Tag: voluntaryism

Waiting for the Collapse: A Liberty Revolution

Atilla Sulker | United States

The world of libertarian thought is far from being insufficient in regards to ideas. Interdisciplinary scholars have emerged all over the world with a vast interest in this doctrine, and have built upon the works of such great scholars as Rothbard and Mises. Rothbard himself was, in fact, an exponent of Mises, and to this day, thousands of great minds continue to carry the torch and bring a plethora of new and fascinating ideas to the conversation.

One could say such ideas are far more dense than those of mainstream thought. They provide a fresh basis for solving various problems in the world, rooted in the old classical liberal tradition of private property. It is from this foundation that so many new ideas have been derived. Whether it is libertarian applications of chaos theory or Walter Block’s privatization of oceans and space, a clear causal link can be seen between such ideas and property rights.

But the main problem in contemporary libertarianism is not the lack of good ideas. There are indeed plenty. It is not even the disunity between so-called “thin” and “thick” libertarians, or any factions for that matter. It is rather the means to the realization of the desired ends. Libertarians today have great ideas for the ideal free society but seem to be lacking when it comes to finding a means to implement such ideas.

How Should Liberty Be Spread?

I have always viewed this area as the hardest to deal with. It is not the development of ideas that is troublesome- it is outreach. Just how do libertarians spread their ideas? How do they do so without tainting their ideas with a populist gloss? To what extent must libertarians work with people from other political leanings? What is the proper outreach model? These are the fundamental questions one will end up asking themselves when trying to solve this dilemma.

There is no doubt that up to this point, libertarianism has grown significantly. What was once seen as a movement for those on the fringes of society now receives significant attention, especially following the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. A change of heart and mind has occurred in many people already, but beyond this, the leviathan state continues to tighten its grip on our property, and consequently, our liberties.

Trying to get “freedom candidates” elected has been the traditional method that libertarians have been pursuing for so long, whether under the banner of the Libertarian Party, or in the form of electing populist, or libertarian-leaning Republicans. This phenomenon is the heart of why libertarians are struggling to bring forth political change. It is very much evident that the flaw is not necessarily in the efforts espoused by libertarians, but rather in the methodology, i.e., the idea that we can “vote our way to freedom”.

This is a deeply flawed view. While this does not necessarily invalidate the concept of a night watchman state or a decentralized constitutional republic, if it is actually carried out properly, it trumps the idea that the current state of affairs can magically be reversed. Robert Higgs’s ratchet effect theory clearly underscores this phenomenon. The Higgsian doctrine asserts that once a major crisis is over, government will shrink, but never back to the level it was at before the outbreak of the crisis. Hence we are all like the frog waiting in the boiling pot.

Data put out by the IMF shows that before the U.S. committed to being involved in WWI, less than 2 percent of GDP was public spending. After the war, the lowest public spending sunk down to was around 3.6 percent. Following the Great Depression and WWII, public spending came down to a level of about 14 percent, but never got any lower than this. A classic representation of the ratchet effect.

Is Voting Really a Solution?

The question becomes- can we really vote our way to freedom? Have we traveled too far into the void to repeal the leviathan state? The U.S. national debt is already 21 trillion and continues to grow. We have become more than a leviathan state at home, but also an empire abroad. It would be foolish to think that this could be reversed gradually with the stroke of a pen. And electing so-called “freedom candidates” does no good unless elected en masse. Cherry picking certain races to work to elect such candidates has little to no effect on the legislative process.

I had the opportunity to ask Lew Rockwell about this at the Mises Supporters Summit earlier in September. My question was along the lines of this: “Can we vote ourselves to a smaller government via electing “freedom candidates”, or do we need to scrap our government completely and rebuild political society from scratch?”. Upon answering, Rockwell described voting as a “sacrament of the state”, proclaiming that it is not the answer to our freedom. Rockwell then cited Hans Hoppe, stating “the wider the franchise, the more people voting, the less freedom there is.”. He closed off his remarks saying “ as a country, we were far better off when people had their own property… now everybody can vote, we have a leviathan state, and these are not unconnected things.”.

DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University Randall G. Holcombe did an excellent study on the gradual democratization of America, and its drifting away from its roots of constitutional republicanism. Holcombe cited the changes in the electoral college and the growth of populism in the Jacksonian era as the chief causes of the gradual shift to majoritarian rule and consequently, the decline of freedom. It is democracy that relies on voting, and democracy is far from liberty. Democracy has lead to the rise of mass scale, “national pork barrel politics”.

This is not to say that is it fallacious to vote for or support a candidate who may have good qualities. To see voting as a solution to the current state of affairs is an expression of great naïveté, but it can still be used as a tool to numb the pain, so to speak. The role of running for office or getting elected can be used as a bully pulpit position.

Regardless of this, the collapse is imminent. This is not to be an open invitation to further the growth of the empire, however. Where the leviathan state can be curtailed, it ought to be, if the opportunity becomes apparent. But it would be foolish to think the empire could be curtailed to such an extent as to enact a clean repeal.

Collapse as an Opportunity

It is with this mindset that one can begin to deduce a better solution to the problem of realizing libertarian ends. Though it may seem counterintuitive, perhaps the solution is not to vote our way to freedom, but to wait for the eventual collapse. Only then will there be a vacuum for libertarian ideas to be injected into. This vacuum is indeed the best solution, but for libertarians to prevail, they must make sure to fill it when they have the chance.

Spreading the ideas to fill the vacuum is by no means a spontaneous process. It must be done before the vacuum is created. It is the prevailing mindset of the population before the collapse occurs that shall determine how the vacuum will be compensated for. If the mindset preceding the collapse is one of socialism and dicta, then the vacuum will be filled with such. If the mindset preceding the collapse is that of neocolonialism and empire, then the vacuum will become compensated in such a way. In this same way, if the mindset is that of liberty and voluntarism, the restructuring of the political society will occur in favor of such principles.

Crane Brinton’s great work, The Anatomy of Revolution, underscores the causal connection between political change and prevailing ideas. In his book, Brinton compares the development of a revolution to that of a fever. He lays down four stages: 1. Incubation; 2. Symptomatic; 3. Crisis; 4. Convalescence. The incubation stage is that of underlying causes coming into contact with the political apparatus. The symptomatic stage is that of political struggle becoming observable and evident. The crisis stage is the breaking point, i.e., the collapse of the empire. And the convalescence stage is the recovery from the crisis.

The model does not necessarily have to be violent. It can be assessed and applied in such a way that it may be able to guide a peaceful revolution of ideas. We are well past the first stage and are in stage two. The problems associated with the leviathan state are very much evident now. The breaking point will be the collapse, but for libertarian ends to be properly realized, libertarian ideas must become more widespread first. The prevailing attitude of the public will ultimately determine what will happen following the crisis stage.

The 1917 Russian Revolution and the 1910 Mexican Revolution well exemplify the prevailing passions of the public determining the course of political society. It was the prevailing attitudes of the Russian public which lead to the crisis of the February and October Revolutions. As Lew Rockwell explains: “The Russian war itself was funded through money creation… the inflation affected every last person and inspired massive unrest that led to the triumph of Communism.”.

Ron Paul delivered some excellent remarks in regards to this issue at the September Mises Supporters Summit. “I just don’t think that the answer is in Congress and voting”, asserted Paul. “I don’t believe we’re gonna have, all of a sudden, an influx of libertarian-minded people”. “I think there’s gonna be a collapse. I don’t think we’re gonna transition out of this”. “It all depends on the education and changing people’s minds”.

Preparing for the Collapse

To wait for the collapse and expect change all of a sudden would be naively foolish. The second part, the education aspect, is integral. For if the prevailing attitude of the public is not changed, no political change can be expected. This is why organizations like the Mises Institute which focus on education rather than public policy are very important to the success of the libertarian movement. The prevailing attitude must become one of free markets and voluntarism before the collapse occurs. And as of now, it is beginning to lean towards socialism and economic interventionism. This is why libertarians must walk away from the political box for good and focus on education. They must shed light on the injustices of the leviathan state and the destruction the Federal Reserve is inflicting. They must underscore the lack of economic calculation under socialism as exposed by Mises. They must underscore the causal link between empire and socialism at home.

