Tag Archives: TSNS

Thou Shalt Not Steal

The Involuntary Citizenship Amendment

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?


Government Appeals to Your Better Instincts

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.


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

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?


Today Is The Start Of A Truly Human Society

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

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

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.


A Voluntaryist View of ‘Rights’

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That famous quote sounds good, but in real world conversations, I have found few things that are less self-evident than ‘self-evident truths’ about Rights.

The quote, itself, immediately raises questions. Do we have only God-Given Rights? Are there Human Rights, Moral Rights, Natural Rights, Legal Rights? Would those be different things, or the same things coming from different sources?

And any detailed discussion of Rights typically gets less self-evident from there.

So, let’s see if I can offer you a simple view of Rights using the lens of Voluntaryism.

It might be useful to begin with Robinson Crusoe, alone on the island, again.

When Crusoe is the only person on the island, does it matter if he has any Rights? Would it make any practical difference if he has a Right to Liberty or not? It is only when Friday shows up on the island that the issue of Rights takes on any meaning.

This tells us that Rights have something to do with relationships.

Here’s why that is:

Rights, in effect, impose duties on others, in the form of either restrictions on their actions or claims on their actions.

If Crusoe has a Right to some type of freedom, that means that Friday has a duty to not interfere with Crusoe’s exercise of that freedom. Thus, Crusoe’s Right places restrictions on Friday’s actions.

If Crusoe has a Right to any services from Friday, that means that Friday has a duty to perform actions necessary to fulfill Crusoe’s Right. Thus, Crusoe’s Right places claims on Friday’s actions.

So, wherever you believe your Rights come from, God, Nature, a Constitution, etc., the purpose of a Right is to reduce the freedom of action of others in some way.

In the original story, Crusoe rescued Friday from cannibals. Let’s suppose for a moment that the rescue had failed miserably. Not only was Friday not saved, but imagine Crusoe found himself in a large pot hanging over a cooking fire.

At this point does a loud declaration from Crusoe that he has a God-Given, Human, Moral, Natural, and Legal Right to Life and Liberty do him any good? The cannibals would likely just give him a funny look and go back to making side dishes.

This tells us that Rights have something to do with voluntary agreement.

If I’m interacting with people who don’t accept that I have a Right, then for all practical purposes I don’t have a Right (in terms of my relationship with those people).

But what about Force?

Let’s go back to the original storyline in which Crusoe successfully rescues Friday. But now let’s change the story so that Crusoe, who has muskets and pistols, decides he has the Right to use Friday as a slave.

Because Crusoe can force Friday to be his slave, does that mean that Crusoe has a Right to keep Friday as an unwilling slave? Of course not.

So let’s summarize what have we learned so far about Rights:

  • Rights don’t relate to individuals, they relate to relationships between individuals.
  • Your Rights limit or reduce the freedom of action of others.
  • To have any practical meaning, Rights must be consensual.
  • The ability to force restrictions or claims on the actions of others does not constitute a Right.

What does all of this mean to a Voluntaryist?

A Voluntaryist believes that all interactions between people should be voluntary. By definition, this philosophy includes such ethical codes as Thou Shalt Not Steal (to steal is to take something against the will of the owner) and the Non-Aggression Principle (to not initiate the use force or threats against a person or their property).

So let’s see how the attributes we have discovered about Rights fit in (or not) with the philosophy of Voluntaryism.

As a Voluntaryist, by definition I grant everyone else the Right to not be aggressed against by me. When I do that, I impose a duty on myself, limiting my freedom of action.

That’s simple enough. But here’s where it gets a little trickier:

If my Rights require restrictions or claims on the actions of others, and I’m a Voluntaryist, then I can’t make a blanket claim of having any Rights. That would be imposing a duty on others, restricting their actions without their agreement. Of course we’ve already learned that Rights, to have any practical value, need consent anyway.

I can use Force to defend myself against aggression, but we’ve also learned that using Force to restrict or enforce actions still doesn’t constitute a Right.

So, bottom line, as a Voluntaryist, I can grant the Right to not be aggressed against, but I cannot demand the Right to not be aggressed against.

Fortunately, most other people, in terms of their daily activities, do consensually grant me the Right to not be aggressed against. The exceptions are a small number of criminals and a somewhat larger number of people involved in government.


Find The Human Answer To Political Questions

When you control the questions, you don’t really have to worry about the answers.

The quote, above, opened my last blog post about “the problem of illegal aliens”. Although technically about that specific issue, that post was also intended to introduce a more general point about how to consider political questions from a truly Human point of view.

I think most of my future posts may follow this approach:

  • What is the Political Question?
  • What Are the Left vs Right Conventional Political Answers?
  • How the Conventional Political Answers All Relate to Government Laws, Activities, or Programs.
  • What Different Answers Would Arise From Taking a Truly Human Approach to the Issue?
  • To What Extent Can You Implement a Truly Human Solution in a Government Dominated Society?

The last point will be interesting to discuss, since truly Human solutions, implemented fully, may well be illegal in today’s society.


