Practicing Political Pacifism

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To vote or not to vote, that is the question – that brought Will Shanahan to a conclusion very similar to our ongoing discussion here about ‘Concurrent Voluntaryism’:

This just leaves one question to answer; how should one go about changing the current state of affairs if not through voting? The answer is through voluntary interactions among those whom are needed to change the world in the way that you see fit. Don’t attempt to change the world through voting or through the use of government. After all, government is force and brute force is the lazy way to solve any problem. Regardless of the immorality involved, an idea that requires forced cooperation of the people involved is probably not that great of an idea. What would you prefer? A world you changed dramatically through the instruments of coercion or a world you changed minutely through voluntary interactions?

Read Will’s original post from the Humane Condition.

Concurrent Voluntaryism Hits The Blogosphere

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Even though Voluntaryism theory starts with the sovereignty of the individual, from there it builds into social philosophy. Voluntaryists tend to be independent, but not anti-social. So, the (current) small number of voluntaryists may lead them to feel somewhat isolated. A major goal of the Veresapiens blog is to help create a greater sense of community.

The Veresapiens concept of Concurrent Voluntaryism, voluntary society in parallel with the existing State, is spreading via social media like twitter. And, some of my favorite freedom writers have blogged about it. One of the earliest blogs to mention Concurrent Voluntaryism was WeebulTree Blog. In this post, Shawn used a long quote from the Veresapiens blog in his concluding paragraphs…

To put it bluntly, we need to stop wasting time trying to engage the State in some kind of liberty death match. James Howe put it this way:

But what hope is there for ever achieving a voluntary society if it can’t operate in the presence of bad things or bad people?

Under the best of conditions, there will still be criminal gangs, demagogic and violent dictator wannabes, and lots of people who just don’t have the self-discipline to be voluntaryists. Under any realistic conditions, a voluntaryist society will be composed of only those who voluntarily participate, and a voluntaryist community will be faced with many external challenges.

We have those conditions today.

Now, the Government will violently interfere with voluntary interactions within our society. And, the Government will require, at gunpoint, that people in our voluntary society do things that they do not want to do. But why should that stop us from conducting ourselves, in all other ways, in a completely voluntary manner?

If those of us who have the desire and will to form a voluntary society begin to build up the basic structures and mechanisms of a voluntary, free-market society today, we will be, at the same time, creating a better world for ourselves and demonstrating to the non-believing masses that our ‘utopian’ ideas actually do have real-world value.

As Gary North likes to say, you can’t beat something with nothing. It is true that we can’t sit around and theorize about what a voluntary society might look like forever. At some point, we need to put it in practice. To that end, the greatest need right now in the liberty movement is for people to start building alternatives to the State. To some degree, this has already started with services like Bitcoin, Silk Road, and even a private police company, but we need lots more of it. We need liberty-minded entrepreneurs, inventors, developers, investors, consumers in a wide variety of areas, and we need to build up these products and services to the point where they are robust enough to withstand attacks from the State. If we are able to do that, then defeating the State won’t be a matter of trying to convince people intellectually. The benefits of voluntaryism will be evident, and the State will become more and more irrelevant.

You can read the rest of Shawn’s post here.

Truly Human Police

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Imagine a police force focused on prevention of crime rather than on ‘law enforcement’. Imagine a police force dedicated to protecting people rather than on feeding the justice system and prison/industrial complex. Imagine a police force intent on preventing violence rather than monopolizing it.

I would really like to find a private security service like Threat Management Center near my home. That’s who I would want to call in case of trouble.

(But what about the poor? See the not-so-surprising answer in the video.)

 

What You Focus On, You Empower

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Where attention goes, energy flows…

The State As Chinese Handcuffs
by Shawn Gregory (@WeebulTreeShawn)

There’s a lot of talk in the liberty movement about revolution – about taking on the State and defeating it.

There is talk of active resistance – armed resistance. There’s talk of 1776!

This talk – these notions, these ideas – do not, however, serve the cause of liberty as much as they strengthen the State.


The liberty movement is, at its heart, a peace movement, and peace is not the byproduct of violence or aggression.

It’s the State that feeds on violence. It’s the State that thrives on aggression. It gains its power from these things. It gains legitimacy from exercising its monopoly on violence.

There’s a lot of talk in the liberty movement about revolution – about taking on the State and defeating it.

There is talk of active resistance – armed resistance. There’s talk of 1776!