At the September Mises Summit, I had the honor to meet Louis Carabini, founder of Monex Precious Metals. Carabini released his new book Liberty, Dicta, and Force very recently. It is indeed a masterpiece. A truly “red pilling book”, so to speak, it connects the libertarian conscience to our daily acts of volition and voluntarism, and to the workings of the human mind. What the book fundamentally asserts is that it is foolish to have faith in the political process. All politics does is turn us against each other when in our everyday lives, we get along mighty fine. When government is factored into the equation, using force against each other is justified. In our personal lives, we would never justify using force against our neighbors, even if it were for benevolent causes.

It is perhaps the abandonment of the political process that will end, or at least significantly relieve the “thick-thin” libertarian debate. Personal views will simply be personal views, not horizons for political change. Libertarians will be able to unite under the banner of voluntaryism and leave personal beliefs to themselves.

Only when the prevailing attitude of the public yearns for liberty and when libertarians abandon the political box will there be hope for the liberty movement. Only then will the human will be set free.

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Yes, Voting IS Consent to be Governed

Dylan Anders | @realdylananders

Many libertarians seem to find an exception in voting as a means to achieve a free society. It evens appears that even anarchists are willing to use the state as a method to eventually abolish the state. This hypocrisy is not only disingenuous, but it clearly cannot happen. Any libertarian must understand that the system that they have grown such a deep distaste for will not fix itself, or even allow itself to be fixed. Such authority is too precious to those with it. Any sensible libertarian would recognize that the men that run this nation would stop at nothing to ensure that the power complex is secure.

George Orwell, in his famous novel 1984, says it well: “no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” Simply put, the system will not willingly vote itself away.

When you vote, you legitimize the power of the system to subject their will onto the people. By casting a vote, you have followed the route that the government has established and as a result, you have shown that such a system is valuable. Quite literally, a voter admits that the governmental practice of voting is valuable, though a minority group (usually the individual) is often harmed by it.

Hypocrisy of the Voting Libertarian

A system of voting is inherently an antithesis to self-ownership and liberty, by way of democracy.

Voting admits to those who believe in the state that we must use state to bargain for our liberty. You either believe in the system and trust it to eventually do right by voting, or you do not vote.

Voting is a moral wrong. Subjecting your will, even if you are voting for small government, is done through an act of coercion, which Libertarians must be against if they are driven by the principle of self-ownership and voluntarism.

Voting is begging, a ransom, buying a lottery ticket into the system, and not incorporating the act of living freely in your own life.

Though voting to be freer can further the liberty movement, voting is asking to be free, rather than declaring your right to self-ownership. This sort of relationship is akin to a prison officer as government and the prisoner as the voter, asking to be let go. The fact of the matter is, asking to be free is counter-productive and is clearly not a worthy goal. Refusing to rebel against your oppressor is, in a great sense, Stockholm Syndrome. By doing so, you play the games of your oppressor.

A Way to Live Freely

Voting is different than revolution and agorism when it comes to obtaining liberty. Both revolution and agorism come with direct human action. Voters must be willing to supplement their votes with some external force, in order to destroy the oppressive state. Voting, in this sense, is just a poll that holds no real value, unless the citizenry takes the power back through revolution or agorism.

The greatest—and only—contemporary option there is is one free of government and its systems. We must be free and show people a world without governmental control over our lives. Agorism shows the power of self-ownership. While a revolution would come at a time no one could predict, engaging in the black market is prime way to work against the system. Show people that society can operate peacefully without government. By doing so, you can tear the State’s grip off of your hand and advertently own yourself.

Libertarian thinker Frank Chodorov put it best, when speaking on the abstinence of voting: “Since we as individuals have decided to look after our affairs, your services are no longer needed. “

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No, Jesus Was Not a Socialist

By Ian Brzeski | United States

On countless occasions, I have either seen or heard that Jesus is a socialist. I see it through memes, I hear it through others. It’s complete and utter nonsense.

