The Republic of Uzupis

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Have you ever heard of the Republic of Uzupis? It is nestled within the city of Vilnius. Have you heard of Vilnius? It is the capital of Lithuania. Can you point to Lithuania on a map? It is a Baltic country east of Poland, about 500 miles west of Moscow.

Many residents of Uzupis, meaning “the other side of the river,” had settled the sector of the city because of its cheap living back in the early 90’s, just after the Soviet Union withdrew. But the reason it was so cheap was because it was run down and slummy. As artists, they decided to revitalize the neighborhood through beautification.

While visiting Lithuania recently, I had the pleasure of touring Uzupis. I entered the district over a bridge lined with padlocks, which struck me as a statement about the false security that one might feel in their country–all the locks give the appearance of security, without actually locking anything. People can and do add their own padlocks to the bridge; one was in the shape of a heart. Under the bridge, hangs a swing where you can dip your feet while sitting next to a friend or lover.

*Edit: I have been told by a native of Lithuania that the locks are usually left by couples when they get married (but she liked my interpretation!) Oops!*

The district declared independence on April 1, 1997–but if it is all a big April Fool’s joke, they have kept a straight face for almost 20 years. A former mayor of the city of Vilnius lives in Uzupis, and regularly participates in their sovereign festivities, focusing mostly on the arts. The republic has a President, and an army of 11 men. I even got my passport stamped at this shop by the river.

Uzupis also has its own constitution which is posted publicly in a variety of languages. The articles include: “3. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation…  8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown,” and “12. A dog has the right to be a dog.”

The constitution certainly seems to be a lighthearted document; in true artistic form, there is much left open to interpretation. But within the jokey-articles like “24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing,” and “13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need,” lies more serious proclamations.

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When reading between the lines of the cultural lightheartedness of Uzupis, some articles stand out to me in expressing the true philosophy of the republic.

“20. No one has the right to violence…

29. No one can share what they do not possess…

32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom…

36. Everyone has the right to be an individual…

39. Do not defeat

40. Do not fight back

41. Do not surrender”

I can’t say I agree with everything in the constitution of Uzupis, nor that it is completely consistent. For instance, if I am responsible for my freedom, wouldn’t fighting back be one way to maintain that freedom? Perhaps it was meant to read more along the lines of, “do not sink to the enemy’s level.”

Or maybe I am twisting the words of the Uzupian constitution to fit my own preconceived notions of “good government.” But again, I interpret “No one has the right to violence,” as similar to the Golden Rule, or the non-aggression principle. Either way though, you cannot mistake the celebration of the individual and uniqueness.

And there are some articles that I cannot make sense of, or mold to my philosophy, such as, “2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.” A right cannot be something that must be provided, because it would violate others’ rights to force them to provide it.

This is a reminder that there is always room for improvement when it comes to government, and even micro-states, startup societies, and geolibres are not necessarily perfect.

So what can we learn from the Republic of Uzupis, in regards to the proper way to pursue secession and separatism? Mostly, a lesson in public relations. Perhaps political separation is not the first step towards having a micro-nation or geolibre accepted and recognized.

Uzupis has been 20 years in the making, and if they were to now become serious about political separation, it might not seem so strange, scary, or out of place. In fact, as the current Mayor of Vilnius identifies as an anarcho-capitalist, it may not even be ill received.

But for now, what a lovely cultural precedent that has been set for withdrawal from systems with which we disagree: non-violence, a focus on the individual, and fun! I would say the political aspect of Uzupis is the weak point of the republic. What they got right, was focusing on forming a unique and vibrant culture. And that is what geolibres should emulate if they wish to be recognized as independent.

Maybe others could pick a more relevant “patron saint” than Frank Zappa though, as Uzupis chose. He never visited Uzupis, or even Lithuania… But there is a statue of him that replaced Stalin.

5 Solutions for Combating Terrible Government

I recently had a debate on facebook with someone whose opinion I once shared. I thought the only way for significant change in government to come about was through electoral politics, and if that failed, revolution.

The debate was spurred by a post in which I said that the only reason Donald Trump is a problem, is because of a system where some are elevated to positions of political power, versus economic power. Although economic power is significant, the key difference between political and economic power is that in economics, you must gain consent: from customers, from partners, from investors–anyone with whom you wish to associate.

Politics is a system of force, which elevates some to master over their fellow man; no consent required to take money and force interactions.

But I hash-tagged the post #NobodyForPresident which made this person accuse me of having no backbone to make tough decisions about who to vote for. You must choose the lesser of two evils, he said, and not participating makes me a party to the terrible condition of the nation. I was accused of hiding behind a keyboard, and doing nothing but talking about problems, without offering any solutions.

I was once just like him. I attempted to get two different guys elected to congress, I voted for the lesser (maybe) of two evils in 2008, and supported Ron Paul in 2012.

I was that guy calling my congressman, railing about Constitutional violations, and trying to educate people about how if we all joined together, we could make a difference. This blog was once called vigilant vote; I literally made the same arguments this facebooker made about how each cycle “we” had the power to change 100% of the House and 1/3 of the Senate!

But that is all playing into the rigged system. It is a top down approach; a dictatorial approach. Individuals in this political system don’t make a difference until they reach critical mass or a majority. I have come to learn that individuals need to make personal changes which make a difference on a personal level, and also culminate to societal change. In the market, one person can choose to withhold their dollar from someone they disagree with; it may not de-fund the organization, but it saves the individual a dollar!

Change will be grassroots. Here’s how we can take steps to solve the problem of terrible government, and liberate ourselves.

