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Tuesday 24 July 2018
1982 seems like a century ago, but some memories are fresh. One summer afternoon, Carl Watner, George H. Smith, and I created a movement. Or, more accurately, we revived and redefined a movement under a name we knew from reading 19th century British libertarian history. George explained that opponents of state-funded, compulsory education called themselves ‘voluntaryists’ – a term popularized by Auberon Herbert, a disciple of Herbert Spencer. We never imagined that Voluntaryism would become such a vigorous presence within the modern-day freedom community, however.
The meeting occurred during one of Carls visits to the apartment in Hollywood, California, that George and I shared. It lasted a few hours, with Carl and I sitting on the couch that pulled out to form Carls bed at night, while George spent much of the time pacing in front of us. Afterward, we dropped by a nearby coffee shop for dinner, where conversation continued unabated. Many radical movements have probably sprung from similarly humble beginnings, but it didnt feel humble to me. I remember my fingertips were tingling – literally tingling – during part of the discussion; George had a restless energy, and Carl was smiling far more than usual. Voluntaryism felt electric then; it feels electric now.
But I am ahead of myself already.
What is Voluntaryism? The political philosophy was and is based on the non-aggression principle. That description is inadequate, however, because it does not distinguish Voluntaryism from mainstream libertarianism. The distinction: Voluntaryism identifies electoral politics as a form of aggression and advocates the use of non-political strategies instead. It returns to the spirit of 19th century American libertarianism, which was both profoundly anti-political and passionate about practical paths to freedom. (More on this shortly.)
The timing for an anti- and non-political movement was perfect. The Libertarian Party had been founded in 1971 and, following the 1980 federal elections, it became the third largest party in the U.S. Especially in New York and California, it spread rapidly. Formerly hard core anarchists started to join the LP – Murray Rothbard among them. They began to argue that voting, campaigning for politicians, and even holding office were the best ways to achieve a stateless society. Suddenly, anti-statists argued passionately for the state as long as libertarians held the reins of power. The non-political anarchists were soon called silly dreamers, whose ideas of removing the state from our lives were impractical.
There was backlash against the LP, of course. Unfortunately, much of it was either ineffective or counterproductive. Samuel E. Konkin III (SEK3) – the originator of agorism – was loudly consistent in his attacks, but he and his associates could be strident and could sound unreasonable. For example, they descended on supper clubs and heckled libertarians who were running for political office. Robert LeFevre was a far better communicator, but his philosophy included a pacifism that many, if not most, people found to be unpalatable.
Carl, George, and I realized that a comprehensive, integrated rebuttal was necessary to counter what might become a turning point in the movement; that is, a turn toward electoral politics. More than a simple anti-state manifesto was required. Our advocacy of Voluntaryism had to present a clear and positive vision of how freedom would emerge from peaceful interactions. We needed to address modern issues through that filter, while, at the same time, presenting the history of how everything from hard money to customary law originated from people voluntarily interacting, not from governmental bureaucracy. We had to demonstrate how the state could be abandoned, and show how history was replete with examples of voluntary institutions that offered the services usually provided by the state.
The statement of purpose for Voluntaryism reads, The Voluntaryists are libertarians who have organized to promote non-political strategies to achieve a free society. We reject electoral politics, in theory and in practice as incompatible with libertarian goals. Governments must cloak their actions in an aura of moral legitimacy in order to sustain their power, and political methods invariably strengthen that legitimacy. Voluntaryists seek instead to delegitimize the state through education, and we advocate withdrawal of the cooperation and tacit consent on which state power ultimately depends.
If I were to change the statement today, I would insert a sentence to emphasize the need for alternative paths to freedom.
The three of us had different strengths with which to approach the challenge of founding a movement. We were a good blend. This was evident from the first issue of THE VOLUNTARYIST which was published in October 1982. The feature article was The Ethics of Voting (Part 1 of an eventual three-part article) by George. It reflected his more theoretical bent and confrontational style. My contribution was the editorial Neither Ballots Nor Bullets, which was heavily influenced in both content and style by my research into the 19th century American individualist anarchists. Carl was more sophisticated about nonviolent resistance, having put it into impressive practice within his own life. Carls contribution was a book review of Gene Sharps remarkable three-volume work, THE POLITICS OF NON-VIOLENT ACTION. This and many other of Sharp’s books were to play an essential role in defining the non-electoral strategies embraced by Voluntaryism.
