Anarchy and Owning Yourself

I believe that anarchy is a scary thing for many people. But if we look at some of the dictionary definitions we are getting a bit smarter.

One definition we find here is simply “a state of society without government or law.” This is pretty neural.

But then we also have “political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control.” This is a rather interesting definition for a dictionary because it packs the conclusion that there will be disorder if there is no government control. This definition surely reflects the idea of many members of our species, so maybe the definition has a place in a dictionary.

Another definition is a bit more matter of fact: “a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.”

The wildest one, and the one that probably most of us have in mind: “confusion; chaos; disorder.”

As my son is growing up fast and it seems time to put this seed of criticism of government into his heart. Recently I had noticed the need to really question what this government is actually good for.

Do I need it to put up stop signs on each intersection in our very quiet neighborhood with no accidents? No, not really, it just makes me use more gas because I have to stop the car completely and then accelerate again while before I could just roll slowly by that intersection. But then again, I suppose somebody had some money left in his budget and needed to get rid of it otherwise it would be cut the next year – or something to that effect.

And when I was thinking about all those interesting aspects of government versus no government, who comes to the rescue?

Larken Rose!

I have posted several of his email letters here on these pages (with his permission) and I just have to do this again. It will be lengthy as even Larken had divided his thoughts on the subject into three parts, but I will put them all together here in one post for you to enjoy.

The series of his email letters carries the title:

Opening the Cage – Part 1:

Dear Subscriber,

If one accepts the fundamental truth that each of us owns himself, and ponders all the things which logically follow from that simple concept, the way the world looks suddenly changes drastically. Concepts like “government,” “law,” “authority,” “countries,” and so on, fall apart like a house of cards. Because that scares the heck out of people, however, many go to great lengths to DENY that they own themselves. The ramifications are just too weird, and too scary, for most people to even think about.

Here is just one example:

I own me. Imagine that the me I own is standing ten feet south of the border between Montana and Canada, looking at the nifty scenery. While I stand there, some people way over in Washington think they have the RIGHT to rule me: to impose taxes, regulations, commands, requirements, prohibitions, and so on, which (they think) I am obligated to obey. But I own me, and they don’t, so I have exactly ZERO obligation to obey any of their proclamations and legislation.

(I do, however, have an obligation to refrain from doing anything which would impinge upon someone ELSE’S self-ownership, such as robbing, defrauding, murdering, vandalizing, assaulting, and so on. But that obligation does not come from any “legislation,” nor could any “law” or “rule” alter that obligation one bit.)

Now, if I step over that imaginary line, into Canada, then a DIFFERENT set of megalomaniacs imagine themselves to have the right to tax me, regulate me, command me, control me, and so on. (In fact, they also think they have the right to prohibit me from stepping over the line in the first place.) Their claim is equally bogus: I own me no matter where I am. What I am obligated to do doesn’t depend one bit upon who thinks they have the right to rule me. None of them do.

That being the case, what is the significance of that border to me? What difference is there between one “country” and the next, if I actually own myself? Yes, what might HAPPEN to me in different places will be different (many foreign megalomaniacs are a lot more overtly vicious to the noncompliant than the ones here), and what the people there will think, and how they will behave, will be different, but what I am OBLIGATED to do, and obligated to REFRAIN from doing, doesn’t change one bit.

Some people have asked me, without borders, how could we have a country? I gave them the disturbing answer: we shouldn’t have a country. No one should. (Please don’t be so silly as to read that as an agreement with the “New World Order” fascists.) Today, “countries” are defined solely by WHICH group of megalomaniacs claim the right to rule a certain piece of dirt. Sure, cultures and places are real, and I can see feeling a loyalty or attachment to that. But imaginary lines drawn by people who believe they own me? Why on earth should I care about that?

When I walk from the place in Montana, to the place that looks exactly the same in Canada, what did I leave behind? Why should I feel any differently? What actually changed? Did morality CHANGE, because a different set of tyrants claim to be in charge here? Unless you think that politicians outrank nature, the universe, or God (or whatever you believe to be the origin of right and wrong), the “law” cannot possibly ALTER morality. If I still own me, what difference does a “border” make?

Again, people often go flying off to all sorts of tangents when faced with these concepts. They start pontificating about what we need, what works for society, all the nasty things that will happen if we don’t all bow to an authority, and so on. But again, I’m just talking about what IS. If I own myself–and I do–what possible meaning can “countries” have to me? I might like a group of people, or a place, or a culture, but that is NOT what a “country” is. (I bet everyone on this list can think of a LOT of places in the U.S., and a LOT of people in the U.S., who they feel no attachment to and no comradery with.)

