THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 536, September 13, 2009
"Spirits crushed so badly that the victims
have no way of knowing they've been crushed."
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Yes, Sean, I did understand that. I seem to have failed in communicating, however. There is no question but that legislators act in their own best interest. It is perfectly natural for them to do so. All human beings act in their own interestor think they do. They don't always understand what that really means, of course.
My point is that it is unrealistic and dangerous to think that some people can be given power over others and expect them NOT to act in their own interest. When they are given the tools of coercion, it is inevitable that they will NOT use that power for the benefit of those over whom they have control. There is simply no way to limit them once that power is givenexcept to remove the power completely and permanently.
As far as I'm concerned, a "republic" (involuntary compliance with the dictates of the "representatives") is completely incompatible with freedom in any way. So, it doesn't matter a fig if your "republic" is theoretical or actual if you are in the least interested in liberty and justice for all.
You simply can't have it both ways.
Not that this is suprising. What I liked about the article was the word "liberticide". Good word for people who believe in freedom.
Recently, in my essay "Muzzling the Internet" I mentioned the possibility of mediating an Internet connection by carrier pigeon.
So I was not surprised to see this article about bandwidth limitations in South Africa.
In refuting an essayist who wants to ascribe "religion" to his well-founded public pronouncements (Number 535), LNS makes an aside about one viewpoint that's prominent in his fiction:
"Like science (and quite unlike religion) my ideas are subject to constant reexamination in the light of new information. I used to think private security companies were a good thing (The Probability Broach is an example). Now, having lived another 30-odd years, I realize self-defense can't be delegated. It's an individual bodily function, like sleeping or eating, that can't be done for you by somebody else. Seeing Blackwater in Iraq and elsewhere only confirms it." [Emphasis added.]
I have to strongly differ with Neil on this. The behavior of Blackwater (now "Xe") confirms no such thing, as to how principled security companies would or could operate.
Blackwater is an utter pondscum tax-feeder that has no check whatsoever in the marketplace, because it gained its governmental clients through backroom deals and lobbyists' influence peddling. (Its alloying of religion with its mission adds to the irony of bringing it up in such an essay.)
A Blackwater has never been and would never be hired by well-armed, fully rights-respecting individuals, to provide backstop assistance and court-related services, as LNS envisions in his novels. Such organizations aren't the subject of any "delegation."
No amount of exposure of a Blackwater's wanton abusessuch as recent MSNBC reporting that lifted the execrable Keith Olbermann a rung or two in Hellis listened to by those that hired them. Nor by the constituents of the Congressmen that allow such contracts. Any exposure of its encouragement of torture, sadism, and looting is quickly forgotten.
I could wager gold ounces that a genuine Professional Protectives or Civil Liberties Association would not have any chance of getting away with this, amidst a populace that was jealous of preserving the first line of self-defense on its own hips. And would haveif you'll pardon mea hair-trigger willingness to shift its market allegiances to other firms.
It's dismaying that Neil seems to be losing confidence in one of the most potent, valuable, and valid crossover devices between his own fiction and "real life." One that fits with centuries of evidence and practice as to private, marketplace "police," from before Gustave Molinari to the San Francisco private constabularies of today.
Private security companies, backstopping a principled and armed populace that was jealous of its independence, would never be perfect. No such tool is. Judging them against the kinds of institutions now permitted under a skinned and gutted U.S. Constitution, though, isn't at all sound.
The ancient Greeks had a word for it. The word was hubris. It meant a false pride in which people viewed themselves as greater than the fates or the gods and above the laws and will of the gods.
We are not talking about the free persons' defiance of all who would enslave them. We are talking about the power drunk egotism of the tyrant. When I first read Antigone (Lysistrata is more fun by the way) I thought the play was about her willingness to do what was right and the price she paid. It took me years to realize it was about Creon's defiance of the laws of the gods by abusing his power as king of Thebes and the punishment thus brought on himself and his loved ones.
