A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

When Voting Actually Matters It Becomes Illegal

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My dismal opinion of democracy is no secret. Part of the reason I have such a low opinion of democracy is because voters are handed an artificially restricted list of options and told that that list enables them to voice their opinion. However, if your opinion is that a governmental officer should be disbanded a ballot doesn’t give you the ability to voice your opinion. Moreover, if the people decided to voice an opinion that isn’t on an artificially restricted list of options, their act of voting is declared treason, sedition, or rebellion:

Spain’s chief prosecutor has called for charges including rebellion – which carries a maximum 30 year jail term – to be brought against Catalan leaders.

José Manuel Maza said they should also face sedition charges following the region’s declaration of independence.

When voting actually matters, i.e. when it causes actual radical change, it’s suddenly declared illegal by the government. Catalonia isn’t a unique example in this regard. Almost every attempt by a people to vote themselves out of a governmental body has been declared illegal by said governmental body.

As Max Stirner pointed out, “Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man’s lap.” There is no checkbox on a ballot that will grant you your freedom. If you want to be free, you must overcome any attempt to curtail your freedom.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 31st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Claiming to Support Libertarianism and Closed Borders is Intellectually Inconsistent

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If you spend enough time in libertarian anarchist circles, you’ll come to recognize various factions. Two libertarian anarchist factions that like to fight with each other are the advocates of open borders (more specifically the advocates of abolishing governmental borders) and the intellectually inconsistent advocates of closed borders.

Whereas advocates of open borders recognize the State as wholly illegitimate, advocates of closed borders see the State as semi-legitimate. On the one hand, it steals from them (and everybody else), which makes it a violator of private property rights and therefore illegitimate. On the other hand, it subsidizes their security (with, I might point out, stolen money but I digress) by providing law enforcers and a military. If you talk to an advocate for closed borders, you probably won’t hear them discuss the fact that the State is subsidizing them (since that would be admitting government subsidies are good and they generally claim otherwise). They’ll give several other reasons why the State is acting legitimately by controlling its borders, usually with an argument that tries to muddle private property lines with government borders, but no amount of hand waving makes the fact that they want their security subsidized go away.

Where the argument for closed borders begins to really fall apart though is when you compared government borders to private property lines. Property lines, like borders, aren’t a real thing. In the terminology of Max Stirner, property lines are a phantasm or a spook. They exist entirely in our minds, not in the natural world. However, like many human concepts, property lines can serve a purpose, which is to avoid conflict over scarce resources. Two people cannot consume the same piece of bread so to avoid fighting over a piece of bread it’s expedient to say one piece is my property and one piece is your property. Conflict is avoided so long as both of us recognize each other’s property claim.

Government borders serve a similar purpose but the resources differ. While one might think that the raw resources within a government’s borders are what it’s trying to claim ownership over, in reality governments care little about the raw resources themselves. What governments care about are the people that harvest those resources. Governments are also phantasms. They’re a concept in our minds, not a thing that exists in the natural world. The people who call themselves government, on the other hand, do exist in the natural world and they don’t like to do work. Instead, like a mafioso, they prefer to skim a little off the top of other people’s work. The individuals who call themselves government don’t want to till the fields or mine the mountains, they want to take a percentage of the wealth created by the people who till the fields and mine the mountains. To the government the only meaningful resource is the human being.

A funny thing happens under libertarianism when a human being is being claimed as a resource. Under the concept of the non-aggression principle, which is the closest thing to a common philosophical foundation most branches of libertarianism can agree on, slavery is illegitimate. One person claiming ownership over another person becomes a violator of the non-aggression principle as soon as the person making the claim attempts to assert their claim. Governments continuously assert their claims of ownership, usually under various euphemisms such as enforcing the law, over people.

Since one human being is incapable of doing two things at the same time, governments periodically come into conflict with one another over what they want a group of human beings to do. What happens when one government decides that it wants a group of humans to farm its territory while another decides that it wants them to mine its territory? Conflict. To avoid conflict the individuals calling themselves government have take the concept of private property lines and relabeled them national borders. Governmental borders quite literally exist to avoid conflict over human property. Since enforcing a claim of ownership over another human being is considered illegitimate under libertarianism, supporting the division of human property cannot be consider legitimate under libertarianism in any consistent manner.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Catalonia Declared Independence

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Yesterday the region of Catalonia declared its independence from Spain:

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and other regional politicians signed a document declaring Catalonia’s independence from Spain, but it was unclear if the document would have any legal value.

“Catalonia restores today its full sovereignty,” says the document, called “declaration of the representatives of Catalonia.”

“We call on all states and international organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state. We call on the Catalan government to take all necessary measures to make possible and fully effective this declaration of independence and the measures contained in the transition law that founds the republic.”

I’m amused by the article noting that it’s unclear if the document has any legal value. Legal value to who? If the question is in regards to Spain, then the document has no legal value because as far as Spain is concerned it is illegal for any territory within its realm to leave. If the question is in regards to Catalonia, then the document has legal value because the Catalans believe that they have a right to secede from Spain.

