Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Expect to See Me Leading a 10,000 Man Militia Anytime Soon

Ronald Thomas  emails:
I don't understand you.

Libertarians and other activists are always calling for the "sheep" to wake up (I don't know if you've used that particular epithet.). "Don't allow the government to deprive you of your rights, your liberties."

I would like to know what you and other activists would like the citizenry to do.  Voting doesn't work.  Not voting doesn't work. Protests in the streets don't work.  Letters, e-mails and phone calls to politicians don't work.  Alternative news sites have not worked.  This has been going on for many years as conditions have worsened.

Now we have a single, frustrated shooter whom you call a "nut job" venting that frustration against molesting thugs.  If instead of a single shooter or a dozen terrorists there had been 10,000 shooters in a huge militia, would you have called them 10,000 nut jobs?  Undoubtedly, this man was very unrealistic to expect his behavior to accomplish anything substantive.  However, if you recall, one man in Tunisia self-immolated, starting the Arab spring.

I, myself, would not advocate murdering others, but to call that young man a nut job, just as those who called the frustrated man who flew his plane into the IRS building a short while ago a "nut job" is at best unfair.   Ciancia knew he would either die or be wounded and captured and tried.  Many would think of both of these frustrated men as heroes fighting back much as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning put themselves in danger.

I ask you again, exactly what would you like the "sheep" to do?
My Response:

First, as correctly noted, voting, protests in the streets, letters, emails and phone calls to politicians haven't worked in changing things, but I suspect the nut job Paul Ciancia and his shooting up of LAX terminal 3 isn't going  to do anything for the liberty movement. Zero. Got that:

Accomplishments :0 Results: Getting shot full of bullets.

Not my idea of a smart move. You really have to be off to do such a thing.

The same thing goes for 10,000 militia. 10,000 militia against the US military, are you f'ing kidding me?

It's really time that libertarians wake up and realize that the fight for liberty is a very long  battle. And that if you get yourself shot up, arrested and incarcerated for a long time, you are not thinking very clearly.

Walter Block instructively in a post on why he writes libertarian works claims that:
 This is truly embarrassing, but my least important motivation is to improve things. 
He goes on to say:
 Another true confession, one that again does not place me exactly in a good light. I enjoy tweaking noses, the more pompous the better.
The libertarian life should not be about shooting people up, it should not be about provoking the government until they throw you in the slammer. It should be about verbally, and in writing, slamming the interventionist thinkers every chance we get. But, first and foremost, it should be a fun battle of words. Libertarians are a smart bunch. Our best weapons are our minds. We should continue to develop our minds and our means of communications. Shoot'em ups make no sense to me. They are for frustrated men. Libertarians, with our minds and our understanding of human action, have a huge edge, which should allow us to move in cruise control compared to most of the planet.


  1. "I suspect the nut job Paul Ciancia and his shooting up of LAX terminal 3 isn't going to do anything for the liberty movement. Zero."

    It's worse than zero. It's negative. It moves public opinion against the crazy violent losers/loners who are the only people who support Ron Paul and read Rothbard/Mises.

  2. Why are we avoiding incarceration but not paying taxes?

    Obviously, you consider incarceration a worse penalty than paying taxes--it is clear by your statement of response. Yet, you won't support legalisation of marijuana because one will likely get taxed more because of its legality?

    I'm guessing you do advocate paying your taxes to avoid incarceration... kind of a dead give away there that being taxed and being imprisoned are not equal. Wake up and smell your own glaring contradictions.

    1. Issue #1: IF you don't pay taxes, THEN you will go to jail.
      This is a factual argument.

      Issue#2: IF you don't pay the taxes over marijuana, THEN you will go to jail.
      This is NOT a factual argument, as the alternative is to simply not smoke marijuana.

      Furthermore, one form of taxation already exists. Nothing can be done about it and whether one supports it is immaterial to the matter.
      Another doesn't exist yet. Therefor the latter would be created anew. Being supporting of taxed legalization of marijuana is akin to being supportive of NEW taxation, since legalization in this case implies acceptance of taxation on marijuana.

