Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR

Freedom cannot be imposed by force. I (and many others) have said that before, yet the Libertarian Party continues to exist. There are also those who imagine that if there is a general economic collapse, free-market businessmen will step into the power vacuum and set up a libertarian or anarchist society with which everyone else will then cooperate (or else!). Either of these ideas is “top-down” and dead wrong, and strong support for that opinion came this week from an unexpected source: a left-of-center newspaper in London.

It's The Guardian, a journal that began as the Manchester Guardian in 1821 and did good work in the 19th Century supporting the classical liberal movement known sometimes as the “Manchester School” that brought such immense benefit to the UK and the world. When the Liberals faded away after WWI, the newspaper moved Left to attract socialist readers, and remains today as a serious daily patronized by such Britons as teachers and bureaucrats. It retains enough of its liberal past to have been chosen by Julian Assange to help release his treasure trove of Wikileak documents in 2010. It runs the most efficient online “comment” forum that I know.

On Monday, April 8th came news of the death of Baroness Thatcher, and the Guardian invited its readers to answer the question “Should she be given a state funeral?”

Within a few hours, 968 comments had been posted, and opinion ran about nine to one against the idea. Fair enough; I did say it was left of center. What shocked me a great deal was the visceral hatred many expressed. By Tuesday morning, the Editor had removed an unusually large number for failure to “adhere to community standards” (and closed off further comment), but here's a sampler:

“Cardboard box in a landfill.

“Tip her into the Indian Ocean.

“Bury her in the Falkland Islands.

“Throw her into a lime pit.

“She went to Hell, and she has shut down 5 furnaces already.

“Will her grave be big enough for everyone to dance on it?

“I will not exult or celebrate the end of this appalling creature.

“I have nothing much against her but we should build a temple dedicated to Neo-Liberal Libertarianism (economic). Put her corpse in a glass panel, suspended above, so that worshippers of the faith can come to the temple and see one of the figureheads rot away into nothing, just like how their ideology rots everything it touches.”

My own contribution began, “While I favor a funeral for the State far above a State funeral for anyone, if Britain can have a State funeral for Winston Churchill, one of the greatest warmongers of the 20th Century, it should certainly hold one for Thatcher.” The torrent of hostile contrary opinions, however, soon swept it off the 50-comment current page.

I can't recall ever having encountered such bitterness. There were celebrants in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was executed, but he had poison-gassed thousands of his own people. There were crowds happily tearing down statues of Felix Dzerzhinsky when the USSR imploded; but he had systematically tortured thousands of political prisoners. How many others were despised when they died? Mao Tse Tung, who slaughtered 30 or 40 million, was honored. Lenin, who let loose 70 years of horror and misery in Russia, remains undisturbed in his mausoleum; so even does Stalin, who carried most of it out. Maggie Thatcher just presided over some useful reforms as below, yet she is reviled as above. How come?

She was of course a politician and a statist, in no way a zero-government advocate. But in 1979, the UK was in a mess; it was not only being ruled, it was being ruled by an unelected bunch of thugs in the trade unions, particularly by one Arthur Scargill, a Communist. During the '70s, I recall it was common to experience three-day working weeks in winter, because he called miners out on strike and starved the country of coal. When elected, she promised to end all that and openly recommended Milton Friedman, whom she had as a guest in Downing Street. She ran a tight ship. It's said that she gave her top lieutenants copies of works by Friedman and Hayek for the weekend and told them to be ready for a written examination on the contents by 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. (One apocryphal story has it that she once took some of her Cabinet colleagues out for a meal, and ordered beef. The waiter asked, “And for the vegetables, Madame?” to which she replied, “They will also have beef.”)

So it's fair to say that her Conservative governments were comparable to what America would experience if the Libertarian Party were to win an election with a clean sweep, or if the RonPaulians were somehow to gain control of the Republican Party and do likewise.

