Begging the Masters for Liberty

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR

I was reading Judge Napolitano’s article describing the Amash-Conyers amendment attempting to stop wholesale NSA snooping of Americans, and also the letter from Edward Snowden’s father to Obama. One can understand both of these initiatives at three different levels.

The first level is a straightforward interpretation: an honest attempt by some in Congress to stop the snooping, and a genuine appeal to Obama to stop persecuting Lonnie Snowden’s son.

No doubt many in Congress actually do want to stop the snooping, and Mr. Snowden really does wish Obama would relent. But let’s not forget this is a Congress that enabled the whole mess in the first place, a Congress that specializes in unconstitutional, immoral and violent action, as well as far too much deference to the Presidency. Speaking less collectively, no doubt many of the same individuals in Congress who signed on to Amash-Conyers also voted for such obscenities as the Patriot Act.

At any rate, taking these actions at face value strikes me as naive. One has only to look at the character of the President and virtually all those in Congress to understand.

We dispense easily with the naive view. This brings us to the second, deeper interpretation of these initiatives. We might call it an attack on legitimacy.

Amash-Conyers is not an attempt to actually stop NSA snooping; clearly the agency would continue regardless of what Congress does or says about it. It’s not like Congress has any visibility into the agency, and they willingly swallow the lies supporting it (if you think otherwise, let’s just see if there are any sanctions for that lying). So, why bother?

It’s a good idea to try to generate some backlash against certain actions such as snooping on Americans. It gives the perpetrators of the actions a reason for pause. It’s not the Constitution itself that stops them, obviously; instead it’s the idea they might be labeled as not supporting the Constitution, or of backing what amounts to a vast army of Peeping Toms, or other such disreputable images. Here they had wrapped themselves in the American flag as defenders against terrorism, and then they find out that some in Congress and many outside hold them in contempt for it. “Public opinion” (whatever that means) does have some effect after all; maybe Boetie was correct.

Likewise it may be that Mr. Snowden had no illusions about making his appeal to the likes of Obama, and his true aim was to attack Obama’s legitimacy. If his letter would have no direct result on Obama, who has no better nature to appeal to, perhaps the indirect effect via an attack on legitimacy might get him to relent.

Of course many of those in Congress supporting Amash-Conyers might have had completely cynical and self-serving reasons to support it; but still, an attack on ruling legitimacy is never a bad thing.

Or is it?

Going yet another level deeper, does it help to beg the masters for liberty, even if the intention and result (according to our second level) is a loss of their legitimacy? Might those who try this strategy also lose something? Might they also, paradoxically, be granting the rulers legitimacy at the same time they question it?

I keep getting back to Jeff Snyder's notion that “to fight for the establishment of rights or for recognition of rights by one's government involves tacit subordination to the state.” It is not a cost-free action, to petition Congress or the President.

Win or lose, Amash-Conyers would have changed nothing--not what the NSA does, nor what peoples’ relationship to the state would have been.

Lonnie’s Snowden’s appeal is perhaps a bit more understandable, for his own son, although in any case Edward Snowden will never be safe. The state depends too much on fear to leave him be. And no President will voluntarily give up the power to kill or ruin anyone he pleases, even if he is temporarily thwarted in one particular case.

Is liberty something that is begged for, or something that is taken? If it somehow, against the usual trend, is bestowed on you, is it real?

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


Samarami's picture

Bottom line:

    Is liberty something that is begged for, or something that is taken? If it somehow, against the usual trend, is bestowed on you, is it real?

I'll trot out the late Delmar England again:

    Suppose someone comes into my house with gun in hand with intent to rob me. If I have the wherewithal to do so, I will resist. Do you say that I have the “moral right” to resist the “immoral act” of the would-be robber? Obviously, my personal choice and choice of the would-be robber are at odds, but what makes one “moral” and the other “immoral”? Ah yes, the “standards” that “everybody knows.” .......

    .....I resist not from some self-contradictory notion of standard, nor from permission called a “moral right.” I resist for no other reason than it goes against my personal choice. I can prove to the would-be robber that his actions provoke resistive violence, therefore, are death oriented. However, I can’t prove he “ought” to choose to live.

