One Voluntaryist’s Perspective

    One Voluntaryist’s Perspective –

  • “Daddy, What’s a Citizen?”

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Our family nighttime routine includes watching a show or two together before going to bed. One of the Netflix series we are enjoying is “One Day at a Time“, which showcases a Cuban-American family of 4 (single mother, 2 teenagers, a grandma) and their goofy Canadian landlord.

    Last night’s episode touched on the idea of obtaining American citizenship and the “importance” of voting. Typical mainstream thought, but the grandma had always resisted obtaining American citizenship because it meant renouncing her Cuban citizenship, and she’s not yet ready to do that. She still has hope that she’ll be able to return one day to see the country following better political leadership. The irony in the critical implication of Cuban government to an episode dedicated to promoting voting was not lost on me.

    As is my children’s wont when encountering ideas they are unfamiliar with, my daughter asked me, “What’s a citizen?”

    My wife became (allegedly) an American citizen 9 years ago this month. I became (allegedly) an American citizen the moment I was born, in Salt Lake City.

    This question is not as easy to answer for me as it once was. Before understanding the facts about government, I would have answered to the effect of , “A citizen is someone who is a recognized subject of the government.” *almost vomits* (My apologies, but that was very difficult to write.)

    Or rather, in a way understandable to an 8-year-old. Today, that’s not the answer that I can honestly give. So at first, I resisted, and made a few jokes. I needed to time to think on it. While we were brushing our teeth, the following ensued:

    Me: Rosie, let me help you understand what a citizen is.

    Rosie: Okay.

    Me: Let’s say that I didn’t like pink hair and I told you that I was making a rule that nobody could dye their hair pink who lived around here, including you. If you did, then I would put you in jail. Would that make me a good guy, or a bad guy?

    Rosie: That would make you a bad guy.

    Me: That’s right. Because you can dye your hair pink if you want and it’s nobody else’s business.

    Rosie: Right.

    Me: That’s sort of like what being a citizen, or not, means. It means that somebody else’s rules interfere with how you want to live your life. And if you don’t follow their rules, they will put you in jail.

    Rosie: Hmm… okay.

    I have no doubt this or related questions will come my way in the future. I want to be very careful not to teach my kids to believe in either lies, myths, or things that are not true. It’s not easy. The above is the best way I could think of, using her language, and I’m sure very little of what I conveyed really stuck.

    Laws regarding citizenship are like any other laws: arbitrary opinions by busybodies backed up by violence. If these laws don’t apply, and there’s not a single shred of evidence that they do, then nobody is, factually, a citizen. Some people just think they are, and are willing to use violence in support of their belief.

    That’s absolutely terrible, in my opinion.

  • When Does Action Become Aggression?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    A few discussions recently have got me thinking about when physical force may be justifiably used in response to the actions of others. There’s little controversy around using physical force to defending oneself when being physically attacked. Even most pacifists (in my experience) acknowledge that not using physical force even in those instances is a personal choice, not an ethical statement.

    I consider the libertarian non-aggression principle to be quite useful most of the time in determining justified action and reaction utilizing physical force. Let me begin by defining my terms.

    Physical force is the application of energy in action or movement. Examples: walking around the block; hugging a loved one; picking up or moving stuff around.

    Violence is physical force applied in a destructive or potentially destructive way. Examples: punching somebody; throwing a glass against the wall; breaking an object apart.

    Aggression is the initiation of physical force or violence against another person or their property without their permission. Examples: hugging someone without their permission; punching somebody without their permission; throwing somebody else’s glass against the wall without the permission of either the glass or wall owners; taking, handling, or breaking somebody else’s property without their permission.

    The libertarian non-aggression principle states that a person is not justified in using aggression against other people or their property. It’s really quite unremarkable, but has enormous implications. With this principle, we can categorize most actions as either justified, or not. Here are two examples: punching a boxing opponent is justified, punching a stranger is not; moving my friend’s sofa to his new apartment is justified, moving a stranger’s sofa to my new apartment is not.

    Libertarians love analyzing which actions on the fringe of human behavior constitute aggression, and which do not. The following is an example of just such analysis.

    At what point should an action be considered aggression, of which it would be justified in responding with physical force or violence? Most obvious forms of uninvited physical force or violence should be considered aggression. I’ve given some examples of those. Other examples are different types of theft, battery, kidnap, rape, and murder.

    I posit that trespassing, the act of entering another person’s property, is not always aggression. Sometimes it is, such as when the owner is unsure of a trespasser’s intent. Is the trespasser lost, or does he plan on hurting or robbing me or my property? It’s an unknown, and so treating it as aggression or probable aggression is not unreasonable. However, I believe there are cases where classifying a trespass as aggression is not reasonable.

    Here’s one such case: a transient walking through a golf course. In this case, the transient is merely passing through. He’s not damaging or displacing the golf course in any quantifiable way. I would consider any use of physical force or violence against his person or property to be unjustified, and thus an act of aggression in and of itself. He would thus be justified in using physical force or violence in self-defense.

    No, he does not have permission by the golf course owner, and yes his passing through the golf course is technically a trespass. However, it is not a trespass in any meaningful way, certainly not to the extent needed to justify the use of physical force or violence against him. What if he’s been approached once before and asked not to pass through? What if he’s been approached multiple times in the past and asked not to pass through? I still consider the trespass benign and all that entails.

    At this point, the only recourse the golf course owner has is in better security. If he doesn’t want transients passing through, he should build a fence.

