Statism and Liberty – Applying the Message

               Libery Rebuilds Civilizations

               When writing about current events from the libertarian anarchist point of view, whether politically, Geo-politically, or even rhetorically focused, a difficulty arises.  When the mainstream media and the blogosphere are focused on the problems of Statism, as expected the debate is centered on Statist solutions. Speaking only for myself, as a libertarian anarchist, it becomes very difficult to apply libertarian principles to the average popular political debate. Especially when it comes to issues that only arise under a State dominated world, such as immigration. I wrote this article, discussing an older essay by Walter “Don’t Call Me Dr.” Block regarding immigration. He rightly pointed out that borders are arbitrary, and without them there is no such thing as immigration, or emigration, it all becomes simply, migration.

                Accepting and writing about this theory, as I think many libertarian anarchists do, myself included, does not lend itself to a productive spreading of the message of Liberty. I assert this only because of evidence in my own life; I was brought to the message of liberty through thoughtful applications of libertarian political theory with regards to current events. The huge success of the Ron Paul awareness campaigns was based precisely upon his ability to do just that; He made libertarian theory apply to current issues. I think we can all agree it worked, Presidency be damned.

                I am in no way suggesting that the brave and principled men and women who work tirelessly to spread the message of liberty should lay their principles aside. I am suggesting however that we put our heads together and work towards incorporating more libertarian theory   into the mainstream. As any blogger knows, site traffic increases dramatically when this method is practiced. Mainstream Democrats and Republicans that might be interested in libertarian theory are more likely to read an article discussing the issues they feel are important, but from a libertarian point of view.

                We must be honest with ourselves, there are many issues that ‘Mainstream Democrats and Republicans” (MD&R’s) feel are very important that are in fact merely a charade of distraction from the real issues. As libertarian anarchists we understand that the underlying problem in the majority of these issues is the State itself. However, the MD&R’s are unlikely to be persuaded based on the recent NSA leaks to abolish the State entirely on the theory that all governments are parasitic and doomed to tyranny. The minarchist libertarian position on government secrecy is appealing to everyone, including MD&R’s. That is: A government of, by and for the People is not entitled to secret courts, secret laws, and limitless surveillance without a warrant.

                A libertarian anarchist does not sacrifice his principles by promoting minarchist libertarian applications to the Statist world we live in today. We must fight towards freedom, and excusing ourselves from the popular political debates based on strict anti-Statism in its purest form cannot help to spread the message of liberty.

                Many libertarian anarchists would probably respond with an overwhelming pessimism that is hard to resist, and until recently I felt the same way.  They might say, “The idea that the State’s dominance is so overwhelming that spreading the message of liberty at this point in history is futile”.

 It is here that my mind has recently changed. I understand the overwhelming sense of dread when facing Leviathan head-on, seemingly alone. There are many within this movement that desire to leave the country, I am not one of those. I refuse to let a bunch of criminals that have probably never even visited my hometown, chase me out of the mountains I was born and raised in. You might call this a desire to “go down with the ship”, and you would be right. But in the meantime spreading the message of liberty is equivalent to building lifeboats. If we want to come out the other side of this sinking ship we call the State, we have to prepare the lifeboats of liberty.

– Adam Alcorn, Founder/Editor of the Humane Condition

Author can be reached at thcondition@gmail.com or on twitter @AdamBlacksburg

Non-Secular: The State as God in Civil Religion

The concept of Civil Religion is relatively new on the scale of human history, as are many of its features. It is most frequently applied to the 20th century communist regimes in China and the Soviet Union, but it can apply to any modern secular State. With the rise of secularism the ages old union of religion and politics was broken. This presented a problem to the philosophical legitimacy of the State, suddenly lacking a divine mandate, or otherwise theological justification for maintaining its power. Civil religion was simply the replacement of an outdated tool of oppression by governing elites.

washington monument

According to John Esposito, who wrote in Religions in Asia Today referring to the communist Chinese regime, “a civil religion is based on a sacred narrative of the state’s founding, in which the development of the state is portrayed as a just, moral enterprise…” .1 It is a new way of being religious because the “believers” are no longer worshipping unknowable deities that rely totally on faith for their existence. The “holy day” is no longer in reverence to a God, but a concrete National holiday that marks the founding of the Nation itself. In the sake of Communist china, God was replaced by Chairman Mao Zedong. It was slightly more difficult to institute civil religion in the Western post enlightenment world, but it is here. God has been replaced by the notion of Democracy. No longer do we fight wars to spread the word of Christ, but to spread to word of Democracy.