The path to accepting freedom is really disturbing to almost everyone (it sure was to me), which is why most people desperately fish for an excuse for NOT going down that path. “THERE WOULD BE CHAOS! WE NEED GOVERNMENT! DEATH, MAYHEM, ANARCHY!” But no such dire predictions or emotional tantrums can alter the painfully simple logic involved: either I own me, or I am the property of someone else. And if I simply accept that I own me, the world looks like a VERY different place.

The feeling is exactly like that of an animal that has been in a small cage all its life, suddenly being shown a vast expanse of open wilderness (like Montana, for example). Unfortunately, most caged animals, when they catch a glimpse of freedom, cower into the back corner of their cage, and snarl and whimper until the door is shut again.

How about you?

Part 2:

Once again, let’s peek out the open door of the “authority” cage, and see what there is to see out in the world of “I own me.” It’s drastically different from how the world looks from inside the locked cage. “Countries” are but one concept that falls apart once we accept that we own ourselves.

In his autobiography, Frederick Douglass (former slave) described how a lot of slaves back in those days were completely convinced that slaves are what they SHOULD be. Many, if not most, would even look down upon any slave who would be so despicable as to try to run away. To the radical like Mr. Douglass, however, who realized that no amount of whips, chains, or cages could change the fact that he rightfully owned HIMSELF, the world looked drastically difference. To him, the supposed “owner” was the enemy–an evil thief committing both assault and theft on a daily basis.

The world looks very different depending upon one’s ideas about who he belonged to: himself or someone else. In hindsight, most of us look back at that time and sympathize with the lawless, disobedient “slaves” who were willing to break the LAW in order to assert their rights to be free. But most people refuse to accept the same principle as it applies today.

It was not too many years ago that, when I heard the term “law enforcement,” it had a positive connotation for me. The cops were the good guys, enforcing “the law” against those nasty criminals (defined as anyone who disobeys the “law”). However, now that I realize that I own myself, and that the same is true of every other individual, “police” appear to me as what they really are: people who commit evil far more often than they commit good. I’m not talking about when they break the law, which happens often, too– I’m talking about when they enforce an immoral, unjustified “law,” which is MOST of the time. The number of “laws” which simply formalize the use of inherently justified defensive force (such as “laws” against theft, murder, assault, etc.) are far outnumbered by the so-called “laws” which ADVOCATE theft, murder, and assault.

(Warning: If you like your view from inside the cage, you may not want to continue reading.)

I own me. You own you. Every person owns himself. If some guy wants to fry his brain, it is HIS to fry. So long as he doesn’t go around messing with someone else’s self-ownership–whether out of malice or negligence–NO ONE has the right to use force to stop him from frying his brain (though we have every right to try to talk him out of it, to call him a moron, etc.). And calling violence “law” has NO bearing on whether it is justified.

When someone hiding behind the label of “authority” or “law enforcement” forces his way into someone’s home, with the intention of catching the homeowner with an unapproved LEAF (e.g., marijuana), in order to drag that person away and put him in a cage for several years, the leaf-smoker has the absolute right to use any means necessary, including killing the intruder (the “cop”), to protect himself.

The same holds true of the victims of ALL non-defensive “law enforcement.” For example, Ed and Elaine Brown up in New Hampshire have the absolute moral right to use any means necessary, including deadly force, to prevent the authoritarian thugs from taking them hostage and putting them in cages. Even if they were guilty of the “crime” of “tax evasion,” which I believe they are NOT, the Browns would still own themselves, and still have the absolute right to defend their self-ownership from thieves and terrorists, regardless of whether the theft and terrorism is “legal” or not.

Surely I’m not defending the “cop-killer” mentality?! Actually, I am doing precisely that, when the so-called “cops” are the ones doing the robbery, assault, or kidnapping. Despite how radical that may sound, it was not at all an usual attitude among those who started this country. The Declaration of Independence says that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the unalienable rights of the individual, and when it “becomes destructive of those ends,” it is both the right and duty of the people to overthrow it and start over. Here are a few other radical things Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration, also said:

“No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”

(In other messages I’ll explain why even “legitimate government” is impossible.)

And when “government” force is used, not to defend those rights, but to infringe upon them, then what? Then, according to me and Thomas Jefferson, we have the right to FORCIBLY RESIST. Oddly, almost everyone agrees, when they’re talking about some “authority” they DON’T worship, but they believe it’s the ultimate blasphemy to suggest the same regarding the “authority” THEY bow to. For example, it was ILLEGAL in 1940’s Germany for the various “undesirables” to hide from the Nazis. Those who did were law- breakers; those who found them and dragged them away were “law enforcers.” And those “law enforcers” all deserved to have their damn heads blown off. And us modern Americans don’t mind saying that out loud, and in public. How about Stalin’s “law enforcers”? How about Mao’s? How about the “law enforcers” of King George III? We dang near deify the lawless, traitorous rebels who resisted George’s laws, and don’t mind at all the idea of his “law enforcers” getting gunned down. Heck, we have a big celebration about
it every July 4th.

