While I have much respect and admiration for pacifism and pacifists like Tolstoy, Ghandi, Quakers and the like, I have always been uneasy at the long-term prospects for achieving peace and liberty without the right of self-defense and the ability to do so if necessary.
Libertarianism is essentially the non-aggression principle writ large, meaning that force can only be used in self-defense when others have broken this principle and initiated coercion (or threatened to do so in a highly credible manner). This does not reject pacifism per se, only that you have the right to defend yourself. Should you choose to turn the other cheek, that is your business.
Chris Dates at Bill Buppert's great website has a very interesting article on the distinctions between, and the relative utility of, pacifism and self-defense:
How does a person come to hold the belief of absolute nonviolence? What about this belief draws people to it? Is nonviolence the logical conclusion of non-aggression? These are the question that I have been asking myself as of late, because there is a growing number of people within the liberty movement who are latching onto the belief of absolute nonviolence. I’d like to explore this idea, and try to lay out an argument as to why I think it is not only wrong, but also dangerous to adopt this belief.
One who believes in, and adheres to, the non-aggression principle makes a fundamental moral distinction between aggressive violence, and retaliatory violence. One who adheres to a principle of nonviolence does not make the same distinction. Or, perhaps they do, but they see retaliatory violence as violence nonetheless, and therefore wrong, or immoral, or “against God” or something else. It is important to note here that I will not be discussing non-aggression and nonviolence from a pragmatic point of view, rather I will be discussing these things from a position of principle.
The absolute pacifist paints themselves into a tough philosophical corner. In order to remain consistent they necessarily have to abandon other positions they hold in order to avoid contradictions. For instance, any concept of justice that involves any level of violence must be rejected by one who adopts this belief. It would be a contradiction to advocate for any form of justice that involves capturing and punishing a criminal; any concept of justice that condones the use of physical force to apprehend and contain a criminal must be abandoned. Likewise, any form of government that was not wholly voluntary would also have to be discarded. It may be the case that the entire concept of government will have to be abandoned if it’s not absolutely nonviolent. The only form of government that would be possible if the nonviolent position is adopted is autarchy–absolute self government.
I think it is a non-sequitur to make the jump from non-aggression to the position of absolute nonviolence. I am of the opinion that these beliefs are spawned from two completely different principles. Non-aggression does not presuppose nonviolence, as the person who holds the belief in non-aggression will violently defend the self, while the person who adheres to the belief in nonviolence will not. A person who has chosen to defend themselves using retaliatory violence necessarily believes that their own life is of higher value than a belief in nonviolence. The belief in absolute nonviolence presupposes that the concept of nonviolence is greater than the value of one’s own life. Non-aggresssion is a belief that is founded in the self, and absolute nonviolence is altruistic. This is why I claim it is illogical to jump from one belief to the other, because they are based upon two principles that could not be farther apart from each other. Any person who makes the illogical jump from non-aggression to nonviolence demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the principles involved. I believe that even the doubt of self defense would exhibit that same misunderstanding.
Yet, I claim this is exactly the jump that some are making. I think the focus is being placed on the wrong thing. It is true, that, in some cases, nonviolence is a perfectly reasonable tool, and I believe that these particular instances are being mistaken as nonviolence being the correct principle in all cases, but that is a clear error in reasoning. It is important to remember that one who adheres to the non-aggression principle will defend themselves because their ultimate goal is self-preservation. As I mentioned before, non-aggression is premised on the self, and if there is an instance where utilizing retaliatory violence will endanger the self, then, rationally, it ought to be abandoned in that case.
One of my favorite parts in the movie, Rob Roy is the scene where the MacGregor Clan is contemplating on what to do about the feudal landlord thugs who destroyed their home and property. Rob Roy comes to the conclusion that it is more reasonable to not retaliate, because he fears the retribution from the retaliation will be swift and ruthless. He understands that everyone is still breathing in and out, and that property that is lost can be regained except for the self, once that is lost, it’s lost forever. I would like to expand further on this point, because I think it cuts right to the heart of the matter. In this movie scene, Rob Roy demonstrates that even the concept of personal property is not of higher value than one’s own life. One cannot recreate and rebuild if one is not alive.
