There’s No Way to Know Everything

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and one many people can’t accept, but you and I can never know everything.

This means if you want to act politically, you’ll come from a place of ignorance whether you mean to or not.

I can’t know the ultimate reality about Anthropogenic Global Climate Change — commonly called “global warming.”

I can’t know all the possible consequences of building a new “Berlin Wall” between America and Mexico.

I can’t know how a total gun ban would affect actual aggression statistics.

I can’t know all the consequences of adopting fully socialized medicine in America.

I can’t know exactly what my life would be like without police, government schools, taxation, laws, and all the rest of the socialistic things I would like to see go away.

And it doesn’t really matter.

It’s enough to know when something violates other people’s rights and liberty; to understand I have no right to violate others even if I can’t know with certainty how things would go if no one violates them.

This knowledge — that I have no right to violate others — is sufficient and essential.

There are people who are arrogant enough to believe they can know it all. They may claim the reason you don’t know it all is because you won’t research it for yourself, or you’re just not smart enough. They are dishonest.

They don’t know it all. They only know enough to be satisfied with the position they’ve taken; a position that justifies their favorite violations of life, liberty, and property. If your research leads you to a different opinion, they’ll claim you don’t know enough until you agree with them.

They expect to use government against those who don’t agree with them on whatever issue they care most about. They’d like to have you on their side; superior numbers, expressed through a vote, to gang up and force others to go along with what they believe.

Yet, even if they are right in their beliefs, they aren’t right about how to carry them out. No one has the right to use government violence to force you to go along with them.

Such a right has never existed and can’t be invented.

Accept that no one can know everything and that no matter what you know it can’t give you the right to govern others, nor to select people to govern them on your behalf.

This knowledge will liberate you.

That’s one thing I can know for certain.

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On Toxic Masculinity II

The most apparent forms of toxic masculinity that no one is talking about is what goes on with the armed forces and law enforcement. Invading and occupying foreign countries is incredibly toxic to peaceful men, women, and children who become “acceptable” collateral damage. Targeting, arresting, and imprisoning peaceful people who consume or trade something “prohibited” is also incredibly toxic. These and other forms of toxic masculinity are destroying lives and cities. Any time a man engages in aggression or coercion against another peaceful person or people, for any reason, child or adult, toxic masculinity is rearing its ugly face. Yet, nobody seems to give a shit about the bigger problems. I guess stopping men from mansplaining or from flirting and hitting on women, or boys from playfully roughhousing is more important. Talk about a distraction. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Syria: In the History of Bad Excuses, This One’s Top-Tier

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks — I’m using the term “thinks” very loosely here — that Americans dying in Syria is a compelling reason to continue exposing Americans to the danger of dying in Syria. So do Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Ever since US president Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw US troops from Syria in December, “hawks” in Congress have been looking for an argument against the withdrawal.

And this is the best they can come up with? If the troops don’t stay in Syria, they can’t keep getting killed in Syria? Wow, that really shows Trump, doesn’t it?

At issue:  The single deadliest Islamic State attack on US forces in their nearly four-year US invasion and occupation of Syria, on January 16 in Manbij, in which four Americans (two members of the armed forces, a contractor, and a civilian Pentagon employee) died.

When former president Barack Obama authorized the invasion and occupation of Syria in 2015, he did so in complete defiance of both US and international law. Congress had not then declared war on Syria and has not since then offered any formal legal basis for Obama’s actions. And since Syria is a United Nations member state which has never attacked the US nor indicated any intent to do so, the invasion/occupation constitutes a war of aggression — “the supreme international crime,” as Nuremberg Tribunal judge Norman Birkett called it.

Despite the complete absence of any compelling military or political reason for invading and occupying Syria, and despite the complete illegality of that invasion and occupation, these Senators believe that Trump should reverse his decision and keep US troops at risk in a land whether they’re neither needed nor welcome.

After all, if US troops aren’t there, US troops can’t be killed there, and US troops need to be killed there every once in a while to justify keeping them there in perpetuity. The Senators’ campaign donors in the “defense” industry need them kept there. Government contracts and stock dividends depend on it!