The libertarian response to Voluntaryism was immediate and divided. Many libertarians were intrigued or enthusiastic, especially because THE VOLUNTARYIST stressed hands-on activism. For example, Issue 5 (April 1983) featured an interview I conducted with Paul Jacob, who had been indicted on September 23, 1982 for failure to register for the draft. He chose to avoid prosecution by going on the run. THE VOLUNTARYIST was young, fearless, and filled with ideals. Some prominent figures in the movement, including the charismatic Robert LeFevre, were generous in their support. LeFevres article How to Become a Teacher appeared in issue 3.
Some responses were not so pleasant. Libertarian ‘politicos’ snickered about the name, claiming the movement was doomed because no one would be able to pronounce the word Voluntaryism. Other responses were more bizarre. For example, Murray Rothbards response to Georges anti-electoral stand, which seemed to particular rankle him.
In March 1983, the LIBERTARIAN FORUM ran an article by Murray entitled The New Menace of Gandhism, in which he lambasted libertarianisms recent non-violence fad. He explicitly stated his motive for doing so. The fad had been picking off some of the best and most radical Libertarian Party activists, ones which the Party could ill afford to lose if it was to retain its thrust and its principles. In other words, Voluntaryism was making an impact. And, to his credit, Murray correctly identified the principle of non-violence and the practice of electoral politics as antagonistic forces that could not coexist. He knew an enemy when he saw one.
Murrays article stated, The time has come to rip the veil of sanctity that has been carefully wrapped around Gandhi by his numerous disciples, that greatly inspired the new Voluntaryist movement. Murray was a good friend of mine. But I must confess, to this day, I do not understand his criticism that Voluntaryism was based on Gandhi. None of us understood it. It was true that a quote from Gandhi headed the newsletter: If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself. Gandhi was an influence on the Voluntaryists, but so were many other people, such as Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Robert LeFevre, and even Murray himself. As I remember, Carl was most influenced by Gandhian philosophy, and I came in second. Why George was singled out for attack when he was the least Gandhian of the Voluntaryists is also something of a mystery. I expect that Georges arguments were proving too persuasive.
I did not escape unscathed, either. At one point, Murray stated, Smith, McElroy and others deny vehemently either that they are mystics or that they are courting martyrdom. I remain unconvinced. Again, the accusations were so bizarre that it was difficult even to respond. If I have a regret about Voluntaryism, however, it is this: Murray and I experienced a schism that never quite healed.
It has been a long journey since that first issue of THE VOLUNTARYIST. I will always be proud of being the newsletters first editor but, frankly, I dont remember how it happened. At the planning session for the newsletter, the three of us agreed to a revolving editorship, and the first shift went to me. Perhaps it was chance; perhaps I had available time. Whatever happened, within a few years, the task of editorship fell entirely upon Carl, who has done yeomans work in keeping it active and continuous. From time to time, George and I have made appearances in THE VOLUNTARYIST, but we have not been involved in its production for many years. Carl is the one who deserves applause for keeping it alive these many years. The fact that there is a Voluntaryist movement today (2018) is evidence of the strength and truth of its ideas and principles.
Monday 23 July 2018
Excerpt: Generally speaking, there are four types of laws that function in society, and they sometimes overlap.
–Ones that impose a specific vision of the world or of morality. These include laws against alleged vices, such as alcohol or drug use, as well as laws requiring alleged virtues, such as voting or paying taxes. The goal is to mandate a code of behavior, thus erasing the boundary between the legal and (someones vision of) the moral. Typically, the laws are enforced on everyone, except those with power seem to be exempt.–Ones that regulate a targeted segment of society. These include laws about who may conduct a specific business and how it must operate, as well as laws that discriminate between people based on factors such as race. The goal is economic and social control, with enforcement focusing on designated people.–Ones that protect against physical harm and property damage, including theft. These include laws against assault and vandalism. Rather than mandate a behavior, they prohibit onenamely, violence, which includes fraud. The goal is to provide the safety that allows a healthy society to thrive, with enforcement applying to everyone.–Ones that are created by contract. These include laws that allow creditors to seize assets in arrears, such as a repossessed car, and laws aimed at enforcing behavior, such as the performance of work for which payment has been rendered. A contract can always be breached, but there is a penalty for doing so: for example, a repossessed car, a refund of fees. The goal is to establish enforceable contracts, which are nothing more than enforceable consent between individuals. Again, it provides a safety that allows a healthy society to thrive and which discourages violence as the only way to resolve a dispute. The law applies only to those who contract.
