Tag Archives: Ethics

The Involuntary Citizenship Amendment

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Many of us believe that for ethical and practical reasons societies would be better off without a centralized ruling government.

The major unresolved challenge has been how could we get from here to there without chaos?

Not having an answer to that question, I’ve been writing about Concurrent Voluntaryism,  building up voluntaryist social structures in parallel with the existing State complex.

But what if, with a few simple words, you could simultaneously…

  • eliminate the one feature of Government that is the source of its coercive power
  • maintain and enhance the Government’s incentive to provide services to those who still desire them
  • allow immediate freedom from centralized Government for everyone who desires that option

That would get us a long way from here to there without creating chaos.

Therefore, I hereby propose the following Constitutional Amendment, which would accomplish all of those goals:

“Whereas all Men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Section 1. Involuntary Citizenship shall no longer exist within the United States or in any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. The Benefits and Protections of Citizenship shall apply only to those who voluntarily agree to and accept the Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Section 3. The Jurisdiction of the United States, and of the individual States, shall hereafter extend only to the property of voluntary Citizens and to any property acquired by Government through voluntary exchange.

Section 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Appropriately, the wording of Section 1 of the proposed Amendment echoes the wording of the 13th Amendment, which ended Involuntary Servitude in the United States.

Below is a brief discussion of how this Involuntary Citizenship Amendment fulfills the goals listed above.

“eliminate the one feature of Government that is the source of its coercive power”

Many of the services provided by Government are important and would need to be provided, one way or another, in any modern society. The two major problems with having them provided by the State are that they are monopolies and that they are funded by theft, both features maintained by violence and threats. Eliminating its territorial monopoly eliminates the Government’s ability to enforce all of its other monopolies, except among those voluntary citizens who willingly pay for them. This is essentially the definition of ‘panarchy‘.

“maintain and enhance the Government’s incentive to provide services to those who still desire them”

Without a territorial monopoly on theft the Government will have to provide services that people willingly pay for. And they will face competition from independent service providers and from competing governments. If the current Government’s services didn’t continue, and even improve, they would risk losing all subscribers and going out of business entirely.

“allow immediate freedom from centralized Government for everyone who desires that option”

With citizenship becoming voluntary, anyone could walk away at any time. Renouncing citizenship might entail having to forfeit some future entitlement benefit or having to pay some sort of early termination fee. One might fear that such terms could be drastic and punitive, but again, because they would be competing for current and future members (citizens), there is a built-in incentive to discourage the Government from setting up terms that are overly punitive.

No way to get from here to there without total chaos?

I am not suggesting that we could successfully pass this Constitutional amendment. But I do think it eliminates the argument that a voluntary society is impossible simply because there is no way to transition from here to there without creating immediate chaos.

What do you think?

 

What is a Veresapiens (and what does one sound like)?

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Thanks to Marchella, who most of you probably know on Twitter, I had the opportunity to guest on the new Libertarian Nation podcast, hosted by Marchella and Alex Bradley. They were great fun to talk to, and a comfortable way for me to ‘come out from behind the keyboard’ and talk a little bit about Voluntaryism, Anarchy, and the history and concepts behind the Veresapiens philosophy.

You can enjoy my first podcast, now…

 

And then be sure to go listen to more good stuff on the Libertarian Nation podcast page.

 

Government Appeals to Your Better Instincts

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Sometimes you have to resist your better instincts.

The continuing revelations of pervasive spying by the US Government have led to a spike in sales of George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel, ‘1984’. In ‘1984’ Big Brother was always watching.

Another insightful aspect of Orwell’s prescient novel was the concept of ‘doublethink’. Doublethink is defined as simultaneously holding two mutually contradictory ideas in your mind and believing both of them.

One very common real-world example of doublethink has puzzled me for some time:

You can get almost unanimous agreement that ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ is a basic moral value that should apply to all people. Yet when Government, which is an organization made up of people, involuntarily takes people’s money (i.e. steals), almost no one declares it immoral.

People taking your money is immoral, but people from the Government taking your money is not immoral? Doublethink.

Creating and maintaining such a pervasive case of doublethink is an amazing accomplishment for the Government.

And even more amazing, they do it by appealing to your better instincts.

By appealing to your better instincts, they get you to accept immoral actions? Sounds like more doublethink, doesn’t it?

Here’s how it works…

Recent psychological research has identified sixteen core instinctive drives shared by most people.

‘Drives’ refers to non-conscious desires that cannot be permanently satisfied. Any time they are satiated they soon reassert themselves. These common drives range from basic survival goals like food, safety, and ‘amorousness’ to more civilized goals like social interaction, honor, and idealism.

It is important to distinguish that these drives are not the same as emotions. Drives are more like routines hardwired into the brain to ensure that you are constantly driven to attain these goals.

Even though we all share the same drives, we don’t all act the same because for each person the strength and priority of each drive is different.

And here’s an interesting twist…

Because we directly experience only the conscious part of our minds, we believe that we make all of our decisions consciously . But, it turns out that these non-conscious ‘drives’ drive our behavior much more powerfully than whatever we’re thinking consciously. And once any of the sixteen drives gets activated, it tends to stay active, non-consciously driving our behavior, until it reaches its immediate goal.

Here’s a problem: The list of powerful non-conscious drives does not include ‘not stealing’.