    I think the logic used in this analysis can be applied to all sorts of situations. The relevant key in determining when the solution is physical force or violence, or when the solution is better security is the concept of quantifiable damage. Does the action produce or will it probably produce quantifiable damage? In the case of a transient passthrough, the answer seems to me to be negative.

    What about a case where someone picks up and looks at someone else’s property without permission? It seems the answer is negative as well. What about a case where someone decides to squat in an unoccupied vacation home? It seems the answer is affirmative to me, as this action typically requires breaking before entering, displacement of property inside, and the threat of damage to property and/or the owners once they arrive.

    Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I consider that apropos on the question of how to prevent unwanted albeit non-aggressive actions by others as it concerns our property. I predict that in a totally free society, security will be a higher expense on our personal financial statements than will be reactionary force or violence. And without a central authority either monopolizing or subsidizing the use of violence, property norms will develop in such a way as to minimize these expenses.

  • Are Incestuous Relationships Criminal?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Oh, ho! The most important question that has plagued humanity since the beginning of time…

    Not really, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless, one that has been recently discussed in a Facebook group I’m in among friends I’ve known for years.

    The headline that started this particular discussion, “North Carolina father and biological daughter charged with incest after having baby“, and the relevant parts of the story:

    A North Carolina man and his biological daughter were arrested on incest charges after authorities learned they had a child together and lived as a “married” couple, according to local reports.

    Steven Pladl, 42, and Katie Pladl, 20, who lived in Knightdale, N.C., were arrested on Jan. 27, according to WNCN-TV. Both were charged with incest, adultery, and contributing to delinquency.

    According to the station, Steven and his then-wife had Katie in 1998 and she was adopted out-of-state. Several years ago, Katie reportedly used social media to reach out to her biological parents and moved into the home they lived in with their two children near Richmond, Va., in August 2016.

    In November 2016, Steven and his wife legally separated, and his wife later told authorities that her husband slept in Katie’s room on the floor the month before she moved out.

    Steven’s former wife told authorities that she did not know Katie and her then-husband were involved in a sexual relationship, until she read one of their children’s diary entries in May.

    The woman told WTVR-TV that she found a drawing of Katie pregnant and her child wrote that her father told her to refer to Katie as her step-mom.

    The woman told authorities that she confronted Steven about the relationship and he said he was the father and the pair planned to marry.

    Daughter who was adopted away sought her parents, and later started a sexual relationship with her biological father, got married, had a baby. Was a crime committed?

    I don’t see how. Everyone were adults, and nobody was defrauded, kidnapped, or raped. The issue in most people’s’ minds regarding incest is the health of offspring. I’ve never looked for the research, but it makes superficial sense that children born to such closely genetic-related people should have abnormalities.

    The general consensus seems to be that intentionally creating a child with major health problems is a crime against the child as they will have to deal with these their entire lives, which quite probably will be cut short.

    Is creating a child with abnormalities and other major health problems a crime in the libertarian sense? Remember, a crime is any action that hurts another person or their property. Is that what’s happening with incestually produced children?

    It’s hard for me to say that it is. Typically, a crime requires a previous state. How else are we to know when something’s been taken, or someone’s been damaged? We must know how things were before the crime in order to know how things are after the crime, methinks.

    In the case of a child being born with problems, there was no previous state. Unlike a mother who drinks too much alcohol or smokes too many cigarettes after the conception of her baby, leading to abnormalities, in the case of incestual intercourse, the baby is as it always was. It just so happened that it’s DNA was mixed in such a way as to give it abnormalities or other major health problems. The previous state was total non-existence, and the current state remains unaltered.

    As it stands, consensual incest is not a crime in the libertarian sense, nor is the production of offspring with genetic issues by incestuous means. If we are to categorize it as such, then shouldn’t we also categorize non-incestuous babies with genetic issues as owed restitution? Accidents are no excuse to making other people we damage whole, after all. What other implications are there, I wonder?

  • Dreamer’s Parents Never Sinned

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I made a comment on a friend’s post on Facebook, which turned into quite the exercise in the Socratic method toward challenging Federal jurisdiction over immigration. Dreamers, as they are called, are the children of immigrants, allegedly illegal, who were brought at a very young age, but having already been born. I know or have known many Dreamers, even dated one my final year in high school. There are an estimated 1,000,000 Dreamers in the US. Here’s the conversation among three people, myself, Caroline, and Brandon, sans irrelevant chiming in by third parties and edited for clarity and consistency.

    Skyler: Dreamers’ parents didn’t sin. ^_^

    Caroline: Well, they sinned in a secular way, they broke the law.

    Skyler: How do you know that? What does the law have to do with them?

    Caroline: If they came here illegally then they broke the law, no? And then we get shit like this. As long as they come here illegally, don’t contribute but drain the system and commit crimes I’m arguing they are breaking the law and need to go.

    Skyler: Are you claiming that immigration laws apply to them?

    Caroline: Yes, they do, why wouldn’t they?

    Skyler: What evidence do you have to support your claim that US immigration laws apply to them?

    Caroline: What evidence do you have that it doesn’t? They are immigrants to a foreign country and they don’t come here legally, but there are laws for immigration. There is your proof. It’s the definition of immigration (laws). If it doesn’t apply to them, who does it apply to? Are you just gonna ask another question or are you actually gonna argue a point you are trying to make? If it’s just another question, I’m done with the trolling.

    Skyler: The laws apply because the laws say so? Isn’t that circular reasoning? Is circular reasoning a valid form of evidence when you have the burden of proof to use violence against another person, in your view?

