THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 183, July 22, 2002

"I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE BROTHER; IT IS MURDER"


[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]


Letter from Robert Shea

Letters from Mark Etanerkist and Jason P. Sorens


Mark Etanerkist, in A Free Market Solution to Abortion, had a great idea. Sell the unwanted babies instead of killing them. I have an idea about abortion as well, I wrote this essay for a college class years ago when the campus was in a furor about abortion. It did not go over well but I have yet to hear a good argument against it.

ABORTION FOR MEN

O.K. O.K. I have heard enough about a woman's right to choose. How about a Man's right to choose? That's right a horrible evil man may deserve a choice as well. A man and a woman, not his wife, make the choice to have sex. For some reason, as nobody knows how this happens, the woman gets pregnant. She now has the choice to carry the baby to term or abort it. The man sits idly by and awaits his fate. If the woman decides to have the kid the man may end up paying child support for 18+ years, whether he wanted the child or not. If the woman decides to abort his kid, the man must say goodbye to his child that will never be, as he has no choice in the matter. I havenít thought of a good solution to the second scenario that does not involve the use of force, governmental or not, but I do have a solution to the first problem.

Say the father does not want the child but the mother does. I propose that the man should have the choice, during the time that terminating the pregnancy is legal, to declare the fetus aborted. Government paperwork will be filled out stating that, in the eyes of the father, this kid does not exist. This means the non-dad does not have to pay for child support, help change diapers, or teach the kid to drive 17 years later. Of course this non-dad doesnít get any of the great advantages of being the kidís father. He has no say in the upbringing, no visitation rights, and will not enjoy any of the pleasures that come from being called Ďdadí.

Somehow I don't think this modest proposal for a fair choice for men will be very popular with the pro-choice crowd. I once brought this argument up with a group of women in one of my college classes and they about chewed my head off. "The man had his choice when he dropped his pants!" one screamed. It seems she forgot the woman in the story had made the choice to drop her skirt as well. "The man doesn't have to carry it in him for nine months!" spewed another. True, but we are not discussing the second scenario, where the man is trying to make her carry the baby. We are talking about the first scenario, where he doesn't want her to carry the fetus. He simply wants to have choice about being a child support paying dad or not a dad at all. These particular females students, who repeatedly said they were pro-choice, were viciously anti-reason.

Robert Shea [rshea@columbus.rr.com]


Last week Jason Sorens, President of the Freestate Project, responded to my essay Against the Freestate Project. Hopefully my response to his response will clear some things up, mostly why the Freestate Project is something that libertarians should oppose.

Sorens starts out with saying that there is nothing wrong with libertarians imposing libertarianism. I must disagree. It is wrong to impose anything on anyone without consent or without a prior initiation of force. He correctly states that violence can be used morally to stop "public and private attempts at immoral redistribution", however, the problem I have with the Freestate Project is that they want to use stolen money to stop immoral redistribution! Sorens and the Freestate Project members see nothing wrong with stealing my money to stop immoral behavior! Am I the only one who sees something wrong here? Isn't this still the same old protection racket that's been running in America for the last 200 or so years? They may protect me from meaner and nastier politicians and the occasion private sector lowlife, but who's going to protect me from the "free" state government?

Sorens then goes on to imply that I am a pacifist because I don't support voting. He is simply wrong here. I don't support voting because it is wrong to initiate force against anyone for any reason. As Carl Watner put it in his essay Is Voting an Act of Violence? "By the act of voting, each voter is saying: It is right and proper for some people, acting in the name of the State, to pass laws and to use violence to compel obedience to those laws if they are not obeyed." Even if the "free" state only protects citizens against force and fraud, by definition, the state must itself initiate force through taxation and through restricting competing courts and prisons. If the state did not tax and/or restrict its competition, it would no longer exist. I find it hard to believe that the freestaters will be able to pass legislation that will bring about anarchy. But even if they did, by bringing anarchy through voting they are leaving it open for anarchy to be repealed through voting. For the same reason, many abolitionists did not believe in voting. If given a choice they would not free the slaves by voting because, in principle, nothing would have changed. At any time, those people could be re-enslaved as long as the people voted in favor of it. The concept of freedom is not something to be voted on, to be approved or rejected by the community. Freedom is something that all people have. I have a right to all of my property. No government, no matter how small or how much good it wants to do, has a claim to my property. By voting, I am giving someone else the right to dispose of my property, and the property of my neighbor, whether my neighbor agrees or not.

Sorens asks, "what is the argument against using the most effective means available for reducing government control?" Simple, it's immoral! Setting off a nuclear bomb in DC would definitely reduce government control, does that make it right?

Sorens them claims, "It seems that Etanerkist, if given the choice between 99% freedom and 0% freedom, would choose 0% freedom, simply because 99 isn't 100." Wrong, I would choose neither. By making a choice I will not only be making the choice for me, but I will be making the choice for everyone. I have no right to make such a choice. Both choices result in the violation of rights through, at the very least, taxation. This is why I am against The Freestate Project.

Mark Etanerkist [mark_etanerkist@yahoo.com]

- - -

On Mon, 15 Jul 2002, Mark Etanerkist wrote:

"... however, the problem I have with the Freestate Project is that they want to use stolen money to stop immoral redistribution! Sorens and the Freestate Project members see nothing wrong with stealing my money to stop immoral behavior!"

Where does this idea come from? I would like Mr. Etanerkist to show us the place on the Free State Project website or any Free State Project literature where we endorse taxation. As a nonprofit organization the FSP does not take an official stand on the issue of taxation; that is not the purpose of the FSP. Our purpose is to bring together 20,000 libertarians of all varieties, minarchists and anarchists, into a single low-population state. That's it. Full stop. Once 20,000 hardcore defenders of freedom are located in a single state, who knows exactly what synergies will be created? All we can know for certain is that the culture of the state will be tilted radically in the direction of freedom.

"I don't support voting because it is wrong to initiate force against anyone for any reason. As Carl Watner put it in his essay Is Voting an Act of Violence? 'By the act of voting, each voter is saying: It is right and proper for some people, acting in the name of the State, to pass laws and to use violence to compel obedience to those laws if they are not obeyed.'"

Strictly speaking, this argument is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not to support or join the Free State Project. The FSP neither endorses nor opposes voting. Many FSP members will vote; some will not. Apparently, since Mr. Etanerkist believes that voting is an act of aggression, he would actually use physical violence to prevent fellow libertarians from going to the voting booth! This conclusion is a reductio ad absurdum of the view that voting by its very nature is an act of aggression, a violation of rights.

Though the defense of the Free State Project does not require it, I will go further and say that the argument of the anti-voters depends crucially on an assumption that they can get inside the heads of all voters and discover that by voting they are all indicating consent to the state. It is a cruel irony that this argument is precisely the one used by social contract theorists to argue that everyone who has ever voted is bound forever to the state. In fact, voting does not indicate consent - and that is precisely the reason why social contract theory fails, and why Lysander Spooner was right that the Constitution is of no authority.

"Even if the "free" state only protects citizens against force and fraud, by definition, the state must itself initiate force through taxation and through restricting competing courts and prisons."

Again, I am speaking only for myself and not for the Free State Project, but I will say in response that there is another alternative: the ultraminimal state. I believe that as a matter of history it is apparent that a dominant protection provider will arise in most societies, in the manner described by Robert Nozick in "Anarchy, State and Utopia". However, this dominant protection agency need not support itself through taxes - it could use user fees and punitive damages from civil court cases - nor need it forcibly incorporate "independents" into a single judicial/police/military system. People would be free to drop out from the dominant provider, but empirical evidence suggests that most would not.

I would be happy to be proven wrong and to see a stable, perfectly competitive system of justice arise. Under the ultraminimal state, there would be no bar to such a development.

"I find it hard to believe that the freestaters will be able to pass legislation that will bring about anarchy. But even if they did, by bringing anarchy through voting they are leaving it open for anarchy to be repealed through voting."

For anarchists, what is the alternative? Violent revolution? That course will likely make the state bigger and more brutal. "Dropping out"? This course of action will make the state stronger - if we don't use government services but still pay taxes, the government's fiscal situation is improved and it can simply expand its redistributive and coercive schemes. If we try to dodge taxes, we will end up in jail. Ultimately, achieving the minimal or ultraminimal or nonexistent state is a political act and requires political means: pressure group tactics, infiltration, electoral competitions, referenda.

"Sorens them claims, 'It seems that Etanerkist, if given the choice between 99% freedom and 0% freedom, would choose 0% freedom, simply because 99 isn't 100.' Wrong, I would choose neither."

"If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Two choices are open to us. Either we sit back and allow the dead hand of the welfare state to rule us forever, or we take action to reduce government dramatically, to eliminate violations of rights, and to create a more moral society - and the Free State Project seems to be the only credible way forward.

Jason P. Sorens, President
Free State Project
www.freestateproject.org

- - -

"I would like Mr. Etanerkist to show us the place on the Free State Project web site or any Free State Project literature where we endorse taxation."

The first answer in your FAQ section states, "Anyone who can agree to the clause in the Statement of Intent which says that you should support the creation of a society in which the sole role of civil government is the protection of citizens' rights to life, liberty, and property." How is this government going to protect the citizens if it does not tax them? Even if Nozick's ultra minimal state does come about, as Murray Rothbard points out in his thorough blasting of the theory http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/1_1/1_1_6.pdf, anarchy must exist before the ultra minimal state appears. By the way, you say anarchists are welcome in the Freestate Project, but I don't see how one can call himself an anarchist if he "support[s] the creation ... of a civil government."