This talk – these notions, these ideas – do not, however, serve the cause of liberty as much as they strengthen the State.

The liberty movement is, at its heart, a peace movement, and peace is not the byproduct of violence or aggression.

It’s the State that feeds on violence. It’s the State that thrives on aggression. It gains its power from these things. It gains legitimacy from exercising its monopoly on violence.

Recent history has shown that as various elements of society lash out at the State, the power of the State is not diminished. It grows.

Like Chinese handcuffs, the State uses our own efforts to resist it to its advantage. The struggle against it becomes endlessly futile as we direct our energy toward the State instead of directing our creative energy toward building up new ways to peacefully cooperate without the State. But, once it’s realized that the State is not legitimate – that the State is not necessary – the State’s power to restrain completely disappears.

Diminishing the power of the State is not about taking it on and defeating it. It’s about ignoring it into oblivion.

As people create and use alternatives to the State, the State becomes irrelevant, powerless, and liberty wins – one idea at a time, little by little, until the State disappears.

~ Read the original post and more Liberty Movement commentary at the WeebulTree Blog!

Concurrent Voluntaryism

Concurrent Voluntaryism – The Plan

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Wouldn’t it be nice to minimize the level of government coercion in your own life right now, without having to wait for the whole country to wake up?

We have lots of interesting theoretical discussions about how we could better organize our society if we could just get rid of, or at least minimize, government, but no one seems to have a working plan to deal with that 800 pound gorilla blocking our path to a better society.

Maybe we’ve just been going down the wrong path.

Instead of spending all of our time and energy fighting the gorilla, perhaps we should simply follow a different path…

Earlier, I announced The Start Of A Truly Human Society and explained How We Can Have A Voluntary Society And The State.

In short, a voluntary society does not want to govern, so it is not competing for the right to govern. It considers those who govern to be ‘a criminal gang writ large’. The presence of a large, well-armed criminal gang is unfortunate, but does not preclude non-coercive people from conducting their affairs in voluntary ways, in every way possible.

Some of the big goals I have for our concurrent, voluntary, Truly Human Society are:

  1. To enable individual voluntaryists to gain the benefits of a community of like-minded people and organizations.
  2. To expand the range of voluntary options available to those who prefer to avoid coercively funded or operated organizations.
  3. To allow us to demonstrate that voluntaryism is not utopian.
  4. To instantiate voluntaryist structures and mechanisms ahead of time so as not to be caught unprepared in case any fortuitous changes lead to a period of anarchy or minarchy.

So here’s the plan…

The path to our voluntary Truly Human Society is actually simplified in some ways by the fact that the State is still present. Because we are not talking about ending the State as part of our plan, it means that we do not have to include in the plan such things as how to manage the transition of everyone who is currently dependent on the State.

This concurrent approach also simplifies our task in that we are not trying to satisfy everyone. Our Truly Human Society, being voluntary, will be comprised of only those who want to participate. We can implement just those things that we voluntaryists are interested in implementing.

In the plan itself, there is a primary piece and an optional piece. (The optional piece is actually aimed at the gorilla, because I can’t resist the urge to give him a poke.)

The primary part of the plan is aimed at reducing our day-to-day exposure to coercion.

Everything involved with government and its cronies entails coercion.

Government uses coercion to give itself monopolies in many areas, such as postal service, police, etc. And, government uses coercive regulations to support cartels for cronies in almost every area where big business has an interest.

Beyond the open coercion of enforcing monopolies for its ‘services’, there is also the method in which those services are funded. Voluntaryists well understand that government can’t offer them anything that wasn’t originally taken via coercion from someone else. Usage of government services, then, involves us in the coercion of others.

So, the primary part of the plan is to find ways to shun the monopolies and cartels that government attempts to force us to patronize.

Alternatives may be hard to find, in many cases, thanks to the successful efforts of the criminal gang. But we can all look – and share with each other what we do find.

Sometimes alternatives are not hard to find, just expensive relative to the coercively funded monopolies and cartels. (Private schools, for instance.) But if we purposefully direct more business to these alternatives it will encourage more start-ups and help bring down prices through greater competition.

Even where the alternatives do come at a relatively higher cost, that may still be acceptable, given the added value to you and I of thwarting the monopoly.

For instance, I used to go to a shooting range at a state park, which charged just $3 per hour. It was a very nice facility, and clearly the $3 from users was not fully funding it. Now that a private range has opened near me, I quite willingly give them my business at $18 per hour.