  1. Find ways to legally avoid taxes through barter and trade. I don’t pay rent. I work on a mini-farm for room and board. This means I don’t have to pay taxes on my earnings before paying rent, my labor goes straight into rent. What we produce on the farm we also consume without having to first earn, pay taxes, then acquire. Wherever possible find ways to avoid converting labor to fiat dollars which are taxed, and lose value everyday due to inflation, another tax. I don’t know much about it, but I found a website the other day called Simbi.com which claims to facilitate the trade of goods and services without exchanging money. If you check it out, comment below or send me an email to let me know what it’s all about!
  2. Produce more of what you need yourself. Okay, so I get it, specializing and trading makes people more productive. But at some point, the amount the government takes make it not even worth it. We can at least cut down on what we need to buy (which includes taxes when we earn and when we buy, and if we save in between). I currently make my own toothpaste, deodorant (yes it works), and soap. I produce 100% of the eggs I eat, just recently have started getting 1/2 a gallon of goat milk a day (cheese, yogurt etc.), and am trying to produce a larger percentage of veggies I eat.
  3. Use unregulated money and services. My first two examples are pretty homesteady/ survivalist. But even if you live in a city you can avoid taxes and regulation. Use bitcoin and other alternative currencies as much as possible. You can shop on Amazon with bitcoin using Purse. Use AirBnB and Uber, or better yet, Arcade City and pay with bitcoin. Convince local businesses to start accepting bitcoin if they aren’t already. Check out this blog post from Derrick J about his and Steven Zeiler’s bitcoin evangelism in Portsmouth, NH! It is not as hard as you think to get your yoga studio and local restaurants to start accepting alternative currency.
  4. Choose a better state/ country. So this might sound like a contradiction to a post I wrote about a year ago called 5 Reasons It Doesn’t Make Sense to Say, “If You Don’t Like America, Leave.” And I still don’t think it is necessarily the best solution, nor super easy, especially since the United States will tax all citizens regardless of where they live in the world (though there is a hefty exemption). But recently I have realized it isn’t so hard to move outside the country. If you find a good fit, go for it! But much easier is finding a state with a better fit for the freedoms you hold most dear, and voting with your feet. Some states like Texas and New Hampshire might even be exploring secession, which I expect to come into play as a great solution to start improving government and making life easier for individuals.
  5. Clear your head of the state; liberate your mind, liberate your body, liberate your soul. The spoon does not bend, your mind bends. I used to get so worked up about all the terrible things the government would do. Yes, it is important to come to the aid of those the state unjustly attacks, but daily living should be done outside of the 24 hour news cycle. When political discussions arise, use the opportunity to let people know how the state doesn’t affect you, and shouldn’t affect you. Make people realize that it is possible to ignore the state, and work around the state in much of life. If nothing else, let them know that even though the state can mistreat you, they won’t get the better of your mental state. You can remain out of their reach, at least in your consciousness and positive thinking.

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These are what I call opt-out solutions. Notice it does not involve revolution or violence. These solutions make the state obsolete. This is called agorism: suffocate the state, work outside of it. If you fight the state, you will lose. If you ignore the state, it is only a matter of time until it withers and dies.

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3 Success Pillars I Learned in Lithuania

A couple weeks ago I went to Lithuania to attend a camp started seven years ago by Simon Black and Matt Smith called the BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp, or Sovereign Academy… it seemed to have a few names.

Why Lithuania? Why the hell not? It is a relatively central location (I was jealous of those from Poland and Germany who only had a two hour flight… mine was 18 hours). It is also a relatively libertarian, business minded, up and coming country, and the Mayor of the capitol city Vilnius is a self avowed anarcho-capitalist!

Simon Black–who could be a character in an Ayn Rand novel, and I mean that as a compliment–throws down $25,000 of his own money every year for no tangible return, to educate and inspire 50 entrepreneurs from around the world all working on different projects, and with different levels of business experience. Some were already successful, some were trying to scale businesses, others only had an idea, and a few, like myself, needed to learn how to market better to grow their audience.

One. The first major takeaway from the camp is that I should always be marketing, and selling is not a bad word. The idea is to have a good product that people want, need, and enjoy. By marketing and making myself available to a larger audience, I am doing them a service by allowing them to gain ideas and inspiration that will help them be more fruitful, happier, and smarter. When people read my novels, they will not only be entertained but also be introduced to a philosophy that could radically change their worldview.

I also got some great information on marketing that I can put into practice in short and long term plans. This post didn’t have to be a list, but more people will read it now.

Two. The second thing that has already helped me is better structure and attitude, thanks especially to Craig Ballantyne. Get ready for some Inception stuff because we are going into a list within a list. Craig suggested we make 5 rules for ourselves in order to live a more successful and enjoyable life:

  1. Set a time to go to bed and wake up every day, but especially wake up (nap later if needed). If you keep the same schedule, you get more done, and won’t kill a day by not being able to fall asleep when you need to, because you overslept three hours that morning. I have been waking up at 6 a.m. everyday since I got back to the states, and it has been great! It’s cooler outside, I read more, and exercise more, which brings me to number:
  2. Rule for health: mine is ten minutes of ab workouts every morning directly when I wake up. This way, I can stay laying in bed, and slowly start moving to do some crunches. By the time I fill ten minutes with different ab exercises, my blood is pumping and I am ready to spring out of bed.
  3. Next is what to do with your time right when you wake up. So yes, I do abs, but then I do 15 minutes of reading, followed by 15 minutes of writing. Craig suggested taking 15 minutes to problem solve with no distractions, before you log onto social media because:
  4. is one rule of what NOT to do–the biggest thing that derails you. I limited myself to no more than two alcoholic drinks on any given night so that I never wake up feeling groggy or sick. Some people might stay off social media until they accomplish something so that their mood is not thrown off by unnecessary distractions.
  5. And finally the last rule is a goal to aspire to, or something for personal reputation. Mine is to always stay cool, calm, and collected, and never show anger or become upset. When these feelings pop up, I try to analyze them, to understand why I am feeling that way. That helps subdue any gut reactions, or emotional responses. But your goal could be keeping in touch with more friends, or spending an hour every night engaged with the family.

Three. My third biggest takeaway from the camp is how important network and reputation are. Some people asked Simon and the other instructors some (sort of ridiculous) questions about what they would do if they woke up tomorrow broke, with no money or possessions. The answer: start new businesses, which would be easy, because their reputations allow them to raise capital and team up with friends, and their network allows them to find the people they need for expertise and investment.