    As I choose to resist an intrusion of my choice of self ownership, so can others; and can voluntarily join together to do so. The key term is voluntarily from subjective personal preference. Anything else in any form is the contrary and denial of individual identity. The contrary of which I speak is the common fallacy: “ought” individual.

Liberty is personal choice. Anything the white man does is incidental to my liberty. The choice is mine. England throughout the essay uses the theme "is" individual vs "ought" individual, and suggests far too many of us fall into the trap of "ought" individual vernacular and thinking.

I am a sovereign state. That's all you need to know.

Good essay, Paul.


Glock27's picture

Sam: "Is Liberty Something begged for or something taken"? I defer to the natural law of events. Liberty is freely given at birth as a natural right so it cannot be begged for nor something taken despite the fact that both circumstances occur against our will. Why should be beg for something that already belongs to us. However, it happens every day when the criminal invades our homes and shoots us to leave no witnesses...something taken. You well know that the history of governments have always taken. I watched a portion of "Lonesome Dove" the other night and a single individual was portrayed as a lying, cheating stealing land baron who was kaniving to garner all the land to himself through legal means.You asked the question I am sure as a rhetorical comment to make a point. I answered the rhetoric to emphasize my position to the idea. No disrespect is implied or intended. Just my observation.
Thanks for being a gentle booster to us bumbling and stumbling along in this.

Samarami's picture

In attempt to sort through your comment, Glock, I see you've overlooked the fact that I was quoting Paul's final conclusion in his essay. I find Paul's essay a good take on the collectivist mentality that I'm convinced keeps far too many of us in chains.

Paul was using Judge Napolitano’s Lew Rockwell article and the letter from Edward Snowdan's father to "The Grand Wizard of the Klan" as examples to highlight this phenomenon.

My comment was (and is) that liberty is personal, individual choice -- not something granted by others. If one looks for his or her freedom to psychopaths grouped into that syndicate of predators and parasites we call "government", s/he will forever be enslaved in her collectivist matrix.

S/he will always wonder why s/he cannot be free, and grumble and try to blame others for the fact that s/he is not. Fruitless as complaining about snakes in the Piny Woods.

    "Liberty is freely given at birth as a natural right so it cannot be begged for nor something taken despite the fact that both circumstances occur against our will."

My question is this: just who grants the "natural right", and who "protects" that "right"??? This is not meant to argue, but all too often we hear of cases where newborns are murdered (before and after live birth) by moms who won't or can't care for them, or abandoned to government child "protective" outfits, or similar evil fates. Who was standing guard over those childs' "rights"?

To repeat my axiom, the human newborn is unique among living beings in that s/he is totally dependent upon adult caregivers for survival -- hopefully a loving mom and dad who are committed to each other and to the newborn and her siblings. There seems to be a dimension to this Gordian Knot that suggests the presence of both a male and a female parent in the upbringing of a child will give rise to a better chance of a healthy character for the growing youth. I'll let you define "healthy character", because each of us is unique in his or her special "character".

The family is the only legitimate governing unit. Families and single adults gathered into communities will form ways to deal with issues among and between themselves that will require solutions. But monopoly "government" will provide no solutions and will grant no "rights".

The highway to perdition is paved with collectivist thought patterns. Let's hope for, instill, and encourage our children to choose liberty and individualism instead of collectivism.


Glock27's picture

Samarami: Uniqueness seems to be the dividing factor relating to all things human being.

Thanks for the enlightenment as always. I appreciate your perspective.

The Snowden thing I am neither here nor there with it. Personally I think he brought some transparency to the BLACK out of the [o]bama administration. I regret that it may cause the loss of lives. I only wish he would have blacked out some of the material for the safety of others and their families.

Samarami's picture


    "...I regret that it may cause the loss of lives. I only wish he would have blacked out some of the material for the safety of others and their families..."

I tend to ignore that abstraction called "the state" -- thus I claim ignor-ance toward the machinations of those participating therein. So this is a request for clarification of your statement:

How could anything this individual, Edward Snowden, revealed cause "...loss of lives..."??? What specific material should he have "blacked out" that would or could have enhanced "...the safety of others and their families..."???

I will agree that those acting under the guise of The-State are without doubt the most egregious terrorists known to mankind -- not just here on this continent, but all over the known earth and from the very beginnings of recorded history and before.