Last year the liberal left boasted that the Republican party was dead, that the liberal agenda would go through without opposition because, well basically because the left was just so cool. Then Obama essentially continued Baby Bush's War on Terror policies (minus a few of Dick Cheney's little sadistic twists), backed off on gun control (for the nonce. Always wanted to use that word.), had to dress down his people for hinting he would break his promise not to raise middle class taxes and totally frakked up leading the movement to get his health care reform through Congress. Nancy Pelosi has done all she can to erase any doubt that she is an insufferable twit (another word comes to mind) and Harry Reed is a nonentity. Janet Napolitano and others are doing their best to undermine their boss by acting like two for twice petty tyrants and promoters of tyranny.
It's beginning to look like the 2010 midterm elections will be a replay of 1994, 1998, and 2006.
Whoever wins in 2010 and 2012 let us hope they are somewhat more humble in the sense of recognizing the limits of their power and having somewhat more respect for the rights, freedom and will of the American people. I'd rather the next government be a comedy than a tragedy like this one has turned into.
It was sort of funny watching Ian Titter wet himself over the possibility that L. Neil Smith believes in something. I had to disagree with a bunch of what Titter wrote.
For one thing, he doesn't understand science. "Science is evidence-based belief, whereas religion is faith-based belief."
That's completely wrong about science. Science is not about belief. Karl Popper went to some lengths to make this point. Science is the pursuit of truth. Science is the best methodology we've found for finding truth because it avoids belief entirely. The scientific method is to examine data, build a hypothesis, examine more data to discredit that hypothesis, and repeat. What a scientist believes is irrelevant except to the extent that he can ignore his beliefs in examining the actual evidence.
Of course, many scientists do not ignore their beliefs, and are poor scientists as a result. Or they alter the data, or even deliberately seek to gather evidence that would, if evaluated unfairly, tend to support their beliefs. At which point they stop being poor scientists and become frauds. The global warming hysteria is an example of how much damage such frauds can cause.
Titter points out that Neil is an innovator who has offered a large number of suggestions for fixing some of what is wrong with the United States of America (USA). However, he ignores much of the body of work Neil has created, including all his novels, including his excellent work on the covenant of unanimous consent.
Why did I sign the covenant? Because doing so was consistent with my choice to govern myself. It is consistent with the tenets of self-government, voluntaryism, peace, freedom, and anti-state anti-authoritarianism. The covenant of unanimous consent is what Neil would prefer to the current system which, arguably, despite many attempts to bind down the monster of government, has slipped its bonds and become tyranny.
I don't believe in a re-made USA, because I don't believe the original constitution was able to limit government. I've looked at other constitutions and worked at ratifying them (Texas Constitution 2000 was ratified in one county, the county where I worked to ratify it). And I'm convinced that it is a waste of time. Constitutions won't ever be the protection from the centralising tendency of the state that we want.
Moreover, I think Neil recognises the limited effectiveness of the constitution that was. When he proposes the Moratorium or the Bill of Rights Enforcement or the other parts of the patchwork quilt of suggestions that Titter lists, it is not because of any faith that the constitution can, in the long run, be at the center of the kind of society Neil wants. Rather, it is because doing these things would improve things now.
That's the same reason I have supported Ron Paul in his campaigns for Congress since 1996, and in his recent run for the presidency. I don't agree with Ron Paul about a bunch of things. But I respect him, I've met him, I've had lunch with him and a small group of friends, I've heard him speak in person and on television (and lately all over Youtube), and I feel confident that he isn't the dangerous fanatic that other politicians seem to be. Electing Ron Paul would help improve things right away.
People claiming to be libertarian generally fall into several categories, and every individual is unique. Two of the categories that exist are those who put everyone into two categories, as Titter tries to do, and everyone else. I see no such binary aspect to humanity. We are a manifold, we are legions, and that is excellent. For if there is no one true way of doing things, it is extremely illogical to suppose that there are two true ways. Indeed, nature seems to prefer none of a thing, many of a thing, and, very rarely, a "sport" or unique member of a set. Anything that survives long enough to breed tends to show up in great numbers.
(I read recently that some schools of fish may have ten or twenty billion individual fish in them. Yet, somehow, Earth isn't large enough for twenty billion humans?)
