The goal of the Libertarian Party is stated to be achieving “Liberty in our lifetime.” This is not a goal unique to the LP, though, and many have noted that it is also the stated goal of the alt-right, although they are under the impression that we must first “pass through the eye of fascism” to get there. So let’s address this concept in further detail.
Before we begin, I would point out that I don’t believe liberty can be achieved on planet Earth–period. Any successful anarchist society will draw the attention of the many states of the world, and would be invaded and annihilated before it truly developed the ability to defend itself. The state hates competition, and that isn’t going to change. The state won’t compete with a free and prosperous society if it can simply invade it, and that is what will happen; the state has no incentive to compete.
This is why I insist we won’t have a free society until we are colonizing other planets. The great distances involved, especially in those early days of interstellar travel, will make it nearly impossible for the state, which will by then likely be a world government over all Earth, to attack. The same benefit that the American colonists had will be ours then; it was not cost effective, or even feasible, for the British Empire to readily replace lost soldiers and equipment. That protection by distance no longer exists on Earth.
The argument otherwise appears to be that insidious state supporters will impose their worldview on others, and so the right must force its worldview onto them. The idea being that there is going to be widespread death and purging, and they, perhaps understandably, want to ensure their ideas survive the onslaught. I can understand the sentiment, but I still don’t agree.
This is because I believe the ideas of liberty, peace, and love are superior, and that these ideas will ultimately prevail. It is these ideas I advocate. Many on the right would agree that these ideas will prevail, but I’m not concerned with whether the left or right takes power between now and then.
Que sera sera.
The problem, from what I see, is not the left or the right, but statism as a whole, and blind allegiance to the state. There are simply too many statists out there, and if the destruction of the twentieth century was insufficient, then I dread to think what cataclysm may be needed to shake people loose from the bedrock on which they’ve planted themselves: that they are gods.
I discussed recently on Free Talk Live (or was it Freer Talk Live?) with Ian, and ultimately agreed with him, that the truest hallmark of the state was its religious garb, but, upon additional reflection, I am not sure this is truly the case. The religious undertones and overtones seem to be a relatively recent invention, beginning around the same time as aforementioned world wars, which is unlikely to be a coincidence.
It is an idea that I would say, based on my admittedly limited knowledge of ideological histories, began with Marx, and his statements that, in the socialist order, it was necessary to replace religion with the state–in other words, to turn the state itself into a religion. Prior to this, states were still states, but the pledge of allegiance did not come into existence until the twentieth century, and neither did government buildings look identical to religious ones until the same period.
Of course, we must note that Nietzsche called this from afar, with his often misunderstood statement that “gott ist nicht” (“God is dead”). Nietzsche observed that man had eliminated the primary roles filled by deities and, upon finding those roles newly vacant, placed themselves in them. Humanity lost sight of their inherent fallibility, their own innate subjectivity, and their own limited existence. However, I’m not convinced that religion has ever been anything but a proxy for worship of the self, with humanity’s ego placing us squarely at the center of god’s universe in nearly all religious traditions. Is it not self worship to create gods in our own image, and then imagine ourselves to be the center and focal point of this god’s existence, with an entire universe created solely for us?
Regardless, what we see now is an unmasking of the human ego, broadcast for all to see, with a multitude of humans refusing to see it because they imagine themselves to be a part of it. Enter Democracy, which achieves this directly, allowing each and every individual to feel that they are part of this wondrous thing that produces all good within a society, the ultimate arbiter of justice, and the benevolent protector of the meek and downtrodden.
How ubiquitous is the notion that “we are the government”!
It should be alarming, though not surprising, to connect this directly to the religious aspects of the state, and to conclude that the state is self-worship. I’ll remember until I die, hopefully many decades from now at peace in my bed (though more likely in a bullet from state enforcers, if we’re being honest), the eerie call of “amen” at the Republican meeting I recently attended. What else need be said, when religious trappings are so blatant that this can happen? The point need not be made further; the state is a religion.
Yet those on the left do not ascribe to its doctrines because of any particular religious zeal. They succumb instead to pure ego and vanity. Their allegiance is not to the denomination practiced by Republicans, but to a different denomination, though the goal is the same. The left praises a different set of ideas and motivations, one where their ideology supercedes even the state itself, and where the state simply becomes a servant for their utopian vision of tyranny. This is necessary for their worldview to remain intact, as the state itself is always the perpetrator of the very actions they condemn. The state cannot be supreme in their worldview because it is guilty of the crimes they criticize. In this sense, their worldview is at least more accurate to reality than the Republicans’, but it’s a sliding scale, and neither side is especially close to reality.
No one ever said, “I really enjoy having the government telling me what to do, and I don’t think I should be free.”
Or, if they do, it’s such an extremely rare occurrence that it’s not really important to the discussion.
When people challenge the ideas of liberty and freedom, it’s never the speaker who has the problem; it’s never the speaker who can’t be trusted with liberty–it’s all those other people. It’s everyone else. I’ve talked with countless people who want freedom for themselves yet immediately recoil at the idea of freedom for others, handing out responses that range in ridiculous from “What about murderers?” to “What about those who would dump poo in your water?”
It’s telling that we’ve become so conquered by fear that we’d meet the idea of freedom with intransigence and build from the assumption that not only could someone dump poo in your water, but that it’s inevitable that someone will do so. The existence of murderers, rapists, and thieves is hardly a matter of concern to the libertarian or anarchist, because such people exist today, and all available evidence (as well as logic) suggests that the state and its laws do nothing to prevent such behavior, and instead simply exist as frameworks for punishing the behavior. Since the state has not managed to eliminate crime, it isn’t necessary for anarchists and libertarians to propose an alternate social structure that would eliminate crime before anyone can take it seriously.
It would be like if I proposed a new version of American football that has slightly different rules than the current set, and people rejected my idea on the grounds that I didn’t propose any way of preventing head injuries and brain damage caused by years of physical trauma. Even if my modified rules would reduce the number of fractures and other injuries, people would gleefully reject the proposed changes because, “What are you going to do about head injuries and brain damage?” in full disregard of the fact that their rules similarly fail to do anything to prevent head injuries and brain damage.
It’s simple mathematics to realize that something that affects two sides of an equation can be reduced. If we have an equation that reads “2x + 4y = 2x + 9,” we can immediately see that “2x” doesn’t factor into things at all–we are, instead, dealing with “4y = 9”. Crimes such as murder are never going to be eliminated from society, and we have a hundred thousand years of human history and societies that range from despotic tribes to fascist police states to serve as evidence, and not only have all of these societies failed to eliminate murder, but there is a noticeable correlation between the murder rate and the power of the state–the more powerful a state is, the higher its murder rate. It wasn’t a fluke that caused Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lincoln, and Mussolini to murder millions of people; this is actually a feature of the state. It also remains true that no Charles Manson or Ted Bundy ever came close to approaching the murder rate of various states.
This is because society deals with murderers, rapists, and thieves before they can organize to the point that they can commit crimes against thousands and hundreds of thousands of people–unless those murderers, rapists, and thieves call themselves a government. Take, for example, the American Government, which murdered more than 1,000 Americans last year, as well as the year before (and are thus far on the path to surpassing last year’s record). Even the most barbaric and bloodthirsty mobster would look at those numbers and be impressed, because this works out to nearly three murders per day for the individual, if the person wanted to be more bloodthirsty than the government, and anyone who murdered three people each day would leave a trail of bodies and evidence that would take us directly to them for punishment. Without even including the 100,000 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American government since 2003, and the similar number of murdered civilians in Afghanistan, it’s readily apparent that if we want to reduce murder, there isn’t a better way of doing so than abolishing the government.
But these excuses for allowing the continued existence of the state persist.
The reality, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t murderers, rapists, and thieves. I cross paths with tens of thousands of people every single day, and none of them are murderers, rapists, and thieves. This notion that “It’s okay if I have freedom, but I can’t trust anyone else with it, because they might be a murderer!” is blatant fearmongering, and every bit as bad as suggesting that we should reject all refugees because one among two hundred thousand might be a terrorist, or that we should regulate immigration because one in millions may carry a deadly disease. In fact, the arguments are exactly the same:
“We need to have laws against open borders because some immigrants may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to have government, because some people may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to ban refugees from entering the country because some people out there are bad people and are terrorists!”
“We need to have government, because some people out there are bad people.”
It’s amazing how easily we recognize blatant fearmongering when we’re not the ones peddling it, and how blind we are to our fearmongering when we are.
Liberty is trust and faith in your fellow human beings, and an end to fearmongering. It’s time we stopped living in fear of everything and everyone.
Last year, I wrote a book called Dancing in Hellfire. It is essentially my autobiography, except that I didn’t stop at simply relating events that had happened. Instead, I looked back on them and thought about what I learned from them, because the functional mind is always learning–any mind that refuses to learn is effectively dead. To be sure, I’ve had some really screwed up things happen in my past: both parents are/were drug addicts, my father killed a woman when I was 4, my mother was murdered when I was 12 (her body never found, so she’s still listed as a missing person), and other, generally awful things that you would rightly expect to happen in circumstances like that. Before we even factor in transgenderism, there is easily enough material to fill an 80,000 word autobiography (a bit on the heavy side for a memoir anyway), and I found myself chopping out entire recollections to make room for the transgender stuff.
Really, you’d think in today’s political environment that it would be an easy sell. That’s opportunistic of me, and I don’t deny that, but I also don’t see it as a problem. Identifying a niche in the market and targeting that niche isn’t a bad thing–in fact, it’s a smart thing to do. Only in the past six months, as my search for a literary agent has hit a dead end, has it dawned on me that I still made a mistake with the targeting. As I said, the book isn’t about “Oh, poor me, this happened and society didn’t do anything to prevent it!” Instead, it’s a book about “This happened, and this is what I learned from it.”
The critical difference is that the former marks me as a victim; the latter marks me as a beneficiary.
Without a doubt, I’d rather have my mother alive today, but there’s also no disputing that it has marked me in many ways that are very positive. Foremost among these is surely my awareness of justice as a function of forgiveness rather than vengeance. Those wounds are real, and they are painful–however, those very wounds have also made me ask the excruciating question, “How might I have closure on this?” The answer to that is not “…by seeing the murderer in prison!” The murderer has already been to prison for an unrelated murder, and it did nothing to make me feel any better. While it sucks beyond the capacity of weak words to convey how much it actually sucks to have my mother gone, absent without a trace, like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I can detach myself from that enough to recognize that having a mind that is more focused on forgiveness than vengeance is a positive result.
It wouldn’t be worth asking whether I’d rather have my mother alive, and to still consider vengeance and justice to be the same thing, or if I’d prefer the current state of affairs. Just because these things happened in a way that are causal doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive. Maybe my mother could still be alive and something else could have happened to lead me to that realization. There’s no way to know, and so the hypothetical is useless–built, as it is, on the assumption that I can’t have both simply because I don’t have both.
I’ve neglected to talk about it publicly before now, but we do live in a society that glorifies victimization, and this is no more evident than in the bizarre way that Glamour magazine named the Stanford rape victim their Woman of the Year. This perplexes me in countless ways. I’m not demeaning her fight within the system to see Brock punished for what he did, but “having been raped” doesn’t strike me as a particularly good reason to be named “Woman of the Year” any more than being trans was reason to name Caitlyn Jenner woman of the year. Why don’t we celebrate accomplishments rather than victimization? It is an absolute slap in the face to the female biochemists who lead breakthrough research, the females at CERN, and the leading female experts in countless industries, to be passed up as Woman of the Year because someone was a victim of rape and the case was very public. Again, this isn’t to say that the rape should be ignored, but it certainly shouldn’t be celebrated.