But as far as Snowden is concerned, it appears to me he was in his own way serving his fellow man by blowing the whistle on "intelligence" (what a grave misnomer) of the terrorists.

Perhaps you have more insight than I.


Glock27's picture

Sam: I have been given to understand that of the documents exposed contained numerous names of people. That is the reason I mentioned what I did. The "black out" was an attempt at a pun "black out"; White House, house boy.

I marvel at your ability to ignore "the state" when it kicks the crap out of you, me, and every American living here. The "Holocaust" is child's play compared to what is happening here.

I have mentioned before, and until I see otherwise will hold the position that the human species is the vilest species on this blue marble.

I cannot watch you tube as I have a satalite provider and they limit my download time and one minute of video eats up five percent of my download time. So to have watched egregious terrorists could never be completed because I would have run out of my download time. Anything that moves or makes a sound chews right through my download and then I am off line for 24 hours.


Samarami's picture


    "...I marvel at your ability to ignore "the state" when it kicks the crap out of you, me, and every American living here..."

David Calderwood:

    "...The state is the central abstraction by which a catastrophically wrong idea is placed into practice. It is the organized system for employing violent action (or its threat) on the part of individuals, for as noted before, only individuals act. This rationalization occurs on two levels, first by diffusing responsibility to a fiction and second by inducing a group-think inversion of standards..."

I ignore and/or sidestep individuals acting under the guise of "state" or "government" at any level. They are all virtually inept and stupid, so that is not such a large order.

And I do not give those creeps the power it takes for me to emotionally obsess over their machinations. Why spend the creative energy? I'd rather expend time and energy communicating with individuals like you and my friends at STR and other anarchist/libertarian forums. These are folks who detect the scent of freedom and lust after that. These are open-minded individuals with whom I can share and learn.

By sharing and learning how to avoid the beast I'll be in better position to influence my adult kids (5 of 7 now over 50) and my soon-to-be 25 grandchildren (24 on the ground, 1 on the way).

Doesn't mean I don't remain alert to the danger of the white men. I treat 'em like I treat rattlesnakes. But rattlesnakes have certain salutary value -- they help keep the rodent population down among other things. I haven't discovered useful value for the white men.

Read this (published in Rational Review). By linking to the article I'm not saying I favor "downsizing" government or petitioning senators. I don't, any more than I favor "downsizing" a malignant tumor.

I favor eliminating government. But I'm simply E pluribus unum (not connected with any motto used by collectivists to stun the bamboozie). I can only work to eliminate government in my life -- not yours, or my kids' or grandkids'.

I can try and I can share, but in the end I'm only responsible for my own attitude and philosophy. What you do with what I share is not my responsibility.


Glock27's picture

Samarami: My comment was mostly rhetorical. My mind spins with rage when I hear of the psychopathic/sociopathic conduct that has evolved over the years. In my reading of this site I know there are several whom imply, to some degree, a belief in the Constitution, 1st amendment, 2nd, 4th, and 10th. This is not an argument or disagreement with what you have said, but rather an impression I pick up on.

As I review over history which I do not have a substantial grasp on, but I do recognize that as a species the human being demonstrates that it is a social creature. This social nature I believe is what draws out the psychopathic/socialistic drive in others to control the masses, to place one's self above every other human being on the planet. The human being I think is helpless in moving toward, approving and establishing some form of rulership. If the human being were not a social being then all of this would appear to be unnecessary. I do concede that there are a select few whom have different points-of-view in establishing a liberty.

I was tempted to submit a letter from the "downsizing" site you listed, but thought better. I think I have already said enough to possibly have my name placed on a watch list. It would not surprise me if I were.

Thanks for your points and your assistance. I cannot express what it means to me about the help you have so generously and freely provided and the gentle nature in which you have provided it. It means a lot to me.


Paul's picture

"I have been given to understand that of the documents exposed contained numerous names of people. That is the reason I mentioned what I did."

Don't believe everything you hear from the Ministry of Propaganda, Glock. ;-)

Generally, when I hear an official or government shill expressing concern about a loss of life, I just laugh. It is so ridiculous. I also never forget that these people couldn't speak the truth if their life depended on it.

Samarami's picture


    "...these people couldn't speak the truth if their life depended on it..."

These people couldn't speak the truth if the lives of a quarter of a billion human beings depended upon it.