by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
Albert J Nock summed it up with the title of his book, “Our Enemy the State.”
We believe that there is nothing the State does that a private property, natural law based, for profit society can not do better.
We take every possible opportunity to demean the State and point out its crimes and ineffeciencies. There is no shortage of material.
As a staunch Anarcho-Capitalist and editor of the libertarian on-line news magazine, FlyoverPress.com, I am frequently confronted with all manner of political views. Thus, I find myself having to repeatedly explain the fundamentals of libertarian philosophy. Essentially, I have written the same essay thousands of times. This paper is an attempt to summarize and consolidate those essays and thereby save myself a great deal of time in the future.
For most of my life I have searched for a set of principles by which to live—ethical principles that could be applied to any and all human interactions. I have always rejected “situational ethics” as my intuition told me that there is such a thing as an “objective” ethic. But it eluded me for many years, until I discovered libertarianism.
To be “ethical,” a principle (any principle) must be universal —applicable to all men, at all places and in all times—equally applicable to the Cave Man as it is to men today. Such a principle must be logically developed from a valid premise. No matter how impeccable the logic, for a conclusion to be valid, the premise (point from which reasoning begins) must be axiomatic—a self-evident truth. (Incidentally, that is what makes arguing with liberals and neo-cons alike somewhat like clubbing baby seals—it’s pretty easy work because either their premise is flawed or the subsequent logic is faulty.)
Probably the most fundamental of self-evident truths to libertarian philosophy (and its underlying premise) is the self-ownership axiom. We each own ourselves. There are only two possible alternatives. Either someone else owns us (we call that slavery) or we each own a pro-rata share of one another (we call that communism). If we are communal property, then in order for anyone to take any action, he/she would need to first obtain permission from all others. Obviously, this would paralyze human action and result in a quick demise of the species.
Libertarianism is not a “pacifist” philosophy because, from the self-ownership axiom stems the self-defense corollary. If one owns oneself, it naturally follows that he/she has a right to defend that self.
The next logical step in the development of libertarian philosophy would be the application of the self-ownership axiom to the origin of private property rights. If we own ourselves, we own our labor. If we find a previously unclaimed natural resource and mix our labor (sweat was John Locke’s term) with it, then the product becomes a part (extension) of us and is therefore our property. Note the importance of the term “previously unclaimed.” No “squatters” allowed as that would violate the non-aggression principle (see below).
Also, peaceful exchange is involved in the origin of property rights. Most of us nowadays acquire property by trading our labor for it. Once property originates, there are several things that can be ethically done with it. One can trade, sell, gift, bequeath or even destroy his justly acquired property as long as it does not aggress against another person or his property.
Thus, we have the Non-Aggression Principle. No one has any right to initiate violence or force (the threat of violence) against another or his property. Note how the non-aggression principle messes neatly with the self-ownership axiom and its self-defense corollary. The operative word is “initiate.” Once force or violence is “initiated” against an individual or his justly acquired property, that individual is justified in the use of whatever level of violence is necessary to stop the aggressor from doing what he is doing.
And that brings us to the idea of government, in general. Government is force. Government is violence. It depends on force and violence for its very existence. As we will see below, most people believe that government is a social organization that is miss-managed. It is not. It is an anti-social organization that is managed the only way it can be. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
First, whose idea was it in the first place that man needs to be “governed” by an apparatus like the modern nation-state. Actually, the idea originated before recorded human history—when the strong tribe invaded the weak tribe, killed them all and took their stuff. Then, having been endowed by their creator with the ability to reason, it didn’t take them long to figure out that, if they didn’t kill them all but instead, reduced them to some level of servitude, then over the long run they could get more stuff. And there, dear reader, you have the birth of the modern nation-state.
The modern nation state goes by several names, most of which end with “ism.” But, regardless of what appears before the “ism,” they have many things in common. None of them amount to any thing more than a group of men who forcefully hold the regional monopoly on the use of force and violence—a monopoly that, in most cases, was acquired through the use of force and violence.
The government is not “us.” “We” are not the government. The government is nothing but a group of men (and a few mentally retarded women like Nancy Pelosi) whose sole purpose is to take property (by force or violence) from other groups of men for themselves and their cronies in the military-industrial-congressional complex and their lackeys in the Army of 4 th Branch Bureaucrats.
The modern nation-state operates very similar to a large, well organized mafia. They commit the most violent of crimes on a massive scale and a daily basis—crimes that they would lock the rest of us up for. They commit armed robbery and extortion and get by with it by calling it “taxation” and by convincing us (more on the propaganda machine below) that we are paying our “fair share” of all those valuable services they purport to provide. They get by with slavery by calling it “conscription.” They are counterfeiters but they call it “stimulating the economy” by printing funny money. They commit mass murder and justify it by calling it “war.”
Albert Jay Nock summed it up with the title of his classic Our Enemy, The State. The modern nation-state is, indeed, our enemy. Franz Oppenheimer clarified it by distinguishing between two ways of acquiring property. You can work for it. He called that the “economic means.” Or, you can steal it. He called that the “political means.”