Let’s spot the differences in these two cases. In the first scenario, let’s say that you are walking down the street and a man comes up to you asking for money. He says that he runs a charity to help out the poor, and you decide to donate because you feel that it would be beneficial towards his cause. In the second scenario, you decide not to give the man any money at all. The man is upset at this and decides to pull out a gun, forcing you to donate to meet the threshold he needs to raise. In both of these scenarios, the man got the desired money and was able to help the poor.

The differences are clear. In the first scenario, you voluntarily gave up your money whereas, in the second, the man coerced you to. Objectively, the way the man acted in the second scenario is immoral, even though he gave the money to the poor.

Now, why is it different when the government takes your money through taxation? The government sets up programs for the poor, asks you for money to help fund the programs, and if you don’t give them your money, they throw you in a rotting cell for the rest of your life. That sounds eerily similar to the second scenario that I presented. The government uses a form of coercion in the same way that the man coerced you. Andrew Lepore writes a fantastic article which really delves into why just because you or somebody else benefits from taxation doesn’t mean that it’s morally justifiable in any way whatsoever.

Now let’s get to why Jesus is not a socialist. First of all, Jesus preaches about helping your neighbor and caring for the sick and the poor. He tells you to spread the Good News. It seems to some that socialists preach the same, but this is simply not true. Jesus never said that you can force somebody else to live by your values.

You should hope that people want to give back to their community or to the poor out of the goodness of their heart. You have every right to tell somebody that they should give to the poor, and to spread Jesus’ message. However, there’s a reason that Jesus never says that it’s okay to force somebody to live by His message. If somebody is going to hoard all their money, then they are well in their right to do so. You cannot, in good moral standing, throw somebody in prison on the premise that they are a subjectively bad person. The only just reason to do so is if they infringe on someone else’s rights. Not giving money to somebody else is not an infringement of their rights.

I urge people to not be that guy. I urge people to live by Jesus’ message even if they don’t believe in his divinity. The majority of people in this world are good. There are plenty of people who will give back to their communities; many celebrities already do. Ellen DeGeneres, for example, loves giving money to people who need it. Whether those people directly need it or are raising awareness for a cause, she will provide. There are plenty of other examples of celebrities giving back to their communities. There are millions of everyday normal people who give money and time to charities and other organizations and may even be incentivized to give more if the government didn’t already steal their money.

Socialism requires the government to use a coercive force to redistribute the wealth among everybody even if the majority of the people did nothing to deserve that money. It is completely immoral as it lines up with the second scenario I presented to an even bigger extreme. When Jesus tells somebody to go out and take care of the sick and the poor, he is saying for you to go out and voluntarily do it, and not to have a governing body force people to do it. If anything, Jesus is way more of a voluntaryist than a socialist, as the latter requires force which he opposed.

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There Is No Such Thing As Charitable Government

By Joseph Brown | United States

Among the most volatile hot-button issues in America today is the concept of the welfare state. In a society as increasingly polarized as the United States, opinions regarding its virtue are just as divided as the nation is.

An initiative as expansive and parasitic as the welfare state has influence in the lives of each and every American, yet despite its enormous implications, there are many who are unaware of how exactly it affects them.

In its basic form, welfare refers to actions of service given willingly from one entity in an effort to promote the health, happiness, or fortune of another. Now I know what you’re thinking: If that’s really all that welfare is, then why has it created such a fuss? The concepts of giving and compassion are generally accepted as basic standards of humanity throughout the world in virtually every culture.

The answer is: welfare in the state and welfare in the individual are founded upon completely separate principles.

Welfare, as defined and practiced by the state, is the involuntary collection and redistribution of wealth by its own standards. Thus, welfare by the state is deprived of the only aspect of giving that actually makes something of any moral worth. This missing ingredient is, of course, free will.

What is the value of a gift, if you were required to give it? Most people would agree that providing for the poor is a noble pursuit. I am completely within my own rights as an individual if I decided to give my lunch to a homeless man in act of kindness on my way to work. Likewise, I am equally within my own rights to exercise judgment to keep my lunch for myself. The problem arises if another person held a gun to my head, and demanded that I surrender my lunch to the homeless man. As ridiculous as this sounds, that is precisely how the government works.