She presided for 11½ years, and without question left the country more free. She broke the power of the unions, once and probably for all. She liberated several major industries (rail, telecommunications) from state ownership; not very well, but about as well as the US breakup of AT&T in 1984, and better than the Russian privatizations a decade later. She helped wind down the Cold War, by being the first to bring Gorbachev out of the freezer. She waged a short defensive war in the South Atlantic, and won. She implemented the “Big Bang” deregulation of the London financial center, enabling it to compete very effectively ever since. She slowed the money presses in 1980, so bringing inflation down to earth from its 20% peak. She very slightly reduced taxes. Perhaps her most interesting idea was one that failed: the 1990 Poll Tax. It drew so much violent protest from socialists that it was dropped--but it would have charged every person a flat fee to finance government. Had it been imposed and subsequently enlarged so as to replace all other taxes, it could have led to the question that is fatal for government: “Who needs it?” That is, everyone would have been easily able to see that it was no longer possible to force a richer neighbor to pay for some desired benefit. Did Thatcher anticipate that eventual result? Very hard to say. But I happened to be visiting England while the protests were gathering pace, and chatted with some of the street demonstrators. It was the one and only time I have known the Labour Party to oppose a tax.

In summary, the Thatcher years gave Britain a taste of freedom, though not much more. At their end, the State was almost as monstrous as at the beginning, and after her Party had yielded to “Smiling Tony” Blair and his New Labour Party, Brits were in for a massive loss of another class of freedom: privacy. The country became festooned with CCTV and traffic cameras and remains the most surveilled society on the planet. There is protest, but no systematic movement for the abolition of government; while as the comments in the Guardian clearly show, the parasite class viciously resents even the modest improvement she did bring, even 22 years after she left office, eager even to desecrate her dead body.

And that is one measure of the savage resistance that opposes even a minor degree of imposed liberty. If an elected “Libertarian government” (now, there's an oxymoron for you) were to go much further than Thatcher and seriously wind down the apparatus of the State, the outvoted, parasitic minority would be several orders of magnitude more enraged. I don't hesitate to predict, in those circumstances, a civil war.

So instead of imposing freedom from top down, by an elected government or in any other way, it has to arise from ground upwards. There is no other way. That means that everyone must want it, and understand how to live when it arrives. Very clearly, today most people do not. Therefore, there is one option for those who desire a free society, and one only: universal, systematic re-education. (Those who aren't sure that they want a free society may like to review 464 Lost Years.) When everyone understands what freedom can do for them, and what government's true nature is all about, nobody will work for it (so it will disappear) and everybody will be well prepared to do without it; the bitter opposition expressed in that comment “[Libertarian] ideology rots everything it touches” will be seen for the utter, slanderous nonsense that it is, and will not be encountered.

Just as universal re-education is a sine qua non, so is the single feasible way to deliver it in short order: person to person introduction and geometric growth. Nothing else will do the job, and nothing else is needed. Those to whom this is new can find more detail here.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?" and in 2016, an unraveling of the great paradox of "income tax law" with "How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff."


Thunderbolt's picture

What I like most about your power-of-one approach, Jim, is that it is so incredibly subversive and unstoppable. I am reminded of similar themes with 3-D printing of guns and bitcoins.

Jim Davies's picture

True, and thank you.  When writing Transition to Liberty I tried to think of ways government might close down the Academy, and because of its full decenralization I really think you're right: they can't.

Glock27's picture

Bitcoins just took a plung going from a value of $266 to $105. Expectation is that it could simply disappear with everyone elses money who invested into the Bitcoin. Government was looking hard at it wondering what to do, but the demise, as I understand it came from banks.

Jim Davies's picture

Alternatively, one could consider a well-informed source like this.

Glock27's picture

Jim: This is interesting. I subscribe to FreemansPerspective and wherein only the attack was mentioned. There is another site I believe was NaturalNews that discussed the collapse and bank invovement but it was questionable.

I note that was a 10 April issue bout the same day I read the Bitcoin collapse and that banks were the most responsible should Bitcoin survive the onslaught it seems as if it would destroy all banking.

I willl look at the article more closely. I don't do gold, to expensive and can''t eat it. I do silver but not much, and I am having a tough time getting my head around Bitcoin. I have a site which goes into some extensive detail how it works. What will be will be. Thanks for the direction.

