What The Comment Section Is Teaching Us

disagree

Kris Morgan 7/8/2018

It seems like everyone on social media has been part of a thread that has gone off the deep end. Political discussions there are flooded with name-calling, condescending attitudes, and all-to-often the mention of Adolf Hitler. In fact, the Nazis have been mentioned so frequently that we now have ‘Godwin’s Law’, which states that “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” None of this is to say that there is no truth being shared, but it is regularly drowned by deflections, personal attacks, misinformation, cognitive dissonance, and other barriers. It is very tempting to conclude that there’s not a lot we can learn on a discussion thread, but that’s not quite true.

Veterans of social media will instantly agree with two basic conclusions drawn from the comment section. First, everyone thinks they are right. No matter how well or how poorly informed a person may be, when a position is taken, it is taken definitively. The individual, aware of the never-ending feed of fake news, conspiracy theories, and other seemingly-less-intelligent people on the web is very unlikely to change. To us, our beliefs and the reasons behind them are clear, so what kind of person disagrees? A wrong one.

Secondly, the politically active among us must realize that we are not all going to agree, probably ever. While we have general groups of conservatives, liberals, libertarians, etc., each of us is also unique in life experience and knowledge. The idea of two people agreeing on every foreseeable situation in human affairs is unimaginable. Though it may not seem it, there is a foundation from which we can move forward. If we acknowledge our disagreements, rather than preach our own version of the gospel, there is no reason we cannot move past them together, as there is a third truth we have to keep in mind.

Deep down, kept away from comment sections, or “in places you don’t talk about at parties,” we know that we don’t know everything. We are fallible, have biases, dissonance, and are even aware of the sway in the media we consume. So we share this world, full of different people, each believing themself to be right, and yet none is omniscient. What do we do when we all think we are right, our opinions rarely change, and none of us even has all the necessary information?

The only sane position is freedom. Freedom from coercion brought upon us from political and private entities. This means limiting government to the defense of individual liberty and private property rights. Only in this framework will we all be able to try what we believe is right and determine for ourselves if we are satisfied with the results.

Just because a group of people want a welfare state doesn’t make it the job of the politicians to threaten anyone who doesn’t participate with fines or jail. Just because someone thinks the Middle East should be invaded and occupied doesn’t mean soldiers who swore an oath to defend the United States should face a Courts Martial for not taking part in it. Just because some among us think the risk is too great to use new drugs before they’ve had the chance to be properly tested by the FDA doesn’t mean anyone should be banned from making a different decision for themselves.

The common belief is that there is strength in numbers. This is difficult to dispute on a battlefield, however, civil society is not a war zone. Our disagreements make us strong. Who among us hasn’t been forced through debate to find new ways to articulate their positions or address concerns they have never considered?

Private charity is a great example of how differences in opinion can help us cover our bases. Some believe it enables people, while others focus on helping the less fortunate. This has the effect of sending two important messages simultaneously. First, it tells people that there are those among us who are willing to help in times of need. Missions, food trucks, and other charitable services feed the homeless daily. At the same time, charity can be pulled at any time. If people get the sense they are being taken advantage of, they will likely pull their resources. This fact is a deterrent to people who are capable of doing more, but would be happy to live off charity.

We may want numbers, but what we need more than anything is a willingness to debate. Rather than trying to stamp out opposing views through law, we should welcome them. When the goal is to expand our horizons, and make our ideas, and ourselves, as good as possible, disagreement is extremely beneficial. Besides, it’s not as though we are going to wake up one day and find we all share the exact same beliefs.

Solidarity works out for the squad of soldiers on the battlefield only because the intellectual labor has already been done. Behind the scenes, where Generals and Admirals regularly meet with top government officials, disagreement refines the strategy. Let’s be the best version of ourselves we can, by supporting each other’s freedom to act on our own opinions. Ironically, taking power out of the picture could lead to more willingness to listen on all our parts.

 

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Gun Control In The Western Hemisphere: Venezuela

venezuelaguns

David B. Beaver 7/9/2018

The gun control conversation has devolved into the same small handful of arguments from both sides. In the course of a debate, you will hear historical and international examples. For instance, the gun control advocate will cite the examples of Germany and the United Kingdom. They were successful in eradicating gun ownership and gun violence in one smooth motion (notwithstanding knife violence in the U.K) and they never descended into tyranny despite the fears of “conspiracy-rattled gun nuts!” So why wouldn’t it work here?

That’s actually a good question. Generally, when a principle applies, it applies universally. What’s good for one is good for all. This issue, however, seems to be a bit more complicated here in the West. Let’s look at one example of how gun control has fared on this side of the planet.

In 2012, the Venezuelan legislative body passed a law banning all guns and weapons for civilians. The law banned the sale of firearms to anyone outside of government agencies. Even a small violation carries a sentence of at least 20 years in prison. So what were the results? The government invested millions of dollars into massive firearms confiscation plans. Very few surrendered willingly, and even after thousands of confiscations, millions of weapons remain in the country. This is despite a well-organized and aggressive disarmament effort which should have been painless since the gun laws there were already strict, and all firearms were registered.

Armed robberies became rampant, and homicide rates skyrocketed. Today, Venezuela boasts the second highest global homicide rate —just below Honduras. These crimes and gun homicide rates continue to grow along with the substantial increases in violence and crime; the economy crashed as is often a side-effect of violent crime spikes.

But surely it didn’t become tyrannical! Well, what we do know for sure is that incidences of state violence have been on the rise since the law passed. From 2014-2017, many protesters organized to combat the growing power of the state, and some were killed by government gunmen in the effort. Not only did government and pro-government groups use lethal rounds against the protesters, but Human Rights Watch also reported during that time that police had often fired rubber bullets and tear gas cartridges at point blank range with the intent to kill. As far as we know 30 people were killed with “non-lethal” weaponry alone.  

We also know that their government encourages many of its most loyal citizens to do their dirty work for them. Collectivos (a Chavez creation, “Collectives” in English), are formed of loyalist private citizens who organize as a counter resistance movement. They have been known to use violence, lethal force, and even fully automatic machine guns to take the lives of would-be protesters or freedom fighters. We know the government, while seeking to absolve itself of responsibility, fully encourages these activities. We also know the most likely way these groups obtained weapons was with the approval of the government, who generally grants them immunity to certain laws in the execution of their activities.