On crypto, the government flexes only the first two forms of law: a specific vision imposed on the world; and, the regulation of a targeted sector. The laws do not protect people and property, as evidenced by the fact that recovered funds are not returned to those who have been defrauded. Fines, fees and recovered wealth go into the governments coffers. In short, the laws serve government; they do not protect consumers.
Friday 13 July 2018
From the Chicago Reader: Lake surfers say polluted waves are making them sickbut they love it too much to stop. One of the best local spots to surf is surrounded by a grimy industrial landscape in northwest Indiana.
From Zero Hedge: Venezuela’s Socialist Hyperinflation Turned People Back To Barter System [Ed: that’s a return to primitive culture because it is preferable to a government one that promises sophistication.]
From the Independent: Germans want Donald Trump to pull US troops out of Germany, poll finds. US president has said American military spending to protect Europe is not sustainable
From the Gold Telegram: Everyone is Hoarding Gold [Ed: a financial must read.]
From the Voice of Europe: It takes twelve Germans to work and pay taxes in order to fund the cost of just one migrant [Ed: no wonder there is a popular backlash. Of course, there are other reasons.]
From the Huffington Post: Former Obama Officials Are Riding Out The Trump Years By Cashing In [Ed: I sometimes think that everyone who makes an honest living is a sucker, including me.]
From BT: Im So Disappointed With This Country Why John Cleese Is Abandoning Britain. [Ed: going to live on the Caribbean island of Nevis.]
From Patheos: A Judge Has Ruled Against Atheists Trying to Put Up the Least Offensive Ad Ever [Ed: It consisted of one word “Atheists.]
From the Judicial Watch: Tom Fitton: Media gave Obama Administration a Free Pass on Immigration [Ed: I am a fan of Tom Fitton, who is a voice of sanity and a bulldog in pursuing information.]
From Endpoints News: Novartis joins the Big Pharma exodus out of antibiotics, dumping research, cutting 140 and out-licensing programs [Ed: I am not sure this is a bad thing overall.] And a related item from Science: Hidden Conflicts? An investigation finds a pattern of after-the-fact compensation by pharma to those advising the U.S. government on drug approvals
From Wired: Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebooks Wild Early Days [Ed: better article than the title suggests.]
From Wolf Street: As Erdogan Cements His Hold Over Turkeys Economy, Global Investors Begin to Panic His Toxic Mix: destruction of the lira and a mountain of foreign-currency debt.
From Watts Up With That?: Remember when sea-level rise was going to cause Pacific Islands to disappear? Never mind. [Ed: Coral atolls getting larger, not sinking according to new study using satellite data.]
From Reuters: TSA screeners win immunity from abuse claims: appeals court [Ed: flying just became a bit more thuglike.]
From Agence France Presse: Trash piles up in US as China closes door to recycling [Ed: I believe this occurred quite a bit prior to the trade war, or its threat.]
Thursday 12 July 2018
Excerpt: Government makes law into a synonym for legislation: that is, edicts imposed by self-interested elites who wield power in pursuit of their own self interest. That bastardizes the word law and perverts its true meaning. The use of the word becomes weaponized against crytpo by reference to child pornography, sex trafficking, drug addiction, and other issues that cause minds to cloud over. The issue is too important to allow that to happen.
The law should apply to cryptocurrency. But what is meant by the law? Government should not be allowed to monopolize the concept as it monopolizes so many other essentials of life.