      There are NO glaring contradictions. You are equating two dissimilar examples. A false analogy fallacy.
      By welcoming taxed legalization of marijuana, you are welcoming new taxes. No libertarian supports new taxes, EVER.
      Why not? Because by declaring that smoking weed is so important that paying taxes over it is OK, you are helping to grow the state and helping increase its funds, which are then used to further commit aggression against innocents.. Helping to grow the state is the exact opposite aim of libertarians. But i guess for some, growing the state and its revenue is a small price to pay for blazing up and getting high. (Let's not pretend this issue is just about medical marijuana; and even so, the thought of having to pay taxes for alleviating pain and suffering sounds even more immoral).

      Advocating paying taxes to avoid incarceration? Hardly a bad advise.
      Advocating paying taxes so you can get high? In a completely different reality. Unless you think not getting high is equal to being in jail.

    2. Unfortunately many people don't understand, or won't accept, that they are not going to see a libertarian 'utopia' in their lifetime. This is a battle for the future of new generations, for the world at large. As such i could say there is something altruistic about it. This is why principles are so important. Principles are what is needed for change in the LONG run. And change in the short run will not be coming anyway, but many can't accept it. They continue to look toward politics as if voting for Rand Paul or Justin Amash/Cruz/Cuccinelli etc will be the fix. But it will not fix anything in the short run and will only do damage in the long run. Rand Paul & co is just another in a long line of pied pipers, just like Reagan was.

      Yes, tweak noses and slam interventionists even if for the fun of it. But these kinds of things, in my view, are part of the long-term tactic. Along with raising your own kids according to PRINCIPLES and leading by example, there is the personal action and lifestyle where you deprive the state of funds as much as possible without making your own life living hell. Propaganda is basically the most useful tool for the libertarian. Antagonize against the state. Underline every single evil it does, every lie it tells, every promise it breaks, every life it destroys, every irrational statement it makes. Mock and ridicule their stupidity. Plant the seed around you that admiring the state is shameful thing, that trust in politicians is ridiculous. Break that conception of the state as good and moral and just. Turn despising of the state into a virtue. The state is dependent on moral legitimacy, so that is what needs to be attacked and mocked.

      At the same time, propagandize the true moral values, truth, principle, spread information about libertarianism in terms of reading material that explains thoroughly its point of view.
      Libertarianism needs a critical mass. And the only way to get it is to hammer down the indoctrination and the education and upbringing that led to love and support of the state.

    3. You're right Tony, I'd much rather continue throwing massive numbers of non-violent (typically minority and poor) marijuana users in jail, supporting the prison-industrial complex, justifying the militarisation of the police force and destroying the lives of people who claim the right to put a substance in their body that they want--just to maintain some ridiculous claim that taxes are equivalent to imprisonment/slavery. That definitely advances the liberty agenda.

      Please stop spreading the "libertarian" idea that avoiding a new consumption tax is more important that legalising personal liberty, destroying the foundation of the drug war, and removing a large portion of non-violent people from the prison system...
      No wonder the "libertarian" movement is so marginalised. It's full of morons who can't see the big picture.

    4. Good grief, SS37 returns with his strawman and ad homs. A valiant and well-articulated effort, Tony, but it's seemingly impossible to disabuse him of the notion that libertarians support both freedom of consumption and freedom from taxation together.

    5. Yeah SS37,

      I'm sure you will stop that militarization of the police, of the innocent people being thrown in jail for victimless crimes, supporting the prison industrial complex and all the other injustices you mention, because the state is just CLAMORING to end these by simply putting taxes on drugs.

      You dolt. What kind of nature are you attributing to the state after all this time? You think legalizing drugs is going to achieve any of these things, instead of merely offering an excuse for them to simply get more funds? That they are actually going to decrease the police state?