That’s the caliber of mind and morality the voters of South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island send to Washington, DC.  Can’t say I blame the voters for wanting those guys to go somewhere, anywhere other than South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, or Rhode Island. If nothing else it probably raises those states’ average IQs and reduces their petty crime rates.

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By Excluding The Good Guys

One of the justifications most commonly used by borderists for property rights-violating, violent government “border security”, including theft-funded walls and such, is that it will make it harder for people to cross, and any “friction” applied to the process will reduce the total numbers of people crossing. As a result, they claim to believe this will reduce the total number of bad guys getting into America.

Theirs is a faulty argument.

As can be plainly demonstrated with drug prohibition.

Prohibition makes it harder and more dangerous to make and sell politically incorrect drugs. A clear result is that it severely restricts the number of honest “mom and pop” stores entering the drug market. This leaves the market (and yes, there is a market) open for the worst of the bad guys to be the main sellers and producers.

This is not an unforeseeable surprise. It is an inevitable result of adding “friction” to the drug market: more aggression and theft, more fraud and quality problems, and higher prices.

If border security makes it harder, in a similar way, for everyone who wants to get to America, won’t it ensure that mainly bad guys, who are desperate enough to take the risks, will cross into America?

I think it does.

Who’s going to have the stamina to try harder? The beaten down dad who just wants to get his kids to a safer, more prosperous place? Or the life-long archator who doesn’t care who he stomps to get where he wants to go?

You can’t reasonably justify more statism by pointing to the results of current statism.

Let people exercise their right of association, and protect their property rights (and band together to voluntarily, in unanimous consent, protect the property rights of others, including the property stolen by “taxation”) and the “problem” will shrivel away.

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The Beautiful and Scary Practice of Moving Closer

Life is full of all kinds of stresses, and each of us has habitual ways of reacting to those stresses — we procrastinate, run to comforts, lash out or distance ourselves from others, try to exit from a stressful place, mentally complain about others.

The sad effect of these habitual reactions is that they move us further away from others, and from the direct experience of the moment.

Let’s take a quick example: If you are hurt by the way someone is acting, your habitual reaction might be complaining about them, taking offense, getting angry (all of these or a combo). Then you shut them out, closing your heart to them, moving away from them.

The effect of this is that you’ve now distanced yourself from the other person. And I submit that this is the cause of most of our relationship problems, work issues, violence, racism, political strife, and wars.

Closing our hearts to others and creating distance from them out of habitual reaction to stress is the heart of aggression, violence and pain.

We do the same thing when it comes to our direct experience of the moment — if we’re bored, unhappy with our situation, unhappy with ourselves, stressed or tired … we habitually try to find comfort in food, drink, drugs, online distractions, TV or videos, shopping, porn, drowning everything out with music, and so on. We are moving away from the present moment, shutting out the world around us.

Moving ourselves away from the direct experience of this moment, out of habitual reaction, is the heart of our unhappiness and disconnect from life.

These are all based on the same problem — we have habitual reactions to stress, and those habitual reactions move us further from other people. From life itself. From ourselves.

Today, I’d like to offer you a practice that I’ve been exploring myself: the beautiful practice of moving closer.

It is scary, shaky, and transformative.

It goes like this:

  1. Notice that you’re feeling some kind of stress — anxiety, pain, struggle, frustration, overwhelm, sadness.
  2. Notice your habitual reaction to that stress: you procrastinate, try to exit, shut someone out, complain, run to one of your comforts, hide, quit, run away, lash out, yell, hit, medicate, etc.
  3. Refrain from indulging in your habitual reaction. Instead, just remain still. Instead of complaining, do nothing. Instead of spinning around a narrative about the other person and shutting them out, do nothing. Just refrain.
  4. Breathe deeply into the sensations in your body. When you refrain from your habitual reaction, you are left with an energy in your body that still really wants to do the habitual thing. It will be a strong urge. You just sit still. You do nothing. But you breathe deeply and relax around the energy in your body. Notice how it feels, in your torso. Be curious about it. Stay with it. Be present with it. Welcome it. Give it compassion.
  5. Now, move closer. Someone else stressing you out? After refraining from complaining about them, move closer to them. Open your heart and be fully present with them. Be completely loving. Yes, sometimes you have to physically protect yourself — but that doesn’t mean you have to shut down your heart. You can love the person who has hurt you, without letting them continue to hurt you. Maybe it’s not a person but a situation (or yourself) that’s stressing you out. You are filled with discomfort and uncertainty. You refrain from your habitual reaction, and instead you move closer to the direct experience of this moment. You open your heart to the world, and love it as it is. You love yourself as you are.