Finally, gun prohibition in Venezuela has also led to a substantial increase in violence against law enforcement officers in the country, particularly for their firearms, which carry a much higher black market value under the strict ban. In other words, they have applied the black market principle, which substantially increases the desirability of an item to habitual criminals, to all guns. By allowing only police officers to carry guns, they have essentially drawn targets on the heads of every law enforcement officer in the country.

While it is true that certain principles can apply universally when citing examples for what does and doesn’t work, it is important to consider multiple factors. Gun control, for instance, may not work the same in the Americas as it does in Europe due to a number of variables. Many do not consider cultural factors, the available supply of guns, the structure and stability of surrounding governments, and even unforseen current events.

I’m sure there are many who would agree that if we could turn all guns into piles of sugar, and thus rid the world of gun violence forever, we would. Venezuela is one example of why we cannot. They are also neither the first nor the only government try, and sadly will not be the last.

 

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Viability Of The Libertarian Party

viability

Travis Hallman  September 5th

Many voters assume 3rd party candidates can’t win, so they resort to voting for the lesser-of-two-evils presented by the two major parties. This is becoming less of a problem because the Libertarian Party is growing daily. The purpose of this article is to present a few facts supporting the viability of the Libertarian Party.

FACT #1:

“The number of U.S. voters registered as Libertarian has surged by 92 percent since 2008, reports Ballot Access News in its March 2018 edition. That increase has come at the expense of both Democrats, who are down by 8 percent over the same time period, and Republicans, who are down by 5 percent. The number of voters registered as independent or with other parties has increased by 19 percent.”

FACT #2:

“The Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in the United States after the Republican and Democratic parties.”

FACT #3:

“The recently concluded Libertarian National Convention, held in New Orleans, set attendance and fundraising records. Preliminary figures indicate that this year’s convention may have surpassed the 2016 presidential nominating convention in both attendance and fundraising.”

FACT #4:

“Nationwide, there are 174 Libertarians holding elected offices: 55 partisan offices, and 119 nonpartisan offices.”

FACT #5:

Gary Johnson was the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2016. He was on the ballot in all fifty states plus D.C., but was only listed as a Libertarian on the ballot in forty-seven of those states plus D.C. Nationwide, he received approximately 3.24% of the vote. He received between 1.19% and 9.34% in each of the fifty states plus D. C.

Because presidential candidate election results affect ballot access [in most states], Johnson’s run was able to secure ballot access for the Libertarian Party for at least one election cycle in twenty-two states. In eighteen of those states, Libertarian Party ballot access is secured for all offices. In two of those states, Johnson only secured ballot access for the 2020 Libertarian Party presidential nominee. In Georgia, Johnson only secured ballot access in 2018 to Libertarian candidates running for statewide offices, while in Pennsylvania, Johnson was only able to secure Libertarian Party ballot access in special elections in 2017 and 2018.”

This means the candidates nominated by the Libertarian Party in these states can redirect resources (typically spent on gaining ballot access) to marketing and campaigning.

FACT #5 continued:

“As of July 2018, we have 2018 ballot access in 44 states.”

Unfortunately, because of a variety of factors, we are unable to pursue statewide access in Alabama, Tennessee, or Rhode Island this year. But we are pushing forward aggressively in the other 3 states.”

“It is likely that the Libertarian Party [LP] will have at least one nominee for a federal or state office on the ballot in all 50 states in November 2018, for the first time in a midterm year.”

FACT #6:

“December 28, 2017, Washington, DC — Attorneys with the Our America Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy organization, have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a Writ of Certiorari asking the Justices to reinstate an antitrust suit brought against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) by former presidential candidate Gary Johnson and others challenging the Commission’s boycott of third party and independent candidates from nationally televised debates.”

FACT #7:

Libertarian candidates like Craig Bowden, Larry Sharpe, Laura Ebke, Bill Gelineau, Honor “Mimi” Robson, Autumn Browne, Gail Lightfoot, Derrick Michael Reid, and many others are breaking old records with their campaigns.

In conclusion, the Libertarian Party is becoming very much more viable every day. However, viability should not determine the way we vote. The founding fathers created a representative republic so we could vote for the candidates we want to win (as opposed to voting for who we think may win). Voting for who we think can win will always give us a less desirable government. We should only be casting support for the projected winners during sport matches, not political campaigns.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

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Social Media Censorship; Mainstream Media Lies

smcensorship

By Franc Turner  August 26, 2018

I’d like to preface these next thoughts by saying that I disagree with practically everything that Alex Jones has said in recent years. That said, I’ve heard that the alternative media radio host has been banned from Facebook, YouTube, and Apple all on the same day, within the span of 12 hours. All of his content, thousands upon thousands of videos, podcasts, live streams, etc; all deemed to be “unfit for human consumption” i.e. removed because it might offend a listening ear. In other words, they’re worried about losing ad revenue for their social media outlets.

Again, I’d like to point out that I don’t think Mr. Jones has had anything even remotely enlightening or relevant to say lately. However, the fact that WHAT he says has been “banned” throughout the social media world has set a rather concerning precedent for anyone who doesn’t fit into the cookie-cutter paradigm of “general consensus” concepts, ideas, or expressions. This may have been the purpose of having someone like Jones on the airwaves in the first place. Here’s someone who was completely anti-authoritarian, questioning the motives behind all of those in power, and gradually made to appear crazier and crazier. He ultimately became a caricature of himself, of “conspiracy theorists,” and of alternative media outlets in general; thereby, giving the greenlight to remove any voices who may use these various platforms to go against the grain.

It seems the only outlets allowed to have opinions (political or otherwise) in the 24-hour news-cycle world are Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Anything else is “fake news” and subject to censorship. If I remember correctly, all three of these organizations were cheerleaders, initially, for the Bush Jr. administration when the War in Iraq was in its infancy. They all willfully parroted the blatant lies of WMD’s that brainwashed the country into believing Iraq was a threat to the United States, and also believing that perpetuating the never-ending War on Terror was a just cause.

During those years, before it became cool to criticise Bush Jr.’s Presidency, Alex Jones was an anti-war/peace activist who called out the Neoconservatives/Republicans with every action they took. This was a time when no one else (at least in the mainstream media) had the balls to do so (with the exception of maybe Jon Stewart). The fact that Jones is now basically a talking-piece for every Neoconservative policy and agenda should, at the very least, make a person wonder why that is.

I personally think that this is all an attempt to take anyone who questions official news and equate them with the likes of Alex Jones or whoever else they choose to censor. It seems as though the goal is to make the idea of questioning the “official” anything, in and of itself, seem “crazy,” “off-hinged,” and “dangerous.”