Government has nothing to give to anybody that it has not previously taken from somebody else at the point of a gun. States (and statists) live forcefully as parasites on the productive class. Thus, reason tells us that the productive class will always outnumber the parasitic class.(One hundred parasites can live off of 1,000 hosts but not vice versa.) So, if the parasites are the minority, how do they get by with their crimes?
In earlier times, the ruling class depended on the clergy to maintain their power. The clergy’s role was to convince the ruled that the ruler had some sort of direct line to God (and in some cases that he was God). In exchange, the church was allowed to exist and the clergy was given prestigious status and allowed to participate in the booty.
Things are different in the secular world that we live in today. The modern propaganda machine would make Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) look like an amateur. Today, the Church is still allowed to exist (unless it offends the state and looses its 503 (c) favored tax status). But the propaganda role now falls to the nation-state’s “opinion molders” – people like those found in the mainstream media (including Hollywood) as well as teachers and professors. (Did you ever wonder how a nation-state that claims to have “freedom of speech” can also have a “Federal Communications Commission?” Did you ever wonder why the State is so adamant about enforcing its mandatory laws governing “public school” attendance?) As with the clergy, these people are elevated to exalted status and provided a healthy portion of the spoils.
These are the reasons I refer to the public school system as the “Mandatory Government Propaganda Camp.” This also explains why the more “elite” the school (Harvard, for example) the more Marxist leaning the program of instruction. Both the commoner and the elitists’ schools indoctrinate their charges in the techniques of force and violence in the name of the “greater good.”
As a direct result of this “education,” the majority of Americans today confuse the words “patriotism” and “nationalism.” There is a very important distinction between the two. Patriotism is a healthy, moral-ethical love of one’s country, its land, its people their customs and traditions. It is not accompanied by any desire to initiate force or violence against anyone. Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee were patriots and men of high moral values and ethical principles. The Declaration of Independence, a secession document, and the Articles of Confederation are patriotic documents. Neither contains any suggestion for the initiation of force or violence against persons or their property against their will.
On the other hand, nationalism is the immoral love of one’s government and usually involves a desire to aggress against or tyrannize others. Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama were (are) nationalists. The Gettysburg Address, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Presidential War Powers Act the (intentionally misnamed) Patriot Act are nationalist documents. All imply aggression against persons and property—force and violence applied by one group against other groups.
Actually, the demise and decay of the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation began almost immediately with the ratification of the Constitution.
Washington signed Hamilton ‘s First Bank of the uS into law and no authority whatsoever can be found in the Constitution for Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.
Since then, the government of these united States has slowly but progressively—more a “death by a thousand cuts” than by traumatic amputation— morphed into the anti-thesis (I would go so far as to say anti-Christ) of America.
How did all this come about? Where did all these ideas come from that are so alien to liberty, our culture and Western Civilization–radical feminism, the disintegration of the immediate family, animals having rights while people do not, special and favored status for any group that can establish itself as some sort of “victim” no matter how far fetched, the establishment of radical environmentalism as the official state religion (the only religion allowed in school), our so-called “public schools” costing us more and more every year while our children get dumber, government law enforcement agents getting by with the murder of women and children and, not only never be held accountable, but actually be bestowed with awards for “bravery,” arrogant Border Patrol officials writing ominous letters to ranchers informing them that they have a “legal right” to free and open access to private property at any time without any legal justification, and on and on ad nausem —all of which involve the use of force and violence by the politically favored against the productive.
Is all of this coincidence? Has it been a simple market response to a spontaneous, radical cultural change (perhaps a genetic mutation?) that was brought about by a random set of events played out by a random set of independent players? Not hardly.
I have never accepted the so-called “conspiracy theories” at face value. Although I can not disprove any of them and sometimes history eventually bears them out, it is just too hard to envision a bunch of old fat bastards, dressed in old baggy gray suits, sitting around a big mahogany table, overtly plotting to enslave the rest of us. On the other hand, with a close look at what is happening around us, the play is being acted out just as many of these theories predict.
Yes, there has been a conspiracy. However I do not believe that it was an overt conspiracy of men. Instead, it was a conspiracy of ideas. Our Enemy the State is waging war on all fronts—not always perfectly choreographed or even in concert—but always toward one goal—collectivism. And the ultimate result? As William Lind put it, “The fall of Rome was graceful by comparison.”
I am not a nationalist. I am a patriot. I love America —the real America —which sadly no longer exists. Our noble experiment with constitutionally limited government has been a catastrophic failure. And, in retrospect, the failure was actually built into the constitution from its inception. All that is needed to understand that is the simple realization that politicos and government bureaucrats are motivated the same way as the rest of us—by self-interest. The so-called “checks and balances” have not and do not check or balance much of anything. Again, the “why” of that is no mystery—they (all three branches)—work for the same entity. They all ride for the same brand as we say out here in the West.
Every form of government conceivable by the mind of man has been tried—and has failed. How about giving liberty a chance?
Yours for freedom in our lifetimes.
Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume