Blogs

A Wake-up Call

in

Today's Zero Government Blog is longer than most, and details the great danger to liberty in the view that nobody has any rights.

The STR Mission Statement says that it exists to "advance the cause of liberty", and Murray Rothbard identified as the "primary axiom" of the libertarian "the universal right of self ownership." Since Paul Bonneau and Alex Knight have repeatedly and emphatically denied the truth of that axiom, they have placed themselves in opposition to STR's mission and ought therefore to be relieved of their membership.

The Blog is titled Warning! Poison!
 
 

The $20T FedGov Debt: A Help or Hindrance?

in

It's unsustainable, obviously, but is its existence likely to assist us who are working to terminate government, or to obstruct us? Will the new President follow through on his hint about abrogating part of it? A few thoughts in today's Zero Government Blog explore the questions. Enjoy!

The Concept of Humility: Freedom from Grandiose Illusions

in

I’ve just read a piece of writing that I can only begin to describe by saying that there is so much wrong with it that I hardly even know where, indeed, to begin.  Why don’t you, Dear Reader, start by giving it a thorough look yourself, then please come on back here.
 
I suppose it behooves to draw attention from the outset to Jim Davies’ continuing assertion that fellow Root Striker Paul Bonneau is a “suspected government plant” before then repairing to his assertion that certain views of both Bonneau and myself are “nonsense” and that – as a result of STR having published our respective thoughts – it has become, in his vaunted opinion (and I have much more to say on opinions in a moment), “an unreliable source of understanding about freedom.”
 
Davies then goes on to state that I “follow” Bonneau (though I’m not clear whether he means that in a sequential or Pied Piper sense), and that “it's sad to see him lose track of rationality in such a way.”
 
I might have a word or two right here about the rationality and maybe even neurological status of the person whose thoughts I just described above, but perhaps that’s best done by simply addressing the rest of what Davies has to say.
 
The first point he seems to want to drive home is the idea that, although various functions of the mind (the examples he cites are imagining, writing, languages, and mathematics) are not tangible, they still “exist,” per se.
 
Without nitpicking the electrochemical processes that enable thought within the brain itself to begin with, in truth, the only outward means by which cerebral functions can be said to “exist” at all are by the actions they may produce.  If I sit and dream of a landscape, all well and fine, but it remains a mere apparition.  Even if I tell you about it, you have only my word to go on that it “exists.”  I could even be lying, for all you know or can tell.  If I take that vision of a landscape and paint a picture of it, that may lend some credence to my tale, but I’ve also just produced a painting – not an actual concept.  You can see the end result of that ephemeral concept, the effort that went into attempting to express it in some form, but never the concept itself.  Often physical approximations of concepts are possible to create – people have made the world full of them, in fact – but never the raw concept itself, as distinct from its end product.
 
Be that as it may, however, all of this explanation is in truth unnecessary.  This is because Davies’ ultimate focus is on “rights” and not abilities – and there is a glaring difference between the two which he fails to in any way acknowledge. 
 
Abilities tell us what one is capable of doing.  “Rights” tell us (or are ostensibly supposed to) what it is permissable to do within and amongst the society of others. 
 
Thus, whether one can or cannot physically write a symphony, sell heroin to a child, build a house, throw rocks at cars, wash the dishes, or kill someone, tells us precisely nothing about what others in society (and in different cultures and time periods, for that matter) may or may not tolerate in terms of activities engaged in.  In Davies’ view, presumably, so long as an activity falls within the purview of the non-aggression principle (a viewpoint which, it is worthy of note, is itself subject to contest and arbitration in any number of specific situations), then it constitutes a “right.”  And it is by this standard alone that he asserts such as an objective truth that remains unassailable in the face of whatever degree of resistance, no matter that every last other person on Earth should militantly oppose him to the death.
 
While we might well agree, as libertarians, with Davies definition of a “right” insofar as it happens to conform to our own ideological ideas of justice and ethics, unlike Davies, if we wish to also acknowledge the practical physical realities of existing in a world with other people who – quite often -- have very different ideas than our own, then we need to approach “rights” with the level of humility necessary for both truth, and survival.  This is to say that, for all of the heartfelt conviction with which we might assert the libertarian position, we can do no more than try to make a theoretical case for such.  We cannot, try as we might, produce uncontestable, hard evidence of our position.  (Unlike, say, demonstrating “three.”  We might apply an infinite number of labels to “three,” but we can always physically demonstrate that it is a quantity that remains ever constant.  Three apples, for instance, remains always and forever just what it is, and nothing besides to the sane.)
 
As a result, others can, and most certainly do, disagree with us – often quite vehemently -- all the time, as should only be obvious.  And not always peacefully, it just so happens.  And not just those calling themselves Government, either.  Like it or no, we must acknowledge this. 
 
Can a purely objective case be made for “rights,” then, ever?  If so, what are they, and who decides?  Are the “rights” we allegedly possess at present predicated upon some unimpeachable standard (like, say “three”)?  If so, what is it?  Where is it?  And why do so many people consistently, and with unbending resolve, resist libertarian views if they are so indelibly etched in stone – as Davies would have us believe?
 
