"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
My Journey Into Voluntaryism
Column by new Root Striker Dylan Delikta.
Exclusive to STR
I never in a million years would have thought that I would become a libertarian anarchist. Of course, neither did my family, or my friends, or anyone else who got to know me throughout my life. When I was younger, my political views were primarily shaped by my father, although my public school teachers played a subordinate role in this process. In both cases, I blindly accepted whatever I was told; consequently, I never questioned any of the rules imposed on me.
I considered myself a staunch conservative at 15 years old, during the time Obama was running for his first term for president and when Glenn Beck still had a show on Fox News. I read Glenn Beck books, I watched his show almost every day, and joined my parents when they listened to Rush Limbaugh. I argued with my classmates because I already had a seed of dissent in me about public education, seeing as I listened to the big conservatives who would rail that public schools only teach the “liberal” side of politics. I didn’t do anything unless I could find a way to put a Republican/conservative spin on it, and every “liberal” I met I considered misinformed.
So what made me change from an “America First” conservative to an anti-war, anti-state, pro-market anarchist? It all started at around 16 or 17 years of age when I was watching my little brother play a video game called BioShock. There was something about the storyline that I could not get over. I thought, “How did they come up with this?” repeatedly, until one day I finally began searching about it. It turns out that the storyline was a bit inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
It took a month or two, but I finally decided to pick up the book and read it. Needless to say, I fell in love with it. The philosophies such as individualism, non-aggression, and free-market capitalism that were put forth in the book made sense, and they got me thinking a bit differently about life and the things I encountered growing up. I started looking up interviews with Rand, frequently visited the website for the Ayn Rand Center, and really started hammering out all I could learn from her. Reading Atlas Shrugged got me interested in pursuing philosophy and economic liberty.
A few months after that, I was lent a book called Restoring the American Dream by Ronald J. Ringer. A friend had lent it to me, saying that if I liked Rand, then I would like this book. I ended up devouring the book in a matter of days, and it opened my mind to a lot of new ways to apply the ideas that I was adopting. Reading Atlas Shrugged, one ends up learning about the natural, or individual, rights, but it was Ringer’s book that made me start applying voluntaryism to life, liberty, and property consistently. Being a conservative, I had supported the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs, but that started to change. I was slowly becoming a libertarian, and there was no stopping me!
After that I started watching John Stossel and reading Atlas Shrugged again, along with her books Anthem and The Fountainhead. I read critiques of Rand, and I watched some of her successor’s speeches, but they left me somewhat unsatisfied. I wanted to learn different ideas, and I wanted to apply them consistently, but I couldn’t find anything new at the Ayn Rand Center. Then, when I was watching an episode of Stossel, I found out about Mises.org. Jeffrey Tucker was talking about his new book Bourbon for Breakfast, and I immediately went to the website because I figured that not just any person promotes a book on a libertarian news show.
Soon I read many essays by people such as Jeffery Tucker, Joseph Salerno, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Lew Rockwell, etc. I felt that I had stumbled upon one of the Internet’s greatest intellectual treasures. I was excited because I felt like this was what it meant to actually learn something that I truly enjoy, unlike all the wasted years in public school. All the why’s I could or would ask could be answered without someone just saying “It’s the answer because I said so.” I ended liking their page on Facebook, and then finding even more pages. I stumbled upon shows such as Adam vs. the Man and Freedomian Radio, and I came across websites such as Whiskey and Gunpowder, The Dollar Vigilante, Center for a Stateless Society, and more. I was so excited, that because I didn’t have Kindle, I printed out articles and books from the LvMI and read them in school and shared them with everyone.
To be fair, it wasn’t right away that I was convinced of Voluntaryism. However, it only took a matter of months, seeing that I had opened my mind up to it. I have to thank Murray Rothbard for that, but even that wouldn’t be fair, seeing as I went and read people like Lysander Spooner, Albert Jay Nock, Ludwig von Mises, and others just because he mentioned them in his writings. Moreover, Stefan Molyneux also helped, seeing as how he laid out a convincing way to run defense in a stateless society, and finally, Robert Murphy convinced me of private law working in a stateless society.
There are countless people whom I could mention that everyone in the libertarian community has heard of that I could thank. However, I am only 19, and I am still learning a lot more. I may have read a lot, but I have only uncovered a fraction of what is to be learned. Because of Voluntaryism and Libertarianism in general, I had found a love for philosophy, economics, and history that I never thought possible since school made them such boring topics to pursue. In turn, one of the biggest things I like to talk about is how the state has corrupted real learning, how militarism is a big no-no, and how rational good economics really can be when talking to statists.
Of course, this has come at a little bit of a cost, too. There has been many a day where I have gotten into tiffs with my friends and my family. I have been ridiculed, yelled at, and harassed about my views. There were times where even I got a bit angry and violated the Non-Aggression Principle to a certain extent. There are times where I feel that this is pointless, but then I go back to my books or I talk to my voluntaryist or open-minded friends on Facebook and get reminded that this is a challenge that I will have to face, and it will be worth it.
Though there are many things I could add about my journey into voluntaryism, I believe this to be a legitimate summary of how I got here. It seems funny to me that looking into the storyline of a video game got me to this point, but I would not trade what I have learned in these past few years for the world. If there are other teens reading this, please know this: All it takes is a little interest in something to change your life--one just has to cultivate his garden.