Continue to move closer. Continue to reopen your heart. From this place, see what action you need to take. Not from the place of habitual reaction.

It’s an incredibly beautiful practice. And yes, it’s filled with shakiness. That makes it even more courageous.

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A Crippling Lack of Imagination and Problem Solving

Here’s one of those (thankfully, rare) long reply posts. Someone had a problem with me not liking socialism/government and responded with a request for answers (link). So I did what I could.

“…paint me a REALISTIC portrait of a world without government

I’d love to, but I can no more do that than the first bully who proposed governing others could have painted the skeptics a realistic portrait of what today’s world would look like with governments. I’m OK with not being psychic and having some unknowns.

I do not believe that humans are designed to operate well in such environments.

And yet, we do. I don’t need anyone governing me, and I seriously doubt you need anyone governing you. You know the best course for your own life… or at least many orders of magnitude better than what some bureaucrat believes is the best for you.

“Though, historically, that ‘government’ might have been a tribal leader, we have always had government.

Only if you believe leaders equal government. I don’t. Leaders can lead without theft and aggression. If I choose to follow someone without them threatening me, I’m not being governed. If I can stop following that person without being attacked, ostracized, or murdered, then he’s not governing. The difference is consent. I do not consent to be governed, but I have consented to follow someone for a specific, limited purpose several times in my life.

[The other anarchist’s] argument always seemed to boil down to ‘the people’ will spontaneously reward good actors and punish evil doers.

Do you continue to do business with someone who cheats you or sells you poisoned food? Or, would you go elsewhere and tell people what the bad actor did to you? Would you go do business with someone you had been warned about?

Though the mechanism for knowing who was good (and the intrinsic generosity of The People) was never established.

So how do you know who to v*te for if you can’t know who is good? Or does that not matter in making your choice?

How do charities survive even when they have to compete with forced support of government “welfare” sucking up the available money? Even people who support welfare programs do it because they are generous; just misguided into believing they can be generous with stuff which doesn’t belong to them. Sounds like evidence that people are intrinsically generous.

Conversely, a boycott only works when you know who is actually responsible (for example, how do you know who littered their trash in front of your house?) and have the capacity to punish them (if I sell widgets to another community – you have no ability to boycott me).”

You don’t have to be certain to shun someone (boycott). Because I’m not initiating force nor violating their property rights, I’m not harming them if I’m mistaken. And it is easy to change course if I discover I’m wrong about who did what.

My next door neighbors litter and throw it into my yard. I haven’t actually seen them (almost!), but the circumstantial evidence is good enough that I shun them. I’m not harming them by shunning them.

I’m not interested in punishing anyone. Self defense and defense of property from an immediate threat, yes, but punishment after the fact. No. I’m not into revenge.

And, if a bad guy is selling his widgets in another community I will tell his potential customers in that community why I am boycotting/shunning him. After that, it is up to them. The internet is a good tool for following bad guys around. In fact, it would be better without governments getting in the way and protecting bad guys from the rightful consequences of their behavior.

I find neither to be credible without an overarching government invested with the power to investigate and punish.

Why do you believe only a government can do that? Why can’t a voluntarily funded, ad hoc group do what you want? If I want to investigate something, and don’t feel capable of doing so myself, I will hire someone to do it for me and when the job is done I can stop paying them. I don’t expect you to be on the hook in perpetuity for something I may never need. And, again, I have no interest in punishing anyone. Do what you want, but not on my behalf.

Further, I do not find it credible that The People will willingly donate sufficient amounts to create public works such as large-scale infrastructure projects.

So you’re saying those things aren’t necessary. Because if they are necessary, and people don’t have the option of robbing their neighbors to pay for it, they’ll chip in or do without. If they are still not willing to fund it, it needs to die.

