Earlier this month, a UK government minister called for the institution of compulsory voting. According to Mirror.UK, it is a ploy to increase voter turnout, but it also seems to be politically motivated. The politicians pushing this policy (nearly all of who belong to the labor party) are highly concerned with low Brexit vote turnout. They speculate that if only voting numbers were up, they would have come out of the decision as victors. But with the seemingly endless Brexit debacle, a conversation about voting has been opening up in the UK. Should a civics exam be mandatory to vote? Is it okay to let felons vote? And famously, should voting be compulsory?
Thomas DiGennaro | United States
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is loaded with elements of philosophical theory and undertones of libertarianism. One that stands out, in particular, is the mass surveillance used to track the Joker in the ending of the film and the resulting ethical questions that arise.
By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
Throughout the vast majority of the world and all of recorded history, there have been tales of boogeymen: monsters in the dark to punish the disobedient and the susceptible. The Boogeyman goes by various names with the male, female, or neutral gender. These include the Bogieman, El Coco, Sack Man, Ou-Wu, Babayka, El Ogro, The Devil, and more. Most of the story origins are unknown. It is as if they are a part of human nature and a mechanism for control or protection.
Most of the time, the boogeyman is a threat that adults use towards vulnerable children who may be misbehaving. The character has a number of different commonly said actions. Some say it eats children, holds them hostage in a hellish place, or even scares them into correcting their behavior. Overall, the boogeyman is, unfortunately, a socially approved terrorizing mechanism that plagues the mind with fear of the unknown. By presenting the monster as too strong to fight, society instills a fearful reaction of flight over fight.
The Beast in the Dark
When we were children, we usually heard of such a beast in the dark, under our bed, in the closet, or in a forbidden area. In each of these cases, an adult probably told the child the story or scared the child enough to make him or her invent the demon on his or her own. On the contrary, some cultures have a protective guardian angel of sorts to save children it deems good. This invisible protector is all that can immediately protect a child from the bad one out to get them.
Even as adults, the boogeyman may still come to mind in places we deem as dangerous: in dark places, after deaths of bad people, and in some unknown futures. When many adults think of robots and artificial intelligence, they also think of the boogeyman, but in a different form. With super intelligent computers constantly improving around the world, many people will propose that these unknown machines will become sentient and seek to enslave or destroy humans and the world.
In the case of robots conquering the world, it is nothing more than a Nietzschean Übermensch: a Superman that all aspire to become but none can. This super demon then begins to wipe the world clean of humans or enslaves them for its own gains. Similarly to that of the Übermensch, we find the boogeyman again in space exploration, with the idea that evil aliens are waiting to harm us.
Protection from Unwarranted Fear
In both of these cases, the fear of an unrealized boogeyman limits success and progress. Many people will turn towards religion and government to protect us from the unknown monster. They present these organizations as the fairy godmothers that will protect our soul, body, and future with regulations, limitations, and letting someone else decide what is right. Religion can become a government, and the blind allegiance to the government can become a religion of its own: Statism.
Statism is the belief that a government should control an individual’s economic and social decisions in order to prevent deterioration of society, corruption, losses, heinous crimes, terrorism, and more. Proponents of Statism view it as avoiding a Hobbesian regression to the turmoil and chaos of human nature. The ideology of Statism declares that government can, at least theoretically, control every aspect of one’s life. In fact, Statists have manufactured boogeymen of their own throughout history. Without a doubt, Statism becomes an endless, warrantless hunt for the outsider: non-Christians, non-Muslims, witches, spies, Communists, terrorists, drug dealers, immigrants, and more.
Statism: Fearful of Freedom
Statism has also provided the fear of Liberty, of not having a central government, and of no government at all. The State portrays this in the images of utter chaos and the threat of a power vacuum or void. A power vacuum, or power void, is the idea that without one government, other, more evil governments will take over. This proposed boogeyman is said to appear when the coercive control of the few (government) goes away, leaving the helpless and hapless people vulnerable to this invisible monster.
The devout followers of the State will use this boogeyman as a form of mental terrorism that instills fear into the minds of the impressionable. They propose that the only guardian against such a boogeyman is that of the omnibenevolent, omniscient, and possibly near-omnipotent government that staves off the evil, lurking, monsters in the unknown darkness. The closer people move towards Liberty or freedom, the more that Statists will pontificate this fear of the boogeyman into the hearts and minds of all that listen. As the fears build within society, Statists require more and more control. Thus, policing, laws, regulations, spying, recordkeeping, and taxing increase.
The Boogeyman Is Getting Stronger
As time moves forward, the boogeyman, or Übermensch, is always growing stronger and more cunning than its potential victims. It is like the nightmare in which you are forever running away from the unstoppable monster. In Statism, this all-pervasive boogeyman begins as a child’s common fear of the unknown. But relatively quickly, it becomes a psychological defect, leading to the embodiment of a boogeyman in the monster of an oppressive government. It matters little that the State was supposed to protect against this monster: it nonetheless becomes it. This idea that such a boogeyman exists slows human progress by creating a real one from the idea.
If anything, not teaching our children of such monsters as a boogeyman, not scaring them in the dark or around corners, while encouraging them to learn about what makes us scared or fearful, can help them understand the world in a more realistic manner. It will teach them to be less afraid of the unknowns in our lives. At the same time, they will learn to pursue difficulties, rather than back away from the unknown. These constant fears of boogeymen do not need to exist when it comes to peaceful, free, and voluntary action; the fears of boogeymen instill fear of the unknown, inhibit actions, and bog down growth.
