Author Archives: claytonkb

The LAPD’s Rogue Killer

Chris Dorner believes that murdering the children of his enemy is an appropriate course of action in order to exact revenge on his enemy – after all, killing someone’s child is probably the greatest emotional trauma you can inflict on them. This is the mentality of violence, the mentality of war, the mentality of the political means. “I have been offended. Thus, I am entitled to exact revenge at all costs.”

He espouses positive rights. He has no right to be employed by anybody, let alone the Navy or LAPD. And even if he did have such a right, this would not justify murder. But here again we see the logic of entitlement. After all, if we assert that he is entitled to a job, then unjustly taking that job away is conceptually no different than stealing any other kind of property… something which most people acknowledge may justify the use of deadly force under certain circumstances.

He sees the world in wholly racial and sexual divisions. He is the very thing he claims to be opposed to. He even identifies Asian police officers who are non-racist but who say “I … just don’t want conflict” to explain their non-interference with the abuses of the public by fellow officers as “high-value targets”… that is, that he will be targeting them in these announced killings.

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We are not the Government

This is the Introduction to The Rise & Fall of Society by Frank Chodorov. Chodorov addresses one of the most pervasive myths of modern thinking: the identification of society and government. This narrative of government as indistinguishable from society itself is of recent origin – it certainly arose no earlier than the French Revolution and is associated with the rise of democracy in the West. Democracy was disparaged by the ancients as well as by the founders of the United States government. The identification of democracy and freedom has risen to a credal dogma since the time of Wilson who aimed to make the world safe for democracy. It is the fact that democracy is freedom that, in the modern view, redeems it from the criticisms leveled against it by the ancients and all pre-modern political philosophers. In turn, since democracy is the will of the society, a democratic government is merely the expression of the Rousseauan “general will” – it is society.

god_the_father_carried_by_angels

God the Father Carried by Angels, Charles de Lafosse

What history will think of our times is something that only history will tell. But it is a good guess that it will select collectivism as the identifying characteristic of the twentieth century. For, even a quick survey of the developing pattern of thought during the past fifty years shows up the dominance of one central idea: that Society is a transcendent entity, something apart from and greater than the sum of its parts, possessing a suprahuman character and endowed with like capacities. It operates in a field of its own, ethically and philosophically, and is guided by stars unknown to mortals. Hence, the individual, the unit of Society, cannot judge it by his own limitations nor apply to it standards by which he measures his own thinking and behavior. He is necessary to it, of course, but only as a replaceable part of a machine. It follows, therefore, that Society, which may concern itself paternalistically with individuals, is in no way dependent on them.

In one way or another, this idea has insinuated itself into almost every branch of thought and, as ideas have a way of doing, has become institutionalized. Perhaps the most glaring example is the modern orientation of the philosophy of education. Many of the professionals in this field frankly assert that the primary purpose of education is not to develop the individual’s capacity for learning, as was held in the past, but to prepare him for a fruitful and “happy” place in Society; his inclinations must be turned away from himself, so that he can drop into the mores of his age group and beyond that into the social milieu in which he will live out his life. He is not an end in himself.

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Voluntary Slavery and Lawful Consent

godfatherIn the movie, The Godfather, Michael Corleone relates to his sweetheart Kay Adams a story about his father:

MICHAEL: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1,000.

KAY: How did he do that?

MICHEAL: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

KAY: What was that?

MICHAEL: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract … That’s a true story.

Of course, we all recognize the pun – making “an offer he couldn’t refuse” ordinarily means an offer so good it can’t be passed up. In this case, it means literally an offer that cannot be refused because Luca Brasi will kill you.

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Power’s Struggle to Transcend Legitimacy

just_say_noImagine you are a young adult, say, sixteen or seventeen years old. Driving down the highway, you and your friends are laughing and joking. Without warning, you see a police cruiser, circus lights blazing, in your rearview mirror, and quickly pull to the side of the road. You are gripped with terror in the knowledge that you have been breaking the law in a very serious way. When the police officer approaches, you reluctantly roll down your window. He immediately recognizes the smell emanating from your vehicle – he orders you to step out of the vehicle and calls for backup. You are cuffed, your car is searched and a bag of cannabis is found. You are going to jail – it will be the first step in a very long journey that is going to have lifelong consequences. We could have told the same story of a young adult walking down the road with friends, laughing and carousing while drinking, circa 1920’s. During Prohibition, the consumption of alcohol under most circumstances was illegal and punishment could be very severe.

Of course, most people subjected to alcohol prohibition or drug prohibition feel that the measures taken against them are simply unfair. But this doesn’t matter in the eyes of the exponents of prohibition because, as they see it, any criminal feels that the legitimate exercise of power in curtailing or correcting his crimes is unfair.

Alone in your jail cell the first night, you might begin wondering how you ended up in this mess. Did you make a wrong choice somewhere along the way? Had you fallen into the wrong crowd? Perhaps you really are as anti-social as the system is treating you and you’re just not wise or mature enough to realize it. This could be the wake-up call you needed to grow up and straighten your life out.

Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

But as the weeks and months and years drag on, as the legal fees, the court’s fines, the community service, closed-off education and work opportunities – perhaps even some serious jail time – begin to pile on, you will probably lose all thoughts of where you might have gone wrong and your need to reform yourself. The haranguing of your parents will gradually begin to sound like the intolerable screeching of Harpies and will lose its grip on your conscience entirely. You will know, deep inside, that the punishment which you are being forced to endure is out of all proportion to whatever you did wrong – if you did anything wrong at all. Your thoughts may begin to turn to the law itself, and wondering how it is that such an innocuous act as being in the presence of friends smoking a joint could be punished with such medieval abandon.

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Peace and Liberty: The Only Dignified Social Order

This is the fourth and final part of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Herbert provides practical advice for the furtherance of the voluntary principle within society. He counsels to avoid the temptation to resort to protectionism; it creates an illusory feast with the result that “more vultures of every kind flock to the feast”. The protectionist measures stifle the development of productive skills within the populace. Instead, we should wish for the constant strife of market competition, “for in the fair open fight the good always tend to win over the bad”. Society itself is improved and renewed again and again by the constant struggle of the good to overcome the bad. And the happy result is that “under the influences of liberty and her twin-sister peace — for they are inseparably bound together, neither existing without the other — our character as a people [will] grow nobler”.

politicsKeep clear of both political parties, until one of them seriously, earnestly, with deep conviction, pledges itself to the cause of personal liberty. At present they are both of them opportunist, seeking power, rejecting fixed principles. It is true that we owe great debts to the Liberal party in the past, but at present it is deserting its own best traditions, ceasing to guide and inspire the people, fighting the downhill not the uphill battles, and intent on playing the great game. Some day, as we may hope, it may refind its better self and breathe again the spirit of true exalted leadership, and regardless of its own fortunes for the hours place itself, openly on the side of Mr. Spencer’s ‘ widest possible Liberty’.

But to-day both parties mean anything or nothing; they represent only too often mere scrambling, mere lust for power. It is true that one or other of the two parties may mean to you some of the things that you yourselves mean, but it will also mean a great many things that you do not mean. They both believe in subjecting some men to the will of other men, in using the State as the instrument of universal force, and you cannot rightly take your place in their ranks, or fight with them.

Carolsfeld - Die Schlacht von Iconium

Carolsfeld – Die Schlacht von Iconium

Have nothing to do with the scramble for power. Hold on your own course and stand ‘foursquare to all the winds’. Pick out your boldest and most resolute men, and fight every by-election. Don’t fight to win, but fight to teach and inspire. The more resolutely you stand on your own ground, the more men of both parties, who begin to see the worthlessness and the mischief of these party conflicts, and the growing danger of using force, will come to you and join your small army. Few as you are to-day, you are stronger than the huge ill-assorted crowds–representing many conflicting opinions–that stand opposed to you, for no one can measure the strength that a great and true cause, devotedly followed, gives to those who consistently serve it. Fight the battle of liberty at every point.

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But What About Voluntary Slaves?

African Slave Transport

African Slave Transport

One of the objections that is raised against voluntaryism is that, since “anything goes” in a voluntary society so long as it is voluntary, wouldn’t there be voluntary slavery? If Smith sells himself into slavery to Jones, we as voluntaryists must respect this voluntary choice, no?

Murray Rothbard argues against this view in Ethics of Liberty:

A man can alienate his labor service, but he cannot sell the capitalized future value of that service. In short, he cannot, in nature, sell himself into slavery and have this sale enforced—for this would mean that his future will over his own person was being surrendered in advance. In short, a man can naturally expend his labor currently for someone else’s benefit, but he cannot transfer himself, even if he wished, into another man’s permanent capital good. For he cannot rid himself of his own will, which may change in future years and repudiate the current arrangement. The concept of “voluntary slavery” is indeed a contradictory one, for so long as a laborer remains totally subservient to his master’s will voluntarily, he is not yet a slave since his submission is voluntary; whereas, if he later changed his mind and the master enforced his slavery by violence, the slavery would not then be voluntary.

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Answering Voluntaryism’s Critics: Round Two

What What / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Francois Tremblay has responded to Voluntaryist Reader’s challenge. Needless to say, there’s a lot to disagree with, here. To start off, he tries to strawman voluntaryism:

The voluntaryist view stops at condign power and states that all other forms of power are irrelevant to freedom.

What voluntaryist ever said this? Any form of force or fraud – even if disguised, even if systematized – is “on the table” to be answered with force, if necessary.

He moves on to criticize voluntaryism but ends up apparently agreeing with voluntaryism, as far as I can tell:

… market exchange, being based on power imbalance, is itself a “manipulation” of people’s values and desires.

I don’t know what “market exchange” is as against simple exchange, but what voluntaryist has ever said that exchange in the present order is free of manipulation? Quite the opposite. The entire system is rotten at its very core – the Federal Reserve has corrupted the single most important and universal good in the economy, money. The law monopoly prevents people from forming or abandoning agreements as they see fit, interfering into the voluntary choices of individuals and presuming to know better than the parties to an agreement what their own interests are. The security monopolies render every citizen virtually helpless against the money and law monopolies. And the ecosystem of regulation-favored cartels, corporate lobbyists and crony capitalists that has grown up around this Iron Triangle force out would-be competitors who do not have access to the artificially large capitalization required to enter the market.

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