    Caroline: You obviously don’t want to have a productive discussion, why don’t you go and troll someone else.

    Skyler: You don’t find it productive to challenge someone making seemingly arbitrary claims that involve using violence against other people? Are you able to support your claims, or not?

    Caroline: It’s not a discussion, and in my opinion quite disrespectful, when one person just asks questions, whether they are legitimate or not, and doesn’t engage. Even if I’m the one that makes claims why does the burden of proof sit with me? Why don’t you bring proof for your claims and questions? You haven’t produced any proof or explanation, all you do is ask questions and when I try to answer them, you avoid the answer itself and only attack the way I presented the answer, with more questions. I’m not buying into that tactic.

    Skyler: I’m trying to understand the foundation of the claims you are making. I’m not making claims. I’m not making arguments. You are. Aren’t you able to provide supporting evidence for your claims? If not, is it right or wrong to posit unsupported claims? Is doing so respectful, or not?

    Brandon: Holy Cow Skyler. If you enter another country in a way that violates their immigration laws then their laws most certainly apply to you. In what arrogant and asinine way do you think they don’t?

    Skyler: Brandon, you wrote, “in a way that violates their immigration laws…” That is what’s under dispute here. What evidence can you provide to show that immigration laws apply to Person A?

    Caroline: BTW Skyler, what violence are you talking about? Just because I don’t support illegal immigration, doesn’t mean I call for violence. On the other hand, there are a lot of illegals who come here and commit serious crimes. I guess you are ok with that violence, but if there is violence used to protect the borders, that’s not ok, huh. Maybe one of these illegals needs to harm your family and then maybe you will learn that in order to help others, one has to help themselves first.

    Skyler: The violence inherent in enforcing immigration laws. Aren’t laws enforced with violence, typically? You keep calling them “illegals”. You are presuming facts not in evidence. Why do you keep doing that? Is that fair? Is that respectful? Is that justified?

    Caroline: I am not sure how I can prove that a law applies to someone or not other than stating that if a person falls within that law and is in disobedience to that law then the law applies to them. But what is your proof for the violence? I mean if the law doesn’t apply to illegal immigrants then how can the violence enforcing these laws apply? Can’t have your cake and eat it too!

    Skyler: If I attack you, you would want to know why, correct? Wouldn’t you demand that I justify my actions? Wouldn’t the burden of proof to support my claims of the right to attack you fall upon me, the attacker? And if I couldn’t support my claim, my supposed right, or authority, to attack, what would that make me, and how much support should my claims receive by others?

    Caroline: If not breaking the law, what do you call it when someone from Country A goes to Country B without permission and starts doing things they aren’t allowed to? And what do you call it in the context of someone from Country B trying to do the same thing in Country A, being thrown into prison or worse instead of being given welfare and the right to vote?

    Skyler: “without permission…” This is another presumption without supporting evidence. Permission depends on immigration laws applying, do they not? Is it valid to keep saying (in different ways) “the law applies” over and over without offering any supporting evidence? “aren’t allowed to…” Like what? Using violence against peaceful people?

    Brandon: Are you trying to suggest that just because a law is written regarding immigration and states that it applies to ANY person entering through undocumented and unauthorized means, that said law does not necessarily apply to said persons? That it basically all depends on each individual person’s interpretation of the law? Without laws there is chaos, have you not read Lord of the Flies? Anarchy ultimately devolves into dictatorship or some other form of government, but true anarchy can not long remain. Societies that have devolved into such states have become tribal and nomadic warring with each other until eventually they are conquered by outside forces or die out. The Olmecs are a prime example of this, and even the ancient Roman empire.

    Skyler: Do you have any evidence to support your claim that said law does apply to any given person? This is a question that must be answered before we even attempt interpretation. Does what the law say matter if it doesn’t even apply to begin with? The rest of your post is irrelevant to the question at hand.

    Brandon: How the hell does it not fricking apply?

    Skyler: Why should I believe it applies? Is the burden of proof on you claiming the right to use violence against me, or on me? Presumption of innocence, or nah?

    Brandon: WTF? (in animated GIF)

    Caroline: You know what Skyler, you show me your evidence that explains how “Dreamers’ parents didn’t sin”. That’s what started all this and you haven’t given any evidence for that, nor have you constructively participated in the ensuing conversation. So go ahead, I’m interested to see this.

    Brandon: He’ll just respond by asking for you to provide proof that the law applies.

    Caroline: I know right, he will just counter with another question instead of actually contributing to the conversation. While we are having this, thanks to him, pointless conversation, illegal immigrants are out there killing Americans, that’s how I look at it.

    Brandon: Yep.

    Skyler: Why is the burden of proof on me? To say they have sinned (violated a law) is to say that you (or the enforcers) have a right to use violence against them. Who has the presumption of innocence here? Or do you not believe in the presumption of innocence, and due process?

    Caroline: Again, nothing but questions. I should be a fortune teller. So let me get this straight. If you make a claim the burden of proof is on me, the reader. But if I make a claim, the burden of proof is on me, the claim maker. You do know, that’s not how it works, right?! Let me ask you this: show me your proof that the sky is blue! Go!

    Skyler: Do you believe in the presumption of innocence and in following due process, or not?

    Caroline: I’m just done. If you can’t follow basic rules for having a discussion, there is no point of having a discussion at all.

    Skyler: How am I not following basic rules? I’m asking questions. You’re dodging. You’re asserting facts. I’m challenging them. You aren’t supporting them. Now you’re accusing me of not following the rules. Huh?