Where else might retaliatory violence be a bad idea? When one is faced with overwhelming odds it may be reasonable to abandon the use of violence. I don’t think I need to give many examples of this, as I’m sure you, the reader, can think of many instances where you may be out manned, out gunned, out witted, or just simply out classed. Many people in the liberty movement believe that armed resistance to an oppressive government is not the right solution–and I happen to agree with them–but this instance should not be mistaken for nonviolence being universally true. There are many differences between resistance to a rogue government, and resistance to a petty thug.
There is a vast epistemological difference between the actor performing under what they believe to be legitimate government authority, and the actor who has actually chosen to become a thug. The thug is the one who is conceptualizing evil, and bringing it into existence. This may not be the case for the government actor. Even though the end results may mirror each other, the two actors are operating under very different premises. One is bringing evil into existence by way of premeditated thought, and one is bringing evil into existence by following orders. This is precisely why the use of reason may still be wielded on the government actor with some positive result; they have not yet crossed over into the dark side. There is still hope that there is a human being inside of that mortal coil. This is why nonviolent resistance to a violent government may be effective. Think about it: Would you nonviolently resist if you knew the person you were facing was acting out of pure evil? Is it reasonable to do so?
Here is a quote from Martin Luther King that touches on this subject…
“When, for decades, you have been able to make a man compromise his manhood by threatening him with a cruel and unjust punishment, and when suddenly he turns upon you and says: ‘Punish me. I do not deserve it. But because I do not deserve it, I will accept it so that the world will know that I am right and you are wrong,’ you hardly know what to do. You feel defeated and secretly ashamed. You know that this man is as good a man as you are; that from some mysterious source he has found the courage and the conviction to meet physical force with soul force.” (Martin Luther King, Jr. — “Why We Can’t Wait”, 1964, chapter 2, “The Sword That Heals”, p. 30)
Would it be reasonable for one who believes in absolute nonviolence to utilize this same tactic against the home invader in the middle of the night? I do not think so. The home invader has made the conscience decision to carry out this act, and has prepared himself physically and mentally to carry out this crime. This example is light years apart from the government actor who is carrying out orders he perceives to be legitimate. The reason that non-aggression is adopted as a principle and not nonviolence is because the goal is to keep on living with their own life being the highest value.
The person who adheres to the non-aggression principle does not paint themselves into that same philosophical corner the absolute pacifist does. The libertarian will adopt whatever they believe to be the most reasonable choice in any given instance. Some of you may be thinking, “but that’s pragmatic!” No, it’s not, because non-aggression is but a tool for the deeper axiom of self-ownership. This is why the self-owner can use the tools of non-aggression and nonviolence interchangeably, because their axiom is their own life. I cannot say that about the person who adopts the principle of absolute nonviolence as they necessarily believe that there is something greater than their own life, and that is false to fact.
In my opinion, it is dangerous to let this type of thinking creep its way into the liberty movement. When a person desires liberty, what they mean is they desire liberty for themselves. The desire to have liberty in one’s own life drives that individual to advocate that all other individuals also have liberty. The adherence to nonviolent resistance–even at the cost of ones own life– is premised on the idea that there is some greater cause that exists out there other than one’s own life and happiness. This is the exact idea that Statism is premised on. That there is a “greater good” out there, and the individual may have to be sacrificed in the pursuit of this concept. I, the individual, reject this type of thinking, and I believe it is up to the individualists in this movement to defeat this type of altruistic, collectivistic thinking wherever it pops up–even within our own ranks.
“No man is free who is not a master of himself.”
Without government police, the words, decrees and dreams of the sociopaths that claim to represent us would simply be opinions subject, like the rest of us, to the market of public acceptance and adoption. Either they are good ideas and implemented, or they are voted out by our dollars, feet, time and lack of consent and interest.
But because of state police, this civilized and peaceful process is bypassed - with the violence of the iron fist as its substitute.
Police power is the beating heart of statism, the gun behind every law and regulation they foist on us. This is why those who care about liberty and the prosperity that civil society yields should oppose the state's monopoly on violence - and the costumed thugs that blindly follow orders.
The IRS, DHS, and undoubtedly many other of the alphabet soup agencies are going undercover as businessmen, protesters, priests, and doctors to make their plunder, spying and criminality that much more an intregal part of Amerika.
The Freeman has a great series of modern and classic essays that debunk and dissect many of the claims made my "progressives" attacking the market economy and individual liberty.
Hans Sennholz, one of the best living economists, shows why the caricature, post hoc history of labor unions, how wages rise, and government intervention might be a bit more complicated:
To believe that labor unions actually improve the lot of working people is to suggest that the capitalist economy fails to provide fair wages and decent working conditions. It is to imply that a free economy does not work satisfactorily unless it is “fortified” by union activity and government intervention.
The truth is that the unhampered market society allocates to every member the undiminished fruits of his labor. It does so in all ages and societies where individual freedom and private property are safeguarded.(The process works faster and more efficiently in our high-tech, information age with a labor force more mobile than ever before but it worked in previous times too, so long as individuals were free to accept or reject the offers of employers, or to leave one employer and work either for another or for himself--Editor.)
The reason your great-grandfather earned $5 a week for 60 hours of labor must be sought in his low productivity, not in the absence of labor unions. The $5 he earned constituted full and fair payment for his productive efforts—a voluntary contract he likely entered into because it represented his best opportunity. The economic principles of the free market, the competition among employers, a man’s mobility and freedom of choice, assured him full wages under the given production conditions.
Wages were low and working conditions primitive because labor productivity was low, machines and tools were relatively primitive, technology and production methods were crude when compared with today’s. If, for any reason, our productivity were to sink back to that of our forebears, our wages, too, would decline to their levels and our work week would lengthen again no matter what the activities of labor unions or the decrees of government.
In a free market economy, labor productivity determines wage rates. As it is the undeniable policy of labor unions to reduce this productivity (as measured per man-hour) by forcing compensation up or spreading out the work with restrictive work rules, they have in fact reduced the wages of the masses of people although some privileged members have benefited temporarily at the expense of others. This is true especially today when the unions enjoy many legal immunities and considerable political powers. And it also was true during the nineteenth century when our ancestors labored from dawn to dusk for low wages.
Through a variety of coercive measures, labor unions merely impose higher labor costs on employers. The higher costs reduce the returns on capital and curtail production, which curbs the opportunities for employment. This is why our centers of unionism are also our centers of highest unemployment; they are also the industries that have seen the most dramatic declines in numbers of existing jobs, because like anything else, the higher the price, the less will be purchased. (It’s also why compulsory unionism states for years have shown lower rates of both employment growth and wage rates than so-called “right-to-work” states. See http://www.mackinac.org/4290 – Editor.)
True enough, the senior union members who happen to keep their jobs do enjoy higher wages. But those who can no longer find jobs in unionized industries then seek employment in nonunionized activity. This influx and absorption of excess labor tends to reduce their wages. The resulting difference between union and nonunion wages rates gives rise to the notion that labor unions must indeed benefit workers. In reality, the presence of the nonunionized sectors of the labor market hides the disastrous consequences of union policy by preventing mass unemployment. (Nonetheless, with 94% of today’s private sector workers being completely non-union, and many of them enjoying very high wage rates, it’s increasingly difficult for unions to argue that workers without unions are exploited and unprotected. – Editor.)
- Wages can only be paid out of what is produced (no production, no wages), therefore greater productivity is the key to higher wages.
- Unions typically hamper production. Union activity may result in some people getting more but without an increase in productivity, that simply means that some other people must get less. Either you bake a bigger pie for everybody or you just slice the pie up differently.
