Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend Special - Stating the Bleeding Obvious!

Taking a break this weekend so I'm leaving you with one of the most cogent arguments for true liberty and freedom by the esteemable Larken Rose. "Stating the bleeding obvious" in 3 parts. ENJOY!


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 1)

Sometimes it can be difficult deciding how to state the bleeding obvious, when your target audience has been carefully trained to MISS the bleeding obvious. To wit, it's possible to demolish the fundamental assumptions underlying statism using very simple lines of reasoning. And for the recovering statist, the logic is undeniable, and the rational conclusion self-evident. But for the thoroughly indoctrinated (and that included me not many years ago), sometimes the most simple explanation causes the most drastic cognitive dissonance.

Here is an example:

The concept of "authority" is a MORAL concept. "Government," by definition, is the group of people who have the supposed moral RIGHT to enact and enforce "laws." (Whether there are "limits" on what those "laws" require doesn't matter for this particular point.) And a moral RIGHT of the "law-makers" to rule (even if only in a "limited" way) implies a moral OBLIGATION to obey on the part of their subjects. That is the essence of the concept of "authority" and "government."

Now here is one painfully simple proof of why that concept is self- contradictory bunk:

From the perspective of any given subject, each "law" either coincides with his own conscience, or conflicts with it. For example, a "law" may declare that murder is "illegal," and an individual may think that murder is inherently immoral anyway--so the two match. On the other hand, a "law" may require an individual to fund a war that the subject believes to be immoral, in which case there is a CONFLICT between his own conscience and "the law."

Okay, here comes the question. (Statists, brace yourself, because this might be both painfully obvious and existentially disturbing.) Ready?

Question: Can an individual ever have a moral obligation to disregard his own moral conscience, in favor of obeying an "authority" instead?

Here are the two possible answers, along with their logical ramifications:

1) YES, a person CAN have an obligation to go against his own moral conscience. In other words, a person can have a MORAL obligation to do something which he believes to be IMMORAL. I hope I don't need to explain in too much detail why that answer is insane. In short, it can't be good to be bad; it can't be moral to be immoral; committing evil cannot be virtuous. Even if a person's own judgment is flawed and twisted, he still cannot rationally imagine himself to have an obligation to do what, from his perspective, is the WRONG THING TO DO.

Okay, so that answer stinks. Here's the other possibility:

2) NO, a person CANNOT have an obligation to go against his own moral conscience. Therefore, he has no obligation to comply with any "law" that conflicts with his own personal judgment of what is right.

Most people can handle that much (even if they start getting nervous at this point). But here is what directly and logically follows from that:

If a "law" CONFLICTS with one's conscience, he has no obligation to obey it. Such a "law" should have no "authority" (creates no obligation to obey) in his eyes. If, on the other hand, the "law" COINCIDES with his one's conscience, such a "law" is at best unnecessary. It is his own conscience, not any "legislation," which obligates him to act properly. Which means that such a "law" STILL should have no "authority" in his eyes.

In other words, in no situation should any "law" have any "authority" in anyone's eyes, whether it coincides with or conflicts with one's own moral conscience. Every "law" either MATCHES one's own judgment, and is therefore unnecessary and irrelevant, or it CONTRADICTS one's own judgment, and should be ignored. Which means that no man-made "law" ever has any "authority" (i.e., it never carries an inherent obligation to obey). And without any "authority" to its "laws," "government" loses all legitimacy, ceases to be "government," and becomes nothing but a bunch of bossy control-freaks.

So those are your choices: "anarchy," or being morally obligated to be immoral. I would be happy to see any attempt by a statist to offer some other rational answer to the question, but I won't hold my breath.

Larken Rose

"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right." - Henry David Thoreau


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 2)

My last "bleeding obvious" article addressed the absurd notion that anyone could ever be morally OBLIGATED to disregard his own moral conscience. But the concepts of "authority" and "government" depend entirely upon the insane notion that, at least in some cases, it is BAD for people to do what they think is RIGHT (if the politicians call it "illegal"), and GOOD for people to do what they think is WRONG (if "the law" commands it). Statism relies upon such insanity. But that is not the only way to demonstrate the insanity of the superstition called "government." (This next one, many of you have seen before.)

Question: Can you give to someone else a right that you don't have?

