Practicing Political Pacifism: The Immorality of Voting.

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Up until recently, I had never missed a political election that I was eligible to vote in (to be fair, I’m only 20).  Philosophically, I’ve considered myself to be what some call a “voluntaryist” for over three years.  However, for much of that time, I also considered myself to be a “pragmatic libertarian” who was willing to combat the government through the system of voting.  I now realize that, ultimately, voting is incompatible with a voluntary society and that it constitutes an act of aggression.

To understand these conclusions, one must understand the nature of the political process.  Libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard summed it up nicely when he wrote that “libertarians regard the State as the supreme, the eternal, the best organized aggressor against the persons and property of the mass of the public. All States everywhere, whether democratic, dictatorial, or monarchical, whether red, white, blue, or brown” (For a New Liberty).  How exactly is the state the “best organized aggressor against the persons and property of the mass of the public”?  Again, Rothbard has the answer.

For centuries the State has committed mass murder and called it “war”; then ennobled the mass slaughter that “war” involves. For centuries the State has enslaved people into its armed battalions and called it “conscription” in the “national service.” For centuries the State has robbed people at bayonet point and called it “taxation.” In fact, if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place. (Rothbard, For a New Liberty).

However, if governments are in fact a “matrix of coercion,” why would disengaging in the facility of government that gives me some voice be the morally correct thing to do?  The answer to this lies in the libertarian axiom of non aggression.  It is also referred to as the Non Aggression Principle and holds that all initiations of aggression against humans are immoral.

What does this have to do with voting?  To put it simply, voting is not self-determination.  I was not just selecting who I wanted to represent me when I went to the 2012 New York primaries and voted for Ron Paul.  I was also attempting to select a person who would “represent” 330 million other people (it is important to note that politicians don’t actually “represent” anyone seeing as their policies are enforced via coercion).  Therefore, even though I voted for a voluntaryist, I attempted to enforce a ruler on everyone else.  This did not sit well with me when I first realized it and for good reasons.  If it is immoral for me to force another person to live a life that I deem fit for them, how is it any less immoral for me to support someone who would then force another person to live a life that I deem fit for them?

However, I did not stop voting after drawing that conclusion.  Instead, I started to just write my own name on the ballots in an act of reclaiming my “personal-sovereignty” and to show my disgust with the choices being offered.  I eventually realized that even this act of the “protest vote” violated the NAP.  After all, I was writing my name on a ballot that would give the winning person the power to rule other people.  By writing my own name down, I was just as guilty as the politicians who sought those government positions of power.

This just leaves one question to answer; how should one go about changing the current state of affairs if not through voting?  The answer is through voluntary interactions among those whom are needed to change the world in the way that you see fit.  Don’t attempt to change the world through voting or through the use of government.  After all, government is force and brute force is the lazy way to solve any problem.  Regardless of the immorality involved, an idea that requires forced cooperation of the people involved is probably not that great of an idea.  What would you prefer? A world you changed dramatically through the instruments of coercion or a world you changed minutely through voluntary interactions?  Jeffrey Tucker summed it up on his Facebook page when he wrote

You know what’s evil about politics? It turns people into enemies when they should and would naturally be friends in a normal society. In the marketplace you are happy to cooperate with anyone to mutual betterment. But in politics, it’s all about hating your neighbor… a person who believes all of civilization rests on a Romney win would naturally and rightly regard all Obama voters as mortal threats, wreckers of the good life itself. And the demographics of voting are rather predictable. You can often tell quickly how a person will or will not vote, by appearance alone. That creates prejudice, bias, and hate. So politics creates these stupid battles between people — for absolutely no reason — and wars against the brotherhood of man. It creates the divisions it pretends to heal.

– By Will Shanahan, Contributing Editor for the Humane Condition

Contact Will: wshanahan.student@manhattan.edu

A Truly Human Society

              

Voluntary Social Organization

Voluntary Social Organization

               Friend and fellow Freedom Writer from A Veresapien’s Blog has started another blog based around the possibility of a ‘truly human’ or truly voluntary society existing right under the nose of the State. In his introduction and justification for this theory, he first provides standard definitions of Society and of government. This is what he notes:

“Notice that the definition of ‘society’ uses words like ‘voluntary association’, ‘working together’, ‘cooperating’.

Compare that to the key words used to define ‘government’ – ‘authority’, ‘rule’, ‘power’.

A society is, by definition, a collection of voluntary ways that people organize. People can choose to participate according to agreed upon rules, or not.

A government, on the other hand, uses power to exercise authority over people’s activities and relationships, backed by force.

Our Truly Human Society, being a voluntary society, does not want to have, or be, a government. We are not competing for the right to govern.

Since government is not the space our Truly Human Society wants to occupy, it is not a prerequisite for that space to be vacant.”

While it is likely that the gang of thieves known as government could actively oppress such an arrangement, he also argues that Voluntaryists have never assumed a world without hostile forces of oppression attempting to enslave a population. We dispel attacks that we are naïve to the dangers of the real world through our demonstrations of the market for defense, law, and arbitration.1

                In our daily lives we all support the idea of establishing communities, lifestyles, and relationships of a voluntary nature because that is what the average person does every day. Organizing these into spheres of voluntaryism to combat the spheres of coercion that will not die with the State could serve a useful purpose. With the loosening grip of control that the State will most certainly face in the coming decades voluntary communities need to lead by example and that cannot happen too soon.