    Brandon: Ahh, I see where he is partly going with this. Going back to the US Constitution, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Yes, I understand that, however, he also wants us to prove that the law even applies. Feeling that if the law does not apply (ie, the individual doesn’t agree with the law as written) they they don’t have to abide by the law, nor are they subject to the consequences of breaking said law, because the law never applied to them in the first place. Unless by some miracle you are able to convince them that the law does in fact apply to them, but that would entail getting them to agree with said law.

    Skyler: It’s a question of jurisdiction. Should anyone be allowed to assert jurisdiction without supporting evidence?

    Caroline: I went back to your original claim that Dreamers’ parents didn’t sin and asked you to provide proof for that statement, and instead of doing so, you keep demanding proof for my claims, which came after yours. That’s how you are not “following the rules” of a discussion, and that’s why I will not argue with you further, because there is no point, and therefore no real discussion.

    Skyler: I’ve seen no evidence that they’ve sinned, because I’ve seen no evidence that some group of people calling themselves “government”‘s immigration laws apply to them. Should I believe something that hasn’t been proven with evidence? Should I believe something just because someone says so? Is that rational?

    Caroline: So in your opinion these people have done absolutely nothing wrong and you have no qualms with them being here in the fashion that they are?

    Skyler: Not because they are so-called “illegals”. If they’ve hurt people or taken their stuff, yes, but present your evidence, and we can judge them on the merits. I have no issue with immigrants, whether from Mexico, Iraq, or Chicago.

    Caroline: Great, let’s just have everybody come here, get on welfare, vote Democrat, and demand more government programs, and therefore more taxes for everybody but them, and call it all good. Yay anarchy!

    Skyler: People have kids, too, who do the very same things. Should we prohibit that? In any event, why is that their (Dreamers’) problem?

    Brandon: They entered the country in a way contrary to the laws of the United States. You ask who has jurisdiction. The US government with its border and immigration law enforcement agencies. It’s just like if someone comes into my house uninvited, I have the authority to throw them out. If my children sneak their boyfriend or girlfriend in and I find them I have the authority to kick the unwanted guest out even at the objection of my children. If a friend of my child breaks a rule of mine I can send them home. Even if they and my child disagree.

    Skyler: Brandon wrote, “in a way contrary to the laws…” So what? What do those laws have to do with them? Do my laws apply to them as well? May I hurt them or take their stuff because my laws say that I can, and solely on the basis of my laws?

    Brandon: It is evident that you have a complete disregard for authority. The only authority you seem to respect is your own. You keep asking for proof that US immigration laws apply to the parents of the Dreamers. It is evident that you feel if they don’t agree with the law then the law does not apply. That is both arrogant and asinine. To quote Billy Madison, “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    Skyler: Why should I regard people who call themselves “US government” and their written instruments as valid authority over myself, or any immigrant? What evidence can you provide, besides “because we say so” for their jurisdiction over other people?

    Brandon: You just have a complete disregard for any authority other than yourself. Nothing I say will convince you and you are demanding proof that cannot be had, because no matter the proof I supply you would reject it. To accept such evidence would require acceptance and recognition of authority outside yourself, namely a higher power, a supreme creator.

    Caroline: Correct. No point in discussion with such a person.

    Skyler: Why don’t you supply some evidence, and we can judge it on its merits? So far, you’ve refused to do so. What am I supposed to conclude from that?

    And thus it ended. Not a word back, so far. Should I be hopeful that said evidence is forthcoming? I don’t see why. Nobody’s ever been able to prove their claims of jurisdiction, that their laws, their scribbled opinions, their written instruments, apply to anyone.

    I particularly like being accused of disregarding authority. That’s 100% true, within the context of political authority. Don’t you? Do you accept arbitrary claims of jurisdiction over your life, liberty, and property? Seems irrational to me.

    Facts are, people who call themselves “government” have zero jurisdiction over anybody else. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

  • On Getting Libertarianism Wrong

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    One of my mentors and favorite libertarian theorists, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, has once again gotten it dangerously wrong on libertarianism. Read his latest, published just today, titled “On Getting Libertarianism Right“.

    I can agree with most of what he writes regarding the goals of libertarianism (the absolutely necessity of private property toward the goal of conflict reduction over scarce resources) and the conditions of different cultures around the world (lots of shitholes, he says “lawless hell-holes”). He’s not wrong that some cultures and societies are far more tolerant of crime or are crime-ridden than others. This is true, but its not limited to “other” cultures and societies. We see it everywhere, and some of the worst forms of crime (statism) are happily tolerated in even the most “enlightened” Western societies.

    Here’s something else he writes in this article that I agree with (emphasis added):

    Real libertarians – in contrast to left-libertarian fakes – must study and take account of real people and real human history in order to design a libertarian strategy of social change, and even the most cursory study in this regard – indeed, little more than common sense – yields results completely opposite from those proposed by libertarian fakes.

    Real human history of real people. Got it. Understood. Let’s do that. Where does Hoppe take this? Exactly here:

    Viewed from a global macro-perspective, it should be obvious also (especially to a libertarian), that all great libertarian thinkers which successively and gradually built up the system of libertarian law and order have been “Western Men”, i.e., men born and raised in countries of Western and Central Europe or their various overseas dependencies and settlements and intellectually and culturally united by a common lingua franca (once Latin and now English) and the trans-national Catholic Church or more lately and vaguely a common Christianity. That it is in these Western societies, where libertarian principles have found the most widespread public acceptance and explicit recognition as “natural human rights.” That, notwithstanding their blatant shortcomings and failings, it is Western societies, then, that still resemble, comparatively speaking, a libertarian social order most closely.