Reputation is huge. Networking is crucial. I just so happened to absolutely LOVE most of the people I met at camp, because they are amazing, driven individuals who are going places. (They are also the only group I have met with the perfect balance of fun and intellect). Am I ever going to work for Simon, get an investment from Simon, or become a partner in a business with Simon? Maybe, maybe not. But I know for a fact I will be friends with many of the fellow campers I met in Lithuania for the rest of my life, which will present me with numerous opportunities to work with them for mutual benefit.

Always add value. This ties back into the first point: business is not a bad thing. In a truly free market, two individuals only enter into a transaction in which they both see benefit. Therefore teaming up with others, getting investments, or selling a good product should always be mutually beneficial.

Of course I learned so much more, but these three pieces of the puzzle stuck out to me.

By the way, we had to apply to this camp with a video, and it was free for everyone who was accepted to attend. Here’s the video that got me a spot! (The gardens look a lot better now, this was early in the season. Follow me and you will see plenty of the mini-farm!)

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In Free Markets, Excess is Distributed

Today I was given a free mountain bike because a friend had bought a new one, and generously offered me his old bike. This got me thinking about how much wealth is floating around in societies with economies on the freer side.

An old roommate and I were once given an entire set of ceramic dishware by his girlfriend’s parents when they bought new dishes. This replaced our plastic dishware, which had also been given to us. We cooked with a set of pots and pans that cost $10 at a yard sale, even though the copper bottoms were surely alone worth more than that.

I tell you this not to brag about all the free stuff I get, but to point out that my standard of living rose because other people increased their own standard of living. In this relatively free market there are mountains of excess; just think how much there would be to go around in a truly free market.

A thrift store down the road sells used books for $.59 per paperback and $1 per hardcover. I bought a 1,500 page hardcover John Hopkins Family Health Book which details countless diseases, symptoms, and treatments for $1. I bought my nieces and nephews some books as well, and I bought myself $1 sheet that I cut up to use for a toga party. Not only were all these used goods ridiculously cheap, but the money I spent went towards funding an orphanage!

Yard sales have provided countless tools which I use for mini-farming, as well as chicken wire, gates, and reclaimed wood. Yesterday I bought used books on amazon for as little as $.01.

Someday, we will live in a free enough world so that no one goes without. Just think, today essentially everyone on earth has access to more information in their palm than anyone had in an entire library just 40 years ago. Poor people in America are fat. Macklemore looks incredible wearing your granddad’s clothes that he only spent $20 on.

All we have to do is let people be free to sell, buy, and create, and there will be excess enough for all. But the problem is that many people would rather see others have less than everyone have more.

Liberation: A Spiritual Hypothesis

I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well.

The first extreme has people waiting, even wishing, for death, and in doing so, they fail to take anything meaningful from life. Life is suffering, seems to be the message, and you just have to wait it out, and be an okay person in the meantime. It may be positive to encourage people to do good, but this is more or a sticks and carrots, heaven or hell sort of incentive: be good or you will be damned for eternity. It is more of a functional religion, keeping people relatively peaceful and placated while they pass their miserable existence.

Instead of working on spiritual awakening adherents are worried about where their next meal is coming from, or what disease will kill them if they aren’t murdered first.

The second extreme shows up in advanced societies where the standard of living has reached a certain point. Ironically, this might be the point to thank God, Allah, or Gaia, but instead people forget, or are distracted by their earthly concerns. People have responsibilities, jobs, hobbies, and toys which take up most of their time. Then, if they ever need a “deeper” distraction, there is politics, and a culture that keeps them in the rat race. Religion becomes an appointment on Sunday morning, or as necessary to keeping up with the neighbors as the new car. Spirituality is hardly a thought on the mind.

Instead of striving for a perfect soul, people strive for more money, more power, and higher social status.

The Problem: Overwhelming Earthly Concerns

The problem is that people are too worried about their earthly concerns either out of necessity of survival, or out of distraction by unimportant goals.

When people are hungry, they will do crazy things for survival. In actual poverty, it is all but impossible to focus the mind on anything but somehow figuring out how to live through the next day: what you will eat, where you will sleep. There can hardly be a long term strategy for life, let alone trying to figure out the afterlife. People need a certain standard of living in order to seriously explore and engage in spirituality and religion.

When a culture elevates unimportant goals that have no end and are impossible to achieve, people never conclude their attempts to gain whatever they are striving for. If someone wants power, there will be no point where they sigh in satisfied relief and say, “I did it”. There is no end to who can have the best car, best house, or best looks. These are earthly goals with fleeting fulfillment. They will always leave something to be desired, even if you “win” at certain points. People cannot pursue truly religious goals if they are working 60 hour weeks to have the newest everything, or shallowly trying to keep face with their peers. People cannot be spiritual if they fill that void with elections, gadgets, or alcohol.

The Solution: Liberation

Earthly goals are not necessarily a bad thing. We are on this earth for some reason, so it makes sense to accomplish tangible earth things. And as I’ve mentioned, a certain level of disregard for earthly things like food and shelter can be just as spiritually distracting as pop culture.

What I propose is a two part solution for the individual, as for society, as each are a reflection of the other. Life should be lived in two phases; an earthly phase of real world accomplishment, and a spiritual phase of religious learning, soul searching, and acquiring inner peace. The two phases need not be purely separated necessarily, as each person’s journey will be unique. But generally speaking, first liberate your earthly self, then liberate your soul, eternal energy, or mind.

Liberation has just one tenet, and it is the golden rule found in many major religions and spiritual teachings. Treat others as you wish to be treated (unless you’re a masochist). Simply put, initiate no harm to others. Never be the aggressor.

Phase One: Liberate Your Earthy Self

Society: By truly accepting and adhering to the only tenet of liberation, you will set in motion the societal change which will bolster phase two. Liberation does not require social acceptance to work, but as I’ve said, society mirrors the individual, and vice versa. The more individuals who liberate themselves, the greater their reflection on society will be, thus creating more individual liberation. The growth of liberation could therefore be exponential which will assist the masses in their spiritual awakening–though any one individual can liberate themselves with or without the greater society.