                This is a refreshing agorist approach to a libertarian anarchy and one that I look forward to reading more about, and hopefully participating in my own ways.  

To see for yourself click here and read more about a Truly Human Society.

by Adam Alcorn,  Founder/Editor the Humane Condition

NOTES:

  1. “Market for Security” – Dr. Robert P. Murphy

Self Ownership in Reality. Who Owns You?

“Is your body your property?”  “Do you own your body?”  These questions are usually met with an “of course” coupled with eye rolling.  However, what does property ownership imply?  If you fully own property then you are able to do whatever you please with said property as long as you do not infringe on another’s property.  If you were not allowed to do so, it would mean that another party has a higher claim to that property and you were in fact not the owner of said property.  What does this have to do with your body?  Simply put, self ownership implies that you may do whatever you please with your body.  Sadly, this is not the case in the United States of America.

The United States has a plethora of laws that limit what you can do regarding your own body.  This includes laws that limit your ability to prostitute, use drugs, set up lemonade stands, buy raw milk, gamble, etc.  What does this mean for the rights of individuals to own property?  Simply, it means that you do not own your body.  If you are not free to do as you please with your body, you are in fact not the owner of your body.  You cannot claim to have full property rights of an item if you are not able to do as you see fit with it.  This leaves a simple question: Who is the owner of your body?

The owner of your body is the entity that exercises sovereignty over how you use your body.  However, concluding “government owns the property rights to your body” is too general of a statement.  This is because government is not a separate creature that exists of its own accord.  Instead, it is an elaborate system made up of varying humans on varying levels for varying purposes.  It is important to note that only individuals act and that therefore, the U.S. government is comprised of individuals acting in a governmental pattern (See Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State).  It is precisely these individuals, who are in charge of legislating or enforcing restrictive laws, which claim sovereignty over your body.  Therefore, as long as you are restricted from doing as you see fit with your body, you cannot claim self ownership.  Lastly, how do you regain ownership of your body?

To answer this question simply, you take back your individual sovereignty.  Everyday there are millions of Americans engaging in miniscule acts of revolution.  Everyone, from the hooker to the nine year old lemonade vendor, is engaging in liberation.  You have most likely committed acts of revolution without even realizing it.  Have you ever driven five miles over the speed limit?  Perhaps you have consumed something that the government forbids, whether it is raw milk, drugs, or caffeinated 4loko.  Take back your rights.  Your body is rightfully your property.  Don’t let anyone else, regardless of governmental status, tell you differently.

 

Will Shanahan, Contributor, the Humane Condition

(The author can be followed @Will_Shanahan and contacted at wshanahan.student@manhattan.edu)

Libertarian Anarchy in a University Classroom

While discussing the Supreme Court arguments regarding gay marriage in my American Constitutional History class, I got an unexpected 2 -3 minutes to talk about free market anarchy in a classroom full of “liberal” college students, and one Professor. It has been clarified to the best of my memory; it took place only an hour ago. I have paraphrased a bit to make it easier to read.

 

“Adam: The reason this entire question is so convoluted in a “legal” sense is because the government usurped the power to discriminate against single individuals by providing tax incentives to “married” couples. The “institution of marriage” should be returned to the Churches, and if you can find a Church to marry you to who or whatever, then you have every right to do so.

American Constitutional History Professor: In France for instance marriages are not recognized by the State unless they are “civil” marriages. Adam is referring to the rather unique separation of Church law from “civil” law that we are supposed to have in America. But the question arises regarding ownership of property and inheritance that must be addressed differently between married couples under the law.

Adam: Don’t all individuals have the same “rights”? Wouldn’t traditional property rights and voluntary contract enforcement settle the “questions” without government interference?

Professor: I don’t mean this pejoratively, but what Adam is arguing from, is an Anarchist point of view. I would argue that Anarchists presuppose a level of human cooperation that is not based in reality.

Adam: Exactly, but not from the Spanish Revolution type of Anarchists, the libertarian type of anarchist. We do not presuppose anything, but we understand that there is a market for defense, a market for law, and a market for arbitration that lacks the coercive, illegitimate nature of government. We simply want to introduce market competition to the laws that “govern” us.

Professor: Well, I don’t know if I would agree with that, but Okay. Time to go, see you all next week.”

I think it went surprisingly well and there were actually quite a few heads nodding. I had been speaking in support of marriage equality for the majority of the class period, so most of the “Liberals” were on my side. It wasn’t until the end of the class that I suggested the government not be involved at all. I can’t imagine I changed anyone’s mind, but maybe someone will do some research.

The professor has actually been surprisingly receptive to some of our ideas throughout the semester. Despite his comments above he has actually shown some interest. Immediately after class today I e-mailed him the YouTube video “Machinery of Freedom: Illustrated Summary” by David Friedman. If any of you have an interest in the market for law, defense, and arbitration I highly recommend it.