The Art and Science of Physical Removal

Part 1: Removing Yourself

I have long been of the opinion, as a Voluntaryist, that there are only two legitimate ways of voting: With your money, in terms what products and services you choose to buy (outside of taxation, of course, where you are effectively given no choice), and with your feet – choosing where you prefer to live, all things and circumstances taken into consideration. It follows, then, that most libertarians of whatever stripe gravitate towards locales where, at least, the politics and general presence of government are not as aggressively antithetical to the basic enjoyment of life as others. For example, at present, I am seriously considering getting out of Vermont sometime during the next few years, and taking up residence in Wyoming – where taxes are both less numerous and lower, the cancerous hysteria of gun control has not yet taken root, and where there is still a rural, low-population environment (not to mention one almost certain to contain a higher percentage of like-minded people). In short, all the things Vermont had once upon a time, and no longer does.

There is certainly nothing wrong or immoral about wishing to improve one’s circumstances by choosing to go and live somewhere else – so long as one has every intention of paying one’s own way rather than leeching from whatever Welfare State may exist in one’s new chosen location. There is nothing wrong with wanting to cohabitate amongst one’s own “tribe,” as it were. Having libertarians (and even a couple of conservatives here and there…maybe) as neighbors is always preferable – to me, at least – than being surrounded by roughly 70% Democratic “progressive” lefties who are almost sexually enthralled by Marxism of every conceivable variant. Surely, the former promises a better life. So, I’ll be investigating that – thoroughly and in full – over the next couple of years. You’ll likely hear from me more on that as things unfold. Stay tuned.

Part 2: Removing Others

So now suppose I’m living my new life happily in the Big Sky Country of Wyoming, enjoying that big boost in freedom that was rapidly dying back over my shoulder there in Vermont…and before too long, the same kind of leftist disease begins to take hold within Wyoming’s Forever West political system.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe has this rather blunt commentary to make about just such a situation: “There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.”

Now this is not to say, first off, that Wyoming is a strictly “libertarian social order” to begin with. More accurately, it might be characterized as predominantly conservative Republican in flavor – with some inevitable libertarian blandishments as a consequence. That stated, conservative and libertarian camps both, I would think, have a mutual vested interest in seeing that leftist ideology does not gain serious ground or take root in the Wyoming landscape. Such concern can be quite correctly characterized as nothing more nor less than self-defensive in nature: People who are paying few and low taxes, enjoying virtually unrestrained gun rights, and relishing most or all of the trappings of rural rugged individualism do not want these conditions to be reversed or undone – most especially not at the hands of some Marxist-inspired brigade of self-styled do-gooders who believe with almost religious fervor that they’ve come to the unwashed lands to teach the heathens how to live a better, more civilized life under full-on socialism.

So for the conservatives, the solution to this equation is very easy: Out come the pitchforks, and away we go. For the libertarian camp though, there’s a bit of a problem.

Unlike all forms of statism, libertarian ethics demand tolerance. Unlike libertarianism, however, statism requires force. I think you can see the quandary this seems to present.

And I’ll repeat a line from above: Such concern can be quite correctly characterized as nothing more nor less than self-defensive in nature.

Ever since my awakening as a libertarian some 25 years ago now, I have spoken with probably a couple of thousand leftists – from garden-variety Democrats, to hardcore Marxists. Out of all of them, I have come across maybe two who I sincerely believed when they told me that they did not wish their views or economic system to be imposed on others by force. One of them even used the term “libertarian socialist” – which made me laugh derisively at the time. But I’m older now, and no longer laughing. I think that’s a valid term to describe such a philosophical position. I also think, through experience, that scarcely one in a thousand leftists possess a viewpoint of such benign integrity. The overwhelming majority of them are more than willing to use whatever level of violence and brute force they feel is necessary to bend you to their will – to force you to be subjugated to their ideas whether you agree with them or not.