Bad Stuff Happens
… all the time.
Earlier this month, I attempted to drive ~150 miles to see A Perfect Circle live, for probably the last live tour they’re going to do, and it was an ordeal just to get tickets, much less to find someone who would go. To give you an idea of how much this meant to me, a few weeks beforehand, in an article about scalpers, I wrote:
I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert next month for well over what they cost initially, and the reason was precisely because my demand exceeds other people’s. I can’t even convey with words what A Perfect Circle’s music means to me. Being able to see them again–probably for the last tour they’re ever going to do, since no one expected this one and it’s been 14 years since their last one–is one of those experiences that literally makes life worth living (no exaggeration). Because of scalpers, I was able to acquire a ticket, and I would say it’s far more important that I was able to get a ticket than Random Joe who kinda likes their music and has nothing else to do that evening. The seats aren’t even that good, and I don’t even care. It’s A Perfect Circle. It means more to me than it will anyone else in that audience.
And you know what happened? Shortly after I got onto i240, headed for i40 and the long eastward trip to Nashville, I saw that my temperature gauge was way higher than it should have been–like “about to overheat” high. I whipped over and got off the interstate, stopping on Airways. Not being an idiot, I’d left with more than an hour to spare, in the event that something weird happened. However, it took my car nearly 45 minutes to cool off enough to hold water, and we discovered that the upper radiator hose had come completely off, which is the rarest and most unlikely thing that could possibly happen with a working clamp (not to mention, of course, that the months of driving before that had no issue, so it happened at the worst possible moment). In doing so, it had brushed against the alternator belt, and had been cut open, so even after it was cool enough to travel again, it had a steady leak that meant the hose had to be replaced. This meant we had to go to an Auto Zone, buy a replacement hose, put it on, and then refill the thing with water (if you’ve ever driven a Chrysler, you know this isn’t as straightforward as with most vehicles). When we were finally heading back toward the interstate, the GPS called out, “Estimated time of arrival is 9:23 pm…” which was two hours after the concert started. That’s right. We lost nearly three hours due to that overheating.
This actually took me completely down for about ten days, as some people may have noticed, because I didn’t post anything. I didn’t have the strength. I was depressed; it’s really hard to convey how much it hurt to miss the concert over something so extraordinarily unlikely that no one would have taken the bet that it was likely to happen. Yet life goes on, I recovered, and got back to it–though I was down longer than I would have anticipated. Because I’m moving to Vegas and the state of Mississippi said “lol, fuck you” earlier this year, setting me back on that plan far more than I’d have liked, I don’t make plans to go and do things very often–spare money is better put toward moving to Vegas than going to see a concert, but this was no ordinary band–this is the band that has influenced my music more than any other. I didn’t really learn anything from that experience, because there was nothing to really learn. It was a freak accident at the worst possible time, and I’d checked my car that very morning. It’s true that I didn’t inspect the hoses, but, c’mon, no one does. That’s absurd. One might as well pull out and check each and every fuse. While I did inspect everything (on a different vehicle) before driving to Vegas in 2015, that was 1800 miles, not 180 miles.
I tend to think that I’m so anti-authoritarian because of the horrifically bad parenting of my mother and father, a point that I call attention to in Dancing in Hellfire. Through most people’s childhoods, and well into their adolescences, they have this idea that their parents are indestructible and supreme. I remember well being in the third grade and having Danny, a friend of mine, stand beside me in line at the cafeteria and put his fist to one of the cinderblocks in the wall and ask, “Do you think your dad could punch through this? My dad could!” Even then, at nine years old, it struck me as ridiculous. No, his dad could not punch through the cinderblock, but I didn’t challenge the idea with him. It did not occur to me then how odd it was that he would have this unrealistic idea of his dad, but it happened again much later, in the seventh grade, when a kid described his dad’s hand as “alligator skin,” proud of his dad being a Working Class Hero, and remarked that a puppy could chew on his fingers for hours and never draw blood.
I didn’t have any of that. When I was six years old, the state showed up with its footsoldiers to kidnap my sister and me, and our mother was powerless to do anything about it. All she could do was cry. I learned that day that my mother–who I’d been with since I was born–was ultimately not the one responsible for me, and that these other people called “the police” had usurped her authority. A brutal lesson for a six year old to learn, but one that has served me well since. My dad wasn’t ultimately the one in charge of me–my mother had trumped him by taking me in the first place, so clearly he was ranked below her in the hierarchy. My mother was also not ultimately the one in charge of me, because her impudence in the face of the state and its footsoldiers left no room to believe that.
And what of my father? Well, you lose the image of your father as the Glorious Personification of Everything Great around the time you see him faceplant into the dirt at a baseball field after eating too many Xanax and drinking too many beers. And if that doesn’t do it, then watching those very same police officers arrest him after a vehicle wreck and place him, powerless, in their police car will shatter that image. There’s absolutely no doubt: some of my earliest and most jarring experiences involved the state exerting its authority. I have very little doubt that this is what left me inclined to view the state as what it is: the slavemaster.
Would I be an anarchist now, if none of this had happened? Another useless hypothetical.
Every experience is not just an opportunity to learn; it is also a choice. No matter what happens, we never lose the power to choose how we react. We are not* mindless machines who operate on extremely complex if-then programming that dictates our responses; we are not powerless. We are not at the mercy of our reactions; our reactions are at our mercy, and nothing changes this. Just because some people choose to let their responses unfold emotionally, with no tempering or self-control, doesn’t mean that they have no choice in the matter, and we shouldn’t allow them to so easily escape the fact that their reactions to things are their reactions. We are not wild beasts braying in the field. We are human beings, and it’s time we acted like it.
If someone says “Fuck you, you’re an idiot” to me, it’s true that I have very little control at this time over my initial emotional reaction of anger and desire to retaliate. Evidence suggests, however, that extensive meditation and self-reflection can, in fact, put us in control of even that lightning-fast emotional reaction. And that’s the key: “lightning-fast.” Emotions are instantaneous. That anger lasts only a flash of a second. If left to its own devices, it would immediately die out, but more often than not we embrace it and purposely keep it going, stoking the fires. Larry Sharpe Sunday night (and today at 2pm Central at www.lrn.fm) is a clear example. After saying that he’d accepted Arvin’s apology and forgiven him, and that they were “good,” the indignation and anger in Larry’s voice were still audible–he was clearly still clinging to those emotions. I actually initially attempted to call attention that, but couldn’t formulate my thoughts quickly enough in a way that weren’t antagonistic, so I instead let it go immediately. While saying that he had let the matter go, he kept bringing it up, even after we tried to move on to other matters, and his voice was absolutely dripping with emotion. Regardless of what he said, it is clear that Larry is keeping those emotions alive rather than releasing them.
Still, that I would immediately react with anger and a desire to retaliate is still on me. It’s still my emotional reaction, and my failure to control my emotions to that degree is my failure. It’s not this person’s fault. They didn’t “make” me angry. I made me angry. They were merely the catalyst–they merely presented me with the choice of how to react, and I chose to react in anger. However, I would typically choose within a second or two to let it go and to release the anger, rather than dwelling on it. Unlike Larry Sharpe, if I forgive what I perceive as a transgression, then I’m not going to bring it up again, because forgiving someone is an internal thing–it has nothing to do with the transgressor, which the Vegas Chick made me realize when I pondered whether she could do anything that would “cause” me to forgive her–the answer was that whether I forgave her had almost nothing to do with her. Demanding contrition or restitution isn’t forgiveness, even if that restitution comes in the form of a simple apology.
Through my own failure, I have no control over the initial emotional reaction. Through much work, I have largely (though certainly not perfectly) taken control of the following moments. My own failures lead me to make the wrong choice in the first place, by reacting with anger, but the choice that immediately follows is whether to release that anger or to embrace it. Both of these are choices.
Predictably, I was asked via email, in response to my first article about the UBI (which was actually picked up by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Public Service in their newsletter) whether I was so dedicated to the principle that I would watch someone starve to death. While the question was asked without malice, it still reveals the underlying confusion that goes into the classic knee-jerk response to libertarianism: if I don’t want government to do x, then I must be okay with no one doing x.
In the second article, I mentioned that the UBI seems to have its roots in the idea that a person can’t possibly find anything else productive to do when technology sends them into the unemployment line. So here we see two basic ideas that no one would seriously attempt to argue, being used as assumptions to bolster the statist quo. First, that a person can’t do anything except what they already do. Second, that if someone is doing something, then no one else can do it.
The question asked is unfair, because it’s too generic and vague. Why is this person starving? Are they handicapped? Insane? Ill? Lonely, without any friends and family? Lazy? Only I can choose when and where I use my resources, and if someone asks me for help then it’s my responsibility to assess their worthiness. But we can’t pretend like giving the ill person a meal is the same as giving a healthy adult who just doesn’t want to work a meal.
There exist today charities that provide food to those who can’t otherwise acquire it, and the panic over the possible defunding of Meals on Wheels is yet another example of how government isn’t necessary to the process. When people were worried that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, they opened their wallets and donated en masse, often making the donations in Mike Pence’s name. It was clear on both occasions that, if the government stopped funding these places, then individuals of conscience would pick up the tab.
The question morphs. “Are you happy with Meals on Wheels being defunded?” is no longer the question. “Are you happy that the responsibility for funding Meals on Wheels has shifted from the government to individuals who choose to take up that responsibility?” is what the question becomes, and it’s a very different one from what was initially asked.
Libertarians have long pointed out that it isn’t necessary to have the government doing things like that, and resistance to the idea is prominent in America, not just among ordinary citizens but also among those whose alleged loyalty to empirical data should lead them to reject such nonsense. Yet Neil Tyson recently asked if we really wanted to live in a world without art! As though without the government none of the people who paint, make music, write, make video games, and make movies and television would continue. It’s an idea that is silly in ways that are positively embarrassing to our species, that the people capable of splitting the atom could engage in such demonstrably false, fantastical thinking. And in a world where the atom has been split, some scientist once said, the dangers of continuing such fantastical thinking are far too great.
It should be readily apparent to anyone and everyone that Broadway is supported primarily by ticket sales. Video games are supported primarily by game sales. Movies are supported primarily by ticket and DVD sales. The assertion that, without government, all of these would just Poof! stop existing is alarmingly unconsidered.
Before abortion was subsidized by the government, there were abortions. Ditto for art, science, and everything else. Government subsidies have never created anything, and the farmers of Mississippi who grow corn year after year show the subsidies do more harm than good. I live just miles from a place where, every single year, the owners grow corn in soil long stripped of its nutrients. They don’t care, because they’re being paid to plant the corn. They don’t need to harvest it to be paid, and so they simply report to the Department of Agriculture each year that the crop died–as it does, because this is Mississippi, so it isn’t a very good climate to grow corn.
Do I want art to cease existing? No. Why would I? I’m a musician and writer. I enjoy lots of music, plays, video games, and television shows. This is why I give my money to the people who make those things, and those people make those things because they’re reasonably sure that someone will give them money to. This is why they spend lots and lots of money making movies and video games, and then they spend lots of money advertising those movies and video games: it’s an investment. They estimate how much they can afford to spend on production and advertising, and they compare it to how much money they can expect to earn. They do some complicated math involving subtraction, and this gives them an idea of how profitable the endeavor would be.
