“We’re All Got To Be Alike”

I was recently rewatching the film version of Fahrenheit 451, an Orwellian tale by Ray Bradbury where firefighters burn books and other literature banned by the state.

What I failed to notice in the past is the role egalitarianism plays in justifying the mass censorship of everything from the Bible to poetry.

In one scene the protagonist Montage and his supervisor are inspecting a secret library prior to burning it and examine the various genres. His supervisor explains why they have to be censored, concluding with this line:

We’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal. So, we must burn the books, Montage. All the books.

After doing some research, I found it is a variation of a similar line made in the novel:

We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.

For everyone to be the same means that you have to have a standard or template as to how everyone should be.

Of course, that standard is for everyone to be miserable. After secretly confiscating several books and poetry, Montage reads some prose in front of his wife’s friends, who are appalled at the emotions it invokes.

His reply:

Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damn Caesarian sections, too, and your children who hate your guts! Go home and think how it all happened and what did you ever do to stop it?

This is precisely why you should fear anyone who speaks of “equality,” because whether they’re conscious of it or not, this is what it will eventually lead. The only way to make everyone equal is to make them all equally pitiful, and that inevitable requires censorship and political repression against those who don’t comply.

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Live Free

If I were to give any piece of advice to a young person, especially a libertarian, it would be this: stay free.

Of course, you’re going to wonder: What does it mean to be free?

I can’t really answer that question for you, because freedom means something different for each person. For eons, the sea was a source of liberty, ships the vessel toward achieving it (see Captain Nemo). In other eras, it was cars.

For me, the mountains are a symbol of freedom.

Another good way to define it is by defining it’s opposite. As one replicant put it in Blade Runner, “quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? It’s what it’s like to be slave.”

This does not mean that you should avoid responsibility. It means that you should take on responsibilities only when you’re given the appropriate amount of authority to handle it. A man who has authority and no responsibility is either a tyrant or a master; the man who has responsibility but no authority is a slave.

Don’t be a slave.

This is a general principle and rule you should adopt. Anytime you’re asked to commit to something, to do anything, you should find out what your responsibilities are and what power you’re given as a result. A few examples that come to mind are student loans, marriage, employment, home ownership, etc. In most instances, avoid debt. Your ability to walk away from a situation unburdened with continuing obligations is a borderline superpower. A person who has no debts and no constraints has a degree of power and freedom few will ever know.

To be free means that you have the ability to pursue whatever ambitions or dreams you want without constraints borne on you that you have no control over. It means reducing the amount of control any one person has over your life.

To remain free means you must make it a priority, and it must govern all actions you take. It must be a first principle.

For those of you starting out in life within the Western world, understand this: You have been bestowed with personal liberty your ancestors never knew. If you don’t squander it, you will realize a level of freedom few have or ever will experience. It will not solve all your problems or desires, but it will offer you the best opportunity to live life on your terms.

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In A Libertarian Society…..

Bionic Mosquito tackles a very interesting question:

If all men are created equal to choose their own law, then to insist that libertarianism is universal is invalid – unless by libertarianism we mean each individual is free to choose his law.  If it is libertarian for each of us to choose our own law, then there is no such thing as a single universal law for all; if libertarianism (as you interpret its application) is universal, then I am not free to choose my own law (and for this, a strongman will be required).

And in this, we find the difference in the decentralization vs. universalist camps.  If it is ever to be found, liberty will only be found in decentralized society and decentralized law.

I think this brings up another challenge that plagues libertarian thought. Libertarians tend to discuss hypothetical situations from a clean-slate presumption, in which the state does not exist. They describe the ideal, rather than the real.

And yes, I’ve been guilty of this, though in many cases it is acceptable to do so as a way of demonstrating how unnatural our situation is.

Declaring that “in a libertarian society…..” ignores the fact that we do not live in a libertarian society. Avoiding that frees us of the constraints that reality imposes on our ideas and proposals.

One might as well say that “in paradise…”

How does one get to that point?

This forces libertarians to acknowledge a conundrum highlighted in BM’s post; how do you contend with a society and community already governed by a state and is full of people who do not support libertarianism or its ideas?

I’m sure the standard response would be “they can be ruled any way they like, but they have no right to decide that for me.”

Again, this ignores the problem. Who has the right to do what is irrelevant; it’s all about who has the power to enforce their will, and libertarians have little to none.Therefore, libertarians have to either convince or persuade others to support or passively accept their plans.

But what if they won’t?

Perhaps we’re getting to a genuine hurdle for the philosophy. It’s not a problem with its tenets, per se. It’s that you’ve got to get enough people willing to go along with it.

How do you do that in a society and culture in which the state has so much power and influence and is all but guaranteed exclusive authority to educate people during the formative years of their life?

How do you convince people to embrace freedom when the state offers control and restrictions, but with free goodies?

Some people will reject the Trojan horse and seek freedom. Some. However, the majority will not, unless it is in their interests to do so and they can be persuaded to believe it is.

So what do you do?