Receiving Government Payments – A Voluntaryist Dilemma

As a Veresapien and voluntaryist, I consider government to be unHuman. A government is, by definition, based on theft and coercion. I want to shun government in every way possible, just as I would any other criminal organization.

But, the government keeps taking my money, and I want it back.

For example, I’ve had Social Security taxes ‘deducted’ from my paychecks for over 40 years, now.

So, here’s my dilemma…

If I think Social Security is a typically immoral government program, should I participate in it anyway when I become eligible to receive payments, especially after having been forced to make payments into the program for all those years?

Walter Block has written that since all government funds are essentially stolen loot, “…it is a positive virtue to relieve the government of its ill-gotten gains“. In fact, he writes, “…the more money you take from the coffers of the state the better libertarian you are“.

Sounds good. But here’s the rub…

The money the government has taken from me in Social Security (and other) taxes over the years is long gone. That money was spent long, long ago. The government no longer has my stolen property.

So, when I ask for the Social Security money that the government ‘owes’ me, where will that money come from? Well, the government, having no money of its own, will simply go out and steal money from my neighbors and give it to me.

How would I feel, as a Veresapien and voluntaryist, about me using the force of government to take other people’s money?

I might try to make myself feel better by saying “The government is going to collect the tax money, anyway, and I might as well get my fair share”. But it’s still stolen money. Another person’s money.

And, as the US population ages, Social Security taxes will no longer cover Social Security payments. Beyond payroll taxes on current workers, the government will need to both borrow money, to be repaid by future taxpayers, and print money, a hidden tax on everyone.

I don’t think I’m really punishing the government when I “relieve it of its ill-gotten gains”. If anything, I’m doing it an invaluable service.

The government loves to dole out the cash. The government wants to give money to everyone. When everyone’s getting government money, no one wants to get rid of government, they just want to fight over who gets how much.

As Bastiat said in his essay Government,

“The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”

When you take money from the government, you serve to perpetuate government.

If you want to end government, I believe the best approach is that suggested by Boetie in The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude:

“For if tyranny really rests on mass consent, then the obvious means for its overthrow is simply by mass withdrawal of that consent.”

If more people declined, whenever possible, to receive stolen goods (tax money) from the government, it would go a long way toward delegitimizing those government programs and the government.

So, here is how I think I should approach my dilemma:

  • Do whatever I can to minimize (legally) the amount of money that the government takes from me in taxes.
  • Accept that any money that is taken from me by the government is unrecoverable without causing harm to others (theft of their money).
  • And therefore decline, whenever I can, to take any ‘entitlements’ payments (freshly stolen goods) from the government.

I think perhaps those who take the least money from the coffers of the state are good libertarians, too.


Your Truly Human Society

In a recent post, I described how following the central Veresapiens tenet of “Thou Shalt Not Steal” (TSNS) would shape the basic principles of a Truly Human Society. At the conclusion of the post, those principles were described this way…

A Veresapiens, then, would not make rules, or laws, to control others’ behavior. That would be stealing.

Veresapiens would make rules as to the acceptable use of their own property and the acceptable behavior of visitors on their property. And Veresapiens may defend their property from unacceptable aggression by others. None of those things would take away others’ full ownership of their own lives and property.

If a society based on TSNS would make no laws to control, mandate, or prohibit anyone’s actions, then it would have no need for a government. In fact, any form of government, including democracy, would be incompatible with a TSNS-based society.

For a whole society to live by “Thou Shalt Not Steal” as a guiding principle requires a totally voluntaryist social structure – one with no government at all.

A common, and legitimate, criticism levelled against this kind of ‘thought experiment’, however, is that it assumes the existence of a society somehow magically free of an existing central government. I have to agree that this is an unrealistic assumption. When governments fall, whether by revolution or by conquest, they are, unfortunately, replaced by new governments. There is never a shortage of wannabe rulers just waiting for their big opportunity.

But think about the ‘anarchy’ that already exists between you and your friends and close neighbors. Do you refrain from stealing from them because of the laws of the central government? Do you make up rules that all of them must follow or be punished? Do all of your disagreements get resolved by courts and judges?

No? Hmmm, perhaps you have already begun your own Truly Human Society. Congratulations! You’re off to a great start.

If you think about it, even if there was, magically, a land with no government, and people had total freedom to organize new social structures, there would likely not end up being one single homogenous society. Different groups of people would try out different approaches, many of which might take hold and thrive. There would also, no doubt, be violent organized gangs of criminals.

Those who wanted to organize around the concept of TSNS could do so, but they would still have to coexist among people with different ideas, values, and social structures, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today. They would also have to deal with individuals and organized groups intent on stealing their property or their freedom, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today.

So, we the same kind of opportunity now to organize a Truly Human Society as we would have in the mythical ungoverned land.

Beyond making TSNS the guiding principle in how you relate to all other people, future blog posts will focus on principles, strategies, and tactics for organizing and leading your own Truly Human Society within today’s government-dominated social structure.