    You know what else “Western Men” successively and gradually built up, supposedly while it had “widespread public acceptance and explicit recognition” of “natural human rights”? Atlantic slave trade. US federal supremacy. Worldwide military interventionism. Communist and Socialist totalitarianism. Naziism and the Holocaust. Central Banking. Intellectual property protection.

    These are not merely “shortcomings and failings”… they are major components of Western Civilization, directly following the introduction and growth by Western Men of the nation-state, which Hoppe, just a bit later, acknowledges:

    No [nation]-State currently ruling over different parts of the Western World achieved this rank and position as ultimate judge and executioner immediately and at once, however. It took hundreds of years to bring this about and replace or displace a once, for a lengthy period in Western history highly decentralized system of social authority by the present system of centralized and monopolized State authority.

    Western Man did that. Western Man, with its bigger brain and higher intelligence, figured out how to consolidate power inward, then violently colonize and consolidate power outward, expanded slavery, and when that ultimately came to an end, developed a different kind of slavery, smashing civil and economic liberties all the while showing Eastern Man how to do exactly what Western Man did to conquer its own people in every conceivable way, that even today, those who falsely claim the mantle of libertarian, left or right, look to Western Man’s creation, the state, to save them from those who would do them harm.

    The legacy of Western society is not only the appearance of classical liberalism, it’s also millions upon millions of people conquered, displaced, and murdered. One could argue that Western society has been a major net detriment to humankind.

    I understand Hoppe’s lamentation on what allowing criminals or those who tolerate criminals into “our” society will do. I get that. What I don’t get, is why government, who in every single way holds culpability for our current state of affairs, should be looked to, quite inconsistently and hypocritically, as our savior.

    “These observations alone should be sufficient to reveal any libertarian advocate” of state control of anything, including it’s arbitrary and imaginary border, “as a fool.” Fin.

  • The Reformulation of Rights as Liberties

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    While we’re on the topic of liberties and crimes, I think taking a second third fourth fifth sixth look at the concept of rights is in order. Here’s a question: What if rights were simply, liberties?

    Everyone and their mom likes to posit that humans have rights, and they shan’t be violated. Some say the source of these rights are God, or the gods. Others say that our rights were bestowed upon us by nature. Others, by “government” (Oy!).

    Along came some mostly rational thinkers and explained that rights aren’t a thing, but rather, they are the absence of a thing. Rights, properly understood, are negative. This means that saying, “I have a right to life” is really saying, “Others have no right to kill me.” Another example, “I have the right to dance to music” is “Others don’t have the right to stop me from dancing to music!”

    Some more mostly rational thinkers stepped up to declare that all so-called rights are property rights, starting with self-ownership, and if an action doesn’t concern the use of one’s own property, then it’s not a right. It’s something else, a privilege.

    Finally, some almost totally rational thinkers stepped up to show that rights, positive or negative, aren’t a thing, or an absence of a thing, but instead a tool, a mental construct, that served a purpose by those who shared it, ie. members of a society. The tool is meant to foster peaceful coexistence, and no more. Those who value coexistence will recognize and respect everybody’s rights. Those who don’t value coexistence, may not respect others’ rights, and thus may be dealt with on the same basis, if their actions prove nefarious.

    Through my study of this concept and the evolution of where my thinking on it stood, I have decided, for now at least, that “rights” are just liberties. What are liberties? To understand liberties, we must understand their opposite: crimes. In my articled titled, “Two Types of Laws; The Voluntaryist Perspective on Politics” I wrote,

    Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victimhood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

    Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is generally viewed as criminal behavior.

    Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

    Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal, is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty, not a crime.

    As liberties, rights are merely non-criminal positive actions. Everytime you perform a liberty, you are exercising a right. To say, “I have a right to life” is to say, “I am at liberty to live.” And also, “Others are not at liberty to kill me.” Both statements are absolutely true. Simply living is a liberty, as it doesn’t victimize anybody, and when others try to kill me, they are performing a crime, not a liberty.

    Any liberty you perform, you are automatically, by definition, exercising a right. Likewise, any crime you perform, you are automatically, by definition, violating a right.

    Think about it this way: every time somebody is claiming a right or lamenting a rights violation, what are they actually saying in terms of liberties and crimes, and is it valid? Let’s see.

    “These people have rights, you can’t just come in here and take their homes and push them out!”

    What is being said here? Methinks, “These people are at liberty to keep and live in their homes; to come in here and remove them is a crime!”

    Keeping and living in their homes is a liberty (a right), by virtue of it not being a crime. And to forcefully interfere with this liberty is a crime by virtue of its victimizing nature.

    Now, is it true that the people in this example are at liberty to keep and live in their homes? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Depends on how they obtained these homes and whether or not doing so was itself a criminal action. If that’s the case, then forcefully removing them may be an act of justice on the part of those who were victimized to obtain the homes in question. We don’t automatically know, we must investigate the situation, trace cause and effect, determine which actions were liberties, and which were crimes.

    Only then can we know whose rights were violated, and who were the perpetrators of rights violations.

    If at this point you’re thinking that all of this sounds tautological, that’s because it is. I am not claiming that anybody is under any obligation to respect other people’s rights, to abstain from criminal behavior, or anything like that which usually accompanies the concept of rights. I have merely reformulated the entire concept of rights, and I hope that I’ve brought, finally, some sense to it.