The actual question of importance is, what will Spain’s response be? Spain must decide to either recognize Catalonia’s independence (officially or unofficially) or forcefully prevent Catalonia from operating independently. If Spain chooses the former, Catalonia becomes independent regardless of legality. If Spain chooses the latter, there very well could be a civil war.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Catalonia Claiming to Declare Independence in a Matter of Days

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It seems that Spain’s clubs failed to break the spirits of Catalans. Even though Spanish law enforcers beat down over 800 people, Catalonia is still planning to declare its independence:

Catalonia will declare independence from Spain in a matter of days, the leader of the autonomous region has told the BBC.

In his first interview since a disputed vote on Sunday, Carles Puigdemont said his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.

If the Catalan government follows through with its promise, Spain will have to either acquiesce or use force. Judging by its response to the vote, I’m lead to believe that Spain isn’t planning to acquiesce. Needless to say, this could escalate into a civil war. Hopefully Spain will recognize the fact that it has no right to claim ownership of Catalonia or its people and steps aside. But history has shown that few government will recognize or admit to their illegitimacy.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Secession is Good for the Soul

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I’ve written about Catalonia’s strive for independence from Spain on several occasions. But Catalonia isn’t the only region trying to break away from a larger government. The Kurds in northern Iraq are also trying to break away from Iraq:

People living in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence for the Kurdistan Region in Monday’s controversial referendum.

The electoral commission said 92% of the 3.3 million Kurds and non-Kurds who cast their ballots supported secession.

The announcement came despite a last-minute appeal for the result to be “cancelled” from Iraq’s prime minister.

As with every vote related to independence, this vote isn’t binding. But it does show the amount of support in northern Iraq for independence, which will hopefully give proponents for secession more motivation and hope.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

In a Democracy Everybody Has a Say

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Take a look at the current political landscape. We have national socialists and international socialists doing battle openly. College campuses are currently deciding how much free speech they should allow. The harden the fuck up crowd and the snowflake crowd aren’t terribly pleased with each other. There are a lot of rifts between Americans today and they’re only becoming wider and more numerous. What makes these rifts worse is the fact that deciding which side will win on the political battlefield won’t be done by rigorous debate to decide the pros and cons of each idea, it will be decided by a popularity contest:

“Democracy,” H. L. Mencken once said, “is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” He also famously defined an election as “an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

Mencken was not opposed to democracy. He simply possessed a more sobering view of its limitations than today’s conventional wisdom.

Indeed, democracy may be the world’s single most oversold concept of political governance. Commonly yet erroneously romanticized, it is assumed in most circles to ensure far more than it possibly can. The Norman Rockwell portrait of engaged, informed citizens contending freely on behalf of the common good is the utopian ideal that obscures the messy details of reality.

I’m sure you’ve all heard George Carlin’s quote, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Democracy is a mechanism that empowers people in large groups to do stupid things. One of the biggest flaws in democracy is the fact that it gives everybody an equal say in matters. Considering almost everybody on this planet, including myself, is incompetent when it comes to a vast majority of things, giving everybody an equal say in every matter is a recipe for disaster. The United States’ economic policies are probably the best illustration of this. Most people are incompetent when it comes to economics, which is why they’re willing to support a lot of really bad economic policies.

I think the best example of the power of stupid people in large groups is the fact that a majority of people still claim that democracy is a great system. Hell, a majority of the people who claim that the current state of the United States, which was created through democracy, is deplorable still claim that democracy is a great system. These people are simply parroting what they’ve been told. They’ve put almost no critical thought into the idea of democracy. Yet their voice on the matter is treated equally to everybody else’s, even the people who have done a great deal of research on democracy.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Importance of Values

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Ken White wrote a great post that rebuts those who believe the government should curtail certain types of speech. It’s especially timely since, as he points out, we’ve reached the bottom of one hypothetical slippery slope brought up by proponents of government restricted speech: Nazis marching down the streets of American cities.

But you cannot destroy a value in order to save it. Nazis — like terrorists — hope that we will abandon principles and fundamentally change who we are out of fear. Assault is assault, threats are threats, murder is murder, and all of them should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The allowance for self-defense by those threatened by Nazis should reasonably be generous. But despicable speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should remain so. Our present circumstances show why it is sheer terrified madness to entrust a broad power to prevent or punish speech upon a fickle state. We’ve flirted with that madness of abandoning rights in pursuit of safety for our nation’s whole life. The flirtation has turned sordid and degrading during the War on Crime and frankly self-destructive after 9/11. It would be philosophical suicide to hasten it now by giving a government — a visibly terrible and amoral government — the power to regulate speech. This is the final hypothetical come to pass: if the state asked you to give up freedoms in exchange for a dubious promise it would make you safer, would you do it? Would you convince yourself that the state would only use the power against Them, and not you?

