10 Best Quotes From Henry David Thoreau’s Essay “Civil Disobedience”

I won’t pretend Henry David Thoreau’s writing thoroughly interests me, as much as I admire him. Truth be told, I find much of his work boring and wordy. His ideas on government however, are quite interesting, especially coming from someone of his time period. He is among the ranks of abolitionist thinkers, like Josiah Warren, who correctly see in direct slavery the same basic injustices a subject suffers under a government. Continue reading

Society Has Outgrown Government

Though I don’t think the end justifies the means, perhaps at one point government fit humanity, but that time has passed and a new age of society is dawning. We have outgrown government, and are in a transitional period of moving from a coercive forceful society, to a free society where our conflicts are not solved by violence, but agreement. Not pacifism, but live and let live.

Humanity is hitting puberty, which can be a confusing, scary time, but in the end allows us to grow into adults. It is time humanity become adults, because we have been a society of children for too long. We have been a society of children, who interact by taking, pushing, sticking our tongues out. But we are coming to a time when people will act appropriately not so much because of the consequences, but because society has developed empathy and rationality.

Yes, there will still be negative consequences for behaving inappropriately. But the punishment for minor issues won’t be a spanking so much as the derision of our peers. Instead of a yelling parent, humans will get the line, “I’m disappointed in you,” that sometimes makes us wish we would be yelled at! But we realize the weight and gravity of the disappointment we can cause through inappropriate behavior, and we curb our own so that others don’t have to.

We’re growing up, and we don’t need government anymore. Maybe we never did, but we were children easily conquered. There will be some rebelliousness in the teens, there might be some mayhem, and some crazy stuff might happen, but humanity will emerge a rational adult, capable of making decisions, producing, and living without the constant threat of punishment for actions that don’t hurt anyone else!

And the actions that do hurt other people will become so out of the ordinary that violent people will be shamed as cavemen the way racists are shunned today. In a self empowered society where we don’t feel like children, everyone will quickly learn the dangers of being violent. Self interest will keep violent people in check, because society will not permit it.

If humanity wasn’t ready for stateless societies, the internet changed all that. We could think of the internet as the final moment when humanity’s brain finished developing, all the synapses clicked together, and finally we found ourselves coordinated, and in control. The flow of information is crucial to keeping bad people in check, and the internet makes constant vigilance realistic and easy.

It was once said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and that is true. But what good is constant vigilance if you can’t change anything with the information you have gained with your watchful eye? I’m vigilant over the companies that get my business, and my funding is withdrawn when that oversight turns up something unsavory. What can I do, armed with all the knowledge I have about the horrors of government? Not remove my funding, lest I find myself caged.

But as I said, the time when a group can threaten you with violence for refusing to fund them is coming to a close. The time when an entity can force their “services” on you, and mandate participation is waning. If you haven’t noticed, government cannot keep up. Currency was their stranglehold on humanity, which has been threatened by bitcoin and other alternative currencies, only in their infancy. Companies like AirBnB and Uber are showing people a new way to do business, with no government necessary. We will have a true voice in the structure of society, by patronizing the businesses that supply our demands, or starting our own businesses to supply others’ demands, without the state stopping us to protect their nefarious interests.

It is becoming obvious that all the services government provides can be had better and cheaper through voluntary means. Regulations will be traded for reviews. Laws will be traded for rules on private property. Police will no longer work for the state, and enforce state interests; they will work for us, and be beholden to the customer.

People are opting out of society, to the degree they can. Everyone is getting back to basics, finding ways to make the government as obsolete as possible in their lives, creatively skirting an oppressive system. Mini societies are popping up all around the world, and expect secession to become a mainstream topic as the world economy gets worse–that is, the world economy based on government monopolized currencies. People are planning for a world without states, and taking steps to make that world a better place.

Society is growing up, which can be stressful, but so rewarding. We are in control of our own destiny, and now is the time to step up, and form the lives we want to live.


 

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You Don’t Always Need to Know How It Works, to Know It Works

This was shared by the Facebook page Emancipated Human:

Although I can talk at length as to how a Voluntary or Stateless society may function, the reality is that this is fundamentally irrelevant to the idea of true freedom. Do you know exactly how your laptop works? Do you know exactly how your cell phone works? Do you know exactly how Skype works? Do you know exactly how the Internet works? Do you know exactly how your e-mail account transmits an e-mail? Do you know exactly how your car works?

The reality is many of us live in complete ignorance of how all of these things work and yet we are still comfortable to buy them from people who know how they work. Likewise it is similarly unnecessary to know how society may be “structured” in the absence of the coercive monopoly on initiated aggression known as “government”.

My desire to be free has absolutely nothing to do with how the roads will be built, who will feed the poor, who will protect us from foreign invaders, who will protect us from thieves, rapists, and murderers, who will take care of the sick, who will look after the elderly, and who will educate our children.

Aside from the erroneous assumption that “government” is adequately doing these things already is the fact that theft, assault, rape, and murder on a colossal scale is occurring today even amidst such a swollen monstrosity as the United States “government”.

Our desire to protect ourselves from thieves, liars, and murderers has given us the insane belief that we will be protected from them if we put other thieves, liars, and murderers into power. Sane people do not seek to subjugate or rule their neighbor, let alone their town, county, city, state, or country. It is not only that power corrupts but that it attracts the corruptible and vile among us. The lust for power is more addictive than cocaine or heroin can ever be. Vacate the State! – DC

With economic knowledge of the free market, we can be sure that all those things government monopolizes and does horribly (keeping you safe, roads, helping the poor) would be done better. That doesn’t mean I have to know exactly how it would function, just as I don’t know exactly how everything in the grocery store ends up on the shelf every time I go in to buy it. But it does.

When things are in demand, and people are free to voluntarily supply those demands, and others can voluntarily accept the service or goods offered for the price, there is nothing else to worry about! Keeping an eye on businesses from which you can simply remove your funding voluntarily will produce much better results than forcing everyone to pay for things they may disagree with, not want, or not use.

But it is always still worth questioning how these things might happen in the absence of a coercive violent monopoly.

How might the roads be built?

How might populations be defended from invasion?

What would happen to the poor?

The case for improvement, even if it is not heaven on earth.

“The Greater Good”, Individual Good, and the Collective

Collective: One Word, Two Meanings

Today, we can see the strategy of doublespeak from the novel 1984 being employed. Language is intentionally ill-defined so that people discuss semantics, and never get to the point of a substantive debate. I see this when collectivism versus individualism is discussed.

Coercion has been folded into the definition of collectivism, because most examples of collectivist philosophy have been implemented by force through government (with terrible consequences for both the individual and the group). So individualists, who believe the good of the group does not supersede the good of the individual, tend to shy away from collectivist philosophy.

But I don’t think coercion was ever meant to be part of the definition of collectivism. It was more of an ideal, that the individual might want to, or see value in, subverting his will to the will of the majority. But in order for any actual good to be achieved, it cannot be done by force. Voluntarily joining a collective is much different than being forced into one. Individualists believe in mutual benefit, and a group can give benefit to an individual. Individuals still make up that group however, which makes each individual important.

The Voluntary Collective

The most important thing about a voluntary group, is that you can leave it.

I was walking in the woods one day with some friends. We had been hiking for a while and turned and twisted around many paths when we came to a four way intersection. Not wanting to turn back, we began to discuss which way would be best to take. In fact after some discussion, we all agreed to take the same path. But suppose I thought a different path was better. Should I attempt to force them to take the path I want? Or should they, being in the majority, attempt to force me to take the path they want? Of course not.

In a voluntary group, I am free to leave or stay. In the middle of the woods my options are to agree with the group, or be left alone. I see value in the group, and that is why I submit to the majority. Not because the majority has the right to force their will on the minority, and not even because the will of the majority is necessarily better in some way than the minority. No one claims that groups cannot be of great use and help. But they must be voluntary groups in order to serve this purpose best.

There were many paths to take, and at times we may not have agreed on the “best” path to take. In fact, “best” could have different meanings to each individual. “Best” might mean shortest path back for the person who wants to be done hiking. Best might mean longest path back for someone who wants to keep hiking, or best could mean a yet un-trodden path to another who enjoys novelty.

But let’s say we all had the same general goal, and when coming to a fork, have different ideas on which path to take. Two people want to go left, and one wants to go right. In a voluntary collective, this is not a problem because everyone can split up if they want. But if we joined this collective voluntarily in the first place—we all decided to go hiking together—then we saw value in the group, and that value would diminish if we split up.

So if I am the odd man out, I get to decide if I see more value in subverting my will to the group, than in taking the path that I think is “best”. It might appear that the collective has overruled the individual, and the greater good has taken precedence over the good of the individual. But in reality, the individual decided that it was overall in his best interests to remain with the group, even though that one decision does not seem to benefit him. He could still decide to go off on his own and leave the group, but this too has consequences.

The individual cannot force the group to accompany him in a voluntary collective, and the collective cannot force any individual to accompany the group.

This is in stark contrast to the types of collectivism promoted through politics. They say everyone gets a voice through a vote, but then the will of the majority is forced on each individual. If you are always the third guy who wants to take a different path in a forced collective, you will never have your individual needs met, and always will you be less important than the group.

The “greater good” never matches your individual needs. That is how individuals suffer in forced collectives. In a voluntary collective, any “suffering” on the part of the individual is entirely voluntary, and as such cannot be seen as suffering, because they have made a choice that the value in the collective is worth more to them than the fruition of their own goals as an individual.

The “Greater Good”

What is ironic is that modern collectivist philosophies ignore that a group cannot exist without individuals. Yet collectivism is sold as promoting the greater good. Well, the greater good for who? If individuals in the group suffer, what greater good is being accomplished?

In a voluntary collective, that is for the individual to decide, and the “greater good” still has an individual impact. Walking around the woods, I may not want to be alone for fear of danger. So the greater good is having a large group that can come to the aide of an individual; it is a trade. An individual joins a group as an insurance policy, knowing that he might have to at times “suffer” to help another individual. But the “greater good” is something felt by each individual: it was worth it for each individual to sometimes give priority to others, so that others will sometimes give priority to that individual when he needs it.

In a forced collective though, the choice is not your own, and therefore there is no greater good. Greater good does not exist coercively, it cannot, because some individuals’ good will always be subverted to other individuals’ good. Therefore it is not a “greater good” in any sense, it is simply some benefiting at the expense of others; a majority good.

The Mongolian Horde Example

A Mongolian horde is on its way to plunder an area. One town decides to build a wall, and not let anyone out. They force some people to man the walls in order to protect the town. The Mongolian horde comes, and though many on the wall die, the town survives. Coercive collectivists would say this is a win for the greater good: the survival of the town.

But there is no greater good, there are individuals who benefited from forcing some to protect their town, and there are individuals who died protecting the town, and got no benefit. Individual good for the survivors, individual bad for the dead.

But outside this town many others decided to group together in order to protect themselves from the Mongolian horde. It is understood that some will die, but each individual takes on that risk voluntarily, because he decided grouping together is more likely to lead to survival, not only of the group, but of each individual. The Mongolian horde attacks, and this voluntary collective has the same results as the forced collective; they suffer causalities, but the group survives.

In this instance, there was a “greater good”, because each individual got to decide what was best for him. It is true that some still suffered while others benefited, however the assessment was made by each individual. The collective was created by each individual doing what was best for his own good, according to his own assessment of the available options.

Final Thoughts

Individuals, acting in their own best interests, can come together to create a greater good in a voluntary collective. What is called “greater good” in a coercive collective however, cannot be broken down into good for every individual; inevitably some benefit, while some suffer. In the coercive collective, there was no individual assessment of benefit or detriment; it was decided by force who would benefit and who would suffer. So what the coercive collective calls “greater good” is really individual good for certain individuals, at the detriment to others.

What the voluntary collective calls “greater good” was the best option for each individual given the circumstances, and decided by the individual. In that sense, voluntary collectives can only attain a “greater good” by consensus of the group. If there is no group consensus, there is no greater good. When a voluntary group cannot reach a consensus, it simply splinters into smaller groups that can.

Whenever someone is forced into a group, there can be no greater good, because the individual suffers at the hands of the group. Even if the group benefits, this is not a “greater good”, it is a segmented good.

In forced collectives, anything can be considered the “greater good”, since the only requirement is that some benefit. In voluntary collectives, the group will either agree on what the greater good is, or fragment into smaller groups, which will agree on their version of the greater good for the group (or the individual if no group matches their goals).

But through force, “greater good” does not exist.

Free Market Mirrors Natural Interaction

Humans got along quite well without government for a long time. When tribes and extended families grouped themselves together, natural hierarchies may have formed, but this was less by force and more by merit. The desire of an individual to survive made most voluntarily accept the given social structure.

You could always leave the tribe, and attempt to get along by yourself in the wilderness. This probably never happened because it meant almost certain death. They needed the tribe. In contrast, today people will criticize those who call for government reform: “Then move to another country!” That is telling though. We cannot simply move into the wilderness to survive or not, we must “choose” another master.

And this is not like choosing another tribe: there is nowhere for a tribe to go either. We must fit ourselves into the bounds of a large country, run by a government, using force. It does not become about surviving by producing everything we need to live: it also includes part time slave labour for a master we cannot choose.

Now, people use their cell phones to denounce the free market. Politicians fly with jet fuel to criticize polluters. People act as if those who gained medical skills owe their service to others, with or without proper reward. See, it was so much clearer when there was the tribe, and the wilderness. If you denounce the tribe, you live in the wilderness, unless you can get another tribe to voluntarily accept you.

Now keep in mind that I am comparing tribes to a free market, not a government. Governments gain their power by force, while free market businesses gain their power by serving needs. It seems to me that a tribal leader needed the support of his subordinates in order to have power, just as a CEO needs his employees to comply with his demands for the business to succeed. But the employees have a chance to leave the company for something better.

We have no such opportunity to escape all government subordination. Certainly some tribes existed with more force than others, especially as they got bigger and became more like chiefdoms, and less like family groups. But the natural way that humans survived for long enough to increase in numbers, was by being liked and needed by the tribe, and that is what naturally mirrors the free market.

When social interactions define your standing in a solitary and independent community, it pays to be liked. Even social anxiety of teenagers in this day and age is probably linked to the evolutionary desire to be part of the group, because being rejected by the group meant death. It is a primal fear to not be liked. So in nature, people would strive to become “successful” by being well liked by the group. They give value to the group, and the group in turn contributes value to the individual.

Trade seems to be one of the most basic methods of interaction, and easiest when it comes to the specialization of skills. If you trade something that comes easy to you for something in return that comes easy to them, you both feel like you made out on the deal: it is a mutually beneficial transaction. There was no force involved, you just need to have or create something valuable, and be easy to work with. And this is also a snapshot of organic relationships at the family level: a breadwinner, and a homemaker.

So the whole problem with the world is that our lives are no longer organic: they are controlled and designed and it is in opposition to nature. You don’t have to be liked to do well in the group, you can do well through violence, theft, and fear mongering. But when we see the free market (or a free-ish market) poke it’s head through the rubble, we see how good verses bad people are dealt with naturally.

Just recently I wrote about the auto-dealer that landed in hot water for treating a pizza delivery man poorly. Would you go to a restaurant or bar where the staff or owner was rude to you, or constantly overcharged customers? Would you drive on a private road that damaged your vehicle with potholes, if there was another option available?