    To close, here are some points I’ve made in my past writings on rights, and below each are how these points are reconciled under this reformulation.

    From “Rights are a Tool“:

    It is my belief that rights only exist as a matter of abstract thought among human beings who desire to live together in peace and harmony, in society.

    Reformulated: Rights exist as positive actions, so long as those actions are not criminal in nature. Rights, or liberties, are exercised in lieu of crimes, pursuant to the desire to live among other human beings in peace and harmony, in society.

    From “Might Makes Rights“:

    [The] only way to secure property rights is through the the use of might (of force or reason).

    Reformulated: The exercise of rights, or liberties, are only as secure as the willingness to forcefully (by word or by deed) repel crime. Only the mighty are at liberty, so to speak.

    From “Rights Don’t Exist? Bitch, Please“:

    I see no point in shouting or arguing “Rights don’t exist!” Not only is it to contradict one’s behavioral language, but it serves no purpose. Rights do exist in the way explained. It is far more effective to tease out what people verbally or behaviorally claim are their rights.

    Reformulated: Anyone exercising a liberty is, by the exercise thereof, claiming the right to do so. Rights do exist, in observable reality, in this way. If a person is claiming a right that would require criminal action, it is not a right. It is a crime. So-called rights like “a right to a free education” or “a right to affordable housing” or “a right to free health-care” are only rights insofar as obtaining such are the result of performing liberties, not crimes.

    And finally, from “We All Acknowledge Rights“:

    [Every] actor presupposes some underlying rights-based structure, typically beginning with some theory of self-ownership, and often expanded into a theory of property.

    Reformulated: Every actor engages in either liberties, or crimes. Those committed to avoiding and combating criminal behavior are presupposing the invalidity of crime as compatible with their chosen preferences, which must include peaceful coexistence with other people.

    I can’t finish without two more comments. This reformulation of rights has heretofore presupposed human behavior toward other humans. What about the actions we perform toward animals? From their perspective, our actions are either liberties or crimes. Same logic applies. Do you prefer peaceful coexistence with other animals? Then respect their rights (to live). If you’re like me, and you prefer to eat some animals, and not others, then don’t respect their rights. Animals have every right (are at liberty) to defend themselves from humans. Are humans at liberty to defend animals from other humans? In my opinion, only those animals which are claimed as property by said humans, in which case they are at liberty to protect them.

    What behavior constitutes crime is often a point of contention. Every person, society, and culture have different ideas on what constitutes crime. That’s a discussion for another time, but for those interested I’ve written a six-part series on universal ethics that has a lot to say on this question, which starts here.

  • Not Requiring Evidence of Jurisdiction is a Violation of Due Process

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Here’s a conversation I’ve had over the past week or two regarding jurisdiction. A number of themes are touched on throughout. This conversation began when a friend shared this success story of someone successfully defending themselves from an IRS attack by challenging jurisdiction, covering a six-year span. I’ve only applied minor editing for form.

    Scott: Sounds like questionable income. If someone is claiming no income, and has no accounts reported by banks, but over 10k in payments for mortgage related interest payments, where is the money coming from?

    Lack of continued pursuit does not mean this guy is right or beat the government. Self employed people do something similar to this all the time when they first file for early retirement with social security. They claim to have “retired” and hide their earnings while still working 40+ hours a week. Manipulation of the system.

    These arguments are similar to other groups that repeatedly claim lack of jurisdiction, constitutional authority, and such of the Federal government. It is rare they win this kind of argument in court.

    If there is reasonable suspicion of a crime, such as tax evasion, the Federal government (IRS in this case) has court tested and constitutionally approved authority to pursue, question, subpoena, etc. to determine if a crime has been committed. This guy hardly challenged anything other than responding to an inquiry with questions.

    Skyler: Evidence the code and constitution apply to anyone?

    Scott: Gotta be more specific than that; what “code” you refer to, and the context. The Constitution applies to everyone inside the U.S. basically, and sometimes to U.S. citizens outside the U.S. ill of Rights specifically outlines restrictions on how the government can interact with the people. Case law fills in the gaps.

    Skyler: You wrote, “The Constitution applies to everyone inside the U.S. basically, and sometimes to U.S. citizens outside the U.S.” Do you have any evidence to support this claim?

    Scott: I have a feeling your issue is going to be more fundamental than my answer will narrow down to in about the next 500 replies or so.

    The Constitution applies to the “people”, which has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to cover immigrants and illegals (U.S. vs Wong Kim Ark). Courts have also ruled that 4th amendment (search and seizure) protections apply to citizens while abroad as well.

    If your argument is going to be that the government has no authority over a person, because each person is their own sovereign… please reference ANY court jurisdiction that has upheld that.

    Skyler: I’m not making any arguments. I’m requesting evidence to support your argument that the constitution applies to me (or anyone). You’re just repeating your claim. You haven’t offered any supporting, factual, evidence for your claim. At this point, your claim is arbitrary, an opinion. Should people be convicted of crimes on the basis of facts (evidence), or opinion?

    Scott: I gave you the document and supporting case law.

    Skyler: How does the opinion of judges constitute evidence that the constitution applies to me?

    Scott: So the majority ruling of the Supreme Court has no legitimacy?

    Skyler: Seems like it has legitimacy as opinion, but why should it have any legitimacy as factual evidence? In other words, how does the opinion of a court that was created pursuant to the Constitution constitute evidence that the Constitution applies? Isn’t that the same thing as saying “the Constitution applies because the Constitution says so”?