Here are your two possible answers:

YES, I can delegate to others a right that I do not have. That would mean that even though it is IMMORAL for me to do certain things (committing theft, assault, murder, whatever), I can nonetheless bestow moral PERMISSION on someone else, giving them the RIGHT to do such things.

Again, I hope I don't have to go to great lengths to explain why such a notion is utterly insane. If you don't understand it, don't worry; I'll just bestow upon someone else the right to bludgeon you with a club until you understand it.

(There is a slight variation, which is equally insane, which is the idea that ONE person cannot delegate a right he doesn't have, but that MULTIPLE people can delegate a right which NONE of those people possess. This is about as rational as saying, "No, I can't give you an apple, because I don't have one, but if I get together with some of my friends, NONE of whom has an apple, together we CAN give you an apple." Right.)

So that answer stinks. But here's the only other option:

NO, I cannot delegate to others a right that I do not have. As patently obvious as that is, consider what the logically implies:

The people called "Congress" have NO rights that I don't have. Who could have GIVEN them such rights, if no one can delegate a right he himself doesn't possess? If I have no right to "tax" my neighbor, and you have no such right, who could possibly have given the people called "Congress" such a right? In short, NO ONE. You and I have no right to enact and enforce arbitrary "laws" on our neighbors. And neither do the people called "Congress," because no one had the power to delegate to them such a right. You and I have no right to rob people, assault people, threaten people, etc. (We can only rightfully use force to DEFEND against an aggressor.) Ergo, the people called "Congress" have no such right to rob, assault, or threaten either, even if they call it "taxation," or "law," or anything else.

Sorry, statists, but once again, your choices are either believe something insane, or abandon your statism; either you can give someone else the RIGHT to commit theft, assault, and murder, or "government" is completely bogus, because the people in "government" have no right to do ANYTHING that you and I do not have the right to do (because no one has ever had the ability to GIVE them such a right).

Once again, the insanity underlying statism is pretty darn easy to expose, even if it's rather uncomfortable for the indoctrinated to rationally consider. (Again, I was raised as a statist, and I vehemently resisted such obvious truisms for a long time, before giving up and choosing sanity.)

Larken Rose

(I'm tempted to end by quoting huge chunks of "The Law," by Frederic Bastiat. But I'll settle for this tidbit: "But how is this legal plunder to be identified? ... See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.")


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 3)

In response to my two prior messages about stating the bleeding obvious, a lot of people said that we need SOME "laws," or that we need LEGITIMATE "government," or some minimal amount of it. Not surprisingly, no one actually contradicted the bleeding obvious points. No one said, "Yes, I CAN delegate rights I don't have!" And no one said, "Yes, I CAN be obligated to ignore my own conscience!"

In short, they dodged the obvious proofs that the concept of "government" is inherently bogus, and went into claims about how it's NECESSARY to have some "government." Sorry, but that is not a logical response. If I pointed out that Santa Claus doesn't have time to go to every kid's house on Christmas Eve, that the laws of physics don't allow reindeer to fly, that Santa can't physical fit through chimneys (for those who still have them), that a bag that size couldn't hold a billion toys, and so on, would a rational rebuttal be, "But we NEED Santa Claus to exist, because otherwise Christmas won't work!"?

And a "limited Santa" position isn't any more sane. "Okay, we don't want Santa to be excessively involved, but for those kids whose parents can't afford gifts, we NEED a minimal amount of Santa involvement." Well, too bad. Because Santa doesn't exist. And neither does "government." It doesn't matter how much you "need" them. It doesn't matter what would happen without them. They DON'T FREAKING EXIST!

"Government" is the entity imagined to have the RIGHT (not just the ABILITY) to rule others. Trouble is, no one can HAVE such a right, because no one can delegate such a right. This is true whether someone is claiming the absolute, unlimited right to rule, or some version of "tyranny lite," as the Constitution pretended to create. No one can have a moral obligation to obey politician scribbles (their so-called "laws") when they conflict with one's own moral conscience.

There is no right to rule, and no obligation to obey, which means there is no "authority," which means that "government" does not exist. Yes, the gang of thieving, lying, murderous control-freak scumbags exists, as do their unthinking mercenaries, and the damage they cause is very real. But the claimed LEGITIMACY of their forcibly-imposed "legislative" master plan is NOT real. And even if they only initiated the types of aggressive violence described in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution (e.g., limited "taxation" and "regulation"), it would STILL be utterly and completely illegitimate (though a lot less destructive). The logic of my two prior messages applies just as much to "limited government" as it does to totalitarianism. No one has the right to rob me, even if they only steal a little, and only in certain, relatively unobtrusive ways, and even if they say it's necessary, or for my own good.