For some it will be easier to liberate the earthly self than others, based on the luck of the circumstances they were born into. In a sense, these individuals have a greater responsibility to liberate themselves. The goal is to eventually raise the standard of living for every individual on earth to the point where they no longer need to worry about necessities, and can therefore follow liberation to a spiritual awakening.

There is no requirement on any individual following liberation to give their wealth away, or necessarily help others–though it is usually a good idea to do so. Rather what follows from personal liberation is advancement and wealth which raises the standard of living for all. When every individual is responsible for their actions, they will reap the rewards and suffer the consequences. This is liberation, and it can only be accomplished by individuals, not by edict.

Currently smart mobile devices in Africa are revolutionizing how money changes hands, so that people can produce and trade for the goods they need to survive, without worrying about getting robbed of all their earnings. Only because someone earlier, on a different continent, accomplished their goal of creating a smartphone, can essentially all of humanity currently use the devices to their individual benefit. The same has been the case with most inventions and technology throughout history; that it proliferates after initially only being available to a few. Therefore simply by liberating themselves, free people will create and trade, which will inevitably spread the wealth they create to the masses.

Charity can be a very useful tool, but it should never be required: forcing charitable contributions would break the only tenet of liberation. Therefore adherents to liberation who believe in charity must effectively convince others of their cause, or set the example in using charity effectively to advance the cause of liberation, and therefore the cause of humanity.

Eventually, as liberation philosophy progresses, the standard of living will be high enough so that no individual needs to worry about survival, and can therefore pursue a fulfilling earthly goal absent any financial and material considerations.

Individuals: Liberation of the earthly self will come in many forms, as we are vastly different individuals with different interests and goals. Keep in mind that unlike the corrupting goals mentioned earlier which cannot be accomplished or executed (i.e. more power, more wealth, “the best” clothes or gadgets), the goals set forth in phase one of liberation must be attainable, with a specific end.

“Become rich,” would not be a good goal, because it is not well defined what rich means, and could always lead to wanting more. “Building a million dollar company,” would be a better goal, because it has a finite ending. Still though, if you want a million dollar company so that you can buy a nice car, this is a fleeting goal. If you want a million dollar company because you believe in the product or service you are selling, this is a meaningful goal.

Really you want your goals for liberating yourself to reflect what you will need for a high enough standard of living to successfully complete phase two–though as liberation progresses and the standard of living rises, this will be of less concern. But you also want your phase one goals to be about the accomplishment in itself, and not necessarily for what you can do with the fruits of the accomplishment. Do what makes you feel most free, as long as it does not harm anyone.

For example, my phase one goal might be a self sufficient homestead. This will give me a place to live during phase two, for little cost, while giving me the opportunity to produce passive income, which makes me feel more secure if I were to need money in a pinch. A homestead would also put me in an environment that feels natural to me where I can truly be myself, and live happily and healthily. I want the life that the homestead can give me, but the homestead itself also makes me happy.

Currently phase one can still be rather stressful, as it is hard enough saving for retirement, let alone somehow shaping your life to perfectly suit you in phase two, where you ideally do not need to work, and can devote yourself to spirituality. But having specific tangible goals can help. Most people go through life being prescribed their goals: a mortgage, a good job, a nice car, etc. But many of the things we waste our money, and therefore our time and labor on, do not contribute to long term happiness or spiritual growth.

For someone who craves security, phase two might not start until retirement, when enough has been saved to live comfortably. For the adventurous sort, phase two might start at age 25 after they have saved up enough for a van to travel the country. Some might feel truly themselves at work, and therefore can move onto phase two while still happily employed. Cut whatever societal chains which keep you in slavery.

The point of phase one is to use the material earthly world to accomplish something that is freeing in and of itself, but that will also help you remain free in stage two. This need not necessarily be wealth either; mentally speaking, having helped orphans or provided food for the homeless might be the only accomplishment necessary to move onto phase two. Having created a successful business might be less about if it made you wealthy, and more about the confidence in your own abilities the experience gave you. Perhaps skills you gain in phase one will make you more liberated for whatever path you choose to follow in stage two.

And those who feel they cannot do what they wish to do because of the current unjust power structure must find ways to peacefully undermine those forces. If you are adhering to the one tenet, the golden rule that you will not initiate harm on anyone, then you are doing nothing wrong. You are morally superior to those who wish to curtail your peaceful activities, and should find solace and accomplishment in subverting them. Their failure to enslave is your liberation.

We all have different comfort levels with risk, and different desires, which is why it is impossible to prescribe a specific phase one path for everyone. In that sense, the spiritual journey starts in phase one with trying to figure out what earthly goals are calling you, and what will truly free you. But just make sure phase one accomplishments are not something you must suffer through. Accomplishment is not always fun, but it should be a rewarding, liberating, process.

Phase Two: Liberate Your Eternal Being

Society: It is true that some who are not adherents to liberation will attempt to harm you. These are the same entities which keep those with a high standard of living focused on shallow earthly desires like possessions and power. When people are afraid to lose their possessions, and competing for power, they accept violations of the golden rule based on the belief that it will help their earthly self. It is a sad irony that the earthly individual would have a higher standard of living if everyone adhered to the tenet of liberation, and would therefore have the chance to focus truly on more than the earthly self.

But remember, there is hope! As more people participate in phase one of liberation, the more society will reflect the philosophy, and therefore attacks on liberated individuals will wane. This means the power structure will erode and crumble, leaving no method of manipulating the masses towards materialistic goals, and aggression.

As society begins to follow the golden rule, the one tenet of liberation, it will add yet another level of security to be able to live out phase two in peace. Rejection of harming, threatening, and forcing others will grow with liberation, and soon the tiny minority who have always initiated and wielded violence will disperse in fear of the liberated masses. Liberation in both phases one and two helps to subvert the unjust and evil power these individuals currently exercise. Of course hope is not lost for those who currently do evil; they may yet repent, and liberate themselves as well.