For the record, here was (and is) my take on the entire idea of “rights”:
 
My contention is that "rights" are in reality little more than opinions. However, they possess two essential characteristics: 1.) They must be something that at least a significant portion of the population recognizes as such, and; 2.) they must be things that you have a reasonable chance of defending or restoring, in the event they are abrogated, by either peaceful and/or violent means.
 
Think about it: If you were alone in the world, would you have "rights?" The entire concept becomes superfluous. We only entertain the idea of "rights" once other humans come into the picture. This pretty much deep-sixes the idea of stand-alone concrete "rights" that don't depend upon outside human approval. Any contention to the contrary, again, is instantly reduceable to mere opinion.
 
One can make a theoretical case for “rights” by appealing to the court of public opinion.  But then this must come with the understanding that – no matter how sound and indefatigable you believe your own logic to be -- win, lose, or draw, you have to live with (or die by) the end result.  Davies rabidly denies this quite simple and obvious reality.  It is perhaps little wonder, then, why society by and large chooses to ignore what he, and others like him, have to say.
 
 
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” ~  Voltaire
 
 
Rather telling still is Davies’ atheistic view.  God is not real and does not exist.  Davies is sure of this.  So sure, in fact, that he offers as his case only a rejection of all man-made theological texts, as if this is conclusive proof of precisely anything – other than that history has contained a plenitude of theists who were and are every single bit as foolishly presumptuous and self-assured as he is.  He dismisses out of hand the possibility of God for having a “lack of supporting evidence,” yet nowhere provides an explanation for what does exist all around us.  He evinces the same attitude as might a European of 500 years ago towards the notion of radio waves, then expects to be taken seriously.
 
But observe the ultimate irony at work here:  With respect to his view on “rights,” Davies is carrying out Voltaire’s observation in secular form.  Since “rights” don’t really exist – but in his view should (and I must reemphasize here that I am not entirely unsympathetic with that view in principle – the crucial difference being that I know and realize it to be only my opinion; shared by some, even many perhaps, but not and never by all) – then it is necessary to invent some rationale by which they do exist, objectively, outside of the realm of pure theory.  Yes, “rights” must exist – according to Davies -- lest the human race die off in a sea of blood.  Thus, we must endeavor to make reality conform to our ideas somehow.
 
Davies then concludes with an utterly incredible statement:  “Here's a final example of a concept that is entirely real: conscience.”
 
It’s hard for me to even imagine the kind of reasoning that produced that level of asininity.  Not that it matters, but the example Davies cites is Oskar Schindler.  Schindler changed his mind.  He changed his opinions.  How does that in any way constitute a “real” thing, an objective thing?  As above, Schindler’s subsequent actions may have had substance, but the fact that he changed his viewpoint on a subject or two?  That produces an objective thing? 
 
There is the world of theory, and then there is the actual world we live in.  Some recognize this, and others fail to.  I’ll leave you, Dear Reader, to decide which category Davies falls into.
 
The next time you encounter a “right” on the street, please let me know, I’ll be interested to see it.
 
Meanwhile, I’ll be right here – breathing normally.
 

Keep Hillary Out

Nobody here votes, I trust, but all of us have friends who insist on validating the statist system by doing so; if you agree with the theme of today's Zero Government Blog, please send them a copy today.

The Campaign Needs a Radical, But Sanders Isn't It.

In this C4SS Feed 44 video, Sheldon Richman laments the lack of a true radical in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

The Right to Freedom

in

Last month the STR forum returned to the subject of rights, with some asserting that nobody has any. That would contradict the theory of individual liberty.
            
So today's ZGBlog The Concept of Rights attempts to bust that myth, by showing some other abstract ideas that we properly recognize as real. Enjoy!

The Importance of Boundaries and How They Figure in the Sex-Obsessed Realm of Politics

Butler Shaffer is one of the most important libertarian theorists, and his many books and articles have clarified the meaning and vital importance of well-drawn and visible boundaries in creating peaceful human relationships. That's why I mentioned him so early in my new article, "Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Pussy Control." If you found Stephan Kinsella's writings on IP compelling, Butler offers a real learning experience!
 
Among Butler's books are the following:
Calculated Chaos
Wizards of Ozymandias
Boundaries of Order
In Restraint of Trade
 
"Calculated Chaos" explores the problems of poor boundary definition and the link to complexity and chaos theory, "Wizards of Ozymandia" explores the warfare state, "Boundaries of Order" is perhaps his most in-depth writing on boundary theory, and "In Restraint of Trade" is a history of business attempts to circumvent and undermine the free market. You can't do much better than these!

Ancient Rome and Modern D.C.

The Roman emperors are known for murdering their rivals, and some for killing for amusement. Today's zero government blog recalls that the Clintons may be following in that tradition.
 
Anyone presuming to run your life or mine is despicable, but if Hillary is elected next month, she will be more despicable than most. Perhaps that may yet be prevented, by helping give The Clinton Body Count the widest possible circulation.

Irwin Schiff

in

Some STReaders have been influenced by this illegal-tax protester, who died a year ago last Sunday. On that day I visited his grave, to pay respects, and took some photos.
 
http://takelifeback.com/irwin/grave/index.html shows the results.

Border Control is Illegal

Even Ron Paul says that the Nation's borders need to be controlled. What he and everyone else seem to have overlooked is that no law allows that to happen.
 
Today's ZGBlog Bypassing Amendment Five explains, and shows the implications. Enjoy!

Syndicate content