      The libertarian movement is marginalized because the state and its supporters HATE IT, not because it is "stupid". And they hate it because of the people who will NOT fall for their transparant crap. You are likely the kind of "libertarian" they actually have tolerance for, because you are willing to play ball and ultimately fall for their bullshit.
      And yes, it currently is full of morons. But look in the mirror when you say that, since you obviously think that legalizing marijuana is going to make the state willing to lift all those immoralities you mentioned, as if the state doesn't actually have an interest in maintaining and growing them.
      You are probably one of those nitwits that also think voting for "the lesser of two evils" will help the cause of liberty.

      Hey? Why not give the mafia more money for exchange of less rough tactics? I'm sure this attempt at buying their clemency would be well appreciated. Sheep.

      Calling names is not my preferred tactics, but what's good for the goose...

  3. The solution is quite easy. Deprive the Progressive monster of funds, attempt to suck as much life out of the monster as you can, boycott known leftist businesees. The first issue is the important one. It is easy to arrange your affairs so you pay no income tax. Half the country does it. This will kill the monster and the lower consumption will collapse GDP since consumer spending is 66% of the economy. Start asking vendors if they will give you the purchase without sales tax. We do it all the time and with small businesses you would be surprised at how many do it. This is perhaps the reverse strategy of "Going Galt" In the novel the industrialists "went Galt". In reality today most of the wealthy are in bed with big governmnet (crony capitalism). However a strike by the middle class men of the mind would easily collapse the system.

  4. Nothing is going the change significantly unless and until we have at least 15% of the population and preferably 20-28% of the population on our side. If and when we have such numbers, I'm not convinced that voting would not help in dismantling things. Further, shooting up people and places will not win the "hearts and minds" of "the masses".

    I know only too well how hopeless it seems to convince impassioned supporters of the Socialist Idea by logical demonstration that their views are preposterous and absurd. I know too well that they do not want to hear, to see, or above all to think, and that they are open to no argument. But new generations grow up with clear eyes and open minds. And they will approach things from a disinterested, unprejudiced standpoint, they will weigh and examine, will think and act with forethought. It is for them that this book is written.


  5. Neither you nor the venerable Dr Block seem to understand how the yoke chafes at times. While for some, tweaking noses may suffice, for many others it is very much insufficient. I have my own solution to this need to DO SOMETHING, which I refer to as the canton movement.

  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGpLsPmvQ1c

    I am not very smart, but I do notice body reactions to statements. Why did the guy wipe his face. Who is this guy. What did the police chief say just before the guy wiped his face. I am not very smart, so you guys can figure this out.

    1. Yes, right at the 2 minute mark. Google the NoAgenda show, and if you can, listen to episode 562.

    2. Uh, because he had sweat on his face?

    3. The FBI Agent had sweat on his face just at the exact moment he understood what the police chief
      said. I watched the agent in many videos that day and that was the only time he "had sweat on his face." Did not notice anyone else with "sweat on their face" in any other video.

    4. It is my guess he may have had SHIT in his pants also.

  7. I can understand the writer's frustration, and concur with the sentiment that aggressive behavior will not accomplish anything that a fly can achieve when buzzing a rhinoceros. Self-immolation seems to be an insane proposition. The "Arab spring" was not catalyzed through this means, rather through subversion prompted by numerous NGOs as reported here:


    I agree with Block, that it is our duty as libertarians to "tweak noses" as well as continue to fight the battle on the education front as Ron Paul has stated. Also, we should try to lead by example by living our lives as true to the non-aggression principle as we can. This means providing as little support to the state as we possibly can in our personal lives, as aggressive law breaking can take a person "out of the game" (see Adam Kokesh) as well as tarnishing the movement. Furthermore, statists use aggressive behavior as a way to marginalize libertarians to the general populace, and (most importantly) aggression is contrary to libertarian principles.

    The libertarian movement is growing, not shrinking; the statist philosophy continues its erosion, day by day. It is probably better that these concepts grow organically anyway, so the "sheep" will be prepared intellectually to digest them. If libertarians continue following the non-aggression principle, and pointing out the aggressive nature of the state, success will be found in the long-run.

  8. I sympathize with Mr. Thomas. But his first mistake was to assume that writers, bloggers and professors are "activists." They are not. They are the opposite of activists. They may occasionally offer some useful advice or entertainment and they are great at pointing fingers but they are generally helpless in the face of the might makes right mob. I do agree with Wenzel that violence is not the answer. But neither is education. The ideas of liberty have been around since man could walk and most of that time has been ruled by might makes right. The problem is within each individual and it is biologic. To the degree we are composed of genes compelling survival in the moment, we lean toward might makes right. To the degree we are composed of genes allowing us to see the human wealth and well being in the law of association, we will lean toward voluntary exchange. It is a long battle as Wenzel suggests but one in which our words have no effect. Only mother nature can change the balance. And so in the words of Longfellow "we wait." Not as "dumb driven cattle..." but as a hero in our own life. In our own family, our own community. We take action, we work to support the ones we love and make life better where we can. As a wise man once said: "well done is better than well said."

  9. You have to come to terms with the fact that you live in an empire and don't let it ruin your life. Connect with like-minded people and argue for liberty when you get an opportunity. Enter politics if you really want to mix it up.

  10. This response reminds me of a line in STRIPES:

    When I was a kid, my father told me, "Never hit anyone in anger, unless you're absolutely sure you can get away with it." I don't know what kind of soldier I'm gonna make, but I want you guys to know that if we ever get into really heavy combat... I'll be right behind you guys. Every step of the way.
    Russell Ziskey

  11. The point of "waking up" is not to change or improve society. The point is to become aware of the fact that we are surrounded by morons and crazed, power mad people pushers who want to control everything in our lives. If you are aware of that maybe you can avoid them to some degree and live life more freely.

    Keep in mind, this sword cuts both ways. Collectivists surrender their autonomy to the bureaucrats, politicians, and "experts", and therefore they never become themselves. Instead they turn into zombies/slaves. Socialism destroys, and eventually the destroyers are destroyed. Better to turn inward.

  12. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

    Philosophy is for learning how to live and die.

    If a better understanding of cause and effect helps one select better means to achieve their ends than that it is a good philosophy. Understanding how the world works is a personal journey of removing the obstacles that frustrate our attempts and frees our sense of possibility. Libertarianism is about affect not effect. It's about coming to terms with our limits and understanding that when all is said and done we can be satisfied that we led a good life, didn't harm others and created something of value.

    There will always be people who get this, Nock's Remnant, and there will always be people whose ego's oppose converging on economic reality and seek to live by the productivity and charity of other people. The trick is not to get angry that we live in a world where we are forced to entertain other people's mistakes; but to realize we have control over our own actions and to take satisfaction in the accomplishments that our situations afford us.

    Just my two cents.

  13. That's extremely well said.

  14. Here's my question, why haven't libertarians advocated an en masse move to a state such as Vermont or New Hampshire where they would then constitute a significant enough portion of the population to actually introduce liberty within the chosen state?

    1. Wouldn't you be forcing your idea's on the people who already live there?

    2. @ Mic
      No Mic you would not.
      You cannot "force" on other people your ideas of non-agressions any more than you can force on a rapist your idea that he should leave women alone, or that you can force on bank robbers your idea that they should stop robbing banks. People do not have a right to the robbery of others for their own views through the state, therefor pushing back aggression and force is not forcing your ideas on them; it is pushing back the force they impose on others.

      The question of why libertarians don't do this is a good one. I have no idea how successful it would be, if at all. As for it hasn't happened yet beyond the Free State movement, i think it is ties to current dwellings as well as lack of coordinated action.