Everyone within phase two will have already completed their earthly goals of liberation, showing the younger generations that it can be done, and encouraging them to do whatever necessary to liberate themselves. The “authorities” and their coercion will soon become an afterthought, a small hurdle before they become extinct. If living the liberated peaceful life you want to live is rebellion of the system, then let’s all be rebels. Help those who may be in harm’s way, simply because they are rightfully liberating themselves.

Individuals: People have surely been reaching phase two of liberation since the dawn of time, without labeling it as such, and have practiced the philosophy without society’s acceptance or approval. It simply takes a person who can rise above the judgement of their peers. Compete with yourself to become happier every day, to get one step closer to ultimate liberation of the soul.

Liberation is an umbrella philosophy which encourages individuals to find their spiritual way by considering numerous possibilities. A person may well decide that the religion they grew up with is the best fit for them, but they should not do this without first exploring various religions and spiritual teachings. What most people will probably find is that melding different religious philosophies gives a deeper spiritual awareness.

If you want to truly know as much as possible about a historical event, you can’t just read one account and assume it to be fact. The best way to understand history is to triangulate the perspectives of various historians, first hand documents, science surrounding artifacts, and events leading up to, and coming after the historical event. The search for truth in liberating the spirit, mind, or soul should be similar, in that you come at the issue of the afterlife, being, or ultimate truth from multiple angles.

For some this will mean travelling the world to immerse themselves in every religious tradition they can find. For others it might mean becoming more involved in their local church they have always belonged to, and reaching out to other individuals, in order to learn. Some may look for spiritual answers in science, history, or mathematics. Others may look for spiritual guidance from hallucinogens–though a word of caution is in order that drugs should never be used to permanently attain a higher spiritual level, but rather give one an example for a useful mindset for looking at humanity and spirituality.

The goal is that after years of study, exploration, critical thought, meditation, and whatever else it takes, an individual arrives at a religious or spiritual philosophy that works for them to happily complete their life cycle. Some may settle on a specific religion, others a melded philosophy of spirituality and religions. Some may follow their own unique path, or start traditions that help them and their friends find peace. One person may believe that we reincarnate until we live the perfect life, and find ultimate peace within. Another may conclude that we are all higher beings in a complex simulation that is testing our fortitude in a material world.

Some may decide when all is said and done that this is simply a material world without a higher anything; but that too is fine, as long as it brings the individual what they need. Liberation is still a philosophy that encourages a happy, fruitful human existence, so even if one is an atheist after stage two, they should be able to look back at their life with satisfaction, knowing that they accomplished a meaningful goal, and followed their desires without harming others, enjoying what life has to offer, and always striving for the deepest truth possible.

Liberation encourages living a fruitful life, striving for higher meaning, and passing on in peace, liberated.

Synergy

Don’t misconstrue the two phases to mean you cannot be religious, or explore spirituality in phase one. Pursue the ultimate knowledge whenever you get the urge and have the time! My only point in breaking liberation into two phases is that you do not need to forgo the material world in order to properly experience spiritual growth. We are here on this earth for a reason, and only by experiencing what earth has to offer can we grow from that experience.

In general, spirituality and religion is less on the mind when young and full of energy. Harness this energy, and pursue those earthly goals, as long as they are not ultimately destructive. Chances are your early earthly experiences will greatly set the tone for your later spiritual journey. But the phases are just one way of thinking about liberation, and could conceivably (and certainly will at points) be mixed up, reversed, mingled, and intertwined.

The main thing to take away is that liberation is absolutely crucial to a healthy earthly existence, and completely necessary for any considerations of an eternal soul or being. Your human body must be used for what is was intended, and that is to live a fruitful life on earth free to do anything that does not hurt others. And your soul must be explored for what is was intended, and the journey to spiritual liberation will be an exciting one.

Think of the young in poverty, with no opportunity to make something of their lives, which skews the perspective on what may lie beyond. Think of the youth in advanced society, with no direction, no desire, and no motivation. They are pushed this way and that by the power structure, used as pawns, and left empty and bitter by the coercion they feel dictating their every move.

This will end with liberation. Individuals will reclaim their youth for the exciting, invigorating journey of creation and accomplishment it was always meant to be! No more dead end jobs, no more broken promises, smashed dreams, or stolen opportunities. When we liberate ourselves, there is no height to which individuals cannot take this world.

Think of the elderly in poverty, waiting to die to stop burdening their families who already have so little. Think of the elderly with high living standards, waiting to die because they don’t know what else to do, and have forgotten what it means to have otherworldly goals.

This will be no more in liberation. Under liberation the seasoned, the accomplished, will reclaim their position as spiritual elders whose purpose is to guide the younger generations in their life phases with knowledge, experience and example. There will be no end of life regrets, but instead the dying will pass on satisfied, surrounded by those they love, knowing that whoever is left behind will have an equally glorious life.

The whole will become greater than the sum of its parts. Society will see a spiritual awakening brought on by individuals who decide to liberate themselves. It requires no evangelizing, as simply seeing free people stokes the desire to become liberated. It is a movement that has already begun, and cannot be stopped. Already individuals are living the lives they want to live, regardless of what the sick sad system has to say. These individuals will become the spiritual leaders of the next great awakening on earth. The spiritual renaissance is upon us.

Start Today

Begin pursuing phase one of liberation today. You might already know what that is: the business you want to start, the skill you want to gain, the group you want to help, the book you want to write, or whatever else will make you independent and fruitful. You want to be in control of your own destiny, and let go of the things you cannot control.

Liberate yourself! Let go of the fear the controllers of society shove down your throat. Become as free as possible; in doing so not only will your own life be drastically improved, but your positive energy will infect those around you. Let go of the burdens society has foisted upon you without your consent. Take control of your life and set it up the way you want it.

Liberate your soul! Dissolve the distractions and take a journey with your spirit. Become more connected with others, with yourself, and with a higher realm. Seek ultimate truth, being honest with yourself, and those around you.

Can I count on you to join me in liberation? Because there is no reason to take this journey alone! Click here to enter your email so that we can stay connected!