    Scott: No, it is like asking the physicist what his instructions mean. You do not ask someone uneducated in the matter their opinion, you reference experts in that field. The Supreme Court interprets the law. The people basically entered a social contact to create a government, which people are now born in. A centralized, educated body (Supreme Court) addresses issues to avoid fluctuation by the changing opinions of the masses.

    Skyler: You wrote, “The supreme court interprets the law.” What the law says is irrelevant if the law doesn’t apply. Don’t you agree?

    You wrote, “The people basically entered a social contact to create a government, which people are now born in.” This is quite the claim. What people? What social contract? What government? And what evidence do you have to support the claim that this government’s laws apply to people “born in”?

    Scott: But YOUR opinion is it does not apply, U.S. Supreme Court that has ruled that is does apply (see referenced case law). The individual does not decide what is it is not.

    People being the 13 Representatives of the 13 states. Each state, made up of people, ratified the Constitution to accept it as the law of the land. You live inside the confines of a country, you abide by its rules. No one forced you to stay inside the U.S., there is a choice involved here. Declaring something to the contrary pits your resources against the “government.”

    Skyler: Is the burden of proof on those claiming the right to use force against so-called lawbreakers, or not, in your opinion?

    Scott: Is there a point in debating this? You disagree on the fundamental level and believe your opinion supersedes the established law of the land generated over several hundred years. I can sit here and explain how criminal law works, who has the burden of proof, and so forth but if your argument is going to be that your opinion matters more, there is nothing left to discuss.

    Skyler: You seem to hold a standard that prosecutors don’t have to support their claims with evidence, but defendants do. Is that an accurate interpretation?

    Scott: You have that absolutely wrong. I have never expressed anything to imply prosecutors do not have to support a claim. The difference is you seem to consider case law irrelevant and established laws do not apply to you.

    Skyler: Why should I accept a claim unsupported by evidence? If prosecutors (and politicians, judges, LE personnel, etc.) can’t provide evidence to support their claim of jurisdiction (that their codes and constitutions apply to me), why should we just accept it as true?

    Scott: Would you prefer to see opinion not be involved with any government process?

    Skyler: I would prefer opinion not be a component of due process. Don’t you?

    Scott: By your definitions, opinion includes law as law always involves some degree of interpretation. Due process without guidelines and rules, is either just having a show trial or mob rule.

    Skyler: You wrote, “Due process without guidelines and rules, is either just having a show trial or mob rule.” Yes, I agree, which is why prosecutors being allowed to make unsupported claims (jurisdiction) and not defendants is a violation of due process. And when the judge allows it, that’s collusion.

    That’s the conversation to date. It may continue, it may not, but I think you get the point. There are those who believe that some people, by virtue of their title or badge, should not be held to the same standard for due process as the rest of us.

    He’s not wrong when he says that people fail at challenging jurisdiction. But what must be made absolutely clear is that they do not fail because people claiming their laws apply have managed to provide evidence proving such. They haven’t. Challengers fail because “government” has guns. That’s their so-called evidence: their willingness to forcefully violate due process on the basis of arbitrary opinion and proceed to separate people from their money, or worse.

    There are really no such thing as governments or citizens or political authority. They are all a fiction, a long-con, a scam perpetrated by greedy and violent individuals for their own wealth and aggrandizement.

    If they had evidence to support their claim of jurisdiction, that their laws apply to you and me, they’d simply present it for all the world to see, and silence the radicals like myself. Fact is, they can’t. So they collude and connive and force their will upon innocent and peaceful people.

    Reality must be accepted. Whether you agree with the system or not, you can’t pretend that non-existent facts exist, if you want to be honest and intellectually consistent. Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you just want a piece of the ill-gotten pie. I wish you misfortune.

  • Two Types of Laws; The Voluntaryist Perspective on Politics

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    The best way to understand the voluntaryist perspective on politics is to realize that there are only two types of laws: 1) those that prohibit crime, and 2) those that prohibit liberties.

    Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victimhood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

    Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is generally viewed as criminal behavior.

    Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

    Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal, is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty, not a crime.

    Liberties may be offensive in the sensibilities sense, but so long as they are not criminal, they should not be prohibited by political authorities. While every property owner may prohibit the liberties enjoyed within their private domain, they may not call upon third parties with guns to prohibit them in other domains.

    Unfortunately, doing so as all too common, and makes up most of the actions that political authorities engage in today. Politicians, eager to get and remain elected, pander to sensibilities and push through laws that not only prohibit crime, but in too many ways, prohibit liberties.

    The prohibition of liberties is not limited to what people eat, drink, smoke, how they use their bodies, and other such actions. It goes much further, all the way to the very foundations of political authority: the prohibition of competition in the provision of law and order. This prohibition is the root of a dangerous and corrupt system of governance. It amounts to one group of people forcing others to pay them, or else, and with little recourse on the part of their ignorant victims.

    In any event, understanding the voluntaryist perspective on politics is not difficult. It might be bitter, but it is simple. If an action is voluntary vis a vis other people, it’s not a crime, and should not be forcefully prohibited by political authorities. To do so constitutes a crime in and of itself, wouldn’t you think?

  • My Theory on Democracy

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    While reading the first few pages of Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy recently, the idea came to me (not directly from what I was reading, mind you) that the advent of modern democracy may have been the result of a desire by the landowning class to control the means of expropriation.

    My government school fueled understanding of the phenomenon of modern democracy, beginning with the founding of the American republic, the United States, was an attempt by “the People” to control their political destinies through a system of representative democracy buttressed by constitutional separation of powers and checks and balances.