People try to cling to the cult superstition of "government" because it makes them FEEL good, like believing in Santa. They want to think that, if they're good, some all-knowing, all-powerful entity will make sure they're protected. Never mind that "government" is always more of an aggressor than a protector. I can't count how many people have argued to me, "Well, what we have NOW is nasty, destructive and illegitimate, but we really need a GOOD 'government,' or there would be chaos!"

You mean things like $2,000,000,000,000 a year being extorted every year from people who earned it? Oh, wait, that chaos is BECAUSE of "government." You mean like 200,000,000 people being murdered in one century? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like MILLIONS of non-violent people being forcibly kidnapped, dragged away from their friends and family, and put in cages? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like an entire economy destroyed by people counterfeiting the currency into worthlessness, and engaging in massive banking fraud? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like constant violent conflict on a massive scale? Oh, wait, that happens BECAUSE of "government." You mean like people being terrorized, tortured, harassed and assaulted? Oh, wait, that happens BECAUSE of "government."

How many thousands of years more does the myth of "government" have to result in suffering, injustice, death and destruction, before people will give up the insane notion that we need "government" to PROTECT US from suffering, injustice, death and destruction?

There is a simple, logical reason WHY "government" is always destructive. It's not because of bad luck, or because we weren't vigilant enough. It's because, by its very nature, the only thing "authority" can ever do, and will ever do, is add IMMORAL VIOLENCE into society. That is not just a prediction; it is a logically provable reality.

There are two basic categories of force: AGGRESSIVE force, where someone uses violence or the threat of violence to rob, assault, or murder another; and DEFENSIVE force, where someone uses threats or physical force to try to STOP an act of aggressive force. Most people acknowledge that aggressive force is immoral, and defensive force is moral. Attacking someone is bad; protecting someone is good. Starting a fight is bad; defending yourself is good. (I think most five-year-olds grasp this ... it's just the adults who believe in "government" who have problems with it.)

DEFENSIVE force is inherently legitimate. Each of us has a right to defend ourselves, or others, against aggressors. We don't need any official office, any badge, any special "authority," or any "law" to make defensive force justified. The ONLY kind of force that needs special permission, that needs "legislation" or other pseudo- religious political cult rituals to legitimize it, is AGGRESSIVE VIOLENCE--force that is NOT inherently righteous. If the politician, or the cop, has a right to use force in a situation that you do not, then he has the right to INITIATE FORCE. He has the right to attack someone, to start a fight, to commit acts of aggression. Because you don't NEED a badge, or a "law," to have the right to use inherently justified force. You only need them if you want to ATTACK someone.

In other words, all "government" ever does, all it CAN do, is to add IMMORAL VIOLENCE into society. So, is that what society needs more of? Is that what we need in order to be civilized and peaceful? More unjustified violence? "There would be chaos and mayhem if we didn't add more immoral violence into society!" Is that really what you want to be arguing?

If someone, or some organization, only used inherently justified, defensive force, they simply wouldn't fit the definition of "government." A "government" which can only do what EVERY other individual has the right to do on his own, has no "authority," has no right to rule, cannot enact and enforce any "laws," and does not in any way constitute "government." It can be a militia, it can be a private security company, it can be a concerned individual, but it CANNOT be "government." Because of what the word means, there CANNOT be a purely defensive "government," which only PROTECTS rights.

Here is my last "bleeding obvious" question for this series:

If every individual has the right to use defensive, inherently justified force to protect the innocent, and "government" has the right to use force in some cases where most individuals do NOT, what KIND of extra force does "government" add to society? Here are your choices:

1) It adds GOOD force, because when otherwise immoral violence is "legalized," it becomes GOOD.

2) It can only add BAD force, because any violence that is not inherently good--any force beyond the defensive, inherently justified force that every individual has the right to use-- must be inherently bad.

So which is it? Once again, you may not LIKE your choices, but these are still your only logical choices:

a) Civilization requires an organization that does nothing but add more immoral violence into society.

b) Immoral violence is ... um ... immoral. We can't possibly need, and shouldn't have, any organization that only ADDS more immoral violence into society.

Larken Rose