The state has confused compulsion with charity.

The esteemed American economist and social theorist, Thomas Sowell, commented on the American welfare state when he said: “I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

So long as the resources in your possession are rightfully yours by merit of your own effort, you are absolutely free to give or keep them whenever you want, to whoever you please, without government interference… unless you live in the “land of the free”.

The problem with the welfare state isn’t that it wants to provide for the poor and needy. The problem is that it uses illegal and immoral methods of coercion to accomplish its goals. Thus, any moral “high ground” the government thinks it has when it gives to others is immediately reversed when it steals your money to do so.

“What, so you just want these people to starve? It’s our responsibility to help them!”

Sound familiar?

Well luckily for our good-hearted friends on the left, there are countless ways to help those in need without involving the government. What if I told you that there are over 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations in the U.S.? These numbers include public charities, private foundations, and other types of nonprofit organizations, whose mission is mobilizing the public to provide for the needy. Statistics made by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society show that over 971 million people volunteer in a typical year across the globe, and the estimated monetary value of these volunteers’ time has exceeded 1.5 trillion dollars in just under a decade.

It’s ironic that the same people who deny the potential of the free market in comparison to the state could be found participating in private institutions such as charities that do the government’s job, only more efficiently.

Welfare has turned into something of a cursed word in the conservative realm of intellectual thought, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Objection to the seizing of private assets to use in a federal agenda is not an objection to kindness. The private sector is perfectly capable to provide welfare.

Stuart W. Holliday, the President and CEO of the Meridian International Center, demonstrated the enormous power of the private sector when he said:

“…corporations are championing employee-led initiatives and corporate social responsibility, while innovative NGOs are harnessing the talents of volunteers in new and powerful ways. On the road to economic recovery, these combined efforts at stimulating volunteerism have a great deal to offer.”

The first step in creating a charitable society is abolishing the system that robs the individual of their own rights of self-determination. The people of our country don’t need government to tell them how to practice basic human kindness. True welfare cannot be synthesized.

“…free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” -C.S. Lewis.

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“Bitcoin Jesus” is Making a Country

By Mason Mohon | USA?

Roger Ver is a self-described Bitcoin Angel Investor and fan-described Bitcoin Jesus. He is partnering up with another Bitcoin entrepreneur, Olivier Janssens, to create the world’s first sovereign voluntaryist country. Olivier being the “founding father” and CEO, while Roger is the co-founder.

They have titled the project Free Society, and are looking to join forces with a willing government and purchase the territory from them. According to Jansenns, they have amassed over 100,000,000 dollars to create the country.

According to Trustnodes, Janssens released much information about the goals for the country. It would be heavily based on libertarian and anarcho-capitalist principles. There would be no monopoly on military, courts, or police like there is by the state in most countries across the world.

…the country would operate on a fully voluntary basis. That means “enforcement will happen through private arbitration, competing court systems and private law enforcement,” the project says.

At the same time, intellectual property would be a no-go, for many libertarians believe it is in violation of private property rights, and it often gives rise to patent trolls. Victimless crimes would not be crimes at all, such as drug use and prostitution. According to Olivier:

We have backing of over 100 million USD in private capital and are committed to the mission of realizing the world’s first Free Society.

On the project website, which can be found here, they have stated that the governments they are currently negotiating with cannot be revealed for confidentiality reasons, but they did provide some standards on what kind of territory they’re looking for. Among these standards was proximity to both water and economic powerhouses such as Europe, Asia, and the United States. They are looking to go on a national rescue mission of sorts in return for their own voluntaryist system. Janssens made the following quote to Cision PR Newswire.

There are many nations that have a significant national debt or are in crisis. Our aim is to help them resolve that and create an economic powerhouse next to their doorstep as a bonus. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The fateful debate between anarcho-capitalism and minarchism is not a new one, especially in the Austrian school of economics. This country will determine whether or not an anarcho-capitalist/voluntaryist society is possible or not.