    In other words, government will always be with us, and a more just government is one in which political power is divested into the hands of the governed, who exercise such by electing representatives, who are required by law to follow specific rules. Contrast this type of government with a monarchy, where political power is held by a single person, and his or her favored nobles as a matter of maintaining local control in the monarch’s arbitrary interests.

    Here’s another theory on understanding the phenomenon of modern democracy. Let us suppose, because it’s true, that government in practice has been primarily aimed at separating people from their money, ie. a vehicle for mass expropriation. Monarchs of old, like the strongmen before them, accomplished this through serfdom and their various taxing mechanisms. They maintained their schemes through the dissemination of mythology and, where necessary, brute force. Many monarchs probably even believed the mythology that surrounded and protected their reign, having been indoctrinated into it, as was everyone else, from birth.

    Naturally, monarchies had to increase their holdings through conquest and colonization else their monarchal rivals would do so, and at some point become a threat. So they did. New lands and new people were discovered and conquered and colonized and the monarch’s paid priests and philosophers turned to justifying these actions unless anyone get the idea that what is actually going on is simply mass expropriation for the sake of obtaining and maintaining wealth and power.

    The kingdom of Great Britain may have stretched itself a bit too thin, however. Their American colonies were growing and developing economically and since the monarch was so far away, they started getting ideas. These ideas clashed with the British monarch’s ideas and tap came to push came to shove came to war for independence. And then the American revolutionaries won.

    Now, government is being talked about and taught about in the American colonies as good and necessary toward the security of our lives, liberties, and property (as long as you’re white, anyway). That’s the major theme in the rhetoric behind the ratification of the US Constitution. The reality, however, is that government was never about security. It was always about the expropriation of wealth from the lowest common denominator, “the People”, the masses.

    Smart people, those educated in political science and philosophy, typically found among the landowning class, knew better. Government as a tool for expropriation was a threat toward those with the most to lose, unless they could control it themselves. The difficulty with doing that was in their recent severing of ties to the mythology of monarchism. There’s no way the masses would [knowingly] allow another monarch to appear out of thin air and rule the roost. (Take note, Alexander Hamilton.)

    Instead, the masses need to believe that they would be in control of government, all the while it was accomplishing what governments are meant to accomplish. The rhetoric is security (the prohibition of crime), but the reality is the prohibition of liberties. Smart people don’t just allow other smart people to take their stuff. They figure out how to get into positions of power.

    The monarchy was dead as far as the American colonies were concerned, so achieving nobility was out of the question. Instead, they used the pretense of representative democracy, and although such a system requires more roundaboutness to expropriation, it was as good a system as any toward that purpose. Better even, as the “the People” were and are none the wiser that more of their wealth and more of their liberties (and more of their lives!) have been sacrificed in the name of democracy than ever were under monarchy.

    The result of the American quote-unquote experiment in representative democracy has been more and more societies and cultures being hoodwinked into representative democracy by smart people who’ve seen its quote-unquote success. Many have gone all the way back to another kind of monarchy: dictatorism. And the blood continues to run in the world’s streets.

    So there you have it. My theory on democracy, which is not entirely original, of course. Many thinkers have had a direct or indirect influence on me over the course of my journey to voluntaryism. To the following individuals I owe a debt of gratitude: Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, John Stossel, Milton Friedman, Sheldon Richman, Donald Boudreaux, Henry Hazlitt, Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Carl Watner, Gary Chartier, Roderick Long, John Hasnas, Lysander Spooner, Tom Woods, and many, many more. (I highly recommend adding these people to your library.)

  • Some Views on Left and Right

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    “Left” and “Right” are a false dichotomy in most ways that count. However, I’ve noticed something that has caught my attention in how people who identify on either side view their fellow human beings, and thought I’d share.

    The following is opinion and speculation, but I think it’s quite close to the truth. You be the judge.

    In general, “the left” seems to view most human beings (not themselves, of course) as mentally handicapped in some way. What I mean by this is that they are overly concerned with government policy aimed at taking care of other people and building a strong “safety net” and the like. Calls for personal responsibility in regards to economics are shouted down.

    Their primary concern seems to be using the power of the state to provide for people who, in their estimation, are unable to provide for themselves. And this includes a significant amount of other people. Welfare, healthcare, education, protections from greedy and unscrupulous market actors, and even military force are all included in the leftist’s program for using the state to aid obviously inferior people.

    In general, “the right” seems to view most human beings (not themselves, of course) as morally bankrupt in some way. What I mean by this is that they are overly concerned with government policy aimed at prohibiting immoral, albeit not aggressive, behavior. Calls for personal responsibility in regards to MYOB are shouted down.

    Their primary concern seems to be using the power of the state to force people to “be good”, because otherwise people would choose to “be bad”. And this includes a significant amount of other people. Prohibitions against drug and alcohol use, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, as well as in using the military to forcefully spread morality (freedom!) among heathens and infidels.

    While there is quite a bit of mixing of these goals by people who identify as Left or Right, these seem like the main differences, at least superficially, to me. Where they are allies are in their use of state power to force their preferences and values on everybody else, and also in support of an interventionist military, law enforcement, entitlement programs, central banking, economic regulations, zoning restrictions, eminent domain, roads and highways, public land management, taxation, and intellectual property protection, which make up 95% of what the state does.

    In a nutshell, the Left view people as mentally handicapped and the Right as morally degenerate, although this never includes themselves as it’s never mentally handicapped or morally degenerate to use state power against peaceful people. Naw-mean?

More from “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective”