L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 333, August 21, 2005
"...far greater threat than Al Qaeda..."
What to Do Tomorrow?
Special to TLE
There is a deep seated desire bordering upon angst which is all over the libertarian scene these days. Very clearly, some people want to take action, and quite a few want to do so in the worst way. There are lots of possibilities, some of which seem heroic and useful at first blush, others heroic and foolhardy, and still others only foolhardy. It might be a good idea to look at some of these things with the jaundiced eye of cynicism, bitterness, age, and the jadedness that comes from having eleven bones broken by minions of the state. If you find one or two things to do tomorrow which are only useful and manage not to get killed doing them, perhaps this essay will have served its purpose.
Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee challenged empires. One succeeded, one failed, both died. I know their personal histories like they were my own ancestors. Jefferson succeeded, in my view, because he lived in a special place and time among people who had been filtered thoroughly for those willing to take their own destinies in their hands, cross oceans, live on a frontier, and do without rather than dishonor themselves by taking from neighbors. Jefferson succeeded because he could write in 1774 that the government of Britain had done nothing but of late times to support the colonies, which had done everything for themselves. Naturally, they were able to organize themselves to defeat the greatest empire the world had seen to that point.
Lee failed because he lived in a different time and place. The Virginia of Lee's time was very different from that of Jefferson's day. The filter of the Atlantic ocean that had selected for those willing to work hard and brave great dangers was already becoming a poor filterpassing far more people over who lacked the basic ethic of taking their own destinies into their hands. Many who found their neighbors back east too interested in snooping had made the move West. Those who couldn't put up with bizarre government policies, corruption, brutal bosses or labor disputes had downed tools or closed up shop and walked to the frontier. Had the war Lee fought been on sectional east-West lines, it would likely have ended differently.
So, now you have a country in which every day, men and women are hassled in front of their children as they seek to board commercial airlines. Every day, they are stopped on highways and hassled about driving at useful speeds. Every day, they are licensed, taxed to a fare thee well, spied upon, registered, regulated, prevented, and abused. And most of them put up with it. It may sicken you to learn that many of them, perhaps even most, prefer it this way.
Now you have a country which is a broken machine to you, but a well-oiled mechanism to others you have learned to despise. It is broken to you because you have the owner's manual, the constitution, and you read it with enthusiasm. It is working perfectly to them because they don't care about your constitution, your liberty, or your property. You see it taking from those least able to pay and depriving those most vulnerable of the benefits of free markets, private property, and individual liberty. They see it bringing to them the fruit of other people's labor, and they like the idea of "free" stuff.
Let me disabuse you of some illusions which ought to have been shattered a long time ago, and from which you must turn if you are ever to take useful action. The government cannot be reformed because it is not broken. You cannot hold the government to its constitutional limits, because it benefits far too many people to have it be capable of the things it now does routinely. Since the beast operates as a well-oiled machine for creating barriers to entry in established industries, bringing wealth and power to sundry bureau-rats, politicians, and corrupt contractors, and stifling all sorts of initiatives that would likely upset the best campaign contributors, the most your efforts at reform will ever gain you from the average person is a sad smile, a shake of the head, and the sort of amusement reserved for the truly quixotic. Most of the people you meet do not care if they are left alone, do not find your preference for liberty to be inspiring, and do not have any qualms about the beast provided they get ahead, have an embraceable illusion of prosperity, and don't suffer constantly as a result. You cannot fix something that isn't broken. The government was designed so it could aggregate and centralize power, it has succeeded in doing so (at an enormous cost of lives and treasure, to be sure), and it shall go right along doing so as long as anyone is able to make a living at it. (Freedom has become a rare preference indeed as can be seen by the fact that not half a million page views have hit the home page of TLE since 1996.)
Why does the tyranny continue? Because your neighbors support it. They provide the eyes for the monster to spy upon you, and each other. They provide the fists to beat you up and take your stuff. And they are going to go right on doing so as long as they are convinced that the government they support is aligned with their prosperity. You don't want to hear it, because you are made of sterner stuff, you believe yourself capable of dying for liberty, and you would like to think better of them. But, the real reason the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, Bill of Rights Party, and all other parties based on reform (e.g., Reform Party) fail is because they don't provide the various interest groups with rewards. Yes, there are many legitimate complaints against the rigged political system, but the short answer to why the Democrats and Republicans win lots of elections is: they provide the pay-offs that most voters want.
So, what can you do? Let's look at some foolhardy things. It may be mightily tempting to put on a kevlar vest and helm, load up a semi-auto rifle, pack water and spare magazines onto your web gear, (you won't need rations), and go down to the nearest airport, walk toward the TSA security checkpoint, and start wasting bad guys. There's no doubt that you'd be killed long before you could get out of there. Yes, you'd probably take an honor guard with you to perdition, but doing so won't decrease the number of fascists on patrol. Rather, doing so would increase that number, hugely. And, laws would be proposed to license kevlar, ban "assault" rifles, etc. Polarizing the situation and making it harder for people, therefore inspiring them to demand changes was the argument for such tactics in the 1960s, but that whole line of thinking starts from the faulty assumption that people want things to be different.