Nor do I believe that people will factor in their own externalities (oh, yea, I polluted the river, but my portion was only a little bit, and anyway, it’s a problem for those downstream)

When those downstream can seek restitution for your portion of the damage you’ve caused them, you might change your mind. And, in such a society, the tools to discover who added what to a stream will improve– just because of the potential for profit.

Even in the current situation where government protects people from the real consequences of their bad behavior, I do my very best to avoid letting trash blow out of my car on a windy day (which is most days around here) just because that’s not what I want to do to my surroundings. And I pick up massive amounts of litter tossed by those who are less responsible– without asking government to punish them.

Lastly, I ask, how does this society defend itself against an organized aggressor? For example, if the US breaks up into anarchist (or extreme libertarian) communities, what stops the Canadians from taking over?”

What would the Canadians “take over” if there is no government to surrender to them? As it is, all they have to do is make the government surrender and they’ve taken over They can move into the offices, use the “public” records, and easily become the new tyrant. Without a central “authority” to replace it would be much harder. You’d basically have to get each individual to surrender, one at a time. And for what? People who are not brainwashed into paying “taxes” aren’t going to suddenly believe “taxation” is legitimate. They won’t suddenly believe and respect the counterfeit “laws” which the new ruler would try to impose. Plus, they would recognize they have a natural human right (and obligation) to kill– in defense– every government employee they encounter. The only reason people are too scared to do so now is that the “society” around them has been fooled into calling government something other than what it is.

Surely, The People of Bozeman Montana cannot stand up to the Canadian Army. Would it be expected that other city-states would come to its aid?

Again, I doubt they’d ever have to since there would be nothing for Canada to gain, but just hypothetically– I wouldn’t count on city-states, because we are talking about a free society, not a government-infested one. Would individuals come to their aid? Why wouldn’t anyone? Lots of people still sign up for the military without being forced to because they want the excitement of being allowed to shoot people (“the enemy”). I don’t expect that to change.

What makes you think that The People of Tuscaloosa are going to stick their necks out for them?

What makes you think none of them would? The old ads in Soldier of Fortune tell a different story.

And, even banded together, they won’t have the large-scale military to develop and produce tanks and jets and whatnot.

You think all those things will just go away? No one would collect and maintain them in the absence of government? And without a BATFE and other gangs forbidding weapon development, those big scale things might be obsolete soon anyway. In fact, I’d bet on it.

“It would be (roughly) equivalent to the US Army verse the Native Americans – sure they put up a good fight, but the outcome was inevitable.”

Except that the Natives had no concept of the types of weapons (and diseases) the army was using against them. No way to buy or manufacture or invent. Do you think the people of Bozeman would share that disadvantage? I don’t.

Perhaps you can paint the picture better?

I can try, but I’ve discovered over the years that government extremists won’t listen. They want to know exactly how every detail will work out in a free society, with no doubt whatsoever. Something they can’t even do in defense of their own position. What I see in every single case is an astounding lack of ability to think outside their box– lack of imagination and lack of problem-solving skills. But, occasionally I’ll give it a shot, anyway. Just for kicks.

To be sure, it would be nice to live in a world where a crazed orange man does not have access to nuclear weapons and influence over the economy.”

I wouldn’t want anyone having that kind of illegitimate power.

And, sure, the government sucks at its job…

Maybe you are mistaken as to what government sees as its job. I don’t think the “job” is legitimate, but I think government does it well. Like the Mafia.

“…as Mr. Twain said, it is the worst option except for all the others.

That’s the same thing everyone has said about their favorite flavor of government (if Twain actually even said it). It’s a great way to make people give up on looking for a better way. “Sure he beats you, controls you, and sometimes rapes you. He’s the worst husband… except for all the others.” Yeah, that doesn’t work either.

__

Of course then he goes into a long dissertation about how horrible and self-centered people are, not realizing he is negating his own argument. Who does he imagine any government would be made up of? Angels or the people he hates and distrusts?

And another guy describes how nasty people are when they’ve been brainwashed by government, believing this shows how essential government is.

And they get upset when I doubt their intelligence…

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