And I will say unequivocally that these are the leftist elements about whom Hoppe is spot-on correct. Those who would agitate and proselytize for the dismantling of a libertarian socio-economic environment – which, no doubt, would have likely taken tremendous efforts and sacrifice in order to build in the first place – in favor of mandatory economic regulations, taxation, gun control, redistribution of wealth, etc. – such individuals must indeed be “physically separated and removed” from the midst of a region or territory which has managed to construct a libertarian society.

As would, for that matter, anyone from any ideology that sought to reinstitute involuntary political governance in any form.

Legitimate self-defense, after all, should never require apologism.

That said, it is the even smallest potential for “libertarian socialism” that causes me to distance myself somewhat from Hoppe. That one-in-a-thousand leftie who just wants to live peacefully in a commune with his or her buddies down the road – so long as their chosen lifestyle and preferred economic models are kept among themselves and other willing participants who are free to leave at any time – is not and should not be considered a problem. So long as, being the phrase of paramount import here. Hoppe’s absolutism lends itself too readily to a total witch-hunt mentality otherwise. Thus, allow me to offer a revision of his above maxim, more in line with purist libertarian sentiment:

“There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists who agitate for political and economic control over others in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.”

Liberty, sovereignty, and autonomy are key elements of my own personal vision. Not living as a slave to a bunch of parasitic politicians and soul-sick bureaucrats, as the Left would have us do – all the better to control, manipulate, and dominate us to death. It is a vision worth both projecting and fighting for, I think, especially in the face of a world bent on ever-increasing authoritarianism and control.

I’m thinking I may be able to do that more effectively by physically removing myself to a different geographical locale, surrounded by a different culture. We’ll see. Life is strange, and can take many unexpected twists and turns.

Should I get there, however, when I do, I’ll then be prepared to defend my place, person, and property in it. Not with indiscriminate prejudice against others whose philosophies I find abhorrent, but with a more finely targeted and focused sense of just what is absolutely necessary in order to do so.

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Triple Standards: The Dollar, the Throne, and the Altar

The last chapter of Tyler’s Big Business is called “If Business Is So Good, Why Is It So Disliked?”  At risk of seeming narcissistic, this passage put a big grin on my face:

Perhaps in part because we cannot do without business, so many people hate or resent business, and they love to criticize it, mock it, and lower its status. Business just bugs them. After I explained the premise of this book to one of my colleagues, Bryan Caplan, he shrieked to me: “But, but . . . how can people be ungrateful toward corporations? Corporations give us everything! Corporations do everything for us!” Of course, he was joking, as he understood full well that people are often pretty critical of corporations. And they are critical precisely because corporations do so much for us. And do so much to us.

Does my colleague’s outburst remind you of anything? Well, immediately he followed up with this: “Hating corporations is like hating your parents.”

Hmm. Your parents too (usually) have done lots and lots for you, but—especially in America—large numbers of people are unhappy with how that all turned out, or at least some parts of it. For all of their gratefulness, they resent what their parents have done to them.

On reflection, though, my “Hating corporations is like hating your parents” quip misses a crucial point.  Namely: In the absence of extreme abuse or neglect, virtually every society condemns hating your parents!  When you retrospectively rate your parents, you’re supposed to forgive even serious character flaws and obvious cruelty with, “Well, mom did her best” or “Well, dad loved us in his way.”  When you rate a business, however, almost no one expects you to give it the benefit of the doubt.

You could object, “Well, we hold large impersonal organizations to higher standards than familiar individuals.”  But that’s utterly wrong.  Governments are large impersonal organizations, and people hold them to absurdly low standards.  They’re even willing to brush mass murder under the rug.  Churches, too, are large impersonal organizations, and people also hold them to shockingly low standards.  Many Catholics briefly punished their Church after massive sexual abuse scandals, but virtually none cried, “These child molesters can go to hell; I’m finding a new religion!”  Note, moreover, that government and organized religion aren’t two itsy-bitsy counter-examples.  They are by most measures the oldest and largest kinds of large impersonal organizations.