One potential bonus effect of enough of us shunning the monopolies and directing all of our business to their competitors can be seen in the looming bankruptcy of the US Post Office. Maybe that will become a template.

It seems that most people think poorly of politicians and government bureaucracies. But they also hold to the belief that government, even though composed of only politicians and bureaucrats, somehow provides valuable, necessary, even critical, services.

When people complain to us about government, we say “So why don’t we just get rid of it?”. But they then simply fall back on their list of important things “only government” can do.

So, for the second (optional) piece of our plan, I envision us identifying and supporting, or even creating, private equivalents to government services, so that every time the doubter says “only government can do X” we can point to an existing private alternative.

And, the private alternatives will no doubt provide better, more useful, services.

Take consumer protection, for instance, which lots of people see as a critical function that justifies the existence of government. Do you remember when all electrical devices (in the US) used to have the little round UL tag on the cord? UL was (is) a private company that rigorously tested new products for safety, and awarded them its seal if they met the appropriate standards.

UL was basically incorruptible. They knew that if they ever gave undeserved certifications and lost their reputation, they were finished. Same thing with Consumer Reports.

Contrast that with government ‘watchdog’ agencies that have well-deserved reputations for being bought and paid for, or ‘captured’, by the big crony industries they are supposed to be protecting us from.

All we seem to get from the government consumer protection agencies are lots of ugly, moronic warning labels all over products, and then when products are proven, by others, to be unsafe, they simply blame their ‘limited’ budget and go right back to work protecting their crony bosses.

If you think back to the recent controversies over Bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH) in milk and BPA in plastic bottles, the FDA fought tooth and nail to support the use of both of them until private organizations like EWG were able to bring enough public visibility and outrage to force the industry to ‘voluntarily’ abandon them. As far as I can tell, the FDA continues to support the use of both chemicals.

So the second piece of the plan is about continually undermining the path the gorilla sits on.

But remember, the primary reason to start our own Truly Human Society is to rid our lives of as much coercion as possible right now by working together as a community to find and support all of the private alternatives that will enable us to shun coercive government monopolies and crony cartels.

I will be blogging my ideas for our Truly Human Society on this site, and will be re-blogging pertinent posts from other sites here as well. Please add your ideas and suggestions in the comments, or tweet to @veresapiens, or send emails to ths @ veresapiens.org.

Let’s get it started!

 

One Of These Is Not Like The Others. Or Is It?

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Quick thought experiment…
If one of these is not like the others, why is that?

1. Members of the local Church voted to collect money from every resident of the area the Church served in order to pay for Church programs. After a few of the local residents who refused to pay were harshly punished, most residents then paid the Church ‘voluntarily’.

Are the Church’s actions ethical?

2. Members of the local Charity voted to collect money from every resident of the area the Charity served in order to pay for Charity programs. After a few of the local residents who refused to pay were harshly punished, most residents then paid the Charity ‘voluntarily’.

Are the Charity’s actions ethical?

3. Members of the local Government voted to collect money from every resident of the area the Government served in order to pay for Government programs. After a few of the local residents who refused to pay were harshly punished, most residents then paid the Government ‘voluntarily’.Govt Ethics

Are the Government’s actions ethical?

 

How Can We Have A Voluntary Society And The State?

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In my last blog I announced the start of a voluntary, Truly Human Society. Those of you who have noticed that the Government is still here and operating at full throttle may wonder how a central coercive government and a society that rejects the concept of a central coercive government could exist in the same place at the same time. And that excellent question is the topic of this blog.

To answer your question, let’s begin by comparing the definitions of ‘society’ and ‘government’.

Society (Merriam-Webster)

: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another

Government (Merriam-Webster)

: the continuous exercise of authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit : RULE
: the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it

Notice that the definition of ‘society’ uses words like ‘voluntary association’, ‘working together’, ‘cooperating’.

Compare that to the key words used to define ‘government’ – ‘authority’, ‘rule’, ‘power’.

A society is, by definition, a collection of voluntary ways that people organize. People can choose to participate according to agreed upon rules, or not.

A government, on the other hand, uses power to exercise authority over people’s activities and relationships, backed by force.

Our Truly Human Society, being a voluntary society, does not want to have, or be, a government. We are not competing for the right to govern.

Since government is not the space our Truly Human Society wants to occupy, it is not a prerequisite for that space to be vacant.

That is not to say that the existence of a government is a good thing, or even a neutral thing. It is, in fact, a bad thing.

