Stop vb. , to arrest the progress of; to hinder; to impede; to cease

State n. , a gang of thieves writ large; a territorial monopolist of compulsion and
ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) which may engage in continual, institutionalized property rights violations and exploitation in the form of expropriation, taxation, and regulation of private property owners; the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Defeating the State through Language

by Austin White

One of the statists’ biggest weapons is the manipulation of language through the utilization of euphemisms and transforming of definitions.  The Department of War is now the Department of Defense.  Government perpetrated torture is now called enhanced interrogation.  Massive institutionalized theft by government is called taxation.  Instead of being called an aggressive, coercive redistribution of wealth, the welfare state’s actions are called charity.  One of the most damaging blows to the Bill of Rights ever is called the USA Patriot Act.  Massive government spending, inflating, and deficit financing are simply referred to as The Keynesian Model.  State-worshipping jingoist warmongers who advocate a blatantly unconstitutional foreign policy are patriotic.  Compulsory government indoctrination centers are public schools.

The amount of damage and distortion that language has suffered at the hands of statist ideologies is approaching a level as bad as the Newspeak in George Orwell’s fictional Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the goal of the political class is to destroy the language through the consolidation and simplification of words, with particular emphasis on words that may inspire rebellion and undermine the dominance and superiority of the State.  In short: the goal of Newspeak in the book is to continually reduce the intelligence of the ruled –i.e. taxpayers – and make them easier to regulate.

The American government shares this goal, but the methods differ.  Instead of dumbing down the population to make them easier to rule, although this is occurring as well, intentionally or unintentionally, through the public school system, the primary method of the statist intellectuals and political class in obtaining people’s obedience is by legitimizing the violence of government.  In addition to conditioning people to comply with its each and every edict and into believing that the State is allowed to do what the rest of us are rightly prohibited from doing –i.e. aggressing against persons and property – by maintaining the perverse theories of the divine rights of the majority, the enemies of human freedom have succeeded in normalizing the State and making it seem as if it is no different than a business or voluntary organization and that its interventions in everything are no more illegitimate than a man washing his car on Saturday.

In fact, it is even worse.  The State has not only been normalized, but it is believed by nearly the total population to be entirely above everyone and everything.  In past times, the State had to compete with other institutions such as the Church.  Its perceived superiority was more checked.  The State now faces almost no competition at all from any other institution.  It is the ultimate authority figure and enjoys the ability to compel nearly everyone to do anything.  The federal government has obtained an amount of power so great that it can physically molest and digitally strip search children openly in airports and has achieved a level of legitimacy where people not only tolerate it, but ridicule and denounce the minority who actively oppose the TSA.

Were it not for the calculated use of Orwellian euphemisms and doublespeak the State’s legitimacy would plummet and its regulations and rule would not be tolerated.  If the TSA was referred to by enough people as a criminal gang of pedophiles and perverts, there would be no TSA.  If the Internal Revenue Service was more appropriately called by enough people the Federal Theft and Robbery Administration, the days of income taxation in America would be over.  The ultimate reason that military conscription was eventually abandoned in America was because enough people came to call it out for what it is: slavery.
Remove the government’s euphemistic, official-sounding titles and it is quickly revealed to be no more than an illegitimate criminal gang that operates in a status of lawlessness and is the supreme violator of people’s natural rights with no moral justification at all for being allowed to continue its racket.

It is for this reason that the most effective, and easy, strategy for defeating statism is simply for people to vocally acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes.  It is time to do away with the government’s Orwellian terms and phrases and it is time to call ‘em like you see ‘em.  Don’t just call taxation theft; laugh uncontrollably at the very idea that the bureaucrats would actually expect you to think of taxation as anything other than blatant theft.  Laugh at the ridiculousness of the largest, most belligerent military empire in the history of the world being called the Depart of Defense.  Make a deliberate effort to train yourself to discard the State’s sterile, Orwellian words from your vocabulary and to constantly delegitimize the regime in your day-to-day conversations by calling ‘em like you see ‘em. 

Think of any government policy, edict, or act, then think of what it would be called if a private individual committed it, and then forever and at all times use that term when describing the government act.

Get creative.  Here’s a starter list:

Taxation is theft; it is the aggressive, coercive seizure of another’s property.  Therefore the word taxation should be replaced by the word theft in discussions about the State.  An exception would be when discussing theft committed by private individuals.  Replacing “That mugger stole my wallet!” with “That mugger taxed my wallet!” may have an even greater effect.   Slavery is also an appropriate synonym.  If the IRS takes a third of your paycheck that means you are working directly for the State for the first four months of the year; you’re working for nothing for four months.

War on Drugs
The war on drugs should now be referred to as the war on the natural right of people to peacefully and nonviolently consume whatever substances they want on their own time, with their own money, and with their own body.  A shorter version can simply be the war on the fundamental right of people to own their own bodies or the war on individual liberty.

Gun Control
“Gun control” should be replaced with coercive citizen disarmament, followed by a brief explanation of why governments disarm their subjects in order to make them easier to tax and control and how some famous examples of countries where only the government has guns are Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Maoist China, etc.

Eminent Domain
 Is theft.

Federal Reserve Purchases of Government Securities
Printing money.  Counterfeiting.  Inflating.   Diluting the currency.  Punishing savers and the frugal.  Raising the social time preference. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Myth of National Defense: A Review

The Myth of National Defense: A Review
December 15, 2010
by Austin White

The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production, edited by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and dedicated to Gustave de Molinari, the first known anarchocapitalist, provides one of the most compelling cases ever published on the incapability of the state to provide adequate security.  Although other libertarian and economic books have featured a chapter or two on the subject, as well as a handful of wonderful essays, Hoppe is the first to present such a large, scholarly elaboration on the subject of privately produced defense.  The work is composed of eleven hefty papers by authors Luigi Marco Bassani, Carlo Lottieri, Murray Rothbard, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Bertrand Lemennicier, Gerard Radnitzky, Joseph Stromberg, Larry Sechrest, Jeffrey Hummel, Walter Block, Hoppe, and Jörg Guido Hülsmann.
The Myth of National Defense shines uncompromising light on the failures of governmental protection and the intolerable conduct of inter-state wars and then provides historical examples of private alternatives to state defense and extensive explanations on how entrepreneurs could, would, and should produce all security in the future.  Hobbes was wrong.
Hoppe starts the introduction to the book off quoting Thomas Jefferson from the American Declaration of Independence, which states that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect people’s liberties and when a government’s means begin to contradict this purpose, when a government begins to violate people’s natural rights instead of protecting natural rights, when a government fails in performing its only legitimate function, it is a people’s right, their duty, to dissolve or secede from that government and “provide new guards for their future security.”
The state is then taken to task for its complete failure to provide security and property protection and makes the case that not only has the state failed to provide adequate protection, but it is the biggest threat to our liberty and security.  The state in general is the biggest hazard to mankind presently and it is indeed time to throw off the state and begin to think about alternative, market-supplied, guards of our liberties.
We are less safe and there is more harm with a state than without.  No fact illustrates this case more than the conservative estimates that the governments of the 20th century murdered 100,000,000-200,000,000 of their own people –not including wars.  The sum of all violent crimes committed by private individuals in last century is a mere fraction of the ruin the state wrought.
The largest state in the history of the world – with its nearly 1000 foreign military bases; vast global networks of spies and intelligence gatherers; air defense systems; the largest air force and navy in the history of the world; and defense budgets larger than the rest of the worlds countries’ defense budgets combined – was powerless in protecting its own defense headquarters on 9/11 from fanatics armed with only box cutters.  Not only was the American state incapable of protecting itself, but its own military actions (sanctions, bombings, occupations in the Middle East) of previous decades are what contributed to the attack.  To add insult to injury, the American state responded to the attacks with more of the same foreign interventions that contributed to the 9/11 attacks – increasing the likelihood of future similar offenses.
Domestically, the American state reacted by dramatically increasing spending on its failed defense and security methods.  New bureaucracies were established.  Security services formerly provided by the market were nationalized and bureaucratized.  The state granted itself gargantuan amounts of new surveillance, torture, and police powers – further violating the liberties it is supposed to be protecting.
Unlike in the market where the failures of a supplier result in losses or bankruptcy, the state wins when it fails.  The state even has an incentive to fail.  Government failures lead to budget increases.  “If the Department of X only had more funding catastrophe Y would surely not have happened.”
Not one bureaucrat was ever fired over the defense failures on 9/11 and nines years after the attack the elderly, sick, and resourceless Osama bin Laden has still not been captured.
It is almost universally accepted by political economists that monopolies, where there is a single supplier of a good or service and no other suppliers are permitted to compete, are bad for consumers.  The monopolist has no incentive to supply a high quality product and can charge whatever price the monopolist desires – only being limited by the eventual inability of buyers to afford the product.  Even worse is a situation where the monopolist also has the power to force people to purchase services. 
Hoppe rightly condemns this as a racket and this is precisely the scenario we are living in now: we are subjected to the will of what Hoppe calls the territorial monopolist of compulsion and ultimate decision-making that enjoys the power to unilaterally decide what protection services we must buy, the quantity, and the price – combined with the related power to tax.  It faces no negative financial consequences for not pleasing consumers.  The state doesn’t get fired when it fails – it uses its failures as a justification to further expropriate the fruits of the citizens’ labor.  If people refuse to pay for the services, that they never signed a contract agreeing to pay for, they are imprisoned.  Government is inherently incapable of being a property protector because its process for doing so starts with the theft of people’s property.
Governments are motivated, like everyone else, by self-interest and the disutility of labor and will always seek to maximize protection expenditures (through taxation) while simultaneously minimizing the production of protection.
Government monopolies produce lower quality products at higher prices.  The competitive, voluntary market produces higher quality goods at lower prices.  This book forever deflates the myth that security is an exception and, as the authors show, it does not matter what type of government, whether democratic or totalitarian, is producing the defense.
All of the tools we use to protect ourselves emerged from the market: locks, alarm systems, guns, guard dogs, surveillance systems, and the gated community – the gated community with its private security guards is all you need to think about to realize that many people already implicitly know that the government is not a sufficient protector. 
A private defense firm, because the owners would personally bear its costs, would have a much greater incentive to avoid unnecessary conflicts, to end conflicts as fast as possible, and to keep conflicts as contained and small as possible.  It would not be in a private institution’s interest to maintain a global empire of expensive bases or engage in actions that would provoke future blowback.  A private firm, unlike the government, would have an incentive to encourage its customers to arm themselves and to live in areas that are less vulnerable to foreign attack.  A private firm would have a much greater incentive to not fail or else it would lose customers to a competitor.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Problem with Supporting the Troops

December 3, 2010

By Austin White

This is what I eventually hear whenever I’m involved in a discussion over foreign policy and the wars: "Hey, hey, hey!  Don’t blame the troops!  It’s the politicians!  Support the troops, NOT the war.”
Don’t blame the troops?  Don’t call out the people who voluntarily joined the military knowing that they would likely be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan to engage in unconstitutional, immoral occupations?
As bad as Bush, Cheney, and Obama are - the fact is that none of them ever dropped a single bomb or have fired a single shot. It’s the soldiers willing to unconditionally follow each and every order doing all that. The only thing that makes these wars possible is the troops’ willingness to wage them.
Why do the troops follow the orders?  Because they don’t get called out on the fact that they are the perpetrators of the wars.  Blame is always placed on Congress and the president, even though all those goons do is sign pieces of paper and give speeches.
They follow the orders because society has elevated them to the sacred cow status known as “the troops” and are completely immune from criticism – even from opponents of the wars.  
Soldiers come back home on break and they see the yellow ribbons and “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!” bumper stickers.  They get discounts when they go to restaurants and movies.  Strangers walk up to them on the street, shake their hands, and thank them for their services.
The thought that they are involved in something shameful never crosses the soldiers’ minds.  How could their participation in the wars be bad?  Even the people who are against the wars support the troops.   Even when soldiers are caught indiscriminately killing civilians or killing civilians for sport and taking the bones as trophies, most of the public  give the troops the benefit of the doubt.
And so they continue to unconditionally follow each and every command, young men continue to walk into recruiting offices, and the wars keep going.
What if, instead of walking up to soldiers, shaking their hands, and thanking them, people walked away from soldiers, shook their heads in disapproval, and scolded soldiers for participating in the wars.
The wars would end.
I don’t hate the troops.  I don’t want any more to die.  I don’t want any more troops to have to live the rest of their lives with painful memories and guilt.  I don’t want any more troops driven to suicide -especially when it comes to my friends who are in the military.
But I can’t support them as they unjustly invade, occupy, and bomb for Leviathan.   I can’t support the people who are the reason that the wars continue.