 

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The Tragedy Of The Commons

“The tragedy of the commons” is a term used to describe the problem for property rights advocates when it comes to government-controlled property open to the public. It is a form of socialism, because the arrangement makes it difficult to determine who has the right to do what in that context.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that where a libertarian stands on this issue is paramount above most all other stances or views, because it is so applicable and relevant to what we see in our modern political context. Also, their take on the matter will determine much of their other attitudes.

There are essentially two different viewpoints.

The first is that public commons or public lands are owned by all, because no private entity owns them. This means anyone from anywhere has equal access to it and can use it for any purpose they want. All resources therein belong to everybody, and the government controlling the land has no right to impose any kind of restriction on the property’s use or activity on it.

This is an inherently communist interpretation of property rights.

The second viewpoint holds a more nuanced – and intelligent – analysis. Although the state controls the property, not everyone has the right to access or use it because not everyone is paying for it. Those who are coerced into funding its maintenance and perpetual control via the government holding it are the true owners. By opening it up to all, it allows people who are not forced to fund the property’s maintenance and control to essentially rob others of their money through the state.

Also, because certain people are not paying for it, they have no incentive to reduce or restrict their consumption of the resources or endeavor to maintain the property. It is someone else’s problem.

Further, this viewpoint rightfully points out that there is no private sector example of a property in which the owner is not allowed to set rules or impose restrictions on the use of the resources on the property. All private property is governed by the owner who is free to impose whatever rules they please.

To remove all restrictions on a public commons or property leads to the lowest common denominator of individuals occupying it, the destruction of the property’s quality, and the full consumption of any resources on it to the point of shortages.

As Hans Herman Hoppe writes:

The second possible way out is to claim that all so-called public property – the property controlled by local, regional or central government – is akin to open frontier, with free and unrestricted access. Yet this is certainly erroneous. From the fact that government property is illegitimate because it is based on prior expropriations, it does not follow that it is un-owned and free-for-all. It has been funded through local, regional, national or federal tax payments, and it is the payers of these taxes, then, and no one else, who are the legitimate owners of all public property.They cannot exercise their right – that right has been arrogated by the State – but they are the legitimate owners.

What’s a greater tragedy than that of the commons is that so many libertarians adopt a communist view of state-controlled property that leads to the defense of unsustainable activity rather than understanding the situation is an aberration of how the land would be handled by the private sector.

This matters, because it affects how you think public land should be operated. The communist view is that no matter how much or in what manner the state taxes a group of people to pay for the land and its resources, anyone can come and occupy it for whatever purpose they desire. It eventually leads to the destruction of that property just as we saw in communist nations.

In contrast, the correct application of libertarian philosophy is that the state has an illegitimate claim of ownership and that true ownership is found within those taxed to pay for the land. Therefore, as long as the state entity controls it, those people have a right to impose through that state entity rules, regulations, restrictions, and policies as to who may enter the property, how it and the resources therein can be used in order to assure its overall preservation.

Once the property is sold to a private owner, the matter is moot – at least for those who argued in good faith.

 

 

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What Is And Is Not Free Speech

A curious debate over free speech has occurred regarding the case of Michelle Carter, a girl from Massachusetts convicted of manslaughter for her involvement in the suicide of her boyfriend.

Reason Magazine argues that she had a right to tell the boy to kill himself because it is a form of free speech.

Meanwhile, Quintus Curtius offers the legal argument for why she should be convicted.

Like Quintus, I disagree with Reason for a number of reasons (heh).

If you read through the case, you will find this was not a mere quip or remark. This was not her merely saying “go kill yourself.” We have to look at the totality of what she did.

This girl conceived of the idea of suicide and proposed it to a minor whom she knew had psychological problems that would make him susceptible to suicide in a way a normal person would not.

She came up with the precise details of the plan for how he would kill himself and then continually pressured him into doing it when he became hesitant or was insufficiently persuaded to kill himself. She was in contact with him up until the very moment he killed himself and failed to notify the people responsible for his well-being.

In full context, she knowingly exploited the psychological condition of a child (not an adult) to get them to kill themselves, all while deliberately failing to notify his parents or authorities that he was going to do so.

She even pretended to have been ignorant of the whole thing after it happened. 

As Quintus explains:

It is essential to recall the behavior of the defendant in this case, and the background of the two actors, Carter and Roy.  The victim was essentially handicapped; he had a known psychological condition.  Carter exploited this condition; she showed a malicious disregard for his safety by literally ordering him, over and over again, to end his life.  This case has nothing whatever to do with “free speech,” and attempts to make this an issue are grotesque in the extreme.

Imagine if a special needs child died because another child that was not special needs lied to them and told them it was safe to cross the street or enter the crosswalk when they knew there was incoming traffic, and then the special needs child got hit by a car – and the guilty party denied that they had said anything, then claimed free speech when caught.

That is not free speech, and neither is what Carter did. The context of her behavior matters. If this had been a limited form of speech directed toward an adult, that would be a different matter.

To be sure, this is an extremely rare and unique case, and while many free speech advocates are afraid of where it could lead if she is ultimately sentenced, I would argue that there is a dangerous precedent if she is not convicted.

