Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 564, April 4, 2010

"This is the lie of democracies and republics.
Your opinion doesn't matter."

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Ship of Fools
by Rob Sandwell

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I received an email this week from a group which organizes protests against certain big government initiatives, and the subject line read, "Tell Congress: You're Not Fooling Us."

I thought this was interesting, because it seemed to imply that by sending emails, letters, or phone calls to Congress you could somehow affect their position on any particular issue. The irony of this concept, from my perspective, is that if you really think that anything you have to say can influence the actions of the state, then they are fooling you.

The very act of sending Congress emails to tell them they aren't fooling you, which you would only bother to do if you thought doing so would have any effect, means that they are fooling you into thinking your opinion matters to them.

This is the lie of democracies and republics. Your opinion doesn't matter. Your arguments, your essays, your letters to the editor. Your vote. Even your guns. They don't matter. Not to the people in the government. They don't need your approval. They have guns. More and bigger than you ever will.

My opinion doesn't matter either by the way. This essay doesn't matter to them a whit. And it won't change the ultimate percentage of taxation, or bombs dropped, or people imprisoned, by even a count of one.

They don't care. And if you think they do, you're being fooled.

Look at the corporate bailouts. Public opinion was largely against them. According to anecdotal accounts, as much as ninety five percent of the communication that our legislators received from the public on the issue was oppositional in nature. The vast majority of politically involved American citizens wanted nothing to do with the bailouts. And yet they passed, and not only those, because multiple bailouts preceded and followed them.

Look at the war in Iraq. Prior to the war, we saw some of the largest anti-war protests in human history. People all over the world, of every race, creed, and religion, rich and poor, protested in countless ways. One man even committed suicide by setting himself on fire in Chicago because he would rather die than support the war, even under duress. It didn't prevent the war from happening. It didn't prevent the deaths of well over a hundred thousand Iraqis, the vast majority of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the Iraqi regime. It didn't prevent the building of weapons, the deploying of soldiers, or the filling of flag draped coffins.

Look at the war on drugs. People all over this country oppose the criminalization of marijuana. Many oppose drug criminalization entirely. Does that protect people from the police? Does it keep peaceful pot smokers from being beaten and raped in prisons all over the country? What about in California where they actually legalized marijuana for certain uses? Does that prevent the federal government from stepping in and arresting people on a whim?

Look at the corruption on every single level of government. The cops, the city council, your mayor, your Congressmen. Look at the senators who rail about the importance of paying their taxes and then, oops!, it turns out they forgot to pay theirs. Certainly they know that everyone in their country is opposed to government corruption. It doesn't change their behavior one iota.

And yet somehow people think they can affect change through writing letters. It won't happen. They don't care. Eternal vigilance isn't the price of liberty, it's just busy work to keep you distracted while they are robbing you.

The reality is that we can't slow, or stop, or reverse the march of statism. It is a sickness that simply must be allowed to run its course. Our only hope is that after the collapse we are in a position to try to show people an alternative to violence. We have to involve ourselves in educating people now so that they make the right decision then. That's why I write these essays. That's why you visit this website. Because we want to educate ourselves and others about freedom. But don't think you can make the thieves and the murderers and the rapists see the error of their ways. Not with emails and phone calls.

You can take steps to insulate yourself from the violence. You can diversify your streams of income, making it harder to tax and less susceptible to government intervention in the economy. You can become increasingly self sufficient, growing your own food, learning how to do your own auto repair or carpentry or construction. You can cooperate with others for mutual benefit, bartering goods and exchanging knowledge and information. All those things will make you individually freer. But in the history of mankind, statism will simply have to be outgrown.

Don't waste your time telling them you aren't fooled. Spooner told us that governments care not for discussion which only ends in discussion. Don't waste time applying for permits to protest. Think about that. You know they must laugh every time someone applies for a permit to protest the state. You think they have any fear of someone who asks for permission to disagree?

I understand those who protest. I understand genuine, principled tax protestors, and war protestors, and those who protest the G8 or OPEC or the World Bank Group, not because they are angry or confused or looking for attention, but because they are genuinely appalled by state action. I just hope they understand that their protests are falling on deaf ears.

We all want freedom. True freedom can only exist in the elimination of the state. A friend of mine once said that ninety nine percent free is one hundred percent enslaved. It's why we're here. It's why we're having this discussion.

It's time we start devoting our energies to that end, instead of bickering amongst each other about problems in this world which won't even exist in that one, or whining at the government about how they're screwing us. They know. They don't care.

Every email or phone call they get saying they aren't fooling us is only more evidence to them that they are. Ignore them. They aren't worth your time.

Those of us who are investing our most valuable assets of life and breath to the dream of freedom are engaged in the most important of all human pursuits. If you are reading the articles on this website, or listening to podcasts on philosophy, or watching videos on the internet, if you are reading books on anarchy, or the works of Spooner or Friedman or Mises, then you are at the front in this battle.

Don't waste your intellectual ammunition on Congress. The villains who profit from the blood of our fathers and wives and children are beyond hope of redemption. Instead, turn your energies on your fellows. Show the people closest to you the joy of being truly free. If we start with the world around us, we can change the world beyond.

That email said to "Tell Congress (They're) Not Fooling Us." Instead, I think we should tell the people around us the truth about Congress. The truth which puts the lie to everything statism stands for.

That using violence to take from others and then killing anyone who disobeys your commandments doesn't suddenly become moral just because you say

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