The term refers to nothing more than the rules that identify and regulate a system. When the system is human society, discussions of law tend to become matters of power because some people want to dominate. Human society is accustomed to politicians and other thugs who make the discussion of rules devolve into making beneficiaries of some at the expense of others. This is a brick wall that anarchy hits in its attempt to redefine society for the benefit of the average person. WHAT ABOUT LAW, is the shouted response it encounters? What about crime and the resolution of dispute? Without government, it is said, society will descend into chaos. This is the script crypto encounters when it tries to enter the mainstream of society. Click here for “The Satoshi Revolution” to date.
Wednesday 11 July 2018
From the BBC: Haiti fuel protesters anger turns on President Moise [Ed: they are calling for his resignation, with some lawmakers joining in. He will not go peacefully.]
From Josh Blackman: DOJ, Second Amendment Foundation Reach Settlement In Defense Distributed Lawsuit [Ed: very important news.]
From Ron Spot: How to file a complaint against a police officer [Ed: necessary and useful advice. Starting with “Never everwalk into a police station by yourself and try to file a complaint against a police officer.”]
From SHTF: ObamaCare Premiums Continue To Skyrocket; Insurers Blame Trump.
From the Moon of Alabama: BREXIT Still Not Gonna Happen [Ed: MoA is always a worthwhile read.]
From Reason: Facebook Algorithm Flags, Removes Declaration of Independence Text as Hate Speech. The social media site has a difficult time telling the difference between white nationalist ravings and the writing of Thomas Jefferson.
From congress.gov: H.R.6054 – Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018 [Ed: to provide penalty enhancements for committing certain offenses while in disguise, and for other purposes.]
From Safe Haven: A Strange New Twist In The Satoshi Nakamoto Saga [Ed: someone recently emerged, claiming to be Satoshi. Not bloody likely.]
From Target Liberty: Trump Has Given FULL PARDONS to Oregon Ranchers who Clashed with Federal Officials Over Land. [Ed: return to this link for updates.]
From Townhall: Dear Gun Control Advocates: Please, Stop Treating Female Gun Owners Like Victims
From Speigel: A Journey Down Austria’s Path to the Right [Ed: as goes Austria so, too, may go much of Europe.]
From the New York Times: Judge Rejects Long Detentions of Migrant Families, Dealing Trump Another Setback [Ed: Trump admin. had argued that long-term confinement was the only way to avoid separating families when parents were detained on criminal charges.]
From the London Review of Books: Hospitalism [Ed: In the days of Lister, Liston and Pasteur, some infections were thought to be an example of what was known as hospitalism: epticaemia, erysipelas, pyaemia and hospital gangrene. Fascinating history.]
From the NRA: California: MASSIVE Data Breach and Significant Registration Problems with CA DOJs Assault Weapon Registration System
From Zero Hedge: Pop-Up Protests, Liberal Meltdown Erupts After Trump Picks Kavanaugh For SCOTUS. And a related news item from the Daily Caller: Fox News Reporter Harassed, Threatened And Forced To Leave Supreme Court By Leftist Mob.
From the Vancouver Star: Canadian cannabis workers targeted by U.S. border guards for lifetime bans [Ed: even if they have never used the drug.]
Tuesday 10 July 2018
From Zero Hedge: UK Government Crisis Deepens As Boris Johnson Resigns, Pound Tumbles. Boris Johnson has resigned from the U.K. government, sending PM Theresa May deeper into crisis and raising the odds shell face a leadership challenge over her Brexit policy. [Ed: Farange predicts that May will be done and gone within a few weeks.] From Spiked: David Davis and the crisis of democracy [Ed: by the always insightful Brendan O’Neill. And a related commentary: This is so much bigger than Boris. Brexit wont be saved by cabinet resignations alone.
From Activist Post: Utah, Texas, and Wyoming Top 2018s Sound Money Index, Just Released by the Sound Money Defense League [Ed: key sentence…”The 2018 Sound Money Index is the first index of its kind, ranking all 50 states using 9 indicators.” But, personally, I think the only sound money is non-fiat, alternative money based on free-market principles.]]
From the Intercept: MSNBC Does Not Merely Permit Fabrications Against Democratic Party Critics. It Encourages and Rewards Them. [Ed: by the excellent Glenn Greenwald.]