A Hindrance to Human Progress
Furthermore, the fear of such boogeymen inebriates the infected individual’s will to better their own life, progress, and success, leaving them timid and unsure how to guide their own life. This removal of the individual’s capability to properly lead their own life also restricts their moral gauge, furthering their dependence on the guardian in control while making them more susceptible to relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism. In response to their fears of boogeymen, many will not only embrace religion and government. Moreover, they may cling to collectivism to help combat the invisible boogeyman. This is because they believe their particular group should survive, and perhaps their group knows how to best fight off the boogeyman better than others’.
If the fear of the unknown and creation of evil to fight it is a natural process, then Reason, peace, voluntary exchange, and Liberty will rid us of these deplorable thoughts. This is a way to become stronger than the fictional beast of Statist myth. This is a way we become our own heroes. In a world where are the biggest hindrance and threat to our own betterment, it is the way forward.
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
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Upon reading this headline, one may expect a miracle of nature to have occurred. It appears, though, that such an event is no longer necessary to astound everyday citizens. No, some force in Burlington did not freeze a plane in the air like Michelle Gomez’s character in Doctor Who did. The stationary plane of today sat on the ground, a hundred yards or so behind tall, outwardly sloped barbed wire fence, waiting for take-off.
From a crowd standing at a laser tag, mini golf and arcade complex across the street, murmurs grew, most of them mentioning the vice president. The plane, sitting motionless on the runway, just so happened to be Air Force Two. Surely, Mike Pence himself sat aboard, as the American patriots sat and watched. And sat and watched. And sat and watched some more.
At several strategic locations, police cars sat, lights flashing, harassing the occasional citizen. At times, they let the cars pass, parking in front of them at other times. It appears that traffic was alternating, one direction at a time, for at each point, the blockade only existed in one direction.
Running by the spectacle, I pondered why the crowd simply sat staring for several minutes. Not a thing was happening, and the brutal Vermont summer gnats were swarming the muggy afternoon. As the crowd, and the preceding and following cops, faded into the distance, so did the spectacle from my mind.
A bit over an hour later, though, my run took me back through the same location. Much to my surprise, an officer was still parked in the same location, about a half mile from the plane. Passing the first blockade, I asked the officer why it was necessary to halt traffic, and was given a short, curt response of “The vice president is leaving soon.”
Following up, I questioned what half of a traffic blockade had to do with Mike Pence. But as I kept jogging, the only sounds I heard were the tune of “Come Sail Away” in 5/4 time in my head, in perfect rhythm with the soft tone of my shoes hitting the pavement.
As the laser tag arena came into view, I noticed at once that the crowd had grown. However, many of the same faces stuck out, and I realized that they had been staring at the stationary plane for over an hour. Air Force Two was admittedly a neat sight. Yet, this was because I had been looking at overgrown fields and working-class homes for the past hour. For families with children at an entertainment complex, what was the draw? It seemed as if golf and ice cream would be much more entertaining. So, I asked several of the American patriots just what in the world was going on.
Unsurprisingly, none of the answers particularly stood out. A few of those who had been standing the entire time remarked that the vice president was leaving soon. But, those same people had mentioned the exact same thing over an hour ago. Just how long was soon going to be, and just how long would the stationary plane mesmerize them?
The most peculiar response came from a middle-aged man, who remarked that he was an American patriot, and even though he did not support Pence, this was a once in a lifetime experience. Burlington International Airport was only a couple of miles away, I thought, and he could watch planes sit still as nobody boarded or went near them any day he wanted. Maybe the neat colors on the side intrigued him.
Statism is quite an interesting ideology. The last police officer, on the opposite end of the crowd by a quarter mile, was still stopping cars with his own. When some of the drivers asked and were told of the situation, they appeared stunned, immediately losing any hint of anger or disapproval. Keep in mind, this is in Vermont, where Trump and Pence scored less than a third of the popular vote.
Despite this, the American patriots showed utter respect, almost worship, for the vice president. Though they overwhelmingly despise the man, the group, as well as the cars, appeared to simply forget this fact. The ideology of statism, surely, comes into play, for they all found Pence’s stationary plane quite interesting.
Beyond politics, it is hard to imagine such a love, such a deeply ingrained fascination, for such a hated figure. This is especially true when the figure himself is not even visible. It would have been more understandable, had Pence not been sitting in the craft the entire time.
Ultimately, every human life in existence is equal, and all possess an equal claim to life. Why, then, must even the most tribalist of us come together around a figure of destruction? The state, through its wars, drone strikes, taxes, regulations, and imprisonments, inherently hurts the individual. Arguably, the state is actually what causes tribalism in the first place, at least politically. Literally and metaphorically, I ran away from the spectacle of hero-worship, deep in thought, imagining a world where a stationary plane stained with the blood of innocents would not leave American patriots breathless.
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By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
I think it’s pretty clear that Friedman is a statist. -Murray Rothbard
Milton Friedman is popular, and not just “libertarian popular” (although he is) but mainstream popular. His book Capitalism and Freedom has over half a million sales and Free to Choose has also had its fair share of economic and political influence. I have spoken to many fellow lovers of the free market and many have stated he was their primary influence in pushing people towards libertarian ideology.