But what hope is there for ever achieving a voluntary society if it can’t operate in the presence of bad things or bad people?

Under the best of conditions, there will still be criminal gangs, demagogic and violent dictator wannabes, and lots of people who just don’t have the self-discipline to be voluntaryists. Under any realistic conditions, a voluntaryist society will be composed of only those who voluntarily participate, and a voluntaryist community will be faced with many external challenges.

We have those conditions today.

Now, the Government will violently interfere with voluntary interactions within our society. And, the Government will require, at gunpoint, that people in our voluntary society do things that they do not want to do. But why should that stop us from conducting ourselves, in all other ways, in a completely voluntary manner?

If those of us who have the desire and will to form a voluntary society begin to build up the basic structures and mechanisms of a voluntary, free-market society today, we will be, at the same time, creating a better world for ourselves and demonstrating to the non-believing masses that our ‘utopian’ ideas actually do have real-world value.

Today Is The Start Of A Truly Human Society

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Today is the start of a new, worldwide, Truly Human Society.

Many of you have already developed your own smaller, more individual Truly Human societies. Now we can go ahead and take the idea global.

As you may recall, what makes us Truly Human is to follow one simple rule, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

We often think of ‘ownership‘ as a legal or financial concept, but in practical terms, to own means to control. What you own, you control.

So, to take control of something is, in effect, to take ownership. To take control of anything without the current owner’s consent is to steal.

What makes “Thou Shalt Not Steal” the key to defining a Truly Human Society is that for anyone to take control of another person’s life without their consent is to steal from, and to take ownership of, that other person.

Our Truly Human Society, then, is based on the belief that no people should be owned by other people. In practical terms, that means no people should have control over other people. All Truly Human interactions should be voluntary.

Most of us already live our everyday lives as ‘voluntaryists’. Do you use force or threats against others as you go through your day? Probably not. For most of us, being controlled and forced to do this, or not do that, generally only occurs in our relationships with government.

And that brings us to the 800 pound gorilla – involuntary government – that has continually blocked our path to a voluntary, Truly Human Society.

Today we realize – we’ve been on the wrong path!

We have been stopped by the gorilla only because we believed we had to retake the path he sits astride.

We have assumed that we can only have a voluntary society in the absence of an existing government.

But a government isn’t a society. A government is a parasite living off of a society. A government is simply a “bandit gang writ large“.

Libertarians have developed and documented all kinds of practical strategies for how a voluntary society could be effectively organized without coercive government. But we never seem to get beyond the idea stage because we see no practical way to be rid of government.

The gorilla owns that path.

Let us travel another path.

To counter claims of being utopian, libertarians have always insisted that a voluntary society would be able to deal with the reality of criminal gangs – small and large.

So, if libertarians think that the presence of criminal gangs is not a showstopper, and that government is simply a criminal gang writ large…

…then now is a great time to start a libertarian society.

My New Blog: A Truly Human Society

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My original vision for A Veresapiens Blog was to explore the moral/ethical implications of sincerely attempting to follow the basic foundations of libertarianism – Property Rights (Thou Shalt Not Steal) and Non-Aggression. Clearly, a lot of the those implications apply to the political questions of the day, but I really didn’t want A Veresapiens Blog to take on too much of a political orientation, diffusing its primary focus.

And so, a new blog was born. The first two posts on A Truly Human Society were actually adapted from A Veresapiens Blog since both blogs build upon a common philosophical framework. Could There Be A Truly Human Society? sets out the premise that a consistent application of Thou Shalt Not Steal leads to Voluntaryism. Your Truly Human Society shows how Voluntaryism is the normal mode of operation for most people, absent intrusion by Government.

Then, the next three posts use that foundation to lay out a ‘political’ philosophy that I call Concurrent Voluntaryism. In essence, it is a call to action for all Veresapiens and other Voluntaryists. It says that the best way to form a Voluntaryist Society is for Voluntaryists to shun the coercion that emanates from the State and its Cronies today, not someday. To see what ‘the plan’ is for A Truly Human Society, check out Concurrent Voluntaryism – The Plan.

Gun Control – A Truly Human Approach

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Do the Gun Grabbers want everyone to be defenseless?

Do the Gun Lovers care more about their Rights than they do about innocent victims of gun massacres?

That may be how the Gun Control issue is being framed by Politicians and the Mainstream Media, but seriously, do those sound like real motives of real everyday people?