The reality is the opposite. It’s the “officials” who have done nothing to shed light on all of the government-sanctioned bloodshed and brutality inflicted upon specific geopolitical regions for the past seventeen years, against people and nations who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11. Instead, the “real” news is too concerned with what Stormy Daniels is saying, what Roseanne is saying, what gender Bruce Jenner is, where alt-right vs. antifa fights are breaking out, and what our puppet presidents are tweeting.

While some people may argue that these are private corporations, and they have the “right” to censor whatever they want on their platforms, these same people are also arguing whether or not football players have the right to kneel during the national anthem. And the reason given is, you guessed it, FREE SPEECH; despite the fact that NFL teams are also private organizations. The whole “violating the terms of service” isn’t the issue here. Individuals who are just now being deplatformed are, for the most part, saying the exact same things that they’ve always been saying since the beginning of social media. Yet, they are only now being taken down by popular demand i.e. media hype and taking words out of context to make it all fit a certain narrative. While at the same time, other major organizations are saying/doing very similar things on these platforms and not given the ax. Social Media is cherry-picking who they decide to ban on these forums of apparent “free expression” and the voting population is cherry-picking what constitutes free speech/expression.

The bottom line is: as a society, we either believe in freedom of speech or we don’t. And if you believe that it is ok to censor thoughts and beliefs that you personally don’t agree with, then you are also saying that it is ok for those in power to censor what YOU have to say, simply because they don’t agree with YOU.

Questioning and voicing your opinion, no matter how unpopular your particular views are… is a good thing. Never be afraid to say what you believe, for that fear is the essence of authoritarianism.

 

 

Mass Shootings, Gun Control, And The Misdirected Masses

massshootings

Franc Turner  August 8, 2018

“We’ve now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” – George Orwell

I was recently doing some statistical analysis for my own curiosity and amusement. My thoughts on these matters may not be very popular, but I think that it is rather important to consider uncommon perspectives when it comes to the “leaders” of this nation enacting legislation due to the momentum of perceived public outcry, demand, and public relations.

With the heated atmosphere of anti-gun vs. pro-gun, gun violence, the NRA, mass shootings, rallies, town hall meetings, Democrat vs. Republican screaming matches, etc., I wanted to research the numbers that relate to the topics at hand. Through a little bit of digging, I was able to look up the data from every mass shooting in this country, from Columbine to Parkland, and every mass shooting in between. And when I say “mass shooting”, I am using the Congressional Research Service’s definition of the term in which four or more people are killed, not including the perpetrator. I started at Columbine because that incident seems to have been the jumping-off-point of the exponential trend of similar events happening more frequently in the public consciousness.

I gathered the numbers of individuals killed in each of the 58 shootings. Through some simple and straightforward mathematics, I totalled the number of individuals killed in mass shootings from Columbine (1999) to Parkland (2018). The total number of people killed in mass shootings in this country during that nearly two decade time span is 535. (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/).

That number made me wonder how many individuals are shot and killed by police each year in this country. Unfortunately, people didn’t keep records of that kind of thing until three years ago, as far as I could find. For 2015, the number of people shot and killed by police was 995. For 2016, the number was 963. And for 2017, it was 987. This year, so far, there have been 531; for a grand total of 3,476 in the past three years alone. While it can be argued that many of those instances are “justified in the line of duty”, many others have transpired like that of the Daniel Shaver shooting.

The 24- hour media circus also made me think back to the (never discussed) number of civilians estimated to have been killed in the 17-year-long “War On Terror”, which is between 1-2 million, conservatively; none of which had anything to do with the events of 9/11 (a day which was used as the catalyst for these indiscriminate regional massacres), while the majority of those killed are women and, yes, CHILDREN. And I would bet that the current number is more likely to be much higher, as those estimates are from a few years ago .

This also caused me to think back to events such as Kent State, Ruby Ridge, and Waco, TX; all of which took place in the not-so-distant past, carried out by your own benevolent government. Again, if you’re unfamiliar with those incidents, I suggest you read about them.

The point is that your own government kills more people in a matter of a few days (on the average) than all of the mass shootings that have taken place in this country in the past 20 years, combined. And yet, there is almost zero outrage about this blatant and disturbing fact. There are no marches, no rallies, no town hall meetings, no wall-to-wall media coverage. Your own government is committing mass murder on a daily basis and will continue to do so while they con the citizenry into bankrolling the whole thing.

For the past couple of years, I’ve found it fascinating to watch the willfully oblivious masses feed right into the “Us vs. Them” political mindset; with each and every new hashtag spreading like a zombie outbreak from “World War Z.” People seem to find comfort and peace of mind through recreational outrage, as instructed by the various news agencies.

The individuals who support the two major political gangs (Republicans and Democrats) in this country have compared the “opposing” faction’s de facto leader to Hitler. I’m guilty of it too, but I’m biased because I think that that every President we’ve had in the past 40 years has been a fake-smiled, friendly-faced fascist. But since Trump is the current figurehead, I’ll use that particular cult-of-personality as an example. For many self-proclaimed Democrats, Trump is Hitler-incarnate. And yet these masses of people are also demanding that Trump’s government enact legislation to ban the population from having certain firearms which they deem “only military and law enforcement should have.”

So, basically it’s, “Trump is Hitler! You can’t trust anything he does! Give HIM all of your guns! That’ll show him! VICTORY!” They also want universal background checks, mental health screenings, and more. And Trump, himself, has even stated that he would like the government to be able to take weapons from anyone whom they deem to be a threat, without due process. His exact quote was, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” And there’s a certain percentage of Trump supporters who will go along with anything he says because they still believe he’s going to “Make America Great Again”, which is useful for the continued perpetuation of the incremental obsolescence of the Constitution as a safeguard against government overreach.

This is the same Trump which recently sold $350 billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. So, it’s ok to give Saudi Arabia weapons, but not ok for American citizens to have weapons? That makes perfect sense. And I’ve heard arguments such as, “Europe has strict gun control and these kind of events don’t take place over there. It’s uniquely an American phenomenon.” Didn’t the deadliest mass shooting in recent memory happen in France just a few years ago? That one in which 137 people died, causing everyone to change their profile picture to have the colors of the French flag?

And all of this is aside from the fact that our government, along with other major governments of the world, are holding the citizenry of the entire planet hostage under the threat of nuclear annihilation. It’s not the people doing these things, it’s their governments.