- It looks sometimes like unions have actually forced wages higher because of the lower wages in non-unionized businesses. But the latter are caused in part by the outflow of labor from unionized sectors to non-unionized ones. Unionized auto-workers today, for example, may make a little more per hour than their nonunionized counterparts but there are a lot fewer of them too!
- For further information, see:
“Why Wages Rise—Part I” by F. A. Harper: http://tinyurl.com/phfsv6w
“Why Wages Rise—Part II” by F. A. Harper: http://tinyurl.com/ol7pwxd
“Can Labor Unions Really Raise Wages?” by Henry Hazlitt: http://tinyurl.com/kdthyuc
According to new FBI statistics released this week, violent crime rates in the US fell over 4% in the past year alone, bringing the amount of violent crimes lower than it has been in nearly 40 years. The statistics showed that there were an estimated 1.16 million violent crimes in the year of 2013, which is the lowest number since 1978, when 1.09 million were recorded.
Broken down, the report revealed that manslaughter dropped by 4.4% to 14,196, the lowest rate since 1968, while instances of rape were down 6.3%. Despite the tough economic times, robbery is also down by 2.8% and property crimes were down by 4.1%.
The violent crime rate has been steadily declining since 1994, but the prison population has continued to increase over the decades. There are currently over two and a half million people imprisoned in the US, which is by far the largest prison population in the world.
However, a study recently published by Pew Charitable Trusts showed that for the first time in decades, the US prison population is actually on a decline. Their research found that the drop in crime that was seen in 2013 actually coincided with a decline in the prison population. According to their data, the amount of people in the US prison system peaked in 2008, and has since dropped 6%.
The study also found that there was a drop in the amount of prisoners in 32 of the 50 states, while imprisonment continued to rise in the other 18 states. California showed the largest drop in crime and imprisonment over the past five years, which is likely connected to lighter drug penalties that have been adopted in recent years.
Even among those who are technically "guilty" of breaking some law, a vast majority of prisoners are nonviolent offenders who don't belong in prison to begin with. According to some statistics, nonviolent offenders make up nearly 70% of the prison population, many of these people are not guilty of any transgression, and they are in fact themselves victims of state violence.
While violence among citizens has dropped, violence against citizens carried out by police has been rising sharply.
According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, 461 felony suspects were shot by police last year, which is the highest number seen in decades. These numbers are likely unreported as well, and only includes felony suspects, so it is possible that this figure is much higher than the study suggests.
Another interesting angle is that in the same time period gun sales soared across the country, which seems to support the idea that more people owning guns actually contributes to making society a safer place.
According to a Congressional Research Service report covered by Breitbart News on December 4, 2013, the number of privately owned firearms in America increased from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million in 2009 and has continued to increase every year since.
If you needed any more proof that the drug war has nothing to do with public safety and concerns over drug use, all you need to do is look at the fed's case against Silk Road.
The Silk Road is/was a secure, anonymous marketplace where people have a forum to peacefully buy and sell "illegal" drugs.
The costs of these drugs is far cheaper than you can find on the black market, deterring the violent crime that is so inherent in prohibition.
The drugs are safer too, as the standardization and reputation factors of the market lead to a better and more predictable product. This results in less overdoses.
For anyone in favor of a less violent society, less addicts, and less overdoses should be thrilled at the technology, innovation and utter bravery at those who run and participate in the Silk Road.
But no, the state - which seeks to control and coerce - would rather put them in cages, have your car broken into for the users' (artificially) expensive habit, junkies in the street, and a great excuse to strip us of virtually all of our civil liberties than the peaceful alternatives that the market provides.
Don't blame Google or "gentrification" for the distortions in the housing market, blame government intervention:
To someone ignorant of economic reasoning, rent control seems like a great policy. It appears instantly to provide “affordable housing” to poor tenants, while the only apparent downside is a reduction in the income flowing to the fat-cat landlords, people who literally own buildings in major cities and who thus aren’t going to miss that money much. Who could object to such a policy?