Despite the new labels and sacred mythologies it is also a very old way of being religious. Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book might have a different message than the Roman Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible, but the purpose it serves in society is identical. In the same way that Church’s disseminated hymnals the Nation-state has an anthem known by every child product of its National public schools and performed live before every nationally televised sporting event. The similar nature of civil and traditional religion does not lie in the actual content or philosophy. It lies in the way in which a society’s governing elite take advantage of such a persuasive, widely-held belief system.

I have posited before that it was not religion serving as the root cause for so many wars as most historians claim, but that it was the State’s misuse and abuse of the power vacuum that exists between the illiterate faithful masses, and the clergy. In an era that people are looking more and more to themselves for spiritual or religious awareness, the traditional model of religion is no longer an effective tool to be hijacked by the State. The ability of civil religions to coexist alongside the technological and scientific advances of the modern era is evidence in favor of this theory.

 

by Adam Alcorn, Founder/Editor, the Humane Condition

Contact me on twitter @AdamBlacksburg or e-mail thcondition@gmail.com

 

NOTES

  1. Esposito, John L., Darrell J. Fasching, and Todd Vernon Lewis. “Globalization From New to New Age Religions.” Religions of Asia today. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 385 – 422. Print.

The American Civil War: Power at Stake

The causes of the Civil War are, unfortunately, disputed among countless people on countless forums.  Most of the time, either bad history is being practiced or untrue statements are being made.  The true causes reside within countless primary documents and an understanding of American culture at the time.  After looking at the evidence, I have come to two conclusions that I will argue in this brief essay.

Presidents Lincoln and Davis

Presidents Lincoln and Davis

1.) Slavery was a Necessary Factor for Southern Secession whereas State Sovereignty was hardly at Play.

      South Carolina, the first state to secede, did not come to that decision over night.  Just like most confederate states, South Carolina’s decision to secede can be traced back to 1850.  This was the year that the U.S. congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act.  Specifically, the act required that northern states enforce laws concerning fugitive slaves.  The northern states were now required to return slaves that had escaped for freedom.  Furthermore, the act declared

“And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them, from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or without process as aforesaid… and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost as aforesaid.”[1]

 

In other words, those who aided escaped slaves could be charged and fined.  The reason that southern states were upset about this is rather ironic.  The south was not upset about these new laws.  They were upset that northern states either nullified, or refused to enforce them.

Almost immediately after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, Vermont passed the Habeas Corpus Law which effectively nullified the Fugitive Slave Act in Vermont.  Four years later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional.  Furthermore, jury nullification was common among northern states.  The fact that the Federal government did not force the northern states to follow the Fugitive Slave Act is what led to secession, beginning in 1860.  In fact, this reason is mentioned several times throughout the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.”  One section of the declaration reads

“We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”[2]

 

This type of language was common among southern declarations of independence.  The evidence is clear.  Slavery and a weak federal government were necessary for southern secession.  Northern nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act pushed the South towards secession.

2.) The Federal Government was interested in Federal Expansion whereas the Liberation of Slaves was hardly at Play.

             There were numerous reasons behind the Union’s prevention of southern secession.  Primarily, the notion of Manifest Destiny and the need for federal revenues motivated the Union to take action.

It should be acknowledged that, although slavery played a huge role in southern secession, the Union did not go to war to free the slaves.  President Lincoln, the commander in chief during the Civil War, stated

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help save the Union.”[3]

Ulysses S. Grant, the Union General, wrote that

“The sole object of this war is to restore the Union. Should I become convinced it has any other object, or that the Government designs its soldiers to execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side.”[4]

The real reason for the Union’s response to southern secession was a sentiment that was at the heart of U.S. policy.  It is commonly known as “Manifest Destiny,” a philosophy centered on U.S. expansion “from sea to shining sea.”  In fact, this was the same philosophy that led to the Mexican-American war of the late 1840s.  This nationalistic idea, more so than the seizure of Fort Sumter, is what drove the Union to stop the south from breaking away.

Further, the Union needed southern money to maintain its continental expansionism.  This is due to the federal tax system of this time period.  Specifically, until 1861, the Union relied on tariffs imposed on various ports.  The south, however, contained most of the country’s ports.  Furthermore, an estimated 75% of federal revenue came from the southern ports.  Without these funds, the Union would have to contract rather than expand.  There was a reason that top ranking Union officials were concerned with maintaining the Union.  Southern money played a role in continental expansionism and was necessary for “Manifest Destiny.”