It would mean that it is acceptable to exploit the condition of a child to get them to harm themselves while absolving yourself of responsibility.

Lastly, let’s also consider what would happen to such a person in an actual stateless society where the idea of free speech only exists for your property.

I’ll leave that for you to imagine.

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Why I’ve Been Quiet

Lately I haven’t posted anything, even though every day seems to have a blog-worthy topic.

To be succinct, I’ve felt I’ve said all that needs to be said in a fundamental sense on any issue I see in the news.

At a certain point, a person’s part of the conversation has reached its end.

Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t see libertarianism as an ideological faction having any significant influence or effect on the national discourse or discussion. Not that it doesn’t have relevance as a philosophy, but because its adherents generally speaking see it as a movement when it can’t and won’t, for reasons I’ve explained before.

Jeff Deists’ recent interview on Tom Woods’ podcast regarding the future of the “libertarian” label seems to vindicate my assertion.

The belief that one should leave each other alone is insufficient for a collective identity of any kind. The fight over the libertarian “label” and “thick” v. “thin” libertarianism would have been avoided had proper separation occurred.

Further, partnerships, alliances, and other limited working relationships are possible only when there is a mutual goal. It is self-evident that the various factions within the “liberty movement” have mutually exclusive visions of the world they want to live in and, correspondingly, the political stances they will take. If you want to create a new man, you’re not going to get along with a traditional man.

Some other quick thoughts on the problem.

  • Libertarians insist on dialectic when the political realm is a game of persuasion and rhetoric. Trump’s “MAGA” slogan was a textbook example of effective political rhetoric. Study effective meme-generators like Vox Day who writes: Remember, the most effective rhetoric communicates truth without necessarily being literally truthful in the details. It persuades through emotion, not reason, which is why it cannot be analyzed in the same way as a logical syllogism. 
  • There’s also a lot of preaching to the choir. Mocking the American flag as a “skycloth” and “statists” gets you lulzlzlz from fellow libertarians, but persuades nobody. If you’re not trying to change someone’s mind and just want to puff up your own chest, just cough up to it.
  • The persistent conflation of “nation” with “country” – as though nations couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without the state – and the examination of political situations from a hyper-individualistic perspective. It’s why much libertarian analysis on cultural and social disputes is way off.
  • Obsessing over “ideological purity” when attempting to rectify real-life political problems. No plan no matter how perfect ever survives first contact. If you’re a hipster libertarian just trying to be ironic about it, at least be honest.
  • Vague or unrealistic goals. I was once guilty of thinking otherwise, but government is not going away. Making its abolition your goal is as Utopian as trying to abolish poverty. As RamzPaul once pointed out, they don’t have a coherent plan on how they achieve their “stateless society” and, consequently, how to maintain it against those who favor government.  The fact that you have the right to something means nothing if you can’t protect that right from someone stronger than you. So set limited, tangible and realistic objectives that can be measured. For example, stop worrying about whether people call themselves libertarians. Names and labels don’t matter as much as actual ideas and beliefs.
  • Living vicariously through politics as individuals – libertarians should strive to live as free as possible to pursue personal ambitions, but they should strive for them irrespective of what or who is governing them. Making politics an idee fixe or waiting for the political situation to change before pursuing personal goals is a recipe for misery, and we all know what misery loves.

Perhaps I have other thoughts, but I’m too preoccupied living the productive life of a free man, a life I intend to live no matter what happens around me.

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Egalitarianism Is Inherently Statist

Bionic Mosquito writes about how community is found within a truly egalitarian society  – through the state, and only through it (bold emphasis added):

Destroy all other hierarchies and all that is left is the State.  This should not be a difficult concept to grasp.  It takes little more than opening one’s eyes to our daily existence.

Where during the Middle Ages the quest for community might lead one to the Church, today the journey often ends in the political party.  Eventually, when man feels he has lost all control of his destiny, he willingly turns to the totalitarian state.

Citing Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor:

“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and painfully as to find someone to worship.  But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men will agree at once to worship it.  For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but find something that all will believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it.  This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time.” 

I know, I know… “I am an individual; I am strong; I am a libertarian.”

OK, so pretend Dostoevsky isn’t writing about you.  Instead, just look at the 50,000 others cheering wildly for the troops next time you are at the ballpark.

Just who is the one who doesn’t fit Dostoevsky’s description?  Who is the oddball?

Hierarchy is neither anti-libertarian nor anti-liberty. Hierarchy is good. It gives people a sense of purpose and a role in culture, society, and their institutions. It provides structure and stability.

Every successful, effective group has positions and roles, and the members either take those roles or are delegated them according to their abilities.

This has nothing to do with “equality” by whatever definition you wish to provide.

It has to do with giving people a place to belong. The idea that everyone has the same role or has equal authority to anyone else is just as Utopian as the notion that without the state there would be no need for hierarchy.

Even if the titles are not bestowed officially, men naturally seek leadership among their groups.

People are innately unequal in every way imaginable, save for their common right to self-ownership.

Death is the true equalizer; we are all going to die, and only in death do we become equals.

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