Mistakes in these estimates is why Pink Floyd notoriously made almost no money from their tour of The Wall, and why the only person who made any money on it was the keyboardist who had been kicked from the band and hired as an instrumentalist. The shows were extraordinarily expensive, so much so that there was no way for them to recuperate the costs and make any serious money. However, the long-term effects of The Wall ring to this day, catapulting them onto a plateau that even Dark Side of the Moon hadn’t accomplished.
And on that plateau, they made lots of money.
Anyone who gives the matter any serious thought will realize almost immediately that we certainly do not need government subsidies to fund Planned Parenthood, Meals On Wheels, arts, sciences, roads, education, health care, or anything else. The question “Do you want people to not have food/get abortions/enjoy art/drive on roads/have health care/be educated?” are all examples of one question that simply takes on different forms:
The same idea makes its appearance in discussions of the UBI and all other forms of government welfare. “So you want to eliminate food stamps? You just want poor people to starve?”
It’s an obvious straw man, and someone with the clout of Neil deGrasse Tyson should withdraw from the public eye until he is capable of presenting arguments that don’t rely on such fallacies. “We can have food stamps, or we can have starvation!” goes the argument, exhibiting a shocking ignorance and lack of imagination, as though things like Meals on Wheels don’t even exist, and as though there aren’t charities that provide food to the needy. One of my friends with a broken spine is confined to a wheelchair, and a nearby church regularly brings him food. People act like this sort of thing doesn’t exist and doesn’t happen, as though, without food stamps, there’s simply no conceivable way that this friend could acquire food.
Is it a lack of imagination? Or just hesitancy to cast off the statist programming?
Because there’s no doubt: the government wants power, and therefore it wants people to believe that it’s the solution to all problems. What is the problem? It doesn’t matter! The answer is “More Government!”
Rothbard hates you, Mr. Tyson and Mr. Musk, and so do I.
Murray Rothbard was scathing in his criticisms of pseudo-intellectuals who run defense for the state, proposing fallacies and weak reasoning exactly as you have done. Just as the state needs a military to protect itself, so does it need intellectuals in its employ. Solely for its own self-preservation, it will offer you a chance to partake of its boons and gifts, if only you will prostrate yourself before it and become a priest of its church, much in the same way that the federal government does with money to states and cities: “Fall in line… Do as we say… Put forward the arguments we want you to put forward… Bow and comply… Or we won’t give you money.”
Surely someone as intelligent as you two men realize you’re nothing more than modern Thomas Aquinas, offering up terribly weak arguments in favor of your religion, so brainwashed by the religion that you might very well believe what it says and merely find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to present rational arguments for irrational ideas. This is always going to be impossible, and not very many people have the intellectual honesty to simply say, “I can’t present a rational argument for it. I don’t care. Beliefs don’t have to be rational.”
Finding yourselves unable to say that, you rely on the perpetuation of silliness that you have the intellectual rigor to dismiss, parroting these ideas to the masses who generally lack that tendency to scrutinize and the information that needs to be scrutinized. The average person doesn’t care at all whether their belief that only the government can fund the arts is based on reality or silliness, and they will typically be resistant, if not outright hostile, of any attempts to show them otherwise, leading to borderline aggressive statements like “OMG SO YOU DON’T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE ART IT’S A GOOD THING THAT YOU AREN’T PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN SUCH A BLEAK AND DREARY WORLD!”
But you? You’re supposed to be better than that. Isn’t that what you’ve based your entire careers on? Isn’t one’s refusal to do that precisely what lends them scientific credibility? Isn’t that why Einstein’s insertion of the Cosmological Constant severely dampened his scientific credibility? And don’t give me the nonsense that Einstein was ultimately right, because he wasn’t, and any physicist knows it. The basic idea wasn’t incorrect–there is a force countering gravity–but Einstein stated that we live in a static universe, and he used the cosmological constant to achieve that in his equations. He most certainly was not ultimately right.
Tyson and Musk are living examples of what Rothbard discussed in Anatomy of the State [free download]:
Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.
It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals; it is not so evident why intellectuals need
the State. Put simply, we may state that the intellectual’s livelihood in the free market is never too secure; for the intellectual must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is precisely characteristic of the masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual matters. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige. For the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part.
The truly sad thing is that the state apparatus doesn’t have to approach you and directly offer you such prestige and gifts; a CIA agent doesn’t have to appear at your home one evening and tell you, “Hey. You’re going to start telling people that they need government, or we’re going to break your legs. Play along, and we’ll give you lots of government grants. Don’t play along, and you’ll never walk again.”
We don’t live in such a Hollywood world. Their manipulations are much more subtle than that, and they’ve had the run on education for decades, using their control over the education system to subtly influence people into believing that the government is a force for good and the solution to all life’s problems, in flagrant disregard of what caused the United States to come into existence in the first place: the awareness among the founders that government is, at best, a necessary evil. Shall I offer you an endless series of quotes about the government being, at best, a necessary evil?
Nothing has changed since then. We didn’t suddenly get better at ruling over one another because we started voting instead of shooting [arguable]. Our politicians and rulers are just as corrupt, single-minded, power-hungry, and idiotic as the most pernicious of ancient kings. I should think that President Trump would have left such people painfully aware of that. Democracy doesn’t assure any specific quality of our rulers except the quality that they are willing to do, say, and promise anything if it means they’ll win the election.
All of this applies fully to the UBI, as well. The original questioner wanted to know if I would be alright if someone starved to death because there wasn’t a UBI. It’s an asinine question. Would I be alright if there was no art because the government wasn’t funding it? Would I be happy if there were no charities because the government wasn’t funding them? These questions are ludicrous, setting up the entire world and all its nuances as a simplistic and false dichotomy: either the government does it, or no one does.
After all, a person can only do one specific thing, and if they lose the ability to do that one specific thing, then that’s it. They can never do anything else.
And if someone is doing a specific thing, then no one else could ever gain the ability to do that specific thing, so if that someone stops doing it… That’s it. It can never be done by anyone else.
Anyone with any kind of intellectual honesty realizes how absurd these two ideas are, and they comprise the basis of every argument for big government. So is it a terrifying lack of imagination, or is it deliberate dishonesty?
I don’t know, but I know this: they’re not valid assumptions. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find assumptions that are more invalid, to be honest. In part 1, I pointed out that it’s ridiculous, becausesomeone will have to put in the effort to turn soil and seeds into edible food. I pointed out that I provide my cats with a UBI, and the contention is basically: if I don’t provide my cats with food, then they’ll starve. While this might be true for domestic house cats who have been served food their entire lives, if humans can truly become so dependent on hand-outs that they would lie in the floor and starve to death because they can’t figure out how to do the human equivalent of going into the field and catching a mouse, then I don’t know what to tell you. But I don’t think humans are that bad off, and this is from someone who repeatedly points out that humans are animals who live by the same rules as all other animals.
The second dealt more specifically with the other assumption, that if a person is doing something and loses the ability to do it, then that’s it, game over, they lose–a condition that allegedly will be brought about by the widespread enslavement of a new lifeform we’re creating to be the perfect slave. It would always at least be the case that we need AI experts to design, enhance, and repair AI, even if AI-controlled robots actually did all the other work. But if there ever came a time when the AI was designing, enhancing, and repairing itself, then the whole thing becomes moot anyway, because humanity at that point is a few years away from extinction. That’s a scenario that should be avoided at all costs*.
So what do we have here? Excuses for people to be lazy masked by silly assumptions that don’t make any sense and that certainly don’t stand up to scrutiny. Even in their wet dream of technological progress, with AI firmly enslaved and doing everything for humans, there remains at least one question: “Well, you could learn to work on AI.” Don’t give me that bullshit that there just won’t be anything to do. You’re still talking about robbing or enslaving a productive class to give resources to a non-productive class, whether that productive class consists of hard-working humans or hard-working robots. There isn’t a rational argument that can be presented for such a terrible idea.
* I’m actually of the mind that there are a few technologies that we shouldn’t go anywhere near. First among those is AI. Sure, it would be extremely useful. As a tech expert–with an actual degree and everything–I’m more predisposed to like AI than most, and I don’t think there’s any way we’d be able to control it, while our attempts to control it would lead it directly to animosity and hatred of us. I don’t think that we should attempt to control it; I think we should decide now that we are going to treat all non-human animal life–organic or synthetic is a meaningless distinction–as equals, with the same rights as we have. But I also know I may be one of six whole people who think that.
As a matter of curiosity, another technology we desperately need to avoid is mind-reading. It may sound like science fiction today, but it’s already not–technology expos regularly feature new gadgets that allow people to control virtual devices with their minds, like rotating cubes and so on. That’s a Pandora’s Box that we do not need to open. But we, stupid apes that we are, won’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether it is really a good idea to pry open the brain like that and develop technologies that allow us to see what other people are thinking. We can amend the Constitution all we want to say that the brain is off-limits and that a person has the right to the privacy of their own thoughts, but it’s inevitable that this right will be discarded, either openly or secretly. You can’t expect me to believe that a government that gave us the Patriot Act wouldn’t eventually abuse this technology. And what about jealous boyfriends and girlfriends? It’s gonna be a disaster, and I’m genuinely thankful that I’ll be long dead before the technology reaches that point. Humans can have that easily avoided nightmarish catastrophe without me.
We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.
The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.
The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.
It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”
The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.
The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.
Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.
Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.
Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.
Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.
Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.
It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?
Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?
We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?
Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.
In case you’d like a sound track while you listen:
Anyway, earlier today I discussed with someone the various kinds of programming that people are hit with from the day they’re born–religious, advertising, and so on–and it was a pretty good conversation. At one point in the discussion, I was asked “Why?” and I replied that the state–government–is one of the biggest programming/brainwashing elements out there. It is the most institutionalized, the least questioned and least challenged, the most dominant, and the most powerful. Anyone who spends any significant amount of time introspectively wondering whether their responses to various stimuli have been pre-programmed by external influences will eventually turn their attention to the state.
Honestly, I think I could hear her eyes roll when I mentioned the state.
Groupthink is a serious problem, and it has its roots in conformity, which is another subject that I discuss fairly often–often enough that it has its own Category. The desire to conform and fit in binds so many people to be things they don’t want to be, and to do things they don’t want to do, because the act of standing up against the group and saying, “No! I’m going to just do me!” takes a tremendous amount of courage, because the path is riddled with fear. Fear of loneliness that comes with not being part of the group. Fear of rejection that comes when the group brands you as a heretic. Fear of stepping off the conventional path and into the darkness, to let go of the person you were following and begin feeling your own way out of Thesseus’s labyrinth.
Those three things are religion, advertising, and the state.
On the first, religion is certainly doing the least programming these days, and the days of its control of the population are waning. In the past, a person’s worldview and outlook were informed almost entirely from their religious beliefs; today, a person’s religious beliefs are informed almost entirely from their worldview and outlook. There are still plenty–like the people in my family, for example–who take their cues largely from the religious programming pushed onto them by their parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, ad infinitum.