There are many other ideas on this line, all of which come under the heading of placing hands upon the tyrants to topple them over. Faced with no other alternative whatever, knowing that you would have to live the rest of your life on your knees as a slave, you should consider doing these things because it would be better to die on your feet. But, wouldn't it be better still to live on your feet? Better a dead lion than a live jackal, but ever so much better still to be a live lion, as Heinlein pointed out. Besides, no matter how justifiable such homicide would be, there's no way it would ever be portrayed well in the version that reaches most people. Sure, anyone who violates the constitution is a traitor and deserves death, but you are outnumbered, outgunned, and very few Americans have any interest in pursuing such methods.
The good news is, you don't have to do anything that extreme. Chances are very good you won't ever have to take up arms except in local, personal defense of property, life, and liberty. You don't have to topple these tyrants. All you have to do is stop supporting them. Stop holding them up, and they will fall under their own weight. This idea, by the way, isn't new, and it isn't American. It's French. It comes from Etienne de la Boetie writing in Sixteenth Century France under conditions of tyranny far worse than anything you've experienced.
Sounds good. Nobody really wants to throw her life away. And laying hands upon the tyrants to topple them is a dangerous sport. Just talking about it would be regarded as conspiracy.
So, how do we withhold our support?
Here's where technology is catching up with the tyrants and making their lives miserable. They have a lot more people with a lot more power than ever before, and whether they realize it or admit it, things are completely out of their control. Things like information, news, money, computing power, the ability to defend territory, the ability to avoid projected force are all working utterly against the power structure. You are out of their control.
Get and use encryption. There's absolutely no reason for your e-mail, voice, instant messaging, and commerce to be taking place in the clear. You look for encryption when you are asked for your credit card information, right? Why? Why do you want https and a bright image of a padlock onscreen before you enter such data? Because encryption protects you. PGP and GnuPG are easy to use, fun, and incredibly beneficial. The more message traffic that is encrypted, the harder it is to keep track of all the messages, decrypt them, and analyze them. The life you save may be your own.
Join or form a community. I've written in the past about identity theft. Identity theft took place on a wholesale basis in 1917 with the Trading with the Enemy Act which was modified in 1933 to make all Americans default enemies. Identity theft is a major industry because your real identity, the person you are, has been replaced with various straw men substitutespieces of paper, numbers, and accounts that represent you but are not actually you. Get back to yourself by getting into a community where you know the people you live near. Trade with them. Engage in conversations and commerce. Obviously, to the extent you can find a Galt's Gulch situation, great. Being around armed neighbors should make you safer. Being around freedom thinkers should make you less regulated. But, even if you don't particularly agree with everything your neighbors do or say, being in a Hutterite or Mormon or monastic community is better than being alone, or anonymous in a huge city. It is not only harder to steal your identity when you live among people who know you by name and face, it is also much harder to steal the truth about you. Which means you won't be the next patsy taking the fall for whatever the Praetorian Guard have decided must be done near you.
Free yourself from the banking cartel. Bankers are not your friends. They are typically wealthy and powerful because they've been at the forefront of the military industrial complex. As far back as 1819, the most powerful defense contractor, EI duPont, was a member of the board of directors of the Second Bank of the United States. Central bankers are closely allied with all other centralists. If it is big and powerful, some banker wants to latch onto it and control it, or corrupt it.
The mainstream banking system has no interest in your privacy. They tie your account information to your social security number, they share data with public and private agencies, they run credit checks which means they run your information into the credit check system, and any government agency with a subpoena can get any data on you they want. The IRS invariably sends a notice of intent to levy to banks and banks perform actual levies in advance of receiving any court order. These behaviors ought to give you pause when you consider what your privacy, your commerce, might be doing in such a banking system.
PayPal and your credit cards are part of that banking system. PayPal is licensed to engage in banking activities in several states. PayPal's new owners, eBay, have in the past agreed to cooperate with any law enforcement agency without regard to a subpoena or court order, but only on the receipt of a faxed request for information on eBay auction participants. You have much to fear from these guys. (I happen to think it speaks volumes about Elon Musk, a PayPal co-founder, that he is now a defense contractor building rockets to launch satellites for the Pentagon.)
There are a number of really good private alternatives. E-gold.com would be one if it were based offshore. Happily, the 1MDC.com system is built on top of e-gold and is based offshore. GoldMoney.com is a good alternative, based out of the Channel Island of Jersey which is a top notch privacy haven. E-Bullion.com is based out of Switzerland. Pecunix.com is based out of New Zealand. The new Phoenix Dollar is based out of Singapore and Hong Kong, I believe. These are good alternatives for your privacy if you are living in the USA, and e-gold is a good choice if you are not a US national and live outside the USA. (To gain investor capital, the USA acts like a privacy and tax haven for foreigners, but woe betide the locals.) Even so, encrypt all transaction information whenever possible. Pecunix works directly with PGP and GnuPG, so all your e-mails from them are encrypted to your key.