From the Free Thought Project: This is the Future of Independent Media if We Do Nothing. “The Free Thought Project is going offline. We are doing so for 72 hours to demonstrate the inevitable effect of social media censorship, Google organic traffic throttling, and Facebooks attack on freedom-minded independent media.”
From Armstrong Economics: Civil Unrest in Haiti Leaves Americans Trapped. [Ed: of course, the dynamics in play have far broader significance.]
From the Local: Nantes riots ease as family of victim shot by French cop plans lawsuit [Ed: the police officer who killed the African migrant has been charged with manslaughter.]
From the Daily Bell: The Meaning Of Good And Evil In Perilous Times [Ed: I am seeing the word “narcissist more and more in the news.]
From Truth Dig: The Media Needs to Radically Change the Way It Covers ‘Foiled Terror Plots’ [Ed: as far as I can tell, most of the so-called plots are government set ups. Our government…saving us from itself.]
From Activist Post: Smart Technology That Tracks People Through Walls Raises Privacy Concerns
From Wire Points: The Truth About Illinois Pensions In One Stunning Chart [Ed: Illinois is far from alone in this predicament.
From Lew Rockwell: This Floating Utopia Will Have Its Own Government And Cryptocurrency By 2022 To Beat Rising Sea Levels [Ed: I am watching with interest, but I am investing in the improvement of my farm.]
From Target Liberty: War at Antiwar: It’s Gone Nuclear [Ed: my God, I am sorry to see this happen. I hope antiwar.com survives without damage.]
From Politico EU: A parallel currency for Italy is possible. Rome can regain control of its monetary policy without breaking the rules of the eurozone.
Monday 09 July 2018
From Zero Hedge: “An Absolute Bombshell”: Brexit Ministers Davis, Baker & Braverman Quit In Blow To Theresa May [Ed: it is not clear whether May can hang on.]
From Reason: Steve Ditko, RIP. The Objectivist comic book artist, co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, left an indelibly brilliant mark on popular culture. [Ed: RIP.]
From the Paris Review: Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag [Ed: recommended. Hat tip to David.]
From the New York Times: Democratic Socialism Is Dem Doom [Ed: I agree with this analysis. Ocasio-Cortex won the NY primary NOT because of her ideas but because she showed up and ran an energetic campaign. He rival did neither.]
From the Voice of Europe: Swedish party wants to deport at least 500,000 migrants as integration completely fails [Ed: the migration issue is going to bring the far right into power in a number of nations.]
From the Organic Prepper: 8 OTC Items That Could Save Your Life [Ed: OTC=over the counter. These are important medical items.]
From the New York Post: Is Hillary Clinton secretly planning to run in 2020? [Ed: interesting analysis. Of course, she could be simply trying to be the power behind the throne.]
From Russia Insider: As Merkel’s Star Fades, This Is What Is Really Happening Behind the Scenes [Ed: a fascinating and clear read.]
From the New York Post: Protesters confront Mitch McConnell outside restaurant [Ed: this is a second incident that happened on Saturday.]
From Zero Hedge: Large-Scale Riots Continue In France For 4th Night [Ed: over police shooting of an African migrant. Meanwhile, Macron has backed down on his policy of heightened migration.]
From King World News: MAJOR ALERT: Andrew Maguire Says Major German Bank Just Refused To Hand Over Clients Physical Gold [Ed: fair warning.]
From Right Log: Shocker for Xi Jinping: Malaysia asks China to stop work on OBOR railway link [Ed: interesting information. I don’t know enough to judge the analysis.]
From Moon of Alabama: Syria – OPCW Issues First Report Of ‘Chemical Weapon Attack’ in Douma [Ed: the comments on the article are interesting as well.] And Syria – Mainstream Media Lie About Watchdog Report On The ‘Chemical Attack’ In Douma. And from Ratical, here is the entire text of a book entitled War is a Racket by Maj, Gen. Smedley Butler. The premise: war literally profits the few at the cost of the many. Still valid after all these years. A quick and recommended read.
From Lew Rockwell: Medieval Libertarianism. The stateless Middle Ages were the only example of a functioning anarchic order in the West. [Ed: I am more than intrigued. Not convinced, but willing to follow up.]
See the original post here:
News – WendyMcElroy.com