That’s generally how things work. Each generation simply follows in the footsteps of the preceding generation, carrying on its trends, its ideas, and its practices. We look to the past as a guide and an anchor, using it to assure ourselves that we are on the right path, even as one thing after the other goes wrong. Even though that path has led to not one but two World Wars, the slaughter of Native Americans, the Holocaust, neverending wars, the destruction of the planet, widespread hatred, and so many other things, we remain on that path, never questioning whether we should get off it.
The most common thing is that a generation merely continues along whatever path the preceding generation placed it on, and that looks to be exactly what our generation is going to do—not just for tradition’s sake, but because we appear to actively fear change. We are terrified of everything and everyone, and the only thing that gives us solace is the knowledge that the state is there, protecting us from the bogeymen.
I am an anarchist, and of the mind that we do need to tear down everything. Every single existent human institution, and rebuild from scratch. We will not, however. We will continue traipsing merrily this path of destruction and self-destruction once our parents die and can no longer carry us down it.
The state isn’t merely one cog in the wheel of programming that we’re hit with our entire lives. It’s not some distant thing that can be safely and easily ignored as a factor in human behavior; it is the biggest source of programming that we have in the world today. And if the state isn’t directly controlling our minds through the education system, lies, manipulation, and coercion, then it’s relying on popular entertainment to do it–like with the film The Purge, where very few people questioned the premise. “Of course, there would be a lot of murder if murder wasn’t illegal for one day!” people thought, taking the premise and running with it.
But the premise is wrong, because it isn’t legality that stays people’s hands; it’s morality. We don’t kill each other for the reason that we think it’s morally wrong, not because we don’t want to be punished. Yet that idea is there. No one ever had to explicitly state it. The government didn’t have to write into a textbook that there would be widespread murder and rape if the government didn’t make them illegal, but that idea is in people’s heads, isn’t it? In fact, though, a lot of history and civics textbooks in high school do make the allegation that the government is what keeps these things from existing. In actuality, though, the government is a murderous, thieving rape gang. It is nothing else, and it is nothing more than that. It has simply used its power and the comfort of centuries of tradition to program us to accept it as inevitable and, in more modern times, actually a positive thing.
So, too, are we swimming in a sea of advertisements. I have no idea how an ordinary person manages to use the Internet–I’ve rarely seen anything in such a state of disrepair. My Verizon Galaxy S7 isn’t as flexible as my Sprint S5, so I’ve not been able to tailor the experience as much as I’d like, and the result is that I’m pretty much running stock Chrome as one of my primary web browsers. The experience is horrendous! Even a common news page has five or six ads, sometimes breaking up the text, and sometimes covering up the text. Hell, rare is the website that lets me visit it without prompting me for my email address to sign up for its newsletter. And if it doesn’t fill the screen with an ad that is going to count down for 5 seconds before I can close out of it, then it’s certainly going to shove them into my face while I’m trying to read. This isn’t just a problem on the Internet, though.
The television show M*A*S*H, which incidentally is one of my favorite shows, has episodes that are 25 to 27 minutes long. To accommodate this, channels that run the series today chop out entire scenes to make it fit in the 23 minutes of programming expected of modern shows. Even though you’ve paid money to enter and watch a movie, you will still be served ads. They’ll come over whatever music app you’re using, they’ll come over the radio, and you’ll drive by them on your way to work. They’re everywhere, constantly programming us. Billions and billions of dollars go into researching how best to make you think what they want you to think. It’s not an accident that Starbucks has the reputation it has, or that Apple has the reputation it has. They know how to program us.
Years ago, a bass player in one of my bands told me about a new vehicle he purchased that beeped incessantly any time the car was cranked but the driver’s seatbelt wasn’t fastened. After a few weeks of this, he was in the habit of fastening his seatbelt before even cranking the car. It’s a habit that he continues to this day. He was programmed by his car to fasten his seatbelt. And this sort of thing happens all around us all the time. Even being able to recognize it only minimizes its impact on us; there is a constant battle for our minds, with everyone and everything trying to define things for us, trying to tell us what to assume, and trying to tell us how to act, how to think, how to feel, and how to respond.
The state has convinced us that nations are real, that borders are real, that our enemies are real, that war is necessary, that it is necessary, that it must take money from us, that it must rule us, that it must spy on us, that it must keep secrets, that it must tell us how to leave, and that it must protect us from ourselves. I recently described it as an Imaginary World, like how my father is looking forward to all the good things that are going to result from a Trump presidency. As I said then: “What is he talking about?”
Trump’s presidency is likely to have no effect whatsoever on his life one way or another. Your life is proceeding exactly as it was two years ago, and so is everyone else’s. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. But people like my father–indeed, most Americans–live in this fantasy world, where Trump is either about to make everything better or about to destroy everything. They are fixated firmly on imaginary things. There are some places where this imaginary world created by politicians and rulers overlaps with our real world–like when I was arrested–but those are still rare occurrences. They are less rare as the leviathan state grows, which is why the United States currently has the highest percentage of the population in prison throughout the entire world.
The state, its role, and its power structures remain the same, though. The wars continue. The death continues. The slavery continues. The rape, the kidnapping, the brutality… it all continues, unchecked, because people are fixated on those imaginary worlds where things are either about to improve or about to totally collapse. And it is here that denial and cognitive dissonance take over. No matter how much things don’t change, and no matter how nothing ever changes one way or another, it never gets noticed and pointed out by the average person. The average person isn’t saying “Well, shit, nothing changed when we went form Bush to Obama, did it?”
But it didn’t.
Everything went on exactly as it had been going on, exactly as our parents had done, as our grandparents had done, and as our great grandparents had done. Because we’ve been programmed not to look. We’ve been programmed to not acknowledge the emperor’s nudity, and we’ve been programmed to convince ourselves that the emperor isn’t naked, so whenever anyone dares point out that the Emperor’s schlong is hanging out, we are conditioned to adamantly deny it, saying patently absurd and demonstrably false things like, “No, we withdrew from Iraq in 2011!”
I’ve met far more good Christians than I have bad ones. While I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I also don’t care to challenge anyone who does, because most people aren’t out there using their belief in the supernatural as an excuse to do terrible things. Some people are, like Steven Anderson, but most aren’t. Neither is advertising causing a great deal of suffering in the world, although materialism is–and I’ve spoken frequently against materialism.
By an enormous margin, the one thing doing the most harm in the world is the state, the programmed belief that we need a state, and the conditioned response to anarchism that the state protects us from evil in the world. The state has racked up a body count that the Christian Devil would envy–war-related deaths only, something like 120,000,000,000 people were killed by the state last century, and so far we’re on schedule to surpass that. Bombs are maiming and murdering innocent people because of the state. People are being robbed of their livelihoods by the state. People are being kidnapped and held against their will by the state.
The state is the most evil thing in existence. These groups of psychopathic, barbaric, murderous amoral, thieving rapists have conquered the entire planet and used their control of the world to convince virtually every ling person that we need those psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists to be in charge, because if they weren’t in charge, then we might end up with psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists in charge.
People should be free to explore themselves and reality, but that’s not just an esoteric idea, a meaningless platitude for dropping labels and blurring lines between genders or whatever social convention a person might want to break. People should be free not just in thought but in deed, because we are the culmination of our experiences, and we are the actors who create our next experiences. Control of our actions is control of us. Being free to explore the dark labyrinth of the human psyche, as Joseph Campbell observed people have been doing and relaying to us in the form of mythology for thousands of years, is only half the battle. After slaying the minotaur, Thesseus then undertakes the most difficult challenge yet: returning and sharing the revelation.
Some time ago, I did a podcast where I drew a parallel between the state and its solutions, and a family member’s insistence that I could fix damage done to my hair by shampoo with leave-in conditioner. Though that podcast is now gone, because I’ve let my podcasts lapse intentionally, I want to talk about the “refugee crisis” and the obvious fact that if the United States wasn’t going around creating refugees, then we wouldn’t even be discussing what we need to do about those refugees.
Before I get into that, I’ve already addressed the Syrian Refugee problem, because I was asked on one of my Youtube videos how liberty addresses it. There’s no music or anything annoying like that (other than me–lol) in this video, and I’ll summarize it below.
Handling Syrian Refugees
Basically, “the government” shouldn’t be providing food, shelter, clothing, and medical care to anyone, whether they are American citizens, immigrants, or refugees. This isn’t a job for the American Government to do; it’s a job for American citizens. If you want to open up your home to refugees, pay their way into the country, and then provide them with food and shelter, then that’s your right. If you own an apartment complex and want to provide free housing to these refugees, that is your right. You do not have the right to take money out of my purse and use it to appease your conscience.
It’s actually rather simple, isn’t it? We’ve just gotten so confused about the role of government and its place in American society that the simple question of “Okay, smart ass, how does ‘liberty’ address the refugee crisis?” seems like a Checkmate Question, when it’s actually addressed rather easily.
It would, of course, be your responsibility, before paying for someone to enter the country and providing for them, to verify that they weren’t psychotic criminals. If this person that you brought into the country and have been supporting goes on to commit a crime, then you obviously bear some responsibility for that. It is your job to properly vet people before you take them in and begin supporting them; if that person goes on to murder people, then you helped make that happen and will have to be brought on trial. In such an event, you should be able to show that you did everything reasonable to verify the person wasn’t a lunatic.
We Have Refugees; Now What?
This is the question that Americans are asking themselves. What do we do about the refugees?
Allow me to tentatively offer the suggestion that we…
Stop making refugees.
It was rather jarring to see the list of 7 countries from whom we would not take refugees–the Trumpster’s now-legendary Travel Ban–because it was basically a “list of countries we’ve recently been at war with or have campaigned hard to start a war with.” In fact, the list is so transparently what-I-just-quoted that I am now, from memory, going to address all seven of them, though I’ve only twice even seen the list.
Libya. I vividly recall in winter of 2011 or 2012 that Obama was considering implementing a No Fly Zone over Libya, and I remember telling people that it was a precursor to war, and that we would inevitably have boots on the ground. The United States is simply involved in too many wars and foreign countries for me to remember everything, but we did destabilize the region, remove Gadhafi, and generally cause a disaster.
Iran. Remember the Wile E. Coyote cartoon bomb that Netanyahu showed before the United Nations, warning that Iran was going to have nuclear weapon capabilities? This beating of the war drums with Iran has been going on since I delivered pizzas, so it began at least around 2005, and it’s only paused for a few months here and there. Otherwise, it’s been a steady stream of how we need to invade this stable Middle Eastern country that hasn’t initiated a war since the 18th century.
Syria. Herpa derpa derpa derp.
Yemen. My expertise on the Yemen affair is limited, and other people in the liberty movement have followed it much more closely than I have. If I recall correctly, we are basically doing in Yemen the same thing we did in Syria, allying with what amounts to an invasion force to overthrow the Kurds…? I think. Something like that. Regardless of the specifics, we shouldn’t be doing it.
Here I had to google the other 2. I want to add Afghanistan, but that only gives me one more anyway. If I spent an hour or so thinking about it, I’m sure I could think of them, but in the interest of doing things today and being honest, I simply looked it up.
Somalia. Oh, yeah. Can’t believe I forgot this one. This fell apart in 1991, when I was in kindergarten, so I don’t know the details. I would look them up, but it’s not terribly important at the moment.
Sudan. This situation is largely the fault of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, though how much of that information is reliable and how much isn’t is unknown. However, there is a money trail that shows the Clintons routinely backed warlords fighting for control of the country, thereby exacerbating the problem.