Obviously, where the data about your trade and commerce transactions is stored makes all the difference. Anyone with a subpoena can get data in the USA. That means any prosecutor with a grudge, anyone with a mistake about your identity based on faulty paperwork, any spouse looking for assets, any government agency out of control, plus everyone with a legitimate need. Jersey has a different approach, thanks to the Duke of Normandy who runs things there. If it is not a crime in Jersey, no data is disclosed. Much the same is true of Switzerland. Tax havens and privacy havens do not help criminals: any criminal activity is going to trigger an investigation, subpoenas, and court orders just as readily in a financial privacy haven as it does anywhere else.
The other thing the above mentioned systems have in common is gold and silver. You should avoid using government issued fiat money because it is bad for you. Governments always print more, so it inflates, and that is a form of tax. There is very likely a period of hyperinflation coming, and it may be especially bad as early as next year. Other private alternatives such as the Liberty Dollar are good to work with, and you should seriously reflect on the merits of trading exclusively in gold and silver. There is no legal tender law that punishes you for refusing to accept Federal Reserve Notes. In fact, the only legal tender law on the books is one that allows the government printing office to put the false legend "this note legal tender for all debts public and private" on the bills. I have a stack of newspaper articles to corroborate that there is no punishment for refusing Federal Reserve Notes.
Which means that you can stop supporting the system. Stop holding it up. Stop using their money and start using real money. Stop being a part of the system that oppresses you and everyone else. Withdraw your support.
Make it more difficult to track you, make it more difficult to identify you, make it more difficult to eavesdrop upon you. Together, these effects should make it more difficult to tax you, regulate you, confiscate your property, or conscript you into the military.
There are thousands of other things to do. This essay cannot in any way be complete. You should look into ways of controlling property without owning it, including trusts, foundations, private charities, offshore foundations, and combinations of these things. If the Rockefellers, Fords, Carnegies, and other wealthy families have trusts to protect their wealth, why shouldn't you? If socialists have foundations and non-profits to pursue their dreams of an all-powerful state, why shouldn't you have foundations and non-profits to pursue the ideals of liberty?
Why not own everything in your own name? Because more of it gets taxed that way. A non-profit charity can own land which is not taxed, if it uses that land for charitable purposes. A corporation may be able to match income with tax losses to reduce its tax burden. Taxes feed the state, and part of withdrawing your support is reducing your tax payments.
Vernie Kuglin and Joe Bannister have proven, recently, that the IRS is a fraud and most Americans owe no income tax, no payroll taxes, and should have nothing withheld. Which is exciting in some ways, but disappointing to most individualists who are still stuck in jobs with employers who withhold whether they should or not, and with their money in bank accounts where it can be easily seized by the IRS. Even investments are typically tied to social security numbers, and therefore trackable and, necessarily, confiscatable.
I suspect that those who demand ever more power won't be afraid to go nuclear. When a major American city is nuked, and the Islamic fundamentalists are blamed, all sorts of demands will be made. Register for the draft, or you are unpatriotic. Register to vote or you are unpatriotic. Get an ear tag, or REAL ID. Get a tattoo for that forearm. Don't be taken in by these pleas of necessity. Do get among friends where you can find support to avoid, delay, and refuse.
If there were no hope for tomorrow, then some of the desperate and foolhardy tactics mentioned above might be appropriate. But, tomorrow is going to be fantastic. The future is bringing with it enormous computing power, enormous physical power at your beck and call. The trends which are going to make those things possible have already made the myth of centralization look foolish. Those trends have already made it difficult to project force over long distances to hold distant territory for any substantial length of time. The same trends which made it possible for the mujahideen to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan and the Somalis to oust Task Force Ranger from Mogadishu will make it impossible for the state to enslave you.
But you have to be alive to enjoy the greater freedom the future will bring. You cannot survive by throwing your life away confronting the state. It is incredibly powerful, it hates your freedom and prosperity, and if you live through a confrontation you may live to regret it.
So, what to do tomorrow? Go open a free market money account. Visit ezez.com to learn more. Think about ways to avoid the government's control. Consider opportunities offshore, in free trade zones, and in ungoverned zones. Read indomitus.net to learn more.
Keep in mind that your freedom and your prosperity are your responsibility. Voting won't make you free, campaigning won't make you free, because politics, like banking, is part of the system of control. Your neighbors won't bring you freedom. To the extent that they have any freedom, they aren't eager for you to have it. Freedom comes from one thing: your resolve to be free.
"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."Etienne de la Boetie, Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.
Your future is in your hands. I have only one question: What are your hands doing holding up the pedestal for that tyrant? Ask yourself what you can do to withdraw your support, every day. You'll find many answers undreamt of in my philosophy. Do your part to free yourself, today.
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