hard to come by in the East and impossible in the Wild West. Falling from your horse and getting hurt may represent an agonizing death, especially if you were taking care of your farm or ranch by yourself. With days of travel by foot or horseback separating people’s houses and towns, there was a hard land. However, it was by default a land of liberty, for you were in charge of your own destiny. It was by your hands and choices that you became wealthy or survived or sometimes died. What law existed was virtually ignored as being the pathetic meanderings of lazy politicians and carpet bagging gold diggers from the East coast. For close to a hundred years moving west was synonymous with liberty, and was the real American dream for millions.

Since the advent of movies and other genres of entertainment, there have been a focused desire to entertain versus educate. Since the last individual state government was incorporated into the empire we know as the United States, the true nature of the Wild West has been forgotten except by those sons and daughters and grandchildren of the men and women who desired liberty more than the temporary protection offered by the state. Watching a western does not count as history, regardless of how many times the credits say, “based on a true story.”

So when someone asks regarding whether anarchy has ever existed, point them to the Wild West. It was a land of opportunity, liberty and no central government for close to a hundred years. From Kentucky to California, anarchy was in existence and worked well. People prospered and people died, but more than anything people were truly free to live as they wanted and do what worked best for them. A quick look at the state controlled sections of the world throughout history and today and you will see that people die, and people rarely prosper, but most of all people are neither free nor do they know liberty. So what would you prefer, liberty and the ability to thrive based on your own free uncontrolled labor or what you have now?

Originally published at ZeroGov.com.

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