The natural order of life is that the largest gains are made through mutual benefit. Only by voluntarily serving others needs can you expect others to voluntarily serve you. The more liked you are, the more customers you get, and the more businesses want to interact with you. The better your product is, the more people enjoy trading with you. The friendlier you are, or the better the customer service, the more comfortable people feel about interacting with you.

We need our society to return to an organic order of life. The only way we can do that, is by removing incentives and disincentives that include force. Some people can survive and thrive today while nobody likes them, because they give no reason to like them. They use force when they should be offering something. They create division while they should create cohesion. When we allow some people to organize society against nature, we get all the ills that we see in society today.

If we could just step back and let nature take its course, we would see all the beauty nature has in store for the human race.

Trusting the Government Does Not End Well

This week was the the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp used by the Nazi’s to murder over a million people. I’ve written about genocide; the signs leading up to genocide, the many many cases of governments carrying out genocide, and the real story told by Hersch Altman about how he survived the Holocaust at age 11, while the rest of his family was murdered by Nazis.

I want to remind everyone, genocide is not a Nazi problem, it is a government problem. Those calling themselves Nazis may never have significant power again, but unfortunately, genocide is certain to happen again, as it occurs right now under many regimes in various forms. Directly after WWII genocide was allowed to continue and escalate in the Soviet Union. The Nazis were punished, the Soviets were rewarded with half of Europe. Individual’s lost, governments won.

Government oppression is the norm, while peaceful governments have never existed. People often argue that we need a government by using only examples of relatively good government, at a relatively good time of governing. Anarchists on the other hand must defend every foreseeable scenario for what negatives might occur without government.

Yet statists will generally try to argue in abstracts, about what the government could do, should do, or would do; where the government incentives supposedly lie, and that if we would just elect the right people, government could be good; or how good government would be if it was designed properly and kept small.

But here’s the thing: I always humor the statists and explain how the worst case scenarios for their dire predictions of what would happen without government, are already happening right now under some government. But statists weren’t talking about those governments, they were talking about the fairytale government in their heads, like, admittedly, I talk about the fairytale absence of government in my head.

Yes I can admit it, anarchy has never been attained. But neither has “good government” and the closest we came to relatively good government lasted… at most arguably 3 years (time between the ratification of the Bill of Rights, and the federal quelling of the Whiskey Rebellion). And during that entire time, western Pennsylvanians were in open rebellion against the whiskey tax, discussed secession, and finally had their rights violated by the federal government (literally, the same rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights 3 years earlier were completely ignored).

The point is we have never had anarchy, and we have never had good or limited government: don’t pretend my fairytale world is any less attainable than yours. The difference is governments have solid crimes I can point to as evidence of their evil. The evidence of evils under anarchy do not exist, or can only be applied to individuals. A government is to blame for crimes of individuals in the government when it comes to the aid of and protects said individuals, supports the evil act, or ordered the evil act. Anarchist aggressors have no such cover, funded through extortion. (You may want to claim the mafia or a gang is an example of anarchist aggression, however the mafia or a gang operates despite the government, with the help of the government, or is the government).

And there is no proven method of preventing government oppression, though some would argue there are proven methods of slowing down the road to serfdom. So the argument between statists (especially minarchists and limited government libertarians) and anarchists should essentially involve the statists arguing that the benefit of government outweighs the costs. A hard case to make: start by explaining the government benefits that outweigh the hundreds of millions of people murdered by government in just the last 100 years.

The anarchist must argue how the costs of not having government pale in comparison to the benefits. And this especially is where the limited government folks stand on shaky ground. They will argue that the government hurts the economic sector. So what is different about intervention in other areas of life? What is it about force that is bad when applied to economics, but good when applied to disputes between individuals? What if no one was forced to associate, and everything was accomplished through agreements, and mutual benefit?

I don’t think it is a coincidence that government holds a monopoly over the sectors of the economy statists think could not be handled by a free market. The idea is to never show people how effective the free market is at various things, and use fear to continue the government monopoly on security, investigation, courts, and defense.