Now Government has certain motivations – and we could speculate as to what those might be – but let’s set those motives aside for a moment so that we’re not left right in the middle of the fog of politics. Let’s take a truly Human approach to this issue, instead.

First let’s consider a pro-gun-control Mom. Is her primary goal likely to be to leave as many people as possible defenseless? No. Her goals are much more likely to be things like:

  • preventing more massacres
  • preventing crazies from killing
  • preventing easy gun access from leading to crimes of opportunity
  • preventing gun accidents

Consider an anti-gun-control Mom. Is she really all about Constitutional Rights? She’s likely more interested in:

  • defending children and others from massacres and attacks by crazies
  • enabling people to deter and defend against armed criminal attacks
  • enabling women and others to defend themselves against physically more powerful attackers
  • not being dependent on police response for protection from attacks

The two lists aren’t that dissimilar, and both are composed of reasonable goals.

So with similar end Goals we really have a dispute over the best Means to get there.

What options do we have for deciding between very Different Means of reaching Common Goals?

Emotions are the key to the Political Approach. As we have seen many times, by instigating and fanning emotional conflict, any issue can be hijacked for Political Purposes. So the first step is to avoid being drawn into the political false-conflict trap.

Setting emotion aside, it would seem then that the issue could best be resolved based on Practical considerations. But logical arguments can be constructed to support any proposal, and statistics, it is said, can be made to say anything if you torture them long enough.

And even if one side could show that its proposed means would lead to indisputably superior results, does that settle the issue? Remember, the saying that the ends don’t justify the means means means must be moral.

So that brings us around to the moral approach, and that’s where the Veresapiens moral philosophy has proven to be so useful. It provides the simplest way to see past the Political and Practical arguments of any issue and clearly distinguish Right from Wrong.

In fact, the approach is so simple it’s not even based on a whole list of morals like The Ten Commandments. It’s more like The One Commandment. And yet it clearly lights the way because it is directly related to the most basic thing that makes us truly Human.

If you think about it, only Humans can choose to Trade for things they want, rather than Take. Only Humans can choose to live by the moral rule Thou Shalt Not Steal.

To be truly Human, then, we must refrain from stealing what others own. So what does it really mean to ‘own’ something?

By definition, you can do whatever you want with something you own. You can use it, give it away, or even destroy it. That’s totally up to you. If you need Permission to do something with it, You Don’t Own It… at least not fully.

So, if someone Takes some or all of your Control over your possession, against your will, they are Stealing from you.

That means that if someone Takes any Control over your Life, they are Taking some Ownership of your Life. Taking ownership without permission is Stealing.

Veresapiens, then, would not make laws to Control Others’ Lives. That would be Stealing. That would be Taking Lives.

Also, if it is wrong for someone to steal your stuff, then it cannot be wrong for you to resist someone stealing your stuff. So, morally, you can Defend your life and all the other things you own.

So, as Veresapiens, we would not take what others own. And since we wouldn’t make laws limiting what others can do with what they own, we certainly wouldn’t make laws diminishing their ability to defend what they own (their life and possessions).

The gun-control Mom does want to make laws limiting what you can own, which at the same time would limit your ability to defend yourself and your possessions. The resulting laws may even authorize people with guns to come and take from you the guns you already own. Gun-control Mom’s goals are valid, but her Means are Immoral and unHuman.

Anti-gun-control Mom doesn’t want to steal your guns or impose controls on your ownership of your life or possessions. Her goals are valid and she has not advocated any immoral means.

Can the Veresapiens philosophy go beyond the question of the morality of means and ultimately propose the Ideal Solution to the problem?

The Veresapiens approach doesn’t require any one particular solution, or even that there be a single solution. Only that there is No Theft of liberty or possessions. Any and all means used to pursue our ends simply must be moral.

Once you accept that attempting to prevent a problem with laws Controlling People’s Behavior is Immoral, you will also begin to see that such laws typically make the original problem worse, and often cause additional problems.

The drug laws are an obvious example. Drug laws haven’t eliminated drug use. They’ve only managed to make drug use more dangerous, violent, and destructive.

Laws against possessing guns wouldn’t work any better than the laws against possessing drugs have worked.

So one effective means to solve many social problems may be to Eliminate already-existing Laws. For instance, instead of maintaining laws that declare schools ‘gun-free zones’, wouldn’t it make more sense to ensure that your child goes to school in a ‘well-defended zone’?

The Veresapiens philosophy not only guides you to more moral, and Truly Human, solutions, but also helps lead you to more effective solutions, as well.