John deLaubenfels's picture

everyone must want it, and understand how to live when it arrives.
universal, systematic re-education.
When everyone understands
This is a little over the top. It will always be the case that many people will clamor for the supposed protections of a stifling government.  We have no chance of educating 100% of the populace, but (I think) a reasonable chance of educating enough to make a difference.

Jim Davies's picture

John, those who in a free society clamor for government will be initiating force, or trying to. Initiating force will land the aggressor in court.
How much of that can a justice industry handle? - I'd say, around 1% or 2%. Otherwise it would get swamped. And that must include dispute resultions in which no aggression was intended.
So the re-education must cover 100%. This is not a problem, as soon as one considers "How can it be done?" instead of "surely it can't be done!"  I recommend an unhurried study of this.

John deLaubenfels's picture

John, those who in a free society clamor for government will be initiating force, or trying to. Initiating force will land the aggressor in court.
Surely you're not saying that, after the realization of your dream society, people who stand on street corners and preach that the world would be more just if only it returned to the United States circa 2013, would be prosecuted?
To put it another way, would your "free society" not respect freedom of speech?  Even today, in fascist United States, anyone can publish a book advocating any type of societal structure without "landing in court".  
Please clarify what you are advocating; I feel as if I must be misunderstanding something.

mhstahl's picture


I too hope that I am misunderstanding something. Sadly, I don't think that is the case.

Consider this from one of the articles Jim listed above(Libertarians, both Academic and Real):

"Does an academic approach contrast with reality, with "real people"?Absolutely it does not! Real people reason! People who do not or will not or cannot reason are already less than real people, alas, for rationality is the hallmark of humanity; they are damaged goods (and I refer only to those who have allowed themselves to degenerate, not of course to the unfortunate few who are born with less than the usual measure of mental ability). It seems to me a truly formidable task to show people like that why freedom is good for them--they are already hopelessly irrational, dependent, pathetic."

The attitude reflected here, coupled with the above comments about free speech, demonstrates a truly frightening outlook. One would think that with the ugly history of the 20th century, ominous notions such as "less than real people", and "re-education"(that is now, apparently, to be administered by force through "courts"...)  would have long since disappeared from the lexicon.

I think I need a drink.


Jim Davies's picture

The quote is accurate, and true, and I stand by it verbatim. Rationality is the hallmark of humanity, so the irrational person is less than fully human. Note: this says nothing about how he should be treated. It's just a fact. Get used to it.
There was no "comment about free speech" with which you could "couple it" so whatever nasty implication you had in mind there will not wash.
I have already explained to you that by "re-education" I mean "re-education." Not forced indictrination. You ignored what I wrote, so it's clear that I should waste no more time on you.

Jim Davies's picture

In my previous reply, John, I recommended you made an unhurried study of this. Have you done so? - I ask, for there's no sign of it. Let me know when you have, and we may have something to discuss.
However now that you seem to belittle my ideas as a "dream", I'll add to it. Go ahead and read also what my dream actually is, in A Vision of Liberty. Yes, it was published in this fascist society.
You'll find no mention of restriction of speech, and a confirmation that only the initiation of force will land people in court; exactly as I told you.

John deLaubenfels's picture

I did not mean the use of "dream society" to belittle you.  Does "ideal society" work better?  
Your only response seems to be to give me a reading assignment or two.  If I linked to "An unhurried look at everything I believe" of my own, would you read it?
I'm really just curious to know: do you believe it's possible to achieve a world in which NOBODY longs for the governments we have today?  That notion strikes me as completely unrealistic, and unnecessary.
I think I hear you say that your society would respect freedom of speech, so that's good.
I'm sorry if I riled you up; that was not my intention.  Would you prefer that I not comment on your columns in the future?