Startup Societies are the Future

In the past I have fallen into the habit of talking about the problems society faces, mostly from coercive government. These are real problems of which most of us are aware, and there is copious discussion on these topics in older posts on this blog. But at some point, we need to stop identifying the problems with society, and start formulating solutions.

That is exactly what happened, and what will continue to happen, with the Startup Society Summit. The first of its name was held in Portsmouth New Hampshire at a wonderfully cozy venue called the Praxeum. I have been volunteering with the host organization ICHA for almost a year now, and had the opportunity to speak at the first Startup Societies Summit. Another summit is planned for later this year.

Check out other talks on the Startup Societies youtube page, like Joe Quirk of the Seasteading Institute, and Jason Sorens who came up with the idea for the Free State Project over a decade ago.

Why do I think Startup Societies are the future? Because they have worked in the past to save civilization from total collapse. After Rome, feudalism was not ideal, but it was better than living in the wilderness, and eventually gave rise to the Renaissance through competing micro-states. When China started special economic zones within the last few decades to boost the economy, the standard of living rose rapidly, and now Honduras is following suit.

When 13 American Startup Societies seceded from England, they began by competing with each other for the best government, though that was eventually foiled by the macro-state which was too centralized from the beginning to allow proper competition for long.

Startup Societies are not only the moral option for solving problems through secession, but they are the best option to raise the standard of living to unprecedented heights, prevent the decline and collapse of current civilization, and usher in the modern renaissance!

ICHA and the Startup Society Summits will definitely be something you want to follow. The aim of ICHA is to help grow startup societies or “geolibres” around the world by fostering education and communication about what has worked and failed in previous attempts to start micro-societies. This was the first summit to bring leaders, members, and those interested in startup societies together to learn and network, but it won’t be the last.

And if all goes well we will see new systems of governance (not government) compete with the state so that each individual is free to choose the society in which he or she wishes to live, work, and belong. Freedom is the future. We are at a turning point and must seize this opportunity to thrust society forward.

The Moral Case for Secession

Secession is a Natural Right

Morality is what is naturally right or wrong. Saying someone has a “right” is a statement about an individual’s condition in nature, absent other parties. That is why rights are expressed in the negative: because a right is a declaration of the natural state of a human, and the assertion that another human that disrupts this natural state is in the wrong.

Therefore, there is only one natural right, from which all other rights stem: self ownership. Self ownership means only the individual gets to decide what happens with his or her body. Self ownership condemns nonconsensual interference with another person’s body.

In reference to human interaction, in nature an individual is at peace until acted upon by an outside force. Whoever wields that force is morally and naturally in the wrong. Justice is when a person who is morally in the wrong is held to account for their transgression of an individual’s right. Unless an individual violates the rights of another, it is immoral and unjust to violate that individual’s rights.

It is a natural right of the individual to secede from a larger group, because the individual owns himself and may decide what to do with his own body. Other individuals are not justified in stopping the exiting party, since it is not a violation of anyone’s state of nature to be disassociated from. The moral response to secession is to leave the individual or individuals to their own devices.

Secession Organizes Property According to Natural Rights

Forming free market startup societies or “geolibres” is in essence a secessionist movement. Secession is not the elimination of “government” per se, but rather the fracturing of the state into smaller states. Geolibres seek to remove private property from state control, and restructure that control under the property owners in order to form a more just society.

Geolibres are made up of voluntary groups of individuals. If government is by the people, and requires the consent of the governed, the structure of geolibres is the perfect government: the people who own the land all agree to start a society together. Then, as the land is inhabited, every new member of the society consents to its rules by moving there.

This differs from current government which exists without consent of the landowners, and which claims land already inhabited by people who had no choice in their government. Current governments form involuntary groups: people who are forced to associate as part of a country. It is not a government of the people if it does not require consent, and majority rule is not individual consent. Governments are funded by taxation which is also non-consensual, while geolibres are funded voluntarily. This means current governments are not structured to protect individual rights, as individual rights are violated in order to fund the government.

The only way for a government to be truly of the people, by the people, and for the people, is for every individual to agree to participate. Consensus is the only proper government, and geolibres have found a way to govern by consensus. That is, by forming voluntary groups. If someone disagrees with the structure of the geolibre, they are free to leave it, which is justified by the fact that they did not have to voluntarily join it in the first place.

This might sound the same as saying if you don’t like the country in which you were born, that you are free to leave. The difference is in how a government acts in relation to property rights.

First off, government claims the administration of communal ownership of countless unoccupied acres within its borders, authorized only by force. That land is all claimed without accordance to original appropriation and use, which forms the basis for property rights, stemming from self ownership. If an individual occupies and uses a previously unoccupied, unused piece of land, naturally and therefore morally, the land is his. He did not violate anyone else’s right of self ownership in that action, therefore it is immoral to violate his rights, for instance, if he built a cabin on “federal land”.

Secondly, traditional government enforces laws on all property, even if the owners do not consent to those laws. Ignoring for a moment how government is funded, it is otherwise moral and just to enforce laws on private property when a person who owns or inhabits that private property has violated another individual’s rights. This is because the person who first violated the rights of another was morally in the wrong, and justice is holding them accountable for their violation.

But government enforces other laws and regulations on private property which have nothing to do with natural rights, and are therefore unjust and immoral, because the government takes the first aggressive action, which violates an individual’s state of nature.

And finally, government funds all its services through taxation, which must be considered immoral and unjust since it is a non-consensual aggression which carries violent consequences if an individual refuses to pay. Rights have been violated in order to acquire the funding which government uses to carry out every function. This means government as it currently stands is not justified in owning land, nor enforcing any laws since enforcement first requires the violation of rights. If funding was voluntarily acquired however, it would be just to enforce only crimes with victims.

In contrast, geolibres solve this problem of consent: you must obey the rules on an individual’s private property, and an individual cannot place rules on others’ private property, nor claim administrative privileges of property that is already in use by another. But to reiterate, morally, true justice–as in, holding a rights violator accountable for his actions–may be served on private land regardless of whether the property owner agrees or not.

Secession is Legitimate Down to the Individual

If an individual owns land, he is free to be a government of one. Even if an individual does not own land, he is free to be a government of one on any previously unclaimed, unused land, which he then owns by being the first to claim and use it. When he voluntarily enters land owned by others however, he must obey the rules set forth by the property owner.

There must be consensus in government for it to be moral and just, and when a larger group cannot come to an agreement, the only moral course of action is to allow the group to fracture until agreements can be had in all the subgroups. If an individual cannot come to terms with the group, he is also morally free to separate.

Even within the confines of a geolibre, is is not moral to dictate what non-aggressive actions can be done on one’s own property. If the geolibre was formed with land in common, then the rules set forth by the communal owners of that land must be followed. But this association cannot morally kick someone off of their own land, simply because that land falls within the confines of the geolibre–assuming the individual did not agree to specific terms when purchasing the land within the confines of the geolibre.

Consent is necessary for all moral interactions, and an individual disassociating from others is no violation of natural morality.

People are morally free to disassociate peacefully if they do not get along. Most people find others they share similar beliefs and visions with, and therefore voluntarily team up. They may not agree all the time, but if they see value in the partnership, all their decisions will be by consensus, as the alternative is going their separate ways. As soon as consensus is not reached, smaller groups can then secede.

Secession is Moral, and Stopping Secession is Unjust

The only moral form of government is by complete consent of all governed. Geolibres, free market startup societies, organize in this fashion. They are formed on private property that has been acquired without aggression, and do not force any rules on anyone except what participants voluntarily agree to. Otherwise self ownership, the natural law which dictates morality, is the only tenet.

Governments have no right to keep those in their system without consent. This is a violation of individual rights; even if the majority consents, this does not make consent for the individual.

An individual human in his natural state is free and unharmed, therefore it is morally wrong for another human to nonconsensually disrupt this natural state, and it is just to punish the aggressor in any human interaction.

Startup societies must be free to break away from larger governments in order to form a peaceful voluntary society of individuals’ own choosing. This is the next giant leap forward for mankind; a world where people are truly self governed, down to the individual.


Flight Grounded: A Novella By Joe Jarvis

My second major work of fiction has been published! A fast paced dystopian thriller, Flight Grounded follows a Vermont man named Jake Evans as he flees from agents of the state in an attempt to escape to Canada after being accused of carrying out a terrorist attack.

We often fall into this routine of thinking that we really understand more about the world around us than we really do. I got the idea for this book when I was thinking one day: there really is very little about what we are told by the media and our peers that we can actually verify for ourselves. Most of what we know about the world, we basically have to trust the source of the information that they are telling the truth, but not only that, also that they know the truth, and what they have seen and heard is the truth. I couldn’t personally prove 90% of the events and circumstances I “know” to be “true”.

In the novel, Flight Grounded, Jake Evans knows something sinister is afoot when he wakes up on a Europe bound airplane that is still on the runway with every other passenger out cold. Despite his confusion, Jake manages to slip free from the flight crew’s attempts to stop him, and blend in with shoppers in a nearby plaza. But his troubles are just beginning. The airplane he escaped blows up, and the official story is that Jake is the culprit.

Who is responsible for the attack, and why, is a mystery to Jake, but he finds assistance in his efforts to flee and understand. What Jake is told about the world around him might just be too outrageous to believe, but he doesn’t have much time to think. With helicopters swirling and tracking dogs barking in the distance, Jake is led on a frenzied flight through the forest.

Jake doesn’t know who he can trust, what is reality, and why he has found himself caught up in this mess. All he knows is that he doesn’t want to be caught, and reaching the Canadian border may be his only shot at salvation.

I think this work of fiction may come “too close for comfort” at some points.

My hope is that this novel is going to make people’s hearts race, and stomachs sink, and probably at some points, get this nagging fear in the back of their minds that, holy shit, what if this was all true?

Anarchy in New England Cover (FINAL)My first novel, Anarchy in New England, was published in May of 2015. It was about a futuristic society without government, in which the CEO of a large security company attempts to take over the region and form a government. Flight Grounded is a shorter book; at just under 25,000 words it is considered a novella. While government and corruption is a common theme in my writings, Flight Grounded is worlds apart from Anarchy in New England.

Flight Grounded is told from the perspective of the main character, Jake, and has definite dystopian elements to it. I’m proud of Anarchy in New England, but I had set out with a goal of introducing people to a functional anarchist society. With Flight Grounded, first and foremost, it is an entertaining book. But part of the excitement comes from stirring up readers’ minds and making them question their world. I’m not teaching or preaching, just giving readers an interesting and gripping feast for thought.

Click here or scroll down to like the Flight Grounded Facebook page, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, and like Joe Jarvis on Facebook (below)!

Flight Grounded is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book

Not Perfect, Just Better

I often argue that people would be better off without a coercive state. During these arguments, I am put in the position of explaining how the absence of government would lead to utopia. I am asked how this new system would be perfect, while the other party defends an imperfect system.

I am asked to account for how a free market will catch and punish every last murderer, while millions of murders go unsolved by governments. I am asked to explain the deep intricacies of the free market and how they will deliver various goods and services to the public. If I can answer, my knowledge of economics is said to be little more than mystical suppositions. If I cannot answer, it is taken as my point having failed, versus the lack of time and expertise to explain exactly how customer and business relations work for the 100 plus steps that would occur from a consumer deciding they want protection, and a criminal being brought to justice.

But what about the people who can’t afford, who don’t have access, who are disadvantaged? Well what about those people with government in charge? Are we to pretend that all those problems have been solved under every government—or how about even by one government? My answer is that excess wealth, not squandered and stolen by government, will find its way to those who need it, because the standard of living of the poor and rich has risen with each innovation and invention.

Mobile devices for money exchange are currently proliferating in Africa with the effect of less theft, because people do not need to carry around money. They can therefore live more productive lives knowing that more of what they produce will benefit them instead of a thief. This is the progress to be expected from the technology and innovation of a free market. Governments never solved that problem, in fact they were a part of it.