First, we should define our terms. When a city government imposes rent control, it means the city makes it illegal for landlords to charge tenants rent above a ceiling price. Sometimes that price can vary, but only on specified factors. For the law to have any teeth — and for the politicians who passed it to curry favor with the public — the maximum rent-controlled price will be significantly lower than the free-market price.
The most obvious problem is that rent control immediately leads to a shortage of apartments, meaning that there are potential tenants who would love to move into a new place at the going (rent-controlled) rate, but they can’t find any vacancies. At a lower rental price, more tenants will try to rent apartment units, and at a higher rental price, landlords will try to rent out more apartment units. These two claims are specific instances of the law of demand and law of supply, respectively.
In an unhampered market, the equilibrium rental price occurs where supply equals demand, and the market rate for an apartment perfectly matches tenants with available units. If the government disrupts this equilibrium by setting a ceiling far below the market-clearing price, then it creates a shortage; that is, more people want to rent apartment units than landlords want to provide. If you’ve lived in a big city, you may have experienced firsthand how difficult it is to move into a new apartment; guides advise people to pay the high fee to a broker or even join a church because you have to “know somebody” to get a good deal. Rent control is why this pattern occurs. The difficulty isn’t due to apartments being a “big-ticket” item; new cars are expensive, too, but finding one doesn’t carry the stress of finding an apartment in Brooklyn. The difference is rent control.
Rent control reduces the supply of rental units through two different mechanisms. In the short run, where the physical number of apartment units is fixed, the imposition of rent control will reduce the quantity of units offered on the market. The owners will hold back some of the potential units, using them for storage or keeping them available for (say) out of town guests or kids returning from college for the summer. (If this sounds implausible, consider just how many people in a major city consider renting out spare bedrooms in their homes, as long as the price is right.)
In the long run, a permanent policy of rent control restricts the construction of new apartment buildings, because potential investors realize that their revenues on such projects will be artificially capped. Building a movie theater or shopping center is more attractive on the margin.
There are further, more insidious problems with rent control. With a long line of potential tenants eager to move in at the official ceiling price, landlords do not have much incentive to maintain the building. They don’t need to put on new coats of paint, change the light bulbs in the hallways, keep the elevator in working order, or get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. when a tenant complains that the water heater is busted. If there is a rash of robberies in and around the building, the owner won’t feel a financial motivation to install lights, cameras, buzz-in gates, a guard, or other (costly) measures to protect his customers. Furthermore, if a tenant falls behind on the rent, there is less incentive for the landlord to cut her some slack, because he knows he can replace her right away after eviction. In other words, all of the behavior we associate with the term “slumlord” is due to the government’s policy of rent control; it is not the “free market in action.”
In summary, if the goal is to provide affordable housing to lower-income tenants, rent control is a horrible policy. Rent control makes apartments cheaper for some tenants while making them infinitely expensive for others, because some people can no longer find a unit, period, even though they would have been able to at the higher, free-market rate. Furthermore, the people who remain in apartments — enjoying the lower rent —receive a much lower-quality product. Especially when left in place for decades, rent control leads to abusive landlords and can quite literally destroy large portions of a city’s housing.
Drug war + empire + militarized police = the most expensive, lethal, weaponized and efficient police state in history.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - Buckminster Fuller - Tyrone Johnson at the Daily Anarchist has a great article about the possibility that alternative currencies like Bitcoin provide for cutting off the war...
"I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it." -Dwight D....
"Liberty, finally, is not a box into which people are forced. Liberty is a space in which people may live. It does not tell you how they will live. It says, eternally, only that we can." -Karl Hess, "Anarchism Without Hyphens" For the victims of police violence - whether while...
The Washington Times recently ran a great story about black open-carry activists in Dallas, Texas "march[ing] with rifles, shotguns and AR-15s down MLK Boulevard." “We think that all black people have the right to self defense and self determination,” said Huey Freeman, an organizer. “We believe that we can police...