"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
Voting With Our Feet
Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
I was listening to Stewart Rhodes' stirring speech in Connecticut and finding myself in (reluctant) disagreement.
He was talking about all the sacrifices made by men in WWII and other wars, and yet how their efforts were betrayed by the destruction of liberty back home.
Now setting aside for the moment the question of what those men were actually fighting for (as opposed to what they imagined they were fighting for), the speech struck me as incongruous. I mean, come on, Stewart, you are trying to save Connecticut? By some measures, the most statist hellhole in the country?
We need to ask the question: Does every person in this country want to be free?
Evidently not. Or, some want to be free in some respects, but not in others. Why try to free people who don’t want it? Does that make sense at all?
Of course such people might well learn to value freedom once it is gone, but that does not mean we ought to interfere with their learning the only way they are capable of learning. As Will Rogers put it, "There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."
Let’s imagine you live in a town, and the state border runs down the street in front of you. On your side of the street, it is gun owner Hell. The state continually enacts more and more draconian legislation, and you are faced with giving up all your guns or being sent to jail. On the other side of the street, it is gun owner Heaven, and people carry guns openly, there are several gun shops and clubs, and there is a well-used rifle range just outside of town.
Now, does it make sense to stay in your state and create “gun rights” organizations and write legiscritters and letters to the editor and all the other sorts of things we try doing to ineffectually steer policy? Or would it make sense to just move to a house across the street, into the neighboring state?
I am trying to contrast the varying ways we try to get to liberty. Some ways, like fighting in foreign lands, are not only insanely dangerous but also just wrong (since you are thereby an invader and really deserve what invaders get). This way is also counterproductive since war is almost by definition very harmful to liberty, even if you happen to be on the “winning” side. Yet many of the same people who have done these sorts of insanely dangerous things, imagining they are protecting liberty, can’t seem to get off their duff and move to a place where liberty has a chance. For some reason, this is considered too difficult. Do you see the incongruity?
Of course, there are limits. Somewhere between moving across the street, and moving to Somalia (or wherever), one can draw a line beyond which we can say it’s not reasonable to be forced to move there. But to me, if you live in Connecticut and things are going sour, just get the hell out!
Keep in mind I am talking about state and local laws. Of course, impositions from the federal level are a different thing altogether. They should be opposed using every reasonable means, and by means that some would consider unreasonable too, as long as they work. Why? Because to avoid them is to be forced to move outside the country--and where, exactly?
Stewart, let Connecticut rot. Let people who want slavery be slaves.
Individual action is almost always preferable to group action. Just as homeschoolers save their own kids via individual action, rather than trying to “fix” the schools, gun owners should save their own families via individual action--in this case, moving to a better state.
Gun prohibitionists have to live somewhere, after all. You can’t persuade them of the error of their ways, and you can’t kill them. And you shouldn’t be comfortable with using government to impose on them, any more than you should be comfortable with their use of government to impose on you. Either way, it is tyranny. It is sticking a gun in their face and saying, “You will be free whether you want it or not!” The whole idea is silly.
If people who write on gun issues are correct in saying that guns deter crime, then people in Connecticut will eventually tire of having a lot more crime than Wyoming, and come to their senses in their own way. If not, that’s OK too. They make their bed, they can sleep in it.
I guess what I am saying is that while liberty is always worth fighting for, not every fight helps liberty, and a fight is not always the best way to get liberty. I know voting is not considered sensible around here, but it’s the expression we are stuck with: vote with your feet!