Handing the government more power always sounds like a good idea when the people you agree with are in charge of that government. But that power looks frightening when its in the hands of the people you disagree with.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lead by Example

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My earlier post about the bakers that refused to bake a Trump theme cake lead me to another thought. I oppose discrimination. Personally, I find disassociating with somebody because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc. to be a form of collectivism and you know how much I hate collectivism. Even though I oppose discrimination I also oppose forcing people to associate with people they don’t want to associate with. This puts me at odds with a lot of people who oppose discrimination. In their eyes, because of my unwillingness to use force to solve what I see as a problem, I don’t actually oppose discrimination but merely pay lip service to doing so. This is a common argument between people who use force to get what they want and people who try to convince people that what they want is a good thing.

Most of the people I know who identify themselves as alt-right really dislike me because I don’t believe pushing national socialists out of helicopters is an effective way to bring about an individualist society. How can I claim to be a serious anti-collectivist if I’m not willing to kill collectivists? As I’ve said before, the ends reflect the means. If you use force to make people bend to your will, you’re not moving individual freedom forward. In the end you’ll simply replace one tyranny with another form of tyranny.

Discrimination is similar in that regard. If you force, say, a white man who is racist against blacks to associate with blacks, you have furthered discrimination. Of course, some will say that discrimination against white racists is acceptable just as many alt-righters will say that violence against collectivists is acceptable. However, the problem of discrimination hasn’t actually been solved, it has just been amplified. Instead of there being a white man who discriminates against blacks we now have him and a government that discriminates against white racists. Simply forcing somebody to act against their will doesn’t solve the problem. At best it will conceal the problem, at worst it will motivate the target to increase the severity of their actions in an act of rebellion.

How can discrimination be reduced without coercion? First, if you want to protect a discriminated group from violence, help makes of that group harder targets. Teach them how to defend themselves, help them organization mutual defense groups, walk them through the process of obtaining a carry permit and firearm, etc. That increases the cost of violently discriminating against them. Second, lead by example. Choose your friends by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Do business with people who are being discriminated against. Stand by them when somebody is discriminating against them. Show everybody who watches you that your life has benefited from not discriminating.

This applies to anything. If you want to advance individual freedom, lead by example. Live a life as free as you can, discuss the benefits of individual freedom with statists, and continue to educate yourself about individual freedom so that you can answer questions put forth by both sympathizers and critics. Make yourself what you want to see in the world. If people see that your benefiting from your way of life, they may decide that your way of life isn’t as terrible as they expected it to be and come around to your way of thinking. Then the problem you perceive will actually be solved instead of covered up or amplified.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Voluntary Association

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If a homosexual couple asks a baker who is a devout Christian to bake their wedding cake and he refuses for religious reasons, should the State force him to bake the cake? A lot of people, predominantly those on the progressive side of the political spectrum but even some self-proclaimed libertarians, would say yes. Now let’s turn this around. Let’s say the mother of a child who is a fan of Donald Trump asks a baker who hates Trump to bake her son a Trump themed cake, should the baker be required to bake it:

Nine-year-old Dylan Harbin, aka “Pickle,” is such a big fan of President Donald Trump that his mother SueAnn tried to get him a Trump cake for his birthday. However, according to the Washington Post, bakeries in the Harbins’ home state of California have refused to make the cake, forcing the mother to bake the cake herself.

Interestingly enough, some of the people who wanted the State to force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage don’t hold the same opinion in regards to this scenario.

I support the principle of voluntary association, which includes voluntary disassociation. A devout Christian should be allowed to not bake a cake for a wedding they morally disagree with. Sure, I find them foolish for not taking the job but my personal morals rate coercing somebody into action they don’t want to take far worse than personal discrimination. Likewise, I think the bakers who refused to bake a Trump themed cake are rather foolish, they’re just leaving money on the table, but I also believe they have the right to decided whether or not they want to associate with customers who oppose their political beliefs.

If voluntary association doesn’t exist, no other rights can really be said to exist. Moreover, if somebody can force you to do something against your will, you’re not really free.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Freedom of Speech

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I’m sure you’ve all heard about the engineer at Google who spent out a manifesto against diversity. I’m sure you’ve also heard that that engineer has been fired. There are enough posts discussing the contents of the manifesto and Google’s response so I won’t bore you with that. However, based on comments being posted everywhere, I feel the need to point out something. The First Amendment only applies to government censorship.

Yes, a lot of people are claiming that Google’s actions are an abridgment of the engineer’s free speech but the concept of free speech doesn’t apply in this case. Freedom of speech, as a concept, states that you have the right to say whatever you want without being punished by the State. It doesn’t shield you from consequences from private parties though.

If you come into my home and spout a bunch of racial slurs, I will kick you out. I won’t be abridging your freedom of speech by doing so though, I’m will merely be enforcing my right to voluntarily disassociate with you. You can continue spouting those racial slurs, you just can’t do it in my home. Google enforced its right to voluntarily disassociate with the engineer who wrote that manifesto. It didn’t prevent him from speaking out against diversity, he can still do so. He just can’t do so as an employee of Google.

While the concept of free speech prevents an agent of the government from jailing the engineer, it doesn’t shield him from consequences. An employer can choose to fire him, a friend can choose to stop associating with him, and a homeowner can choose to forbid him from entering their property.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:30 am