I disagree about the nature of the group Titter calls pragmatists. I think these are mostly conservative Republicans who want to get into government through the hard work of libertarian activists in order to seize control of the reins of the state. Bob Barr is typical of the sort of opportunist who found himself thwarted in his Congressional ambitions (to rule forever as a congress critter) by an effective libertarian opponent. So he took advantage of the internal schisms which make the Libertarian Party extremely ineffective to seize its nomination for president.
Since then, Barr has demanded that the LP pay his entire campaign debt while refusing to allow the LP access to his donor lists. At the time he was campaigning for president on the LP ticket, Barr was running a political action committee that raised millions of dollars and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on GOP candidates. Ever since Harry Browne, such unethical behavior has come to typify the LP.
There are no benefits bestowed by the constitution. It is not meant to be a listing of benefits, nor a granting of rights. It is meant to be a list of limitations on government, to bind down the monster that Washington feared "like fire." It didn't work. To continue to propose ways in which a large number of dedicated enthusiasts might patch things up for a better world right away, as Neil has done, is not to suppose any idolatry for the constitution as a document. Since it has authorised the tyranny under which we suffer, or been powerless to prevent it, the constitution is simply a document. And I don't think Neil bows and prays toward the national archives. What he does do is propose meaningful improvements by which a constitutionally limited government might be livable, might be acceptable, might not get in the way of those of us who wish to drop off the vine, so to speak.
Titter writes that old chestnut that ignorance of a law is no excuse for breaking it. Actually, in several recent federal court cases, the judges have written that there are so many laws that ignorance is a rational defense. Nevertheless, it is much worse than Titter supposes.
Obedience to the law is no defense. Actually obeying all the laws, as I did with the Space Travel Services project in 1990, did not prevent the government from making up a criminal charge, manufacturing evidence about me, and bankrupting my operation. At one point the prosecutor in my case lied to a judge to get an arrest warrant, saying that he had told us to stop at our meeting in December when, instead, he had gone out on the courthouse steps and told the media that he wasn't telling us to stop. At a later point, the same prosecutor admitted that our case was based on non-criminal behavior by asking the court to enjoin us from conducting sweepstakes operations in Texasthe completely lawful activity in which we had been engaged.
And my case is by no means unusual. Ask Gary Hudson or Walt Anderson or Robert Kahre, to name only a few. You can't ask George Koopman nor Gerald Bull, since they were killed for doing lawful business.
Titter brings up Magna Carta. He seems to think it was significant, but has he read it? Has he read the part where yeoman were to have a perpetual right to keep and bear arms, which was not to be infringed? Presumably not, since he lives in a British commonwealth country that brutally oppresses that very freedom.
Finally, as for signs that a libertarian society, actually a great many such societies, are being created, I find them all around. But, then, I admit to actively searching.
My search took me to Europe, Asia, Africa, and central America. My search has taken me from Hong Kong to Alaska to Texas to Panama to Ethiopia to Somalia. But I have found the new societies are rising in the shell of the old, in every place, without regard to local rules or local rulers.
Agorism is a philosophical movement that takes its name from the Greek language word for market place. Agorists pursue free markets wherever we are. And we are everywhere.
Although many of the people who engage in agorism day to day are unaware of the philosophical nature of their activities, essentially anyone who refuses to pay attention to laws prohibiting free behavior, anyone who fails to collect taxes or pay licensing fees for the benefit of the scum who rule the state, anyone who buys or sells things or engages in barter on an ad hoc basis, all of these people are engaged in agorism. And we are legions.
Through the efforts of our members who are interested in technology, a number of systems have been developed that provide for completely private transactions between individuals. When an economic transaction takes place that is entirely undetectable it is not possible to prohibit, tax, regulate, nor interfere with it. And that is the great blessing of distributed peer to peer networks, public source software, and public source encryption.
We have freed more minds in the last six months than ever before.
In the last issue of The Libertarian Enterprise my article about Our Publisher's suggestions for reforms to the US Constitution provoked an article by him in rebuttal of my expressed opinions.
This is fair enough. I sent it in to provoke his response.
Now that we've got that out of the way, perhaps I can argue that his energy and time can be better spent writing his books than devising repairs to the charter underpinning the US Government, because I believe they reach a wider audience for his libertarian ideas.