Tyler spends many pages developing a specific version of the “higher standards for large impersonal organizations” story:

[P]eople tend to anthropomorphize even when such attributions are inappropriate. Along these lines, we tend to think of corporations as being like people and we tend to judge them by the same standards that we use to judge people, whether we seek to do so consciously or not. To some extent we are bound to talk that way, but we need to understand that it can mislead us, and it is a kind of shorthand that has pitfalls and hazards if we take the metaphors too literally or allow them to drag around our emotions too much. It is simply very hard for most people to think about corporations without investing them with the personal attributes of human beings or at least the attributes of those small groups of social allies and enemies we evolved to obsess over.

Since the general story is utterly wrong, however, there’s no hope for Tyler’s specific version.  If he were right, people would also anthropomorphize governments and churches, leading to unfairly harsh judgment.  In fact, however, governments and churches enjoy overwhelming deference even when they’re engaged in vile crimes.  We damn the dollar, yet honor both throne and altar.

What’s really going on?  I’ve spent many years highlighting mankind’s anti-market bias: our irrational pessimism about the social benefits of markets.  I’ve even argued that this bias provides the common core of leftist ideology.  Scapegoating business and the rich comes naturally to psychologically normal humans – and big (≈ “rich”) business is one of the best scapegoats of all.  The only better scapegoat, really, is foreign big business – those beastly multinational corporations you keep hearing about.

Why do human beings have this corrupt emotional make-up?  I sincerely don’t know.  While I’ve heard Darwinian explanations, most seem like shaky just-so stories to me.  All I know is that human beings do have this corrupt emotional make-up.  And that’s why we I hope Big Business inspires a chorus of imitators – because our emotional corruption is not going to fix itself.

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Community, True and False

Leftists affect to love the community. When they make or support a political proposal, they are likely to say that it is for the community, that it is what the community wants. In discussions with such people, I find that they think I’m crazy for challenging their conception of community and what serves the community’s peace and good order. They take me to be some sort of rugged individualist, the sort of character Ayn Rand might relish.

They’re wrong about me. I place a high value on community, and I feel sorry for people who have no membership in one.

But I distinguish true community and false community. The line that separates them is the locus of points at which people bring government compulsion to bear to compel those who disagree with them to fall into line or suffer punishment, the line that separates those who recognize and respect everyone’s natural rights and those who do not.

True communities form spontaneously and function voluntarily. False communities represent groups of people who use political means to victimize those outside the group and violate their natural rights. True communities have no need for cops; false communities cannot get by without them. False communities are more accurately described as political factions.

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On Black on Black Crime

On a recent episode of the Tom Woods podcast, musician and libertarian Eric July lamented the attacks he’s received for being an outspoken libertarian. He’s often told that he’s no longer an authentic black man because he is not a leftist Democrat type. As a youth, he was a gang banger who preyed mostly on other black people. He wondered why now that he no longer preys on other blacks, and instead advocates for non-aggression, he should be considered an enemy to black people. This was a fantastic point. Could it not be said that those who prey on black people are the useful idiots of white supremacists? Could it not also be said that eschewing that life for a life of peace and popular creative expression is contrary to the wishes of white supremacists? Teaching blacks self-improvement, financial literacy, responsibility, non-aggression, firearm safety, and a host of other life improving concepts should not be seen as a betrayal to one’s blackness. For Eric July and other black libertarians and conservatives to be attacked this way serves white supremacy. That’s a damn shame. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Humans and Rights

Pointing out that all humans have the exact same– equal and identical– rights isn’t the same as saying all humans are exactly the same.

I notice “bordertarians” and other borderists making this nonsensical mistake over and over again in a desperate attempt to justify their anti-liberty position.

Rights don’t depend on where a person was born, where they stand, or which State claims ownership over them. Rights only depend on their species and on them being alive.

Some cultures are better than others because some cultures (by which I mean the individuals who make up that culture from the “bottom up”) “tolerate” liberty and respect rights better than others. This doesn’t alter anyone’s rights.

Some individuals are better than others because some individuals archate less often, and don’t support archators as much as others do (they are more ethical than those who archate and support archation more often).

Some people are smarter than others, and everyone is smarter about some topic than just about anyone else.