Do we really want Trump’s government to be the only ones who have guns? It has been argued by many (whom you may never hear speak on any major news outlet) that the purpose of government is to cause the problems which they, in lock step, offer to “fix”; hence, creating an artificial “need” for themselves to “protect” you from each boogie man they’re conditioning you to fear. “The people can’t be trusted to protect themselves, so let’s make ’em all rely on those in power to do that job for them.” Genius, I tells ya.

Pollution, war, poverty, hunger, scarcity, oil, hatred, hardship, violence, drugs, waste, etc..; these are not combatted by governments, but carried out and perpetuated by them. Max Igan described this trend as applying to even the simplest aspects of our daily lives. Take something as simple and seemingly straightforward as seatbelt laws. “If you don’t wear a seatbelt, you pay a fine. If you don’t pay the fine, you’ll go to jail. If you don’t let them take you to jail, they’ll come and arrest you. If you don’t allow them to arrest you, they’ll kill you.”

Whether it’s in the wake of mass shootings, terrorism, war, or any other reason, actions taken by governments are not just about creating safety, security, protection, and harmony in everyday life. They’re also often about creating, enforcing, and conditioning obedience within the population, so they don’t question who’s got the keys to the shackles around their ankles.

The bottom line is that human beings have a right to defend themselves. Period. And the ironic thing is that any kind of gun ban would be enforced at the barrel of a gun (the same guns which they are banning). I was always a person who believed that people should lead by example. Therefore, if the governments of the world would like their citizens to disarm, they should first destroy each and every one of their own weapons, starting with every nuclear weapon.

A few months ago, half a million people marched on Washington to beg their imperial overlords to take away more of their own rights. If people are genuinely concerned with saving the lives of children, then stop allowing your own government to kill innocent people around the globe with impunity, and stop pretending like you or the government have the moral authority to “allow” other people to have the right to defend themselves. A human being doesn’t have to ask permission to do that, it’s self evident.

The world has literally gone insane, my friends.

 

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Partyarchy With Agorism

partyarchyagorism

Travis Hallman, 7/15/2018

Agorism and Partyarchism are both libertarian social philosophies that advocate for all relations between people to be voluntary exchanges. However, they both have very different means. Agorists claim that such a society could be more readily established by employing methods such as:

  • education
  • direct action
  • alternative currencies
  • entrepreneurship
  • self sufficiency
  • civil disobedience
  • counter-economics (AKA black markets)

The purpose of employing these methods of self-governance is to defund the state until it cannot afford to exist.

Partyarchs pursue a free-society through political parties via campaigning, voting, and holding offices. This includes the vetoing of draconian legislation, as well as passing bills designed to allow for greater freedom.

The debate between these methods has raged for decades, possibly millennia. It is worth considering that there may be no single, conclusive right or wrong path to a free society.

The study or practice of self-governance is very insightful by helping people realize they do not need a government in order to progress in a peaceful manner. Homeschooling is an example of autonomy which teaches parents that government-funded schools are not necessary. Here are a couple of examples, in support of agorism, that teach how civil disobedience and counter-economics can effectively cause politicians to remove laws:

According to Civil Disobedience Weekly, “Gandhi led the Salt March in 1930, in order to eliminate the Salt Tax, a tax on salt, which harmed India’s poor population. The Salt Tax was beneficial to the British as they financed subjugation of India by the Salt Tax. If having India as a colony was no longer profitable for the British, the Indians thought they would eventually leave. This did end up happening, because after World War II, the British did not want to stay. They did not want to raise taxes from their own people for a war against India, and they did not want to spend their money on a war.”

According to Freedom Leaf, “Large gatherings of pot smokers in Colorado each year on 4/20 signaled the public groundswell of support for legalization. Major events that include public smoking, like Seattle Hempfest and the Boston Freedom Rally, have served as the main vehicles for political reform.”

However, is self-governance the only path to a free society? The laws would not have been removed if the politicians didn’t consent to removing them.

Here are a few examples of counter-economics that have been practiced around the world:

According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 20 (written in 1983):

“In the Soviet Union, a bastion of arch-statism and a nearly totally collapsed ‘official’ economy, a giant black market provides the Russians, Armenian, Ukrainian and others with everything from food to television repair to official papers and favors from the ruling class. As the Guardian Weekly reports, Burma is almost a total black market with the government reduced to an army, police, and a few strutting politicians. In varying degrees, this is true of nearly all the Second and Third Worlds.

Italy, for example, has a ‘problem’ of a large part of its civil services which works officially from 7 A.M. to 2 P.M. working unofficially at various jobs the rest of the day earning ‘black’ money.

The Netherlands has a large black market in housing because of the high regulation of this industry. Denmark has a tax evasion movement so large that those in it seduced to politics have formed the second largest party. .. Currency controls are evaded rampantly; in France, for example, everyone is assumed to have a large gold stash and trips to Switzerland for more than touring and skiing are commonplace.

..

According to the American Internal Revenue Service, at least twenty million people belong in the ‘underground economy’ of tax evaders using cash to avoid detections of transactions or barter exchange. Millions keep money in gold or in foreign accounts to avoid the hidden taxation of inflation. Millions of ‘illegal aliens’ are employed, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Millions more deal or consume marijuana and other prescribed drugs, including laetrile and forbidden medical material.

And there are all the practitioners of ‘victimless crimes.’ Besides drug use, there are prostitution, pornography, bootlegging, false identification papers, gambling, and proscribed sexual conduct between consenting adults.

..

But it doesn’t stop here. Since the 55 mph speed limit enacted federally in the U.S., most Americans have become counter-economic drivers. The trucking industry has developed CB communications to evade state enforcement of regulations. For independents who can make four runs at 75 mph rather than three runs at 55 mph, counter-economic driving is a question of survival.

The ancient custom of smuggling thrives today from boatloads of marijuana and foreign appliances with high tariffs and truckloads of people from less- developed countries to the tourists stashing a little extra in their luggage and not reporting to customs agents.”

Citizens are not directly culpable for the system in place; however, how do agorists justify reconciling their means to a free society with traveling on government-funded roads or using federal reserve notes for trading or providing commonwealth government identifiers (such as a social security number and a zip code) to attain a job? Is it possible, at all, to be a pure agorist in the United States of America? If an agorist is anything less than pure then is it still self governance?