Tom Kratman's 2003 novel, A State of Indifference, tells a tale about a Federal Government gone out of control and reined in at the end of the book, by the collapse of the perceived legitimacy of that Federal Government, and the combined non-cooperation of most of the States of the US. A new Constitutional Convention is called to amend and update the Constitution, and restrain the power of the central government. A list of proposed amendments follows, ending the book.
One character, looking at the proposed changes remarks that they won't last. His companion agrees but points out that they can have another 'rebellion' when things get out of hand again.
I don't think fixing the current system is the right answer. I want to see it supplanted by a something better. Tom Kratman's story doesn't go far enough.
I'd like L. Neil to think about this. Would a better constitution really satisfy him? (Here he should consider the ways that politicians have meddled with, or ignored the provisions of the original version.)
That said, I don't propose to re-visit this topic. I don't want to find myself holding up one end of a slanging match when I'd rather be reading, about or looking for ways and means to reach a society run on the Zero Aggression Principle.
I don't know how many times I have to explain it to Paul Bonneau. I am well aware of the fact that our republic isn't working. I have stated this on a number of occasions. When I wrote about our republic, I was simply trying to explain how it was supposed to work in theory. I never said that a republic is an ideal form of government. For that matter, I don't recall endorsing any form of government that has the power to initiate force.
"One can get as theoretical as one wants, but it's not a good idea to ignore facts in doing so.The facts are, individuals, including members of Congress, act in their own interests------the people be damned!"
When did I say otherwise?
I am puzzled by this statement. From the first statement that I quoted, it seems as if Mr. Bonneau actually agrees with one the points that I have been trying to make all along. The fact that our representatives care only about their own interests, is one of the reasons why our republic has been a failure. So, why does he feel the need to argue with me? Personally, I have better things to do then argue over a non-issue.
On the 8th of September 2009 President Barack Hussein Obama gave an innocuous back to school speech to the children and youth of America. It was in fact politically neutral and appropriate for the Head of State (ceremonial leader) to make.
Nevertheless it was widely boycotted and much concern was expressed about the content of the speech. This lack of confidence in the liberal faction of American politics exceeds those of a society that can be trusted to protect people's rights. While part of this is the result of fear mongering by the likes of Limbaugh and Beck, a big part is the left's fervent embracing of the creation of the all encompassing state. The left does have some ideas to contribute (blind pig finding an acorn principle) to making America a freer and more decent society. Also, they serve as a counterweight to right wing tyranny, a rallying point for some (not all) opponents of the same. Until we can achieve a truly free society the debate between conservative and liberal can be a useful tool in protecting liberty and the left is currently not carrying its share of the load.
That said, it is amusing to see the left hoisted by their own petard. It was leftists who reintroduced the art of shouting down opposition instead of engaging in rational discussion and debate. They should not complain when the right does the same to them.
The wheel of karma has turned.
Begin Forwarded Message from Ricardo Valenzuela to the members of ALIANZA LIBERAL (Libertarian Alliance).
Noticed that Mal Reynolds' advice to Saffron, "If someone tries to kill you, you try to kill him back." reminded me of something from the Bible that JPFO quoted. So I looked up The quote "If a man try to kill you, rise ye up and kill him first," and hit above article.
I'm sure y'all already had read it but it might be worth posting on TLE.
Re: earlier discussion on mysticism. When mysticism and reason agree, great, when they don't trust reason until empirical evidence consistently indicates otherwise.
When empirical evidence, reason, and mysticism all agree enjoy the moment.
Did a couple more designs. Available as bumpers sticker, hats, etc. at:
Please pass this on to anybody you think might enjoy it.
John Stoessel is leaving ABC for Fox Business News with a some extra time on Fox News Network. On the one hand he'll probably enjoy more free play on his ideas. On the other hand network TV will lose a voice challenging the ideas of big government supporters.
Perhaps Penn and Teller can be persuaded to do a more pg version of Bullshit to show on the networks and thus challenge so much of today's mythic and mystifying "thought" that is such a huge part of statist "intellectual" basis and support.
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