Forced Grouping versus Voluntary Collectives

“Oh what you belong to ___ group? I thought you libertarians and anarcho-capitalists hated collectives! Ha, everything you stand for is disproven.”

Ever heard that one, or some variation of it? Well I can’t say it much better than Bastiat himself, however I will expand on his rebuttal.

anmemebastia

I feel like a broken record: no we aren’t against helping the poor, we are against forced extortion to supposedly help the poor. No we are not against education, we are against forced indoctrination. No we are not against law and order, we are against forced grouping that makes us subservient to others to whom the law does not equally apply, and who can initiate force without the same consequences as the civilians.

Anarchists and libertarians are not against voluntary collectives, they are against forced collectives.

Yesterday I was walking in the woods with some friends. We had been hiking for a while and turned and twisted around many paths when we came to a four way intersection. Not wanting to turn back, we began to discuss which way would be best to take. In fact after some discussion, we all agreed to take the same path. But suppose I thought a different path was better. Should I attempt to force them to take the path I want? Or should they, being in the majority, attempt to force me to take the path they want? Of course not.

In a voluntary group, I am free to leave or stay. In the middle of the woods my options are to agree with the group, or be left alone. I see value in the group, and that is why I submit to the majority. Not because the majority has the right to force their will on the minority, and not even because the will of the majority is necessarily better in some way than the minority. No one claims that groups cannot be of great use and help. But they must be voluntary groups in order to serve this purpose best.

Forced Grouping

In addition to the post I wrote on Sociopaths Among Us for this blog, I tailored a similar post for my other, non-political blog. A commenter brought up an awesome point, inspired by the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin Debecker. The book is non-fiction about how our intuition is actually picking up subconscious signals which logically lead us to be uneasy in certain situations when everything does not line up, even though we might not be able to pinpoint why.

Interestingly enough, I just thought about this book yesterday because the book discusses a tactic used by these types of people called “forced teaming” where they create a “we” or “us” when there really isn’t one. For example, a stranger approaches you and says “look at this rain we got ourselves stuck in, I guess we’re going to have to go into this dark abandoned structure together”. The point is is that there is no “WE”. The person is a stranger and this is a tactic that they use to get you to do something that you normally wouldn’t be comfortable with doing.

The reason why I thought of that is because I kept seeing political slander ads that said things like, “this candidate is not for us” and “this candidate doesn’t share our values”. I immediately thought, who is “us” and “our values”? It is scary the little things that people or groups do like that that the untrained or unsuspecting person might fall prey to.

Emphasis added. If forced pairing is a tactic used by dishonest people who are attempting to get someone from you, or victimize you, why would we think it is any different when politicians do it? The government is attempting to victimize you and me by getting us to feel apart of a team that does not exist. There is no us when it comes to government! Any “us” is a forced us, through arbitrary borders, or the IRS, or congressional districting, etcetera.

There is no “us” when it comes to a politician. They are attempting to steal your money, and give it away to their political donors after lining their pockets. They want to force you to comply with a new law, or get you to join in on the forced pairing, and benefit at the detriment of your “team mates”. Some want to make sure gay couples can force bakers to make them cakes, and force pastors to say they are married. Some want to throw you in jail if you smoke a joint, or take more of your money for bombing… I don’t know who, just pick a middle eastern country, I’m sure we are bombing them.

But the only legitimate collectives are voluntary, and all the others ones are for someone to gain while the forced members lose. When it is an individual sociopath trying to get you alone inside a dark building, we see the evils in forced pairing. But somehow when a politician does the same thing, so many are inclined to believe them: “Oh I like him, he looks me in the eye”. Great… great… have fun inside that creepy basement.

Any forced collective is bad, because it just means that some people are slaves, or caged to the desires of others. And when collectives are not forced, only the best ones form and persist. When a collective is voluntary, people only join for mutual gain, and can leave when they no longer value the group. And likewise, the group can expel a member who  takes and takes without contributing.