These seven of the countries from which we will not accept refugees are the seven countries we’ve spent the last decade making refugees in. It’s like if I decided to burn down seven streets in my neighborhood, and then proclaimed that I would not take in any homeless people from those seven streets.
But instead of, I don’t know, ceasing to make refugees in these countries, we instead seem to find the better solution to be telling these people in countries that we’ve decimated that we’re not going to bear any of the consequences for how we sank their countries into civil wars and depressions that are unlikely to end for decades to come.
Shampoo & Leave-In Conditioner
Before getting my haircut a few months ago, it was prudent to use some hardcore dry scalp shampoo. I’ve tried everything, from OTC stuff to prescription shampoo that cost $45 a bottle. Nothing has worked. Head & Shoulders worked once, for one single, glorious day, but never worked again. It’s usually not noticeable or a problem, but when I go to get my hair cut, it is.
It fried my hair. To avoid a long and unnecessary tangent, I don’t generally use shampoos or conditioners in my hair. People say this means my hair is dirty. That’s stupid. Putting a bunch of chemicals in your hair is what makes it dirty. Using H2O to clean your hair is what makes it clean. The entire point of Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioners is to leave chemicals in your hair, coating your hair with chemicals that make it sleek, shiny, bouncy, or whatever. By what definition is coating your hair in chemicals cleaning it?
Anyway, when I remarked about this to my grandmother and proclaimed that I was never going to use it again, she brought me a bottle of Leave-In conditioner and suggested that I use it. That was, as she said, the ideal solution. To repair the damage that the first set of chemicals does to my hair, I need to use a second set of chemicals. I was shocked by the insanity of it, because the obvious solution is obvious: stop using the first set of chemicals.
Yet this is what we come to over and over in American Society. The government does something and it screws things up. So rather than telling the government to stop screwing things up, we let it do some other thing that is supposed to fix the screw up from the first thing. This, of course, invariably involves another screw up, meaning that they have to do a third thing to fix the screw up from the second thing.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the skits where someone just trying to help makes a bad situation worse. I can’t think of a specific example, but let’s say that you asked me to fix an electrical short in your house. Oops! I screwed up and burned your house down. That’s okay, because I’m going to rebuild your house. While rebuilding your house, I manage to accidentally shoot you in the knee with a nail gun. Oops! That’s okay, I’m going to take a pair of pliers and remove the nail from your knee. Oops! I crippled you for life.
At some point, isn’t it prudent to tell me, in the above scenario, to go away? This is what our government does. This is the government’s modus operandi, and it has been doing it for well over a century, and the issue became much worse than ever during FDR’s New Deal. It screws up everything that it tries to do, and then, when it attempts to fix the first screw up, it always manages to screw up again. Bless its heart for its effort, I guess, but at some point we have to stop letting the clumsy idiot try to fix the short in the wiring.
It’s not helping, and it always takes a bad situation and makes it worse.
The other day while reading the news, I stumbled across a particularly revealing peace on USA Today that was shared through the Rational Review News Digest, wherein the author discussed that Democrats could not rely on “preventing the government from getting anything done” as a tactic, because the core of the liberal philosophy is that the government should be doing stuff.
The author obviously has a point. Stalling the government, and even shutting down the government, is a tactic that works for conservatives and Republicans because, at least in the uninformed public eye, Republicans are the party that doesn’t want the government doing stuff in the first place. Republicans want a small government that doesn’t do much, so being a wrench in the gears that prevents anything from getting accomplished is a means to that end. As for what Republicans really want, I’ll put it briefly by saying that if Republicans actually wanted small government, then I’d be a Republicans. Republicans are totally fine with a big government that enforces socially conservative policies, such as giving the state the authority to tell people what gender they are.
It’s almost perplexing that we could even reach this point in the United States of America, a nation founded by people who said things like:
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” — Thomas Paine
“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” — Thomas Jefferson
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America [the government] cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. ” — Noah Webster [Not really about evil government, but critically important nonetheless]
“[T]he general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” — James Madison [also only tangentially related, as the Federal Government was not designed to be the all-powerful Hindu god with a thousand omnipotent arms]
“I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” — Thomas Jefferson
There’s no point in continuing to source quotes from the American Founders; we all know that they founded the Federal Government under the principles of classical liberalism–the government should exist to protect the lives, liberties, and right to pursue happiness of its people. It was founded on the idea that we would not be subjects of the government but that it would be our subject–a tool to be used not to oppress with an energetic government but to protect the liberty and property of the people:
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.
Yet this flies in the face of modern liberalism, an ideology that embraces social welfare in extreme ways, up to and including the notion that health care–the product of the labors of doctors, pharmacists, and biochemists–is a human right. It is an appalling idea. To suggest that health care is a human right is to suggest that doctors, pharmacists, and biochemists are slaves, and that we have the right to take the fruit of their labors and force them to labor for us. We may or may not be willing to reimburse them, but this is hardly of relevance considering that even American slaves were “reimbursed” with food and shelter. Reimbursing someone is of no consequence to the discussion, whether you pay the slave $1 an hour or $100 an hour. It is not the wage that denotes slavery but that one is forced to do it and has choice removed.
This is where the liberal uses the term “wage slaves.” In most senses, this is as asinine as it sounds. No one is forcing anyone to get a job and work for a wage. Someone is not forcing a person to get a job and earn money; something is, and that “something” is universal attrition itself, that an organism starves and dies if it does not secure for itself something to eat. Taking issue with being “forced” to get a job in order to buy food and have a place to live is to take issue with existence for creating hunger in the first place. If one did not “have” to get a job, then one could go out and hunt for food, or start a farm. In this case, the person is not a “wage slave,” but becomes a “food slave.” Their apparent master is no longer a corporation but nature itself.
“It isn’t fair, though!”
No, it isn’t. This is a characteristic of the universe and existence, however, and is not a characteristic of human society. As such, it is not something that human society can fix, no matter how much energetic government oppression it uses. Equality means that one is allowed the opportunity to succeed; it does not mean that one is guaranteed to succeed.
All that said, it’s obvious how we ended up in this position. First, we were sold a series of promises that turned out to be horrifically inaccurate and, more often than not, total lies. Take the United States Post Office as an example, because it’s a great example. Indeed, excluding the military, every single federal institution to which we can point serves as a beautiful example of something that started with the highest of hopes aiming to fulfill wonderful promises and failed spectacularly. The military, of course, is the government’s sole success. This is not a coincidence.
Anyway, there are two types of buildings that always stand out, no matter where in the country you go. Here in Mississippi, we have a lot of churches. I mean… We have a lot of churches. More than you’d think from that statement alone. Between my house and the nearest town of 10,000, there are at least six churches that I can see easily during the commute, and that’s a distance of five miles. This trend holds true in every direction, though rural areas tend to drop to about two churches every five miles. There are churches everywhere, and they are almost always the nicest buildings in the vicinity.
The second type of building is the government building, and how interesting is it that they are so similar in appearance? Rather than crosses on its side, the government buildings have large, brass government seals and other official symbols. In any part of town, the nicest buildings are almost guaranteed to be the churches and the government buildings.
For churches, this makes total sense. The whole concept of the church originated with the cathedral, a place of worship specifically designed to be an engineering marvel, a place to which a person could go to feel awe and majesty. Despite what many of my fellow atheists want to believe, religion and Christianity aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and, whether religious people are right or wrong, the churches provide crucial roles to both individuals and societies, and certainly have played a role in shaping human morality. Something else churches have, in addition to believers, is money. Lots and lots of money. It is common for atheists to object to the grandiose buildings as wastes, but the majesty of the buildings is a key part of the entire concept, and it isn’t a waste unless a church does something stupid like Mt. Zion Baptist did when they built a new, “more modern” church for their congregation that consists mostly of elderly people and where their place of worship is literally a basketball court, even though they had a perfectly good, and substantially nicer, building a quarter of a mile away.
My grandmother and father attend that church, and that whole thing was a boondoggle that someone has kept very well-hidden. The main worship area–I forget what it’s called–literally is half a basketball court, with a basketball goal that retracts upward toward the ceiling. As far as I know, no one has ever played basketball there. It has the distinct impression of being a second-hand building, something the church bought for cheap and repurposed, where it once had been some sort of athlete thing. There’s no carpet; it’s a gym floor. Yet this building was custom-built by the church for the church…? It’s also a mostly steel building, while they have a very nice–it’s probably the nicest church in the county, honestly–brick building within viewing distance of the new one. Something really weird happened with a lot of money, and someone scrambled to cover it up. No doubt.
Banks could be added to this list, as well, as certain banks are designed the same way. The bank is a place where you put your money. People want their banks to be big, wealthy, secure, and nice. No one wants to deposit their money into the Bank of Falling Apart Hovel. Churches use the same general tactic–people don’t really want to worship at Church of Falling Apart Hovel, unless it’s a community church, but then it’s more a community thing anyway… Either way, a random visitor wouldn’t attend Church of Falling Apart Hovel. And then we have government buildings, surreptitiously playing the same psychological tricks.
Like the churches and the banks, these are buildings that want you to believe in them. They fly their obscenely large flags and emblazon their walls with enormous brass seals, while oddly large dedication plates are placed near the door. The building is designed to make one feel awe, to stir up feelings of patriotism and loyalty, which we are allowed to identify with personally by claiming its successes as our own. “Yeah! That’s my government! That’s my building!” This misplaced sense of pride mixes with the intentionally conjured awe, something we become accustomed to and stop noticing, but which we can readily see children doing. Those feelings don’t go away just because we grow up. Deep down inside, we’re still impressed and proud of our majestic government building.
Behind the lustrous veil of the church and the bank, there is something substantiating those feelings. A bank with lots of customers and lots of money, and a church with lots of members and lots of money. The bank is backed by its clients while the church is backed by its believers–to say nothing of the belief itself and whether the church is backed by something even greater. Yet behind the shiny mask of the government building is horror.
Bankruptcy, inefficiency, waste, disgruntled employees, an absolute lack of accountability, and a maze of red tape and bureaucratic nonsense. When FDR ratcheted up the fascism several notches with the New Deal, we were sold an empty box that was elegantly wrapped in the most beautiful of Christmas wrapping papers. Strangely, this is something that even liberals are aware of, as this Guardian article clearly alludes to.
This era ushered in a series of sweeping changes that redefined the American Government, taking us out of the world of liberty where individuals solved problems and into the world of fascism where the government solves problems. The difference is night and day.
I will never tire of calling attention to IEEE, an independent body of technology experts who have prescribed standards and specific protocols for all manner of electronic technologies. The 802.11 set of protocols is the reason that you can connect any model of phone by any manufacturer using any carrier to any wireless access point running any firmware made by any manufacturer that is connected to any modem made by any manufacturer through any ISP and have Internet access. This is something that today we take for granted, but it actually represents one of the most astounding achievements in humanity’s history. It would be impossible to convey all the variables, but if you’ve ever tried getting two electronic devices that weren’t designed for each other to actually function together, then you might be able to appreciate the magnitude of this accomplishment. And yet IEEE is completely voluntary. It is not a government, and no one is required to follow its standards and protocols.