Under voluntarism, is it possible that someone steals from you. With government, it is a guaranteeAnd under the truly free market of anarchy, you can defend yourself against a thief, or hire someone to do so in a complex free market justice system, regulated by the people.

Oh so we don’t need roads, laws, police, protection, security, a safety net, help to the poor, retirement, money, or education? Bastiat, want to handle this one?

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We need many of the services government provides, we just don’t need to be robbed for those services to be provided. We need to have control over them, and regulate them effectively with a free market, because they are not properly regulated under government systems.

If we all wait for something to be perfect before implementing it, it will never happen. Why refuse to discard the broken, because the new may one day become broken? Is every new innovation not an imperfect improvement, versus a final unfailing solution? Did the invention of cars not lead to death by car accident? But the market (the people) decided the benefits of cars outweigh the negatives. Likewise, the benefits of abolition of all slavery outweigh the negatives.

I get it, if something kind-of works, then we are afraid to replace it with something that hasn’t been tested. But keeping government is likewise a gamble, a flip of the coin. This current system could end up far worse for you. Would you give anarchy a try if you suddenly found yourself in 1930 Russia, or 1943 Germany, or 1960 China, or 1975 Cambodia, or 1985 Iran, or 1994 Rwanda, or 1999 Venezuela, or 2003 Iraq etcetera, etcetera, etcetera? And do you think you would have the opportunity at these points in each of these places living under each of these genocidal governments? Or rather is the imperfect but invariably better alternative of abolishing the state–AKA requiring consent for all human interaction–something that must be accomplished before “shit hits the fan”, so to speak?

One option is to obey, conform, bow to the state, ignore or defend their atrocities, attack their detractors, hope things remain okay, but be ready and willing to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. This is the best bet on how to “live” “peacefully” under our current system.

Personally I would see no point to a life sanctioning and defending evil. Taking one more breath, and gaining one more heartbeat is not worth the trade to me. I don’t want to exist, I want to live. And for anyone that believes in a soul, an afterlife, a spirit, an energy, karma, or eternal anything, sanctioning evil is not a solid long term plan.

I love the rare instances when I have an honest conversation with someone arguing which would be better, government or anarchy. And this is always my point; anarchy, voluntarism, a free market, is not perfect, but it is better than the current system.

Out of the pot, and into the fire, so they say. I’ll roll with that. Each of us is a water drop. All we have to do is exit the pot in great enough volume, and the fire will be extinguished.

Kids Are Being Ruined by Coercive Schooling

Everyone, especially parents, should read this article by Carol Black called On the Wilderness of Children. In it she most eloquently lays out several ideas that I have been, perhaps less articulately, trying to point out. We are ruining children by forcing them through public education, we are ruining ourselves with a coercive society, and we are perpetuating this destruction every generation.

She’s not glorifying tribalism, and she’s not pretending there is a simple equation that will make kids perfect angels; Carol is pointing out how many social problems are created by treating children like caged zoo animals. In fact, when public education was created, the authorities were very upfront about removing children from their natural habitat, and raising them in a way to get them used to working in industrial factories.

And we never left that model behind. Practically everything sick about our society can be traced back to the systematized abuse children suffer that many consider integral to raising children. I recently summarized a different article with the same general theme, that our society is sick with coercion, and it is literally driving us crazy!

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And Carol points out that this coercion is normalized in a public school environment, so that a master/ slave paradigm seems like the only way to solve problems.

But as Odawa elder and educator Wilfred Peltier tells us, learning -– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of non-interference, in the right of all human beings to make their own choices, as long as they’re not interfering with anybody else.  As Nishnaabeg scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tells us, learning –– like all human relationships ––  must be based in the ethical principal of consent, in the right of all human beings to be free of violence and the use of force.  Simpson explains:

If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.

Interestingly, the most brilliant artists and scientists in Euro-western societies tell us exactly the same thing: that it is precisely this state of open attention, curiosity, freedom, collaboration, consent, that is necessary for all true learning, discovery, creation.

Once you think about the causes of social problems, it all becomes so clear! Why do we think there are huge drug problems–both prescription and illicit–in our society? People do drugs for much the same reason that they starve themselves, behave violently, become depressed, or “act out”: they can’t stand the environment they are in and have no idea how to remedy what has been done to them.

For decades our model of drug addiction has been based on research done on laboratory rats provided with a lever they could press to deliver water laced with heroin or cocaine.  Researchers found the rats would press the lever and consume the drug until it killed them, and they concluded that the drug itself was the cause of the addictive behavior.  But then a psychologist named Bruce Alexander noticed something.  The rats who killed themselves in this way were isolated in an unnatural environment, a barren Skinner box where there was nothing rewarding to do but self-stimulate with drugs.  When they were placed in a more varied, more natural setting, able to interact freely with the environment and with other rats, their drug use was reduced by more than three quarters.  In other words, if you gave them a life they wanted to live, and a world they wanted to live in, they did not destroy themselves.   Or, as author Johann Hari has put it:

“It’s not you. It’s your cage.”

And as a byproduct of our cages, most people end up being terrified by the prospect of free humans. Many people do not understand the world outside the cage, and simply assume it would be chaos. Maybe the cage is a bleak, depressing, violent place to live, but its all I know! The outside must be worse. 

But by studying un-caged societies, and the progress being made on un-schooling the “civilized” humans, it is a pretty safe bet that free animals are happy, productive, well adjusted animals.

Political theorist Toby Rollo has pointed out how the forcible subjugation of children by adults forms the psychological underpinning of every other model of political and economic subjugation.  This is not a metaphor; it’s a structuring principle of political reality.  During the days of overt empire and colonialism –– the same days in which our modern school system was created –– Indigenous people, people of color, women of all colors, and lower-class whites were all viewed as childlike, in need of fatherly tutelage and discipline.  And because it was understood that children often required violent “chastisement” –– for their own good! –– it was natural that childlike adults would require the same.

Those who realize how harmful “traditional” education is to children have the opportunity to create a better society in one generation. We can break the cycle, we can cure the human race, and we can set in motion a cycle of freedom, love, and happiness, instead of a cycle of oppression.

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