Humans hold a variety of beliefs; often contradictory beliefs inside the same brain. It only matters what people do, not why they do it, or what beliefs led them to act. Some beliefs are better than others, and some are outright reprehensible– those which convince a person it is right to archate being among the nastiest beliefs. Yes, some people believe it is OK to govern others; these people are holding a barbaric primitive belief. Everyone else has the right to defend themselves from the people with this belief if they try to act on it. No one has the right to govern because this is a right which can’t exist. If it did it would contradict itself.

Humans come in a variety of sizes, shades, and shapes. This is irrelevant to their rights.

Humans are equal in the rights they have, and in nothing else.

This truth doesn’t justify devotion to a theft-funded, anti-property rights, Big Government welfare/warfare program at “the Border”. Nor does the intentional and dishonest conflation of political “borders” and private property rights. It’s amazing to me how they can turn this around inside their own minds and call a rejection of their favorite type of communism “leftist”. How can you twist your mind that much? I have no idea.

If someone who is otherwise libertarian believes something to the contrary, they are mistaken and internally inconsistent on this topic– perhaps only on this one topic. They might be a fine person otherwise, but on this, they are wrong. And I would be dishonest if I failed to point this out.

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What Do Liberal Abusers Really Think?

#MeToo’s most notorious alleged sexual predators, Harvey Weinstein and Eric Schneiderman, were also prominent liberals.  From New York Magazine‘s pre-scandal profile of Schneiderman:

He has the soul of an activist–he sees himself as a movement progressive. And halfway through his term as A.G., Schneiderman, 58, has become New York’s definitive liberal, using the national prominence his predecessors brought to the office to try to yank an increasingly centrist Democratic Party back toward its progressive roots. He’s become a gatekeeper for the left.

Even if both of these figures miraculously turned out to be innocent, there must be plenty of vocally left-wing perpetrators of sexual violence.  My question: What do liberal abusers really think?  What’s actually going on inside their heads?  Consider some possibilities:

1. Global insincerity.  If you enjoy acts of sexual violence, vocal liberalism seems like a useful way to distract attention from your crimes.  In their hearts, people like Weinstein and Schneiderman are apolitical.  They don’t care about the issues they claim to care about, and don’t loathe the political “enemies” they claim to loathe.

2. Local insincerity.  Another possibility is that liberal abusers are, by and large, sincere left-wing ideologues.  But they covertly doubt liberal views (indeed, mainstream views) on sexual violence.  So while they think it’s OK to, say, beat their girlfriends, they earnestly yearn for a $15 minimum wage.

3. Reactionary-in-liberal clothing.  Perhaps liberal abusers are secret but sincere proponents of reactionary patriarchy.  They think women are their born slaves, so they have every right to engage in unrestrained sexual violence.

4The political is not personal.  Some utilitarians think that utilitarianism is an ethic for governance, not personal behavior.  Perhaps some liberals picture liberalism the same way: Society should adhere to leftist norms, but individual liberals are free to pursue their self-interest as they think best.

5. Self-control problems.  Saint Paul famously said, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  Perhaps liberal abusers face the same demons.  They deeply love liberal ideals – including ideals about proper sexual behavior.  But when they interact with actual women, they’re overcome by their own lust and anger.

6. Self-conscious evil.  Rather than suffering from self-control problems, perhaps liberal abusers just don’t feel like doing what they think is right.  While they’re perfectly able to control their impulses, and concede that their impulses are immoral, they choose evil anyway because it’s more fun for them.

Conservatives probably gravitate to explanation #1, while liberals will more likely favor #5.  To me, mix of #2 and #6 is most psychologically plausible.  It’s hard to believe that liberal abusers are globally apolitical; that’s taking method acting to an inhuman level.  Still, liberal abusers have an especially strong motive to exaggerate their commitment to feminism.  That said, their behavior probably falls far short of whatever looser norms they do accept.  Furthermore, since abusers are almost always repeat offenders, I don’t buy “self-control” excuses.  After all, a multitude of commitment strategies are available to any latter-day Paul who “just can’t help himself” – starting with “never spend time alone with non-relatives of the opposite sex.”

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