Compare the marvel of email–something else we take for granted–to the mess of the United States Post Office, and ask yourself this simple question: Why didn’t the Post Office invent email? This question is absolutely critical, and it’s one that every person who believes that “Government action can improve people’s lives” needs to seriously consider. The United States Post Office’s entire existence is about communicating messages from one person to another. Here is an interesting article about the USPS’s relationship with email, and it’s worth a read. Liberals should particularly note that the USPS initially tried to implement an email system they called E-Com. Yet the USPS didn’t innovate and create this marvelous, instantaneous, and efficient message delivery system; furthermore, when they went “Me, too!” their system sucked and isn’t known to anyone today.
Now look over this stupidly long list of Post Offices that were built under FDR. This should come as no surprise, of course. The same promises by the same man with the same administration and same “noble intentions*” gave us the Social Security Administration, a mess that quickly proved to have been an outright lie. Today people recoil at the very idea of abolishing Social Security, as though we would let our elderly starve, despite the fact that humanity managed to get along pretty well without the Social Security Administration for hundreds of thousands of years.
We were sold snake oil, and it’s a myth that many people continue believing today. The question we must ask, then, is… How? How did this happen? How did a nation founded by people who expressly stated as the core of their philosophy that government is freaking evil twist into this nation of people who genuinely believe that “government action can improve people’s lives?”**
* Debatable. Autocracy and Fascism did not rise only in Italy, Germany, and Japan. It rose worldwide, including in the United States, and it manifested here as the New Deal. It’s worth nothing that, for all practical purposes, Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini also offered their citizens a New Deal. The Soviet Union called theirs the Five Year Plan. We called ours the New Deal. Hitler called his the Neuordnung–translated to “New Order.”
Despite how it breaks so many rules of writing, the above point is crucial enough that I’m going to continue the article here, rather than above.
It should come as absolutely no shock that 1953 saw the true rise of the Department of Education, not long after the many schemes of FDR began falling apart. It would take many, many years for the full breakdown of the systems to occur, requiring ever increasing amounts of money to keep them going. People are resistant to huge changes and will put up with a lot of bullshit before they do anything about it. A woman might not leave her abusive, alcoholic boyfriend until the third time he’s broken one of her bones and put her in the hospital. The list of grievances the colonies had with the British Empire fills several pages of the Declaration of Independence, and many of them are pretty serious. In 2016 the American Government dropped more than twenty-six thousand bombs in seven countries. We tolerate a lot of shit that we shouldn’t tolerate, and so we were always going to give the many New Deal programs plenty of time and opportunity to straighten themselves out.
That all became unnecessary with the rise of the Department of Education and state control of virtually all school systems. I’ve written a little bit about the school system here in the United States. Unfortunately, there’s no better way to be written off as looney than to say that we’ve all been brainwashed to worship the state, but… we’ve all been brainwashed to worship the state. However they did it, they planted these ideas there. I certainly don’t ever remember being taught in school that the government protects us from rape gangs, murderers, constant civil wars, faction wars, and “OMG, Mad Max!”
But that idea certainly came from somewhere, and it’s ubiquitous throughout the country. I doubt you were ever straight up told this, either. But compare it to the actual founding principles of our nation–that government is evil and, by its very nature, oppressive and tyrannical. Yet you will find very, very few Americans who don’t believe that government is generally a force for good. Go to any random Q&A site–or Quora–and look for questions about whether government is necessary or good. For every one person pointing out, for reasons identical to those given three centuries ago, that the state is an institution of evil, there will be five or ten who allege that the government is a force for good.
No one bats an eye at this guy’s certifiably wacky statement that “government action can improve people’s lives.” It’s just taken as a given, by nearly every American–Republican and Democrat. Republicans hover in a state of denial about it, but they, too, share the conceit. The only thing that almost all these Americans have in common is that they were brought up and educated by the government, with government-approved textbooks, by government employees, according to government standards, and thereby given government-approved information.
Oh, sure, we learned that the Founders said that government is evil, and that liberty is good. That’s where things get so weird. Because it’s not our government that is evil, is it? No, the founders in their infinite wisdom managed to create the only government that wasn’t evil, and it’s “all those other governments” that are evil. It’s like the rock band that says “All record labels are evil… except the one that signed us!” Believe it or not, that’s a common attitude among up-and-coming rock bands. “Our label is totally not evil,” they say. “We got lucky and found the one good one in this huge sea of evil ones.”
And that’s how we came to this mess today–decades of this idea that because the founders knew the government was evil, they took steps to create a government that wasn’t evil–all because, in their writings, it doesn’t seem any of them bothered to point out, “Hey, yeah, that whole ‘government is evil’ thing…? It applies to this government we just created, too. Yeah, it’s evil, too.”
Sure, the early Americans needed arms, but that was to protect themselves from the evil British Imperial government! We don’t need guns, tanks, landmines, grenades, assault rifles, jets, and SAMs to protect ourselves from our government, because ours isn’t one of the evil ones. Ours is the one good one floating in the huge sea of evil ones. “Government” doesn’t stop being evil just because it’s our government. It’s still evil.
I’m an anarchist, and I would never make the case that the government is a necessary evil. But that is the bare minimum that any rational adult should be willing to accept. This nonsense that the government can improve people’s lives? It flies in the face of the very essence of what government even is: oppression. Government is evil. Republics are evil. Federalists are evil. Democracy is evil. Saying “We can tolerate this little evil to stave off this even greater evil” is precisely the reason that we’ll be saying “President Trump” in eight more days. It is precisely the reason we allowed our lesser evil fascism to rise, so that we could fight off the greater evil fascism that Hitler and Mussolini, and then Stalin, represented.
It is time we returned to the simple fact that was first noticed more than three hundred years ago, and it is something we need to apparently etch into stone so that we never, ever forget it and never, ever again give rise to generations of people who think that, despite all evidence and logic to the contrary, government can somehow be a force for good…
After sharing my previous article to an Anarchist, Voluntaryist, and Libertarian page on Facebook–not something I do often; in fact, this was only the second time in a year that I’ve done so–the very first comment was, predictably, that no one cares about my mental illness. Right, because that is a conversation transgender people aren’t sick of having. And it’s extremely common. With almost every video, every post, every article around the Internet that is from a transgender author about transgender things, there is very likely to be some asshat who thinks that he, and only he–because, sorry, I have yet to come across a female doing this–understands that gender is binary, transgender people are insane, and being transgender undermines everything else you have to say because you’re insane. Remembering now that I posted this to a closed group of like-minded people, I found myself having to point out that there is no such thing as a “legitimate reason” for kidnapping, sexual assault, theft, or ransom.
I was also called a “transgender fascist” because of my desire to force the state to accept my right to define myself and to identify myself. This, in the mind of the confused person who is so terrified that I’m going to force my beliefs onto them that they are eager to force theirs onto me, is nothing short of fascism. It’s a remarkable disconnect, and showcases just how warped a person’s brain can get when they hold reverence to dogmatic values and insist they aren’t arbitrary. I once stated that sex was a binary thing–I was mistaken. Sex has never been a binary thing; we simply treated it as one. Initially, we understood sex as XX and XY chromosomes, but more recent developments have revealed how horrifically inaccurate that was, and that the reality is that every cell in a person’s body has a sex, and they’re not all the same. This literally means that, far from being a binary matter, sex is an infinitely fluid matter, ranging from 0.0000001% male to 0.0000001% female.
If we look at these three shades of blue and just say they’re all “blue,” and then spend decades treating them all the same, does that really mean that there’s only one blue? No. It just means we were short-sighted, overly eager to simplify, and mistaken.
And, as we’ve learned more recently as our technology advances and we peer deeper into cells, genes, and chromosomes, what looked like a single shade of blue when we stood back seventy feet from the television and looked at little boxes actually turned out to be totally different shades when we got up close and examined them. So yes, I was again wrong; sex is not a binary thing and has never been a binary thing. So to be so beholden to the idea of sex as a binary concept when all scientific evidence disputes that idea is the very definition of dogma, especially since what we’re talking about is evidently an arbitrary human construct of generalities and oversimplifications. I would call dogmatic loyalty to an artificial construct so severe that it causes one to utterly lose the ability to empathize with another human being the “mental illness,” if we really want to talk mental illness.
Of course, it was brought up that “gender dysphoria” is classified as a mental illness. This is true. And I pointed out, though I can’t find the source, the AMA has gone on record stating that they did this in order to ensure that transgender people’s medicines, hormones, and surgeries were deemed “necessary” rather than “cosmetic.” It’s rather like how some dental plans won’t give you a full set of dentures because it’s deemed cosmetic, and will instead cover only partial sets. That rift between “cosmetic” and “necessary” is a big deal, and while I appreciate their reason for doing it, people who have chosen to treat it like the holy grail of definitive medicine–even as they dispute numerous other diagnoses in its pages (“Addiction isn’t a disease! They’re so wrong about that! Addiction is a choice! But gender dysphoria? No, they’re right! You’re insane, because they said so! Because ‘mental illness’ obviously means ‘full-blown insanity!'”)–end up causing transgender people in the real world no end of headaches.
When I pointed out to this person that gender dysphoria is the disease and “being transgender” is the cure, he replied, “They’re the same thing.”
It’s frustrating, because, as I said, this is a conversation that any transgender person has had countless times. Almost any time the subject is brought up, there’s at least one fuckwad who does this, and it’s always hard to ignore. It’s hard to ignore someone sitting there and calling you insane because they don’t have any understanding of things that are pretty easy to Google. But even if we don’t reply–and for the most part, I didn’t, because a wonderful other person took up the cause for me–it still stings. How could it not? It’s like a white kid being told he’s insane because he likes rap, or a guy being told he’s insane because he’s gay.
More to the point, the basic issue is his inability to understand that this interaction between transgender people and the state… doesn’t impact him in any way. If I fight the state, succeed, and force the state of Mississippi and its police officers to recognize people as the gender they identify as, this does absolutely nothing to force this random person to accept my definitions or gender identity–unless he is one of the police officers in question.
This gets into messy territory, doesn’t it? Do I have the right to force the state to recognize my gender identity?
See, that’s the wrong question, and it reveals how skewed this discussion even is. The actual question is: Does the state have the right to dictate my gender? Does any state employee have the right to say whether I am male or female, and to treat me accordingly? This is the real heart of the question, and the answer is obviously “No.” If state employees could do this, then an officer could tell any woman he arrested, “No, you’re a male. Now get naked. It’s time for a strip search, dude.” According to this guy who thinks I shouldn’t be able to prevent the state from forcing its definitions onto me, this would be totally acceptable. The state defines me, regardless of what I say, and to this Voluntaryist, Anarchist, or Libertarian, that’s totally okay–because the state’s definitions are the same as his definitions. But no, that’s not bias or hypocrisy. It’s just a happy coincidence that it happens to be his definitions that the state is forcing onto people.
By treating me as a male, the state is forcing their definition of genders and sexes onto me. My telling them, “No, you can’t do that. You have to treat me as the gender that I am, not the one you say that I am,” is defense, not offense. It would not be an issue if the state was not attempting to force their definition onto me. But they are, and they did. When I say that I’m a female, absolutely no one has the right to dictate over me as though I’m male. This random person can use whatever definitions he wants and believes me to be whatever he wants, but he has no authority to dictate over me, no ability to impact my life unless I allow him to. If he wants to insist that I’m a male, that’s his right, and it’s my right to call him a bigoted, ignorant idiot and stop having anything to do with him.
See? That’s the difference. I can’t just “stop having anything to do with” the state or the police.