"Since Mr. Etanerkist believes that voting is an act of aggression, he would actually use physical violence to prevent fellow libertarians from going to the voting booth!"

Voting is aggression, but not worthy of violence on my behalf. There are many things I will violently prevent before I stop people from voting. In this particular case, persuasion is probably the best way to stop libertarians from voting, which is what I'm attempting to do here.

"It is a cruel irony that this argument is precisely the one used by social contract theorists to argue that everyone who has ever voted is bound forever to the state."

I like to think of it as voters being bound to the politician they are responsible for electing, not the entire state. And that doesn't just include the people who voted for the winner, but all people who voted and thus made the elections outcome legitimate.

"For anarchists, what is the alternative? Violent revolution?"

Sadly, yes. I see no other way to stop the state. Voting has never changed anything, and if the Freestate Project does reach 20,000 people, I doubt they will take over the state without a fight. At most, I see them as swaying the government a bit toward libertarianism, but nothing like the 2/3 reduction that is envisioned by the members.

The trick with violence is making it moral. If I am ever to support violence, it better damn well not include the harming of innocent people as a necessity. This is why I like Assassination Politics. It is one example of violence being used morally to stop the state.

I also love dropping out. For some reason, Sorens sees dropouts as paying taxes. The whole idea of dropping out is not paying taxes! There's a reason dropouts are so obsessed with keeping their home address away from the government, there's a reason no dropout would ever get a car in his own name, or for that matter a house or apartment in his own name. Dropouts take extreme privacy measures in order to avoid the state and its prisons.

But dropping out and assassination aren't the only state busting measures I support, I support any measure that doesn't infringe on the rights of innocent people.

Mark Etanerkist [mark_etanerkist@yahoo.com]

- - -

On Tue, 16 Jul 2002, Mark Etanerkist wrote:

"The first answer in your FAQ section states, "Anyone who can agree to the clause in the Statement of Intent which says that you should support the creation of a society in which the sole role of civil government is the protection of citizens' rights to life, liberty, and property." How is this government going to protect the citizens if it does not tax them?"

I provided some examples in my previous letter: user fees and punitive damages. But beyond this, the Free State Project does not require its members to advocate the existence of "a" or "the" government. Even anarchists believe in "government" the abstract concept: they want civil government by means of competing companies. The intent was never to exclude anarchists, and to make this clear the Statement of Intent for the FSP was actually changed slightly a few weeks ago to read "maximum" rather than "sole." (This change apparently hasn't been written into the FAQ yet.) The intent hasn't changed, but the language has, to make it plain that one need not advocate the existence of a monopolistic government to join the FSP.

"... anarchy must exist before the ultra minimal state appears."

What is the evidence for this? Can't one simply proclaim, "The government may no longer tax its citizens, and people are free to choose not to use the government's services"? This would represent an evolution from a state to an ultraminimal state.

"By the way, you say anarchists are welcome in the Freestate Project, but I donít see how one can call himself an anarchist if he "support[s] the creation...of a civil government."

The ellipsis there totally changes the meaning of the Statement of Intent, in dishonest fashion.

"Voting is aggression, but not worthy of violence on my behalf. There are many things I will violently prevent before I stop people from voting. In this particular case, persuasion is probably the best way to stop libertarians from voting, which is what Iím attempting to do here."

The problem is that in theory you would have no problem using violence against voters. You would "probably" use persuasion out of pragmatism, but in principle you can have no objection against violence.

"I like to think of it as voters being bound to the politician they are responsible for electing, not the entire state. And that doesnít just include the people who voted for the winner, but all people who voted and thus made the elections outcome legitimate."

The mechanism by which voting supposedly makes an election outcome "legitimate" remains mysterious. One can vote for many reasons, not necessarily because one believes that the system is legitimate.

"This is why I like Assassination Politics."

And I suppose you know what happened to Jim Bell?

"It is one example of violence being used morally to stop the state."

Well, good luck with that! We'll see which effort has the greater effect: your revolutionary violence or our political pressure.

"Dropouts take extreme privacy measures in order to avoid the state and its prisons."

But it usually doesn't work: most of these people (like Irwin Schiff) have spent time in prison. And we certainly cannot expect millions of people to start practicing this strategy - and that's what it would take to "bring down the government."

"But dropping out and assassination arenít the only state busting measures I support, I support any measure that doesnít infringe on the rights of innocent people."

Voting for parties that support policies that reduce violations of rights does not infringe on innocent people's rights: just the reverse. Voting is thus potentially morally legitimate.

Jason P. Sorens, President
Free State Project
www.freestateproject.org


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