Jim Davies's picture

It works better, John, if the ideal is yours too. What do you actually want; a free (and therefore, ideal) society, or not?  Your posts did come across to me as if you did not, or as if you don't much care. If that's not the case - if you urgently want to see the end of the government era, then I have to wonder why you are nitpicking the only plan yet produced for achieving that, instead of getting on board and encouraging your friends to do the same.
Unless, that is, you have a better plan. In which case, name it.
Your question is fair: is it possible to achieve a world in which there is literally zero wish to exercise force, ie to have a government? I think it possible, and that after a while it may become a reality; but accept that in the first several years after E-Day that there may be 1% or 2% of the population that hankers after the old order; and that is exactly why that free society will need a justice industry.

John deLaubenfels's picture

It works better, John, if the ideal is yours too. What do you actually want; a free (and therefore, ideal) society, or not?  Your posts did come across to me as if you did not, or as if you don't much care.
You would have only to read my own columns on STR to know the answer to that question is yes!  I'm not at all hesitant to call government thugs criminals, who should be treated as criminals whenever they enact or enforce illegitimate laws (i.e., any laws that attempt to prohibit or regulate anything but force or fraud).
I'm glad to hear you acknowledge that the language of your column ("everyone must want it", "universal, systematic re-education.") might be beyond what can be expected, or required, to achieve a free society.  That kind of language frankly scares me; I'd expect someone who employs it to be willing to kill non-believers in order to achieve his goal of perfection.  My own expectation is that far more than 1% or 2% of people will feel that society is worse when/if it's free, but we need not quibble (especially since we're both speculating and can't possibly have knowledge of what number will shake out when/if our goals are achieved).  I'm not worried about the whiners in that future scenario, as long as they don't actually mobilize an armed attempt to remove freedom from society.  And if they do, of course, those of us who love freedom will be called upon to defend it by whatever means are necessary, as we are today.

Jim Davies's picture

John, I agreed with you only because it's not feasible to predict an exact figure; the aim of the universal, systematic re-education program now in process is that of perfection. There should be zero who want to impose their wills by force, and it has that design aim. Only Murphy's law obliges me, reluctantly, to accept that it may come up slightly short.
If however more than 1% or 2% do practice their love of aggression in the coming free society, how are you going to cope with them? What shape - and size - will your justice industry take?  Must I take it from your "whatever means are necessary" that your vision of liberty is one of perpetual warfare?
If so, thanks but no thanks. I'll work to get it right first time.

John deLaubenfels's picture

LOL!  I mean only that, like our forefathers, we may need to back up our words with bullets.  Are you saying that, if only you'd been around in 1776, there need never have been a war in order to achieve secession from Britain?  Or that, today, people should heed government calls to relinquish their weapons for the betterment of society?
There need be no "justice industry" to deal with people who advocate for a return to a repressive government.  I thought we had already expressed agreement on that point, but now I'm not sure.  People bitching and moaning are not a threat to society, in my view.  People shooting at me are a problem.

Jim Davies's picture

Now you are muddying the waters with two irrelevant subjects: secession from the UK in 1776 (ie, the exchange of one bunch of tyrannical thugs for another) and the straw man of punishing advocacy. And even a third: surrendering guns! Where do you come up with these? - not from anything I wrote, for sure.
You can please yourself, John, whether or not to undertake my recommended "reading assignment" and become acquainted with what a free society is all about, but until you do so I will not waste any further time on you.

Jim Davies's picture

[Drupal generated a duplicate post, hereby zapped.]

Glock27's picture

Mr. deLaubenfels,
Freedom is a bitch, as is liberty and even government. Abstracts. Each human being has his or her own idea about what freedom and liberty are. Some believe it is the government and fail to recognize that it is psychopathic legislators laying the foundation for the future and freedom for them is their idea. Kill the Constitution and operate as a Monarchy; as long as the government psychopaths provide the people with free health care, free house, cell phones and free etc. without having to apply any reasonable effort to obtain these items in a legitimate manner. (Note: The Constitution has to be mentioned despite numerous disputations regarding the document as it is the current operating tool Ha!). The sadness here is that the majority of Americans have no idea that their legislators are psychopaths, and they are gradually being lead deeper and deeper into slavery.
The Greeks, French, German, Norwegian and etc. Europeans want everything free, so yes there are millions of individuals wanting the governments we have today. It may be unrealistic but that is the reality at the present. Once the benefits are gone, because there are no more people to support this ideal they become frustrated as the Greeks have become.
It is interesting to note they still do not get it, just as American's seem to have no problem in giving up fifty million dollars to study the length of a ducks dick.
The likelyhood of people longing for some form of guidance will always be a requirement of the lazy and the eight to niners who just want to come home, shower, eat supper, collapse and watch a little National media Faciest programming like the late night political shows that tell them what to think.
Freedom and liberty are bitches because they are like trying to nail jello to a barn wall. They are abstracts that cannot be overcome except on an individual basis. Anyway, that's what I believe at the moment.