  15. Wonderful points Robert. I can't help but empathize with individuals who get so worked up over the injustice of the system they lash out but as you correctly note it does little to help the liberty movement. In fact I think that in some ways it hurts us because they are giving ammunition to the people who want to smear us all as crazies and extremists. You, Dr. Block, and others have taken what I think is the correct strategy in promoting liberty which is to spread the understanding of libertarian theory as wide as possible. The only way we are ever going to change anything is first to build an intellectual movement. So education has to be the highest goal with political action coming in at a distant second. Thanks for your continued insight and outreach. Keep up the good work!

  16. "why haven't libertarians advocated an en masse move to a state such as Vermont"

    Answer #1: because it won't make much difference, unless you want to fight in another War of Secession.

    Answer #2: shitty weather. Now, Hawaii would be the place where I'd actually want to move to:)

  17. Education, no education, it ALWAYS comes to the mass of angry (and sometimes armed) people coming to the place where the rulers sit and forcing the rulers out of power - sometimes killing them in the process. This will come with or without libertarians spreading the word, simply because as the ever-growing gang of thieves eats all it can grab it inevitably reaches the point when the suffering population cannot take it anymore. It does not matter what ideology is involved, at this point.

    What IS important is what ideology takes over after the thieves are evicted. Usually the ones which end up on the top are the people who took care to organize (and arm themselves) beforehand, and not the people who were storming the palace out of anger and frustration.

    If we are serious, we should take care to root these people out, and take care to defend the newly attained freedom by killing them off while they are weak, Because if they are given opportunity to consolidate the power, they will establish themselves as another State and the cycle will repeat.

    It means that immediately following the rebellion libertarians must become hyper-violent towards the would-be overlords. Any proposal to establish a State should be met with immediate force: it should be recognized that establishing (or attempting to establish) a State IS a serious crime and that self-defence fully warrants use of lethal force.

    That said, there's no point in attacking the enemy while it is strong and wields overwhelming force. Education and spreading the ideas of liberty is worthwhile - the more people are on our side, the better our chances are. But understand that all of this is in vain if we're not prepared to use the once-in-lifetime opportunity presented by the collapse of the powers-that-are.

    Perhaps ironically, the powers-that-are shouldn't worry about us coming for their heads, because in the end the enemies we should fight is not the current gang of thieves - but the next gang.

  18. In my opinion, if one desires to be an activist in the current environment, the program offered by Mohandas K Gandhi is the starting point. While it's definitely provocative, so far as I can see, it is the most amendable method with the highest law in libertarianism, the non-aggression principle. It largely relies on voluntary association and disassociation.

    Peaceful non-cooperation disrupted The British Raj for decades and made British Indian impossible to manage. The fact that he made it into almost a religious movement amongst the general populus is what made it so effective.

    And as Wenzel has pointed out, if you proceed down any activist path, expect theft, beatings, major prison time, and possible death. Gandhi and his followers suffered mightily at the hands of the British. But these things were part of the strategy. The activists publicized the suffering.

    Before coming back to India and when Gandhi was in South Africa, keep in mind, his group started out with no more than a couple dozen people. It took his movement literally decades, and no small amount of pain and sacrifice.

    Ask yourself if you really want to do that? If you care about having a life you can enjoy easily, never become an activist. Otherwise, look to Gandhi for inspiration.

  19. Lots of great comments following this wonderful post. Really debate and fun to read.

  20. There is an ancient tradition known by some as the 'talking stick' (we are probably all familiar with the principle in some form or another). Simply put, in a given discussion among a particular group of people only the person holding the talking stick is permitted to speak his heart. The rest must listen carefully, and deeply. Once a person has said his piece, he passes the stick to the next individual, who then expounds on his own particular thinking.

    This delightful process may of course relate to any given subject under the sun, but when applied to more substantial philosophical questions, like those in hand here, it has the tendency to 'tune out' the noise and nonsense that so many of us are inclined to propagate in such a setting. It does this by allowing the stronger, more well-reasoned arguments to stand on their own merit in light of the combined wisdom and common sense possessed by all (or most!) present.