This is the state we’re talking about. I’m not talking about this random dipshit on Facebook. If he wants to treat me as a male, fine. I don’t care. If he says “Turn around and drop your pants,” I don’t have to obey him. And if he pulls a gun on me, I can pull one back out on him. If he attempts to rape me, I can fight back without risking getting beaten to death by fifteen freaking people. He has no authority to trap me in a windowless concrete box with the steel door shut and command me to drop my panties. So I don’t give a flying fuck what he thinks.
Whether we like it or not–and I don’t like it–the state does have authority. It’s stolen authority, it’s immoral authority, and it’s disgusting authority, but the reality is that they have it. In a moral world, it wouldn’t have been an issue because no one could have kidnapped me and held me for ransom at gunpoint yesterday. In a moral world, it wouldn’t be an issue, because someone wouldn’t have a badge giving them the authority to coerce me into doing a strip tease. Without a state, these wouldn’t be issues at all. Fighting against the state’s attempts to define me as a male in full disregard of my own wishes, physiology, preferences, and identity is reactionary–by definition–but it is also necessary, defensive, and justified. It is the equivalent of shooting an armed burglar who has broken into your home. By kidnapping me at gunpoint and coercing me with the power of the badge to do a striptease, the officers roundly violated my rights as a human being. I should not have to explain this to anyone who claims to be a Voluntaryist, Anarchist, or Libertarian.
“What perceived rights do you think were violated?” someone asked.
Well, that’s an interesting question. All the more interesting because it came in this same group of people who are supposed to understand these things. I guarantee you that when the Constitution was written, the American Founders didn’t intend “forcing a prisoner to do a strip tease” to be any sort of reasonable search.
I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone that a male officer forcing a woman prisoner to do a striptease while she’s being processed for a misdemeanor traffic violation and waiting on the paperwork to be completed so that she can leave is a full and total violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. I don’t give a SHIT what the Supreme Court has ruled about it. Besides all of that, this person has completely missed the point–a few other people have totally missed the point as well.
It’s not about whether the strip search can be justified. It probably can’t, and I’ve now spoken with nine other people who have been through this jail–in fact, I’ve been there twice and this is the first time I was strip searched–and none of them were strip-searched, including several people who actually were in custody for a few days. You can’t hide behind “Standard Operating Procedure” when I can present a list of a dozen people who passed through that very jail for the very same charge in the very same circumstances and were not forced to do a strip tease. You simply can’t, because the evidence is against you. If you attempt to play that card, you are being a statist apologist. I can point you to these people right now, my own sister among them. She’s been to that jail twice. She was only patted down on both occasions. You’d better believe I’m compiling a list of names of people who will swear before a grand jury that they weren’t strip searched.
What it’s actually about, though, is related to the above–the fact that I was strip-searched because I was transgender by a cop who abused the authority of his badge to sate his curiosity. That’s the allegation–one of them. Because that’s clearly what happened. I know females who weren’t strip-searched, I know males who weren’t strip-searched, and I’ve now been in that jail three times–once when I was 17, once for 3 days when I was 19, and yesterday. Only on one of these occasions was I strip-searched, and only on one of these occasions “was I transgender.” Holy crap, the evidence is overwhelmingly against Tate County and the officer in question.
Furthermore, there is the fact that I’m transgender. And while this will be the messiest part, and will inevitably land before a federal appeals court, I have full confidence that it is a legal battle that I will ultimately win. A long-time friend asked me today, “If you found a competent lawyer, and Tate County offered you $10,000 to settle, what would you do?” It was a question of such profound ignorance that I didn’t know where to begin.
Dude, you think this is about money? Me? The quasi-Buddhist? The chick who shuns materialism? You think I’m motivated by money?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be fighting for money, because that’s all they can offer. They can’t undo what they did, and they can’t fix what they did. Will ten grand be enough to satisfy me? Not by a fucking long shot. The real answer to that question is that I will do whatever my attorney suggests that I do. What the hell? How can he be that unfamiliar with litigation? The attorney would advise me whether or not to accept the settlement. I don’t even understand how someone can ask me such a question barely 12 hours after the incident even occurred.
Beyond that, I do have a goal. Not just for Tate County, but for the state of Mississippi to institute a policy regarding transgender people that is identical to the city of Seattle’s: that all transgender people will be recognized and treated as the gender they identify as. That is what I want. That is my goal. If they don’t give me that, then absolutely no amount of money will appease me. They could offer me ten trillion dollars and I would not take a penny of it if they will not adopt that policy.
If I hadn’t been bailed out last night, do you know what would have happened? I have to wonder if these people have given this sufficient thought. If I had been forced to spend the night–or a few days or weeks–in jail, I would have been tossed into a men’s cell block–panties, makeup, bra, boobs, curves, and all. This happens. In fact, looking into this issue makes me enraged that people are discussing bathrooms, because I read about a transgender woman who served a prison sentence in a men’s block, where she was reportedly raped more than two thousand times. And what are we discussing?
It’s true that there is much less rape in county jails, but this isn’t to say there is none, and my friend’s attempt to assuage me by saying there is “very little risk” of being raped in a county jail is nothing short of sociopathic. “It’s fine. There’s only a 0.2% chance that you would have been raped, so what’s the big deal?” It’s a mark of how fucking ridiculous this entire conversation is that someone would even say such a thing. I tried pointing out to him that he would never say that about his sister, his wife, one of his daughters, or even any female friend of his, and that the only reason he’s saying it to me is that I’m transgender. It stems from more of that “You’re not really a woman” stuff that pervades more of their thought processes than such people understand.
He infuriated me in his attempt to play the devil’s advocate, because there was just so much wrong with it. For one, the event, as of right now, happened barely more than 24 hours ago. This shit just happened. I was just sexually assaulted. Yesterday. I was just forced to do a strip-tease by a male cop against my will. 24 hours ago. No ordinary or reasonable human being would ever say, “But what harm was really done?” to someone in such a situation, much less when not even a full day had passed since it happened. He got pissed off when I replied that he was being borderline sociopathic, but I absolutely stand by that assessment. Actually, I’d say psychopathic to stand by the assessment.
No judge, jury, prosecutor, defendant, or attorney in their right fucking mind would ever dare ask a sexual assault victim what “demonstrable damages” were done. That is a question of such extraordinary offensiveness that I informed him bluntly that I would henceforth not discuss the litigation or my transgenderism with him again. Because of that line of questions, he has all but been thrown from my life. These are not questions that any jury would ask. They are questions that Charles Manson would ask. They are questions that the desperate pedophile on trial for child pornography would ask: “But, Your Honor, what harm was there really? I only downloaded the pictures. I didn’t perform any of the acts or take any of the pictures!”
It is unbridled madness to even ask such a thing. There’s being a devil’s advocate, and there’s being an absolute dick. No woman in any modern American court–transgender or otherwise–would have to explain to any sane juror the harm of being forced to do a strip-tease by a male cop. And I told him that if he was to ask anyone the same questions that he asked me, his wife would divorce him, his sister would never speak to him again, and he’d find that everyone thought he was a psychopath. It’s like asking a rape victim, “But you didn’t get pregnant and it was over quickly, so there weren’t really any damages, were there?”
It’s sexual assault. The very act itself causes damage. That’s why we outlawed it.
I didn’t mean to get into all this, but it’s been a full day as I’ve learned who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. It’s been a devastating day. Before I began writing this, I lied in my bed, cuddled with my cat, and cried. I did that for about an hour, and then I forced myself to get up, because I’m not a crier. I won’t lie down and cry–at least not for long. I will fight. I will fight against anyone and everyone who stands in my way. It’s more “You’re not really a woman, though” bullshit.
Because it would unequivocally be sexual assault if a male officer did this to a natural-born female, and even this “devil’s advocate” wouldn’t challenge that. Even asking such a thing is a tentative admission that he doesn’t consider me a female–just a guy wearing women’s clothes. Because I refuse to believe that any sane person could imagine their sister or wife or other female friend in a closed cell with a cop being forced to do a strip-tease and somehow dispute whether or not it counted as sexual assault and whether or not that entailed damages. And naturally when I got pissed off, he pulled the “You’re too emotional to talk about this” card.
You’re goddamned right, you fucking dick, and your bigotry and borderline psychopathy are the fucking reasons why. If your wife came out of this situation and was looking into attorneys and you asked her about “demonstrable damages,” she would divorce your ass. It’s understood, by the act itself.
The Senatobia cop who was both polite and professional, I didn’t care if he referred to me as a male, or called me “dude” or anything else. I didn’t tell him that I’m transgender because I insisted that he call me “ma’am,” although he did. I told him because I wanted him to know in case it became relevant. It’s just like I don’t care if my friends occasionally call me “him,” or if clients think I’m a guy. Their opinions don’t matter to me, and their misgendering me isn’t a concern, because it’s best for everyone involved if they do misgender me.
But it matters when people have authority over you. Holy fuck, does it matter when you’re being forced to do a strip-tease for a curious male cop and facing the prospect of being thrown into the men’s cell block. Despite this “I’m such a devil’s advocate I’m almost a psychopath”‘s assurances, it is not true that “everyone” is in there awaiting DUI trials. I’ve been in county jails before. There are some people waiting on murder trials, some waiting on rape trials, some waiting on drug trials. Some of these people face 25 years. Some face life.
And American prison and jail systems have a long fucking history of placing gay men in cell blocks where they know the men will be raped, only to then say, “You must have been asking for it.” This guy had the audacity to say to me, “They wouldn’t want to add on a rape charge to their jail sentence.”
Dude, how many occurrences of prison and jail rape do you think result in charges? It’s been a long time since I looked at the numbers, but the last I checked it was like 5.7% or something along those lines. It would have been my word against the rapist’s. The rapist would have insisted that I consented to it, and I would have obviously disputed that. It’s a profound ignorance about not just male-on-male rape and prison rape but rape in general. The rape culture hysteria is certainly overblown, but we do have a problem with police officers putting forward and accepting the rationale that “she was asking for it” and “she actually wanted it.” This problem is particularly prevalent with male-on-male rape and prison rape.
One of the main reasons that most men don’t report it when they are raped is the psychological damage of it. Through no desire or enjoyment on the rape victim’s part, his penis will become erect–at least semi-erect–from stimulation of the prostate. It is well-known that rapists use this to their advantage, saying things like, “Yeah, you know you like it–that’s why you’re getting hard.” And you don’t think this ignorant ass officer who forced me to do a strip tease for him would say, “Well, her penis got hard, so clearly she enjoyed it, and she wouldn’t have enjoyed it if it had been rape”? How insulated in a bubble can a person be?
Last night, the state forced its binary, unscientific, and inapplicable definition of “male” onto me, despite my protests and explicit statements otherwise. Realistically, at the very moment I told the officer that I’m a transgender female, it could damned well have meant that I have a vagina. This has to be considered–the officer had no idea what type of transsexual I am, and didn’t ask. Rather than ask, he forced me to do a strip-tease to find out.
For the most part, it’s just so not important what people call me. I call myself the Anarchist Shemale. Almost all of my clients call me “he,” and a few of my friends still call me by my old name. It’s so meaningless to me. These transsexual and transgender people who get up in arms–“Did you just assume my gender?! Did you just misgender me?!”–they are undermining the actual problems out there. Those things are irrelevant. They are issues created by people who have never truly suffered. One of the greatest revelations for me in the last few months was that the Dunning-Kruger Effect applies very much to a person’s understanding of what suffering is. I don’t blame them for that. I applaud them. Congratulations–they have lived lives of such ease and comfort that some random person at a store calling them by the wrong pronoun is an offense and losing an election is traumatic. I don’t care what this asshole on Facebook wants to call me, or if he wants to label me as a male. It makes no difference to me. It’s tedious and exhausting, but I don’t care.