Jim Davies's picture

Freedom is the ability in practice to make use of the inherent right we all possess to own and operate our own lives, any way we each wish.
A "bitch" is a word which, when not applied to a female dog, is (by "a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a woman."
Thus, to call freedom a bitch suggests the writer has no idea what he is writing about, or else that he belongs in some other forum.

Glock27's picture

I belong to another forum. One that understands! One wherein hate does not pollute the heart.

Glock27's picture

I am plagued with double posts. And this is our future. Ha! Keep your money in your pockets!

Samarami's picture
    I think I need a drink.


I'm with you -- and John.

I know you were bantering about the need for a drink. Maybe. My personal experience: years ago I learned the hard way that nothing you can say or do to me will cause me to take my next drink. I see that absolutely essential knowledge as a large boost into my advancement toward the life of liberty. I just received my 29 year medallion.

There are friends I truly respect who will, in insensitivity, attempt to blackmail me intellectually into joining their "movement". In their eyes there can be no liberty until everyone is free -- defined in accordance with their "program" for freedom. So if I'm not part of that, I'm not free, and I can't be a bulwark to liberty.

Much as I admire and respect Jim, I'm afraid he leans into that chasm.

I am a sovereign state. I welcome you to cross my borders. You are free to believe what you believe while you're here. Hopefully we can discuss and perhaps debate. Heatedly at times. Both should be improved by the experience. If so, and we are both enhanced to the point we can be of positive influence upon neighbors, colleagues, family and friends, the world will indeed be a freer place than it was before.

But only to the extent that liberty comes freely. If somebody asks, I hope to effectively share my own observations and experiences, which will be helpful to them.

I do not know how or when that evil abstraction called The State will implode -- or what emotionally charged ignorance will rush in to fill the vacuum. But I'm certain survival techniques are in order.

If freedom's to be it's up to me.


Jim Davies's picture

Sam, congrats on your dry state. It's a real shame that you can't take an occasional slug, for it's one of life's pleasures, but if nature forbids it, nature wins. Good on yer.
Of course you, I and everyone else who has grasped the utterly evil nature of government, and the sovereign nature of mankind, is in an important sense free here and now.  I know that perfectly well and if there is a "chasm" to the contrary as you say, please withdraw your accusation that I lean into it. That present freedom is, however, merely a shadow and a promise of what life will be like in a truly free society. My interest, therefore, is in causing one to happen.
Test it this way: suppose (no matter how) government were peacefully to vanish, and stay vanished. Would you then be enjoying more freedom for yourself? Less? About the same?
Oh by the way, you seemed to include a contradiction. You emphasized that you are free, right now, but in your final line said "If freedom's to be it's up to me." That tense is future. So which is it; present, or future?

Samarami's picture


    "...You emphasized that you are free, right now, but in your final line said "If freedom's to be it's up to me." That tense is future. So which is it; present, or future?..."

Present and future. Freedom can come, freedom can go. In my head. My mental state establishes the degree of freedom I enjoy from moment to moment. I'm capable of building dungeons in the sky. But I also have the power to live peacefully in hell (hell = the prison cell of the white man) -- in freedom. I have no plans at present to become incarcerated, but I know I have the power to remain free in that state.

The dungeons went away once I embraced sobriety.