Ultimately, neither the Confederacy nor the Union should be admired.  The confederacy left the Union because of its’ opposition to northern nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act.  The Union went to war with the confederacy in order to maintain the funds necessary for an expansionist policy.  The Civil War should not be thought of as a war of liberation.  Instead, it should be looked at as a war between two governments seeking power.

– Will Shanahan, Contributor, the Humane Condition


[1] U.S. Federal Congress, USConstitution.net, “The Fugitive Slave Act.” September 18, 1850. (Accessed April 24, 2013) http://www.usconstitution.net/fslave.html.

[2] Confederate States of America, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy, “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” December 24, 1860. (Accessed April 24, 2013.) http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp.

[3] Abraham Lincoln, “Lincoln’s Letter to Horace Greeley,” (August 22, 1862) 1.

[4] Ulysses S. Grant, “A letter to the Chicago Tribune,” (1862).

Easy to Become a Libertarian. Easier to Be an Anarchist.

Once someone see’s the light, they usually rejects the modern Democrat and Republican Parties and declare themselves libertarian. This can be a long process like any other evolution, but once firmly entrenched with libertarian principles and philosophies, the truth can never be unlearned. The reality of self-ownership and the principle of non-aggression become firmly held beliefs, and nature repetitively proves your thesis upon observation. This type of reassurance in your ideology, and the confidence of principled argument make certain that once the value of liberty is discovered, it can not be rejected.

STATISM

     This post has expanded from what started as a comment I made on the website http://www.therightscoop.com. These “conservatives” were doing their basic “Rand Bashing”, which is fine by me, but they were totally missing the point behind libertarianism. The modern right often perceives libertarians as holding drug legalization at the top of our to-do lists. The following was my attempt at setting them straight:

“You couldn’t be further from the truth when you assert that Ron Paul’s support came from younger people because of his stance on drugs. What you  fail to understand is the logical consistency between non-intervention in the economy, and non-intervention in foreign affairs. Central planners are bad, whether they are economic or otherwise. No group of people has the ability to build a nation without a free market and the invisible hand of the marketplace. This principle, when applied consistently, leads to small government with only the responsibility of protecting liberty and property. Therefore excluding social/corporate welfare, unnecessary military interventions, and the rest of the monstrosity that government has become.

Logical consistency is attractive, and that is what attracts people of all ages to the philosophy of Ron Paul and libertarianism.”

     When I say libertarianism is easy, this is what I mean. It takes no mental gymnastics to apply the ‘principle’ of non-intervention across the board. A libertarian often becomes exceedingly confident in his belief system due to the principled and philosophical consistency. This confidence and the lack of mental gymnastics necessary to defend the libertarian position, makes it easy!

The consistent libertarian

     So why is it easier to be an Anarchist? Well I never thought I’d say this, but the meme says it all. The very same reasons that being a libertarian is easier than being a Republican or Democrat/Conservative or Liberal, are true for anarchy. If the state is based on immoral coercion in the form of taxation, and this taxation is only enforceable due to a geographical monopoly on the use of force, the state loses every last drop of its legitimacy.

     What are the libertarian solutions? It is my opinion that there is no libertarian solution within the state. However there are libertarians that give answers! Some say that it is a necessary evil. Ludwig von Mises himself was no anarchist. It is HARD to envision a world without government, because it has not existed throughout recorded history. In that sense perhaps anarchism is not easier than minarchism, because we are living in a real life example of minarchism. I’m not say our government is minarchistic in the least, but it started that way. The potentiality of any limited government to become as large as the United States government notwithstanding, anarchism reveals the inconsistencies of libertarianism.

     Many libertarians take a pragmatic approach and are simply not convinced that society could function without a government. That’s that right? Libertarians suggest we maintain a small state with the monopoly power on force over an arbitrary geographical expanse because there is no other way. Again, notwithstanding the many debates about how a stateless society would function (See Rothbards ‘For a New Liberty‘ and Friedmans ‘Machinery of Freedom‘), the libertarian statist position is inconsistent with the very core values of libertarianism, and is that not enough to investigate further?

     So why is anarchy easier than libertarianism? Nonaggression, private property rights, and true freedom cannot occur in a statist society. These principled and philosophical inconsistencies are what lured most of us away from the left/right paradigm in American politics. They will lead us away from libertarianism, and to anarchy. Free market anarchy that is.