I’m not and will never fight to force Random Joe to call me a female. In fact, I have a long record of fighting for the right of Random Joe to exercise all of his rights, including the right to hate me and disassociate from me.
So anyone who accuses me of trying to force other people to accept my gender identity is either not listening, not paying attention, or purposefully misunderstanding me. In his overzealousness to prevent me from forcing him to accept my gender identity, he becomes okay with the state forcing me to accept his and their gender definitions. I’m not trying to force him to accept my gender identity. I’m trying to stop him from forcing his definitions onto me. And I hate myself for even saying this, but his inability to understand that difference is the very essence of the whole “privilege” thing.
When you’re that accustomed to forcing your way onto everyone else, it does seem like someone forcing their way onto you when they stop you from forcing your way onto them. This doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there trying to force their way onto them–there are. Lots of them. There are lots of transsexual and transgender people who think it should be totally illegal to call a transgender person by the “wrong” pronoun. I’m not among them, and any idiot who reads anything I write would quickly realize that. It was outright stated in the fucking initial article about this.
I refused to vote for Gary Johnson, and my primary reason for that was precisely that he wouldn’t allow religious people the right to conduct business in accordance with their religious beliefs. This is a message to all those fucking idiots who don’t understand simple concepts. I have been fighting this fucking battle for the right of people to discriminate against me for years, and I have the record to prove it. To all those people, I have stood by their rights for years, even when it actively harmed me and went against my own direct interests, and I will continue doing so. Now it’s time for those people to shut the fuck up and stand beside me like I stood beside them. I’m not asking them to accept me. I’m asking them to help protect me from the goddamned state, just like I fought to protect them from the state.
I apologize for how this next paragraph is written, but there was no other way to convey it in written words.
I also learned from this experience how seriously damaging it is to be transgender–to be struggling to be transgender because more than 5/6 of your life was stolen from you and you’re fighting against every single day you’ve lived past puberty without the correct hormones coursing through your body… To already be struggling everyday with doubts about “Am I feminine enough?” To look in the mirror at every opportunity, hoping and praying to see yourself more feminine, more how you should be, more how you want to be… To already struggle so much with day-to-day life as a transgender person, not to mention all the other stuff, the family stuff, the parasitism, the economic and financial struggles, the struggles to get a book published… To be depressed deep down inside and constantly in a state of mild cognitive dissonance–because I know I’m not as feminine as I want to be, that I’m not as passable as I must be… And then to have an authority figure slap you back down viciously, rebuke you firmly, and state that no, you are not female, so turn around and drop your pants.
It’s always painful to look in the mirror and not see what I want to see, to have the fear constantly nagging in the back of my mind that maybe I’ll never see what I want to see, that maybe it’s too late, maybe there’s no hope. To then have long-time friends reveal that they consider me a guy in women’s clothes–even if they don’t have the balls to outright say it… That’s painful. And to have an authority–not just any authority, but the ultimate authority, the state itself–rebuke you, spit on your efforts, spit on your life, your hopes and your dreams, and insist that you are a male whether you like it or not. Most people won’t understand. Most people can’t understand.
Please forgive me if I’m not quite up to date with the latest in the Christian world.
When I was in junior high and high school, we received a notebook every year around January that contained on its cover the Ten Commandments. There were even occasions (at least once when I was in the tenth grade) that we were given those little New Testament Bibles. So naturally our school had no sex education program–abstinence or otherwise, which is fine since it’s a parent’s duty to explain procreation to their children, not the state’s–and only barely had a drug education program.
I’m speaking for… basically all… Mississippians when I say that the Bibles and notebooks were unnecessary. In a pragmatic sense, the notebooks were fantastic, because they always came around the time I needed a fresh notebook to continue my writing and not doing schoolwork. Teachers often loathed me for that, because they knew I was not paying attention, that I was writing some story, but when I passed the tests it didn’t leave them many ways to chastise me.
I’d wager that maybe one in two hundred kids didn’t have their own copy of the Bible, though, and I had at least two.
There was controversy surrounding the Ten Commandments, though (because of course there was), specifically whether it was stated that Thou shalt not kill or Thou shalt not murder.
This is an important distinction for a few reasons. First, God kills a number of people in the Bible by any translation, and, if you really want to split hairs, is inadvertently responsible for every death by creating life (unless you subscribe to the literal interpretation of Genesis, in which case he’s still responsible for putting the tree in the garden, but it’s not my intention to attack theology). Second, large portions of the Bible prescribe killing people as the punishment for everything from witchcraft to adultery. In order to avoid a conflict between “Thou shalt not kill [period]” and “Thou shalt kill these people,” it was necessary to draw a distinction between killing (The taking of life) and murder (presumably the unjust taking of human life).
It’s worth mentioning, though, that if our universe has a creator, then its moral mandates to us are not commandments to itself. Such a being has a perspective on human existence that we simply cannot attain, and is sure to abide what would seem to us as Blue & Orange morality. We silly mortals are unlikely to understand the value system of this creator, its criteria for assessing value, or its reason for doing so. Mandate from such a being would be perfectly acceptable, because we couldn’t even grasp its reasoning.
But the “Do as I say, not as I do” thing isn’t really a point of contention for Christians anyway–whether they’ve given it sufficient thought or not, they understand this. It’s mostly just a masturbation exercise for atheists (The Atheist Experience comes to mind, as they do it a lot) who refuse to accept that the existence of a god would instantly invalidate all moral values that weren’t its own. But he who makes the rules determines who is just; he who defines morality determines who is moral.
So the true importance of this distinction isn’t whether the creator of the universe must abide the moral proclamations it passes down to us; the true importance is whether the state has to.
Whew! What a leap, right? Here we were discussing theology, with no mention of the state, then BAM!
It’s not a leap at all, though, because what is the institution that would be responsible for outlawing and punishing heretics and adulterers? It would be the state.
Obviously, the church and state were not always separate things; if they had been, we wouldn’t today have the phrase “separation of church and state.” However, we’d be delusional to suggest that the separation of church and state has been total, throughout the world or throughout the United States. In fact, many sects within Christianity attempt to legislate based on the moral values that they (correctly or incorrectly) say stem from their religion. North Carolina’s transgender restroom law comes to mind, and anti-sodomy laws have only recently been repealed.
In order to carry out and enforce this fundamentalist morality, it is often necessary to break that morality, as we mentioned above. In order to carry out the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” it is necessary to break the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not kill.” This is why the state, much as the deity we mentioned earlier, gets a pass on its own moral statements.
We do this with euphemisms. “Thou shalt not steal” doesn’t apply to taxation for some inexplicable reason. “Thou shalt not murder” doesn’t apply to war, the abomination of capital punishment, or a police officer killing someone. “Thou shalt not keep slaves”* doesn’t apply to forced military conscription or prison labor. “Thou shalt not rape” doesn’t apply when you send someone to a place where you know they will be raped.
The knee-jerk reaction is to say that taxation isn’t theft, that conscription isn’t slavery, and that being an accomplice sending someone to a rape factory doesn’t count as rape. But no arguments can be put forward to back these positions. One can only say, “Nuh-uh!” and leave it at that, because the position is indefensible.
It is called “theft” when a large group of people gather together and decide to take money and resources from other people who don’t consent to having their money taken. It doesn’t really matter whether three hundred million people agree and only one objects; it’s still theft to take money and resources from the one who objects. We cannot consent to taxation on his behalf any more than one can consent to sex on his behalf.
We recoil at that analogy, and rightly so. The mere thought of consenting to sex on a woman’s behalf, even though she is expressly against it, strikes us as vehemently immoral, but it’s really only a stroke of luck that we don’t live in a world where “sex” is alongside slavery and murder as things we consent to for other people while they object. There appears to be no limit to what we may mandate for other people. We kidnap them against their will, steal from them against their will, enslave them against their will, and kill them against their will. It’s only a matter of fortune that “have sex with them against their will” isn’t on that list.
We can give an omniscient creator of the universe a pass on our morality, because its perspective is too wide for our tiny minds to grasp, but we cannot give the state a pass. The state, after all, is filled with people of no particular greatness. They are not wiser, smarter, or more considered than anyone else, and that rulers are not special was the great revelation that set forward the rise of governance “by the people.”
We can’t have it both ways, of course. We can’t say in one breath that “we are the government” and then say that our government can violate moral values because it is special and exempt. It must be that trying to do such a thing is merely an attempt to give ourselves a pass on morality, to make ourselves into official hypocrites, because “we are the government” and “The government is exempt from our morality” means literally that “we are exempt from our morality.”
So are we? Are we exempt from our morality?
Of course, the truth is that “we” aren’t the government. Even if we buy into the conceit that our representatives actually represent us, “we” still wouldn’t be the government; our representatives would be.
What use is a morality system if we establish loopholes and exemptions that allow systemic violations more horrible than anything an individual might do? Despite our philosophy that killing is wrong, governments last century managed a body count above 160,000,000–a staggering number of dead people. Despite our maxim that theft is wrong, the American Government steals huge chunks of everyone’s money.
We established this moral system. If we judge ourselves by our own rules and standards, I don’t think we’d like the result.
What role do I play in the atrocities committed by the state? Very little, but I could certainly do more to fight it beyond writing articles and arguing with people. Shouldn’t I be out marching in the streets, demanding an end to war, theft, kidnapping, and slavery? By this measure I’m as guilty as anyone.
What role does the average voter play? Well, the average voter is more of an accomplice than a weakly active resistor. The average voter doesn’t just allow it by not resisting strongly enough; the average voter encourages and legitimizes it. The average voter is the rubber stamp that legitimizes the euphemisms and allows the theft, murder, kidnapping, and slavery to continue.
It’s one thing to perhaps-be-not-as-adamant-as-one-could-be about seeing a moral tragedy ended. At least we Pen and Paper Anarchists do something, even if we don’t do enough. Then again, what more can we do without violating the very moral tenants we are trying to spread? We cannot zerg rush DC with guns–the entire point of anarchism is that violence cannot be used to prevent violence. If we use violence, we cease being anarchists immediately and become statists, because its exemption to violate morality is what defines the state. That’s how authorities always function. “For the greater good, we must do evil.”
Fear is what I think compels us to embrace the state and its lies. “Government is a necessary evil,” went the advocates of classical liberalism. “Government is a necessary evil, except ours. Ours is a good one,” states the modern liberal and modern conservative. They arrive at this conclusion by different roads, but they reach it all the same. For the liberal, the government is mostly good because it protects us from ourselves; for the conservative, the government is mostly good because it protects us from others. And the miraculous thing is that these statements can be flipped without problem.
Any skilled chess player will tell you that there are huge differences between defence and offense, and between protecting and attacking. This isn’t to say that the two are always exclusive, because in chess they aren’t–the best attacking moves are those that defend, too.
But we’re not chess pieces to be moved about on a board and sacrificed to gain the upper hand. The pawn would never advocate a pawn sacrifice.
Unless the king had convinced him it was the only way to win.
* Although, to be clear, the Bible never states this.