Agorists only support engaging in political activity as a means to educate voters about the unnecessity of voting. According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 28 (written in 1983), “The best form of organization is a Libertarian Alliance in which you steer the members from political activity (where they have blindly gone seeking relief from oppression) and focus on education, publicity, recruitment and perhaps some anti-political campaigning (i.e. ‘Vote For Nobody,’ ‘None of the Above’, ‘Boycott the Ballot,’ ‘Don’t Vote, It Only Encourages Them!’ etc.) to publicize the libertarian Alternative.”

According to The American, “Only 1.3 percent of the total population—38,818 people—cast ballots in the first presidential election.” Yet, a ruling class was still created. How do agorists intend to get 100% of the population to refrain from voting? This task is seemingly impossible considering how many citizens want a voice in the political arena.

What are some large/major efforts taken by agorists to educate the public about the benefits of a free society? Do agorists voluntarily create collectives to educate others on the benefits of a free society? Please visit the bottom of this article to view a list of agorists.

The entirety of the Libertarian Party is a large/major effort taken by partyarchs collectivizing to educate the public about the benefits of a free society. Partyarchs seem to be championing this field of educating others. Please visit the bottom of this article to view a list of partyarchs.

The following questions are intended to challenge the philosophical means of agorists:

  • If offered, would you accept the opportunity to present the benefits of a free society on a government funded tv channel?
  • Since aggression is ethically justified as self-defense and voting for statists causes aggression toward yourself and/or others; then would voting for partyarchs be self-defense?
  • Is agorism appealing to minarchists, classical liberals, right-anarchists, and other interpretations of the non-aggression principle?

The following questions are intended to challenge the philosophical means of partyarchs:

  • Would you not engage in profitable civil disobedience and/or counter-economics if you were presented with an opportunity?
  • How do you intend to defund and dismantle the state if everyone exclusively engages in the white market?
  • If elected, would you resort to agorist means if the state resisted your legislation creating a free society?

Are the means from each social philosophy so different that the two cannot work together toward a voluntary society? Seemingly, everyone engages in some amount of agorism, whether paying the least amount possible in taxes, bartering (without payment of taxes), civil disobedience (such as consuming cannabis), gardening, or something entirely different. This includes agorists, partyarchs, and everyone else. According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 21 (written in 1983), “To some extent, then, everybody is a counter-economist! And this is predictable from libertarian theory. Nearly every aspect of human action has statist legislation, prohibiting, regulating or controlling it.”

The New Libertarian Manifesto (written in 1983) on pages 28 – 31 describes the transition from a statist society to a free society using agorist means; beginning with phase 0 and ending at phase 4. The author describes part of phase 3 in the following manner, “Wars and rampant inflation with depressions and crack-ups become perpetual as the State attempts to redeem its authority.” This statement begs to ask the question, “Would the state initiate aggressive wars if the state consists predominantly of partyarchs or would the partyarchs simply allow for a free society (considering that’s also the end goal of partyarchs)?”

Agorism “vs” partyarchism is a false dichotomy. The two are not competitive in reality; whereas, partyarchism with agorism would be cooperative and compatible. At minimum, the supporters of either philosophical means can work together to educate others about the benefits of a free society.

Consistencies offer legitimacy to any philosophy. As written in The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 3 (written in 1983), “Consistency of ends, of means, of ends and means.” Agorists claim that since there would be no political arena in the end then engaging in a political arena as a means would be inconsistent. However, the political arena is aggressive so using aggression as defense would be justified ethically. This remains consistent with the means and end because aggression (unfortunately) will always occur; so defensively using aggression as a means would not be inconsistent with the end. Here is a short video detailing how aggression would be resolved in a free society.

According to Lysander Spooner, “In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use[s] the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self- defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot — which is a mere substitute for a bullet — because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.”

Here is a long list of individual agorists educating others about the benefits of a free society: Larken Rose, Patrick Smith, Peter Kallman, James Corbett, Derrick Broze, J. Neil Schulman, Wally Conger, Gary Greenberg, and very few more.

Here is a short list of partyarchs educating others about the benefits of a free society: Adam Kokesh, Darryl Perry, Mary J. Ruwart, Arvin Vohra, John McAfee, Will Coley, Craig Bowden, Caryn Ann Harlos, and very many more. *Disclaimer: the partyarchs on this list have engaged in the political arena with serious intentions of using their elected political positions to work toward a free society and may or may not have engaged or supported agorist means too.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

 

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Who’s Naive?

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Kris Morgan 7/7/2018

Like supporters of nearly any other cause, after a while libertarians hear repeat objections to our ideas. Some of these are well founded and need to be addressed, while others simply exist because of ignorance and misunderstanding. Responding to the former is beneficial because it helps us to refine our thinking, and sorting through the latter gives us the opportunity to reach out to those who are willing to dive below the surface. Here, I hope to resolve the shallow claim that libertarianism is a naive philosophy that can never work.

Shant Eghian wrote: “…I ultimately find libertarianism as a political philosophy too simplistic to be put into practice. Take the taxation views of candidate Darryl Perry, for instance, the self-described ‘most libertarian’ of the five candidates. Perry (like the other four candidates) considers all taxation theft, and stated that government had no legitimate role in society. Instead of taxation, he proposed a system of completely voluntary donations; citizens would only give money to the programs that they use or wanted to give money to. Economic issues certainly aren’t my strong suit, so forgive me for wandering into territory that I know very little about, but Perry’s idea seems incredibly problematic, taking a naive view of human nature that only the most rosy-eyed socialist would consider. While voluntary taxation may work in some areas (advocates for school choice and a voucher program certainly have my attention), I think having this strategy used for everything is unrealistic.”

The error in this view is two-fold. First, libertarians do not hold the view that human beings are angels and will band together singing kumbaya if we end taxation. On the contrary, we are just cynical enough to understand that once taxation is accepted as legit, there is very little we can do to keep powerful sociopaths in check. Vote ‘em out they say… and vote who in exactly?  That is our question. John McCain? Hillary Clinton?

Secondly, we often see those who support taxation as being engaged in delusions of their own. The state proves to be abusive, wasteful, and inefficient on a daily basis. Yet there remain so many who believe it is going to and do all the right things; stop invading vulnerable countries with natural resources, and stop destroying economic growth.

Eghian also took issue with the Non-Aggression Principle when he stated: “Instead of an inordinate faith in the power of big government, libertarians have an inordinate faith in things just working out for themselves, without any regulation or outside force to intervene when things go wrong. I could go on with my problems with the libertarian debate. From the idea that no one who has committed non-violent crimes should go to jail .”

In the quote above, he is comparing his differences with socialism to those of libertarianism. Where is he wrong? Libertarians do not believe that things are going to simply work out in lieu any sort of checks and balances. What we do believe is the rich will-and do-bribe politicians, as well as seize political power to attain favorable regulations. The Federal Reserve itself, charged with the task of stabilizing the financial system, often works to the benefit of specific banks. In fact, it originated through a team of politicians and private bankers. The term crony capitalism has been popularized to describe the unholy alliance between public officials and private business.

We favor regulation from private parties, most notably in the form of market certifications. The greatest example of this is Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  The UL logo on virtually all electronics we purchase means the item has been deemed safe by a private institution. In addition, you may be aware that food safety and quality are more rigorous in the market than by government. Safe Quality Foods is one example. Before retailers will consider selling a product on their shelves, they require manufacturers meet the standards of private inspections.

Additionally, if the purpose is to defend American citizens and their property, why should anyone favor jailing non-violent offenders? When people are arrested who have not committed acts of force, fraud, or theft, the government contradicts its own purpose. Rather than taking the role of defender, it becomes aggressor. There is no doubting the validity of the non-aggression principle in our personal lives, therefore we should not surrender it in politics.

This is not to say libertarians believe nothing bad could ever happen in private settings. However, keeping things private maximizes our power to call the wrongdoers out, put them out of business, minimize the potential for damage, and at least attain market justice. We also reserve the power to make decisions for ourselves, such as what risks we are willing to take. With organizations like the FDA, drugs that may help others in times of crisis are often withheld, special interests can bribe their way to favorable regulations, and we are essentially powerless against it. A feasible market solution would be Labdoor; an entity that routinely tests supplements sold by retailers. The absence of the FDA would create a vacuum for the useful checks it provides, which Labdoor and others could fill in the same way UL and SQF operate.

In the spirit of the title of this article, I have to ask who is truly naive? Is it the libertarian, who sees government’s use of power as inherently evil and wants to curb it? Or is it those who believe, in spite of everything that happens almost daily, power will be used correctly and justice will be done? When we measure crime in terms of coercive acts, there is no question governments are worse than any private group that has existed anywhere at any time. For example, when the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima took place, “the explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.” Three days later, an additional 40,000 died in the bombing of Nagasaki.

Some believe this was justified because the conflict was called a ‘war.’ But it raises the question: what would happen if you were in a bar fight and exploded the bar with C-4? No one would believe that’s morally acceptable for an individual, so why do some think it’s justified on an infinitely larger scale? Civilian populations are not a threat, military targets are. Yet the destruction of these cities and the resulting death tolls are often viewed by those in power as examples of success.

If our goals are justice and security, is it not naive to believe we will achieve them by allowing the rule of an aggressive force? The constant fighting over who should have power, and what they should force us to do, will go on indefinitely. The solution is to overcome the adversity of securing ourselves and our families without inviting aggression into our lives. If we are not willing to do so, then we will never know true liberty, peace, or prosperity.  

 

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Borders, Public and Private

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Kris Morgan 6/5/18

Borders perform a very important function in society. They define the parameters of all land owned. In political form, they establish government territory. In the private realm, property lines make it possible for us to live in communities together while maintaining our autonomy. This topic is essential, as libertarians seek to perfect a system of thought grounded in property rights and the non-aggression principle. Exploring the differences between public and private borders can help to guide us on what a proper policy should be.

Private borders are older than public borders. In pre-civilization times, this would have included every fruit or vegetable picked, every animal hunted, every shelter erected, etc. Because of this, private borders are as old as mankind. Since ownership of resources is always changing, so are our boundaries.

Because private borders are necessary to distribute scarce resources needed for survival, protection thereof is completely justified. We utilize resources to advance the cause of our own lives; attempts to use other people’s property, with no regard for the preferences of the rightful owners, is never justified. Possession of resources is only justly gained through homestead, trade, or gift.

Political borders are different. They are put in place by populations that have already applied their own allocations of property. The goal of political borders is to help create an authority to oversee conflict resolution, facilitate peaceful trade, and to represent the area in which the government operates. This creates an overlap of ownership claims between public and private entities. By seizing the power to tax, regulate, and employ eminent domain measures, states take on aspects of ownership of everything in their borders. Those who reside within accept the relationship as a trade-off for the benefits of protection. This is the root of Social Contract Theory.

Thus, in order to have political borders, private property rights must be infringed upon. First, taxes have to be collected to fund their defense. Second, since the land in question is not owned under the just methods of homestead, trade, or gift, any force used against those violating public borders is aggressive rather than defensive. When private parties use threats and coercion to keep others out of land they do not own themselves, we typically think of it as gangs or mobsters establishing dominance in a territory.

In addition, there are other differences which should be highlighted. Unlike private borders, political lines must be rigid for long-lasting stability. Navigating life is challenging enough without constantly changing laws and regulations. When our political boundaries remain the same, the population is able to adapt to the rules and work in a cooperative fashion. Everyone knows what to expect and property transfers are easily done. When borders and ruling parties are in flux, that stability is lost. Nobody can keep up with present standards and economic activity is stifled. Many believe the most effective strategy to have a long-lasting border is through immigration control.

The Pew Research Center reported in 2015 there were about 11mil unauthorized immigrants in the US. Since we have been officially at war in the Middle East since 2001, it is easy to understand why this is problematic. The War on Terror makes security a serious concern for both Republicans and Democrats. Where they disagree is how to address those who already reside within our borders illegally.

On one hand, Republicans think the best course of action is zero tolerance and 100% prosecution of individuals entering the country illegally. Deterrence is the rationale behind the move. While it’s difficult to deny the logic, some believe such measures hurt others more than they protect us. Critics of the current administration are focusing on how border policy is separating families.

On the other hand, Democrats support a path to citizenship. According to ontheissues, “Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America. We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives, and offer more English-language and civic education classes so immigrants can assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”

The current libertarian solution to the border question is what one might expect. Our nation’s economic policies should not provide any extra incentives for people to come, nor should we allow immigrants to enter without a background check, given our current state of war. Those here illegally should be given the opportunity to stay, provided they clear a check (being here illegally does not warrant criminal prosecution).

If libertarians are to make a rational border policy a priority, the first step is to resolve our ridiculous foreign policy of endless warfare. With terrorism as the chosen tactic of our enemies, the population will never support open borders until peace is achieved. This position is understandable. Terrorists operate in sleeper cells, often with members maintaining low profiles until activated — Not exactly ideal circumstances for unimpeded movement of people and property.