I can take an occasional "slug". Nobody to say I can't. But the lesson to which I referred was that nobody can cause me to enter an emotional state that requires me to take my next drink. So far it's been a little over
30 years (drugs, for me, were harder to shake than booze -- thus the 29 year medallion).

I'm willing to withdraw any "accusations" you have inferred, Jim. It is my observation that you're a zealot for your cause, and you have difficulty accepting the possibility that there are others whose paths to freedom differ from yours as encapsulated in your well-laid-out plan. Thus the analogous "chasm".

"Universal re-education", "...everyone must want it, and understand how to live when it arrives", "...when everyone understands" -- these, to me (and apparently to John and Mike), smack of chilling, collectivist ideals.

But that could be my educational approach that has me leading by example and allowing the student to write his or her own text.


Jim Davies's picture

Okay, Sam, you answered my "BTW" question but not the main one, right above it. Again:
Test it this way: suppose (no matter how) government were peacefully to vanish, and stay vanished. Would you then be enjoying more freedom for yourself? Less? About the same?

Samarami's picture

The expanse, Jim, of my physical freedom would obviously be enhanced if all individuals currently organized into human groups and acting out their indoctrination as "rulers", sycophantic attendants and lackeys thereof (police, military, taxing "authorities" -- the whole nine yards) would awaken one morning and realize the violent and parasitic nature of their behaviors and cease to act out and walk out of their lucrative "government" careers and get real jobs.
It seems someone once said something like,

    "...The great danger of criticizing specific things government does or says or fails to do or say is that readers can reasonably infer that if the opposite were done or said, all would be well..."

Of course "government" is a massive and illusionary abstraction -- "it" doesn't say or do anything. Individual human beings do the "doing" and the "saying". Part of my personal trek to freedom involves learning to speak as a free individual and rid myself of the abstractions and the illusions. I thank David Calderwood and Delmar England and a number of others for this enlightenment. I no longer shield the perpetrators of evil under the language of disassociation.

But I would still need to practice liberty within my own skin. I can be my own worst detractor.

That means it will always behoove me -- regardless of the current or future existence of the white man qua predator -- to allow and accept you for whom you are, Glock for whom he is; John, Mike, et al. to be uniquely themselves. How my friends and family and associates acquire and sustain liberty (or even how they define "liberty") is not my concern -- unless or until they invite me to share with them and/or ask for my help.

In reality, Jim, your hypothetical scenario (peaceful disappearance of "government" as we now know it) can and will come about with enough of us diligently following your lead and encouraging our families and our neighbors and friends to abstain from beans.
And that's without even mentioning encouraging them to abstain from participation in that apocryphal national holiday that will be dubiously "celebrated" tomorrow.

Of course we both are painfully aware of where the aggressive attack upon that disgusting exercise can lead, with the beast still in place.


Jim Davies's picture

I was hoping for a clear answer, Sam, and still didn't see one. I'm astonished.
To me, it's a day/night difference. The day government vanishes will mean an increase in human liberty of several orders of magnitude; my own sense of it, and yours, will increase almost beyond recognition. Yet apparently, you don't see that. I am (for once) rather at a loss for what to say.
Certainly though, if you perceive only a small difference between the two states (then and now)  your lack of enthusiasm for helping make it happen is easy to understand.

Samarami's picture


    "...your lack of enthusiasm for helping make it happen is easy to understand..."

If I didn't know you better, Jim, I'd think you're simply being dishonest.


Jim Davies's picture

Then, Sam, it's certainly my lucky day.
Don't forget: next time your truck finds its way to the I-89, email to say at which soft-drinks bar we should meet, and when. It will be an honor to learn from you. About soft drinks, that is :-)

Jim Davies's picture

[Sorry. Another Drupal failure.]

Glock27's picture

SAM: It is interesting that you included a survival site. Thanks for that. Some beautiful stuff there to get one over the hump. I have been doing this for about six years now, but my biggest problem will now be to hide it so it is not taken like back in 1938 I believe. I know a gentelman, now dead, to whom this happened to. County came in and took nearly everything they had.

29 years Wow! You have it nailed down tight.