    Silly or less logically sound ideas simply fade into the background without anyone being attacked personally in any way. No specific person's ideas are criticized, and therefore no-one is treated negatively – there's no vicious counter-argument or ad hom.

    Sounds great, noble even, but does it work? Well, yes, in my experience it does. (Granted, it is subject to a greater probability of self-selecting confirmation bias intrinsic in groups of individuals meeting together voluntarily, but that's another matter.) And as an armchair philosophical alchemist, my inclination is to distil the principles that underlie the 'talking stick' concept and apply them practically to the issue at hand (this process is known as solve et coagula).

    What I mean is that attacking an individual or a collective entity – either with words or physical violence – is by definition an act of aggression that in and of itself is guaranteed to elicit at the very least an equally aggressive response. It's negative posturing. Full stop. And although it is a very understandable approach, in the end it doesn't produce anything. All it does is create turbulence that makes it even harder to divine the truth of a matter. It drags the argument down into the tangled reeds of polemics and polarization of the debate. The art is to rise above this negative cycle by resisting the temptation to engage at that level.

    Better still is, like with the talking stick, to provide positive and affirmative alternatives that cause the noise and nonsense to fade into the background. Ideas that ring true in the common man's heart because they are the stuff of which nature is made and which he has witnessed at work in the world around him since he was an infant. Nature testifies to his soul that such words and ideas are 'true', to his own satisfaction (truth in this regard is as subjective a value judgement as praxeology teaches us is the case with the diffuse dynamics of individual economic decisions; perhaps we could call the study of subjective truth-verification vereology ;-)).

    And in my opinion that is the greatest single positive power of the libertarian message. It rings true in the common man's heart and it is affirmative – it builds up. Not only that but it constructs an alternative society of free minds BEYOND the suffocating, stifling and deadening hand of the coercive state. Outside the matrix, if you will.

    To be continued...

  21. continued...

    One key step towards this ultimate goal is to call things by their proper name. And the libertarian message again scores top marks in this regard too, especially under Rothbard. It calls the coercive state for the criminal and thieving entity it is. It reveals the depravity and immorality of a collective entity using violence or the threat of violence to achieve particular yet often arbitrary political objectives. Having identified leviathan then as essentially a narcissistic entity, the strategy is not engagement but disengagement. Do not ignore it but initiate a process of extracting your heart and mind from the clutches of this witchlike creature. In so doing, you must provide your intellect with a POSITIVE ALTERNATIVE. Powerful cognitive nutrition to nourish the visualization of what could be (collapsing the quantum wave function into a higher-order reality), rather than simply breaking down that which is, destroying the legacy (lower-order thinking).

    But this is where the libertarian message is at its weakest in my mind. The question that haunts me most is this: how does a given free community ensure the inevitable aggressors in its midst are fairly sentenced and punished for breaching the non-aggression principle? Someone has to be granted the power of sanction. In other words, the community must grant an individual the authority to use aggression against an aggressor at some point, apparently breaking the non-aggression principle at a communal level. This is the biggest stumbling block I run up against when discussing the libertarian message with my more intelligent interlocutors. And I haven't yet found a satisfactory model, though I'm searching hard. The closest I've got is the period of the judges in Israel's turbulent history. But this is probably an artefact of my not yet having studied libertarian writings extensively enough. I'm sure the answer's 'out there', but I just don't have the wherewithal to go and find it yet.

    The fact is, as anyone can see, Everyman has a dark side and a tendency to take short cuts (steal) at the cost of his fellow man. How does a free society based on the non-aggression principle keep our darker urges in check through the power of deterrence, i.e. fear of the consequences of our actions? Surely that's where the discussion should be, as without answering that question to the satisfaction of intelligent men, we'll continue to get mired in polemics and endless disputations on minutiae. When I can visualize a society that grants individuals authority to punish aggressors (judges?) without the risk of said individuals abusing that power and sanction, then I can more clearly envisage a truly libertarian world. But perhaps I'm making it too complicated for myself...