How about today? When thugs and terrorists put a MILLION people in cages for possessing a SUBSTANCE, who should we be cheering for? It depends who owns the individual. If each individual owns himself, then those horrible “drug dealers” are the GOOD GUYS, and the “cops” are the BAD GUYS. (If the drug dealers happened to also have committed a REAL crime–the kind with an actual victim–like theft or murder, then they are the bad guys, too, but NOT because they had some “illegal” stuff.)

I warned you, if you accept the idea that you own yourself, the way the world looks changes drastically. Most people don’t like to think, and don’t like to face disturbing truths, so they look for excuses to REJECT the idea that they own themselves. They revere “authority” and “the law”–superstitions which serve as a sort of philosophical crutch to help people not have to think and judge for themselves. Again, they see the open cage door, and they back away from it, thus guaranteeing their perpetual enslavement, in body and mind. (Those people then vigorously and passionately argue in favor of their own enslavement, which I find rather depressing.) But some of us choose something else. It’s called freedom.

Part 3:

(Note: Regarding my last message, don’t confuse rights with abilities. Even when completely justified, having a shootout with the cops is almost always hazardous to one’s health. My prior message wasn’t a suggestion; it was a statement about moral justification. As long as most people insist on believing that the collective owns them–via “government”–it will be really dangerous to be one of the crazies who thinks he owns himself. The other sheep don’t take kindly to those who resist being fleeced.)

Almost everyone is a part-time collectivist. Most people have a few things which THEY want imposed on everyone else via “authority,” but when something they don’t like is imposed upon THEM, they get all self-righteous and indignant about it. Well, to paraphrase (and slightly mangle) the “golden rule,” if you don’t want other people doing it to you, DON’T DO IT TO THEM!

If I go around randomly killing people, others have the right to stop me by force, not because they own me, but because they own THEMSELVES, which logically implies the right of self-preservation. But if I’m not stomping on someone else’s self-ownership, NO ONE has the right to use force to control me. If I want to smoke pot (I don’t), have a rifle (I do), wear women’s underwear (I don’t), eat cheeseburgers (I sometimes do), marry an aardvark (I don’t), say nasty things about politicians (I do), or hit myself in the head with a baseball bat (I’ve felt like it on occasion, but haven’t yet), no one has the right to forcibly stop me. And calling the control “law” makes exactly NO difference to whether the control is justified. If the “government” doesn’t OWN me, it has exactly ZERO right to do a thing to me, unless it’s defending someone ELSE’S self-ownership (in which case, anyone would have the right to stop me).

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” [Thomas Jefferson]

Sadly, people rarely think from principles, so they play both sides of the fence. Your average “liberal” will holler about his rights to smoke pot if he wants to, and then turn around and advocate the robbery of almost everyone in the country, in order to fund things HE likes (art, welfare, whatever). Meanwhile, the average “conservative” insists that he has a right to own firearms and drink his beer, but wants the “law” to forcibly stop someone else from doing LSD.

“Boo hoo! My rights are being infringed!” Well, if you’re advocating that anyone ELSE’S rights be infringed, serves you right! If you think it’s just fine for the “legal” thugs to kick down doors, drag people away, and put them in cages, because they had a LEAF the politicians don’t approve of, then when those same thugs rob and control YOU, don’t whine about it. Or, to quote a far more eloquent expression of the same sentiment:

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” [Frederick Douglass]

Sadly, things are discussed in terms of legislation so often these days that most people have a hard time differentiating between “That’s a bad idea” and “That should be illegal.” There are LOTS of choices people make that are stupid or dangerous (physically or otherwise)–everything from eating too much junk food, to snorting coke, to skateboarding, to sitting in front of a computer too much (that’s me), to sleeping around, to watching too much TV, to drinking too much beer–the list goes on and on. Acknowledging that you have no right to use VIOLENCE to stop those things is worlds away from saying you CONDONE such choices. But if you want to be allowed the responsibility to make your own choices, and you don’t want to be a complete hypocrite (and a fascist), you have to also allow other people to make choices you think are stupid.

My advice: Treat everyone as if he owns himself. Because he does. Don’t advocate that he be forced, “legally” or otherwise, to do ANYTHING, except for refraining from infringing on someone else’s self-ownership. And if you do advocate using non-defense force, don’t pretend to believe in freedom; and when you then find such unjustified force aimed at YOU, you damn well deserve it.

Larken Rose