Secondly, the practice of giving undocumented immigrants government benefits has to stop. In an article critical of the view that illegal aliens are draining the treasury, econofact noted “Programs that serve undocumented immigrants include school meal programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start, and various in-kind emergency services. Undocumented immigrants are also eligible for Emergency Medicaid.” This may be a far cry from many right-wing claims that illegal immigrants are breaking the bank, but it is still unfair to local taxpayers.

I hope by this point that the issue of border security is straightforward. The border issue is really a symptom of poor foreign and economic policy. The duopoly has managed our government’s power so poorly that implementing reasonable border standards is not something the public is going to support. Until we get our welfare/warfare state in check, our country will continue down the path of becoming a closed society, which is what Trump’s wall proposal symbolizes.

If we don’t want to lose our souls in the process of defending our country, we should focus our efforts on fixing what is wrong. Adding additional evils to manage the ones we already have can only prove futile in the long-run. First came the wall proposal, then the travel ban, and now tariffs are putting Americans out of work. A great deal of economic activity in the US relies on foreign trade. The more steps we take towards closing ourselves off, the more negative unintended consequences we will face.

 

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Reflections on Libertarianism and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

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Travis Hallman,  5/10/2018

Much has already been written about the Founders of this nation being Deists rather than orthodox Christians. That is, they had a worldview that a Supreme Being created the world and set things in motion, but then backed off from intervening in nature and human affairs. Nevertheless, part of that understanding was that the Creator had given human beings inalienable rights, and that when such rights were jeopardized by a tyrannical government, it is justified to rebel against it. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [sic] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Even though active participation in organized Christianity has declined in America, it is worthwhile to explore the compatibility between the ideals of Libertarianism and the Judeo-Christian tradition that has shaped our history. One of the principles of Libertarianism is that, as Jefferson stated above, governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” A large majority of the governed have accepted the judeo-christian tradition as the basis for our national culture, even if they don’t participate in organized religion.

Judeo-Christian tradition first came to America along with the European colonizers who started settling in North America at the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century. They saw themselves as the Chosen People of God—children of Abraham by faith if not by lineage. Therefore, they felt they had a God-given right to take land that was already occupied by a large, well-developed civilization. This follows how the ancient Israelites had taken land they believed was promised to them by God, even though it was already inhabited by the Canaanites.

Therefore, it is important to understand how both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament shaped the mindset of the European colonizers. The history of the Hebrews involves a people who had been enslaved in Egypt. In a dramatic and seemingly miraculous rescue, they escaped their bondage, and after a period of wandering in the wilderness, were successful in wrestling the land of Canaan away from its original inhabitants. Importantly, however, they were commanded to continually ritually remember their origins.

In the beginning of their occupation, the Hebrews were organized in a loose confederation of twelve tribes, each independent of the others, with respected elders giving guidance. Whenever an external threat arose from surrounding peoples, a charismatic leader (called a “judge”) would emerge to galvanize the tribes to band together to respond to the threat. When the threat was defeated, the judge would return to obscurity. This seemed to work well and runs parallel to the Libertarian value of local government, where leaders are known and actions are taken by consensus of the community.

However, the Israelites began looking at other nations around them and became anxious about their growth in political power and influence. Around 1000 BCE, the Israelites began to clamor that they needed a king to protect them from the surrounding nations. The prophet Samuel warned them that this was not necessary because God was their king and was watching over them. If they adopted a human king, the result would lead to taxation, conscription of young persons to serve in the military, and in forced labor. Nevertheless, the people persisted, and Samuel anointed a man named Saul as the first King of Israel, claiming him to be the one God had chosen. This story is recounted in 1 Samuel 8-9.

Samuel’s prediction came true and a century later, during the time of King Solomon, the taxation and conscription had become so onerous that it led to civil war and the dividing of the land into two kingdoms—Israel in the north and Judah in the south. It seems the natural tendency of government is to become bloated and bureaucratic.

One of the basic tenets of Libertarianism is non-aggression toward one’s neighbors and their property. This value can be compared to the Golden Rule espoused by most religions. Jesus stated it as part of his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12): “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the Law and the prophets.” According to the Jewish Talmud, Rabbi Hillel, who was a contemporary of Jesus, taught something very similar based on his understanding of the Jewish Law (Torah). It is unfortunate that the European settlers did not apply this Golden Rule to the native inhabitants already living in North America, nor to the African slaves brought to the continent.

The summary of the Ten Commandments, according to Jesus, was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40) Later, the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther would write in his Small Catechism that the commandments are not just prohibitive, but are also prescriptive—that is, calling for benevolent proactive actions on behalf of one’s neighbors. For example, in explaining the commandment, “You shall not steal,” Luther said that it is not enough merely to refrain from stealing from a neighbor oneself, but also to “help them improve and protect their property and income.” Similarly, the commandment against murder admonishes us to likewise “help and support them in all of life’s needs.” Certainly Libertarians encourage voluntary support and encouragement of one’s neighbors.

At issue for Libertarians is using government coercion through taxation to redistribute wealth and resources to those in need, rather than relying on voluntary altruism. There is evidence to suggest that non-profit social service agencies—both faith-based and secular—have a better and more efficient track record of meeting human needs than government agencies. They also tend to be marked with genuine compassion and they enable volunteers to support with their time, energy, and skills, as well as financially.

The prophet Ezekiel pointed this out in Chapter 34 of the book that bears his name in the Hebrew Scriptures. “Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” he cries out in verse two. In this context, “shepherds” refers to politicians. There was a sense in Judaism that the King and his administration should provide for the minimum needs of the populous. But as with Samuel’s earlier warning that only God could be the rightful king, so, too, Ezekiel says that only God is the Good Shepherd.

Jesus also called himself the Good Shepherd, in one of his statements meant to associate himself as the Messiah, the Chosen agent of God—or, as Christians believe, God himself. There is a curious story about Jesus concerning the payment of taxes (found in Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; and Luke 20:20-26). The Jewish authorities try to trap him by asking whether or not one should pay taxes. If he said yes, then he would alienate his fellow Jews, who hated the Roman taxes imposed on them. If he said no, he risked arrest from the Roman authorities. Wisely, he asked them to produce a coin, and then asked whose likeness was on the coin. The answer, of course, was the Emperor, Caesar. Then Jesus responded, “Therefore, give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” On the surface, that may sound like Jesus is supportive of paying taxes. But his skillful and enigmatic answer leaves the question open, “Are taxes actually legitimate? Do they actually belong to the government?” Yes, the government mints money to regulate and expedite commerce, one could argue, therefore it legitimately deserves a tax to pay for that industry. But is it proper and ethical for any government to mint money at all? If so, should bartering also be taxed? These are issues of great concern to Libertarians.