Mothers do teach us not to take the other kids’ toys. And pretty much all religions teach some version of Thou Shalt Not Steal. But it’s not hardwired in. We learn it and may fully accept it as valid, but only consciously, and that is what leaves it open to doublethink.

The hardwired non-conscious drives are focused on goals (ends).

Our consciously learned moral philosophy is focused on behavior (means).

When a drive is active, the desired end is what is important to the drive, not the means.

This sets you up for a battle between powerful, instinctive non-conscious drives focused only on ends, and consciously learned moral philosophies vainly attempting to control the means.

So, even though Mom also taught us that ‘the ends don’t justify the means’, meaning moral behavior should not be abandoned even for good goals, again, that’s a learned conscious concept. And from a practical standpoint, if the ends are tied to instinctive drives and the means are tied to learned philosophy, the ends may simply overpower and drive the means.

So, here’s the secret. Government triggers, and ties itself to, as many of the core drives as possible. Once a Government program is embraced as important to a core non-conscious goal, people become suddenly much more flexible on allowable behaviors.

(At this point, I was going to give examples for a couple of drives, but obvious examples leaped out for so many, that I ended up including 12 of the 16 drives without much effort.)

Let’s take a quick look at some of the common drives the US Government attaches itself to. You can start with our most basic drives like eating, and work your way all the way up to the our higher instincts like idealism.

Note: The statements below don’t reflect what Government actually does. These are just illustrations of how Government instills in you that it is critical to your drives.

Eating (goal: acquiring food)

  • Without Government Subsidies basic foods would be unaffordable
  • Without Government Regulations and Inspectors foods would be unsafe

Tranquility (goal: avoiding fear, anxiety, pain)

  • Without the Police the criminals will get you
  • Without the Military foreign powers will invade and take over
  • Without the NSA you will be in constant danger from terrorists

Family (goal: good parenting)

  • Without the Department of Education and Public School Systems, only the rich would be able to afford good schools for their children
  • Federal Student Loan Programs ensure that every child can have a college education

Saving (goal: preparing for future needs)

  • Without Social Security old people, and eventually you, too, will starve
  • Without Medicare, medical care will bankrupt you as you age

Acceptance (goal: avoiding criticism or rejection)

  • (Think about what would happen to any child that didn’t stand and recite The Pledge of Allegiance)
  • (Think about the reaction you’d get if you remained seated during the National Anthem at any large event)

Independence (goal: personal freedom)

  • The Constitution makes us free
  • Voting controls the Government

Power (goal: control over others)

  • As an American, you can claim you saved Europe from the Nazis and then saved the whole world from the Soviet Union
  • As an American, you are now the Hegemon, the greatest power the world has ever known

Status (goal: social standing, superiority)

  • America has the greatest form of Government in all of history, making Americans the best people ever

Vengeance (goal: revenge)

  • The Government has avenged 9/11 by killing the evil-doers in Afghanistan and Iraq

Order (goal: structure, rules)

  • The Congress represents the will of the people in creating Law and Order
  • The Justice Department and the State and Federal Courts ensure that all Americans are treated equally under The Law

Honor (goal: loyalty, tradition)

  • It is important to be a loyal American to honor all Those Who’ve Sacrificed to preserve the Freedom we enjoy today

Idealism (goal: improve social conditions)

  • The Government takes care of all those in need in America with Entitlement Programs so that none will go hungry or be excluded from all the benefits of being an American
  • American Foreign Aid prevents mass starvation around the world

So, even if you walk someone through an irrefutable logical argument proving that taxes amount to theft, they still won’t condemn taxes as immoral, because that would logically mean that Government, as the thief, is immoral. And that logical conclusion would be too emotionally unsettling, as it threatens the ‘government-linked’ attainment of so many of their core drive goals.

Thus, doublethink must be maintained.

Now, you would think that maintaining doublethink would lead to ‘cognitive dissonance’…

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.

But perhaps another keen insight from ‘1984’ – Newspeak – helps explain how the Government prevents cognitive dissonance from interfering with its achievement of pervasive doublethink.

According to George Orwell,

“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc [The State], but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

So taxation is never referred to with any words related to confiscation or theft. In fact, the word ‘tax’ is even avoided as much as possible. Instead we get Newspeak words like ‘revenues’ (hence IRS), ‘fees’, ‘assessments’, ‘withholding’, etc., etc.

Taken all together, this explains why, and how, people can so obstinately hold on to the doublethink necessary to believe in ‘good Government’.

This also helps us to see why we struggle to gain traction for our Voluntaryist message.

Perhaps our most brilliant arguments against the State have minimal impact because we’re aiming at the wrong targets. We’ve been blasting away at consciously held constructs like logic and morality, but that isn’t where the love of Government lies.

Government has burrowed deep into people’s unconscious and entwined itself within their most basic instinctive drives.

So to overcome people’s attachment to Government, I believe we need to re-target our efforts.

If attacking the logic or morality of Government makes people unconsciously uncomfortable with our message, perhaps we would accomplish more by simply sowing seeds of doubt – illustrating Government’s actual record of failure relative to achieving the goals of our common drives.

And, finally, to affect real change, we must begin to consistently tie Voluntaryism into people’s visions of satisfying their core drives. Rather than discussing the mechanics of providing roads, we need to convince them that in a voluntary society they will have better food, and safer communities, and more opportunities for their children.

 

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.

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?