There is actually a subversive undertone to Jesus’ answer about taxes in this passage. For both Jews and Christians believe that everything ultimately belongs to God. So essentially, Jesus is saying, pay taxes if you want, but remember that God created everything, and so it ALL belongs to God.

There are two more passages in the New Testament that need some consideration in terms of what the Bible says about government. The first is Romans 13:1-7 and the second is 1 Peter 2:13-17. Both have been traditionally used by Christians in support of government. It is important to note that many Biblical scholars think those verses in Romans are a later addition and not necessarily a part of Paul’s original letter. Similarly, most scholars agree that the letters bearing Peter’s name were NOT written by the leader of the twelve apostles, Simon Peter.

It is also important to note the context of the time in which these words were written. Christianity was a very small sect within the Roman Empire, and somewhat in competition with Judaism. Therefore, it was beneficial for Jewish leaders to foster enmity against the Christians on the part of the Roman Empire. Christians were said to be impious and seditious because they would not worship the Emperor as a god. These passages were specifically written in order to convey reassurance that Christians were not organized to oppose the rule of Rome.

Centuries later, European Christians living under Nazi power would wrestle with obedience to a government that embraced persecution of the Jews as legal. Some Christians concluded that when laws are unjust, there is a higher divine law that takes precedence. In our own times, the modern Sanctuary movement, in which Christian churches provide safety to undocumented immigrants, hiding them from immigration authorities, is similarly practiced because immigration laws and punitive enforcement of them are deemed unjust.

Finally, we should note that the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John, has a very dystopic view of government. Written at the height of Roman persecution of Christianity, it noted that persons could not even conduct commerce—neither buy nor sell—without the stamped approval of the Empire. Libertarians question the multitude of professional and business licenses that are necessary, all of them supported by fees to the State. This book seems to be the antithesis of the passages from Romans and 1 Peter quoted earlier.

This is a very brief overview of some of the ways Judeo-Christian heritage intersects with Libertarian thinking. Judeo-Christian heritage and Libertarian thinking intersections are largely important because consistency improves legitimacy for a philosophy. Questioning, studying, then adopting the values upheld by Judeo-Christians and the values upheld by Libertarians is an option that empowers the individual to have a structured philosophy for decision-making that consistently remains non-contradictory. Neither Judaism nor Christianity are monolithic. There is a wide diversity of opinions within each religious tradition. This article can help Christians to be reminded that no government is perfect, and there is enough overlap between Libertarian principles and Christian principles not to outright reject Libertarianism.

 

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

 

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Kneeling, Patriotism, And The Constitution

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Kris Morgan 5/27/2018

Ever since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner, the NFL has been rife with controversy. First, the players who have joined him are seen as being disrespectful to our country and the military. Second, the NFL’s recent move to fine players for doing so is viewed as an infringement on their freedom of speech. As we shall see, those holding these beliefs are wrong on both counts.

Let’s examine the claim that kneeling is disrespectful to the military. What’s interesting about this charge is that it does not come from kneeling players. It comes from politicians like President Trump, and others who feel it prudent to listen to him, rather than to the players themselves. So what did Kaepernick say was the motivation? “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Not only did his message have nothing to do with the military, but according to Sports Illustrated a Green Beret was in contact with Kaepernick discussing a way to get his message across without disrespecting the flag, the troops, or the country. The football sensation originally sat down on the bench during national anthem, until informed by Nate Boyer kneeling would be more respectful. While it’s true Mr. Boyer received some criticism from his peers in Special Forces, others have also praised his view. Whatever the case, what matters here is intention more than accuracy. While we can disagree on whether kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner is disrespectful, it is a mistake to believe it is the intention.

Now, let’s suppose you don’t care about intentions and find the act of kneeling disgraceful. Of course, you have the right to refuse to purchase tickets to NFL productions, to change the channel when a game comes on, or make any other changes in your life that you see fit. But what does the First Amendment say about it?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Clearly, Congress cannot make a law punishing players for kneeling. But contrary to popular misconceptions, the NFL can punish players for damaging their reputation. Under natural law and under our constitution, every person has an equal right to free speech. If a player can say ‘I choose to kneel in protest at this time’, there is no reason their employer cannot say “I refuse to associate with this person’ or ‘I don’t like them, but I also need them to have a football league. Maybe I can discourage their behavior with a fine.’ (assuming it is not addressed with in player contracts)

Both acts are expressions of ideas that deserve equal protection. The NFL is not infringing on free speech by determining the conditions upon which they will interact with others; everyone in the world does this every day. However, there is an issue related to free speech that desperately needs to be highlighted.

The Huffington Post reported: “The Department of Defense doled out as much as $6.8 million in taxpayer money to professional sports teams to honor the military at games and events over the past four years, an amount it has ‘downplayed’ amid scrutiny, a report unveiled by two Senate Republicans on Wednesday found.” There is no question this is a free-speech issue. Unlike the situation involving the players and the NFL, in this case law is being used. Tax law. Where we put our money is symbolic of the things we like, including ideas. But don’t take my word for it. The Supreme Court had a similar position when answering the question of campaign finance.

In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that limitations on campaign finance violate free speech. According to csmonitor.com, those opposed to regulating the funding of campaigns argued that “corporations should enjoy a First Amendment right to spend money and advocate political and policy positions during election seasons just as individuals can.” If blocking corporations from spending their money in a way they see fit is a violation, then we must also conclude collecting tax payer dollars to finance the advancement of any idea, such as taking a pro-military stance, is as well. Those saying we should boycott the NFL (such as President Trump) over kneeling players have to choose between accepting this position or admitting their priorities place personal bias over justice.

At this point, you may be thinking, ‘but I do support the military, so it’s not something I have a problem with.’ Whether the Armed Forces are a force for good or evil is debatable. The questions you should be asking yourself here are, ‘how would I react to my money being taken from me to push ideas I disagree with? Whether I personally support the message or not, is using other people’s money against their will to advance causes they despise an honorable and just thing to do? Is the fact that I agree with the message even relevant?

 

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