Libertarianism centers around the nonaggression principle and a respect for property rights, which are derived from the axiom of self-ownership. The nonaggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force, although proportional and just responses to the initiation of force are acceptable, in the form of self-defense.
Libertarians condemn social institutions which violate the nonaggression principle and property rights. Taxation, national debts, fiat currency, unjust invasions, and the persecution and incarceration of nonviolent citizens through drug laws – all these have been roundly and soundly criticized by libertarians through the decades.
The one thing that all these institutions have in common is that we, as individuals, can do next to nothing to oppose them. Even as a collective movement, not only has libertarianism been unable to shrink the unjust power of the State, but it’s hard to see how the movement has even slowed the rate of its growth.
Libertarianism is fundamentally a moral philosophy with political implications – however, some libertarians have a habit of focusing on the political implications, which cannot be changed by any individual, and avoiding the personal implications of the moral philosophy, which can be put into practice by everyone.
For instance, while countless books have been written analyzing economics from a libertarian or Austrian perspective, very few have been written about how to apply Libertarian morality to parenting. Ayn Rand touched on parenting in a throwaway scene at Galt’s Gulch in ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ and Murray Rothbard reaffirmed the right of adult children to leave abusive parents in ‘Kids Lib,’ but I do not know of any major work by a Libertarian or Objectivist focusing on parenting. Nathaniel Branden has touched on the subject in a few articles, but does not mention any particular discipline techniques.
Very few libertarians become bank robbers or Federal Reserve Chairmen (but I repeat myself). By far the most common aggression Libertarians will ever personally use or experience is the disciplining of children. This is a moral question central to our lives as parents, yet it has to my knowledge never been addressed in Libertarian literature.
So – in terms of practical morality, the most essential question for libertarians to discuss is: does spanking violate the nonaggression principle?
The nonaggression principle basically states that it is immoral to initiate the use of aggressive force against another human being. Clearly, spanking is the initiation of force, in that it is not used in self defense, but rather as a form of discipline or punishment for children.
Spanking is hitting a child with the goal of deterring behavior. In order to be effective, spanking must inflict sufficient pain to alter behavior, and so mild swats to a padded bottom cannot be considered spanking. Spanking must result in sufficient physical and emotional pain for the child to fear it as a punishment.
Since spanking is the initiation of force, and cannot be excused under the category of immediate self defense, it would seem to be a violation of the nonaggression principle, and thus immoral – however, there are times when the initiation of force can be considered moral, or at least not immoral, and these have to do with the defense of another person’s well-being.
For instance, if a blind man is walking into a busy street, it can’t be considered evil to stop him from getting creamed by a bus, even if we have to tackle and bruise him to do so. In the same way, if you require an emergency tracheotomy, and cannot give your consent, is not quite the same as being stabbed if a handy surgeon takes a knife to your throat.
Certain actions would seem to be morally appropriate even though they violate the nonaggression principle, just as other actions could be morally appropriate even if they violate property rights, such as the example of a man hanging from a flagpole who kicks in a window and climbs into someone’s apartment rather than fall to his death. Not many of us would argue that the hanging man should respect the apartment dweller’s property rights and fall to create a morally perfect stain on the sidewalk below.
Thus the initiation of force does not violate the nonaggression principle if the following conditions are met:
It is an unforeseeable crisis
The initiation of force is the only possible remedy
The ‘victim’ would almost certainly give his consent in the moment if it were possible
The victim gives his consent after the fact
The reason for these standards is fairly simple – morality is universal, and thus is independent of time, and so it is irrelevant whether an aggressive action is approved of before or after the event. Everyone who perpetrates aggressive actions is in a sense gambling on the reaction of the victim, because if the victim likes the aggression, the perpetrator will not face any legal retaliation for his actions.
There are of course situations that can arise where the person initiating aggression ends up misjudging the intentions of another person – if I pull back a drunk staggering towards a cliff edge, he may thank me, or he may be enraged at my prevention of his suicide attempt. Reasonable standards of anticipation should be the rule here. If the vast majority of people would prefer to be pulled back from a cliff edge, it is reasonable to pull someone back – if the man really wants to commit suicide, then he should approach the cliff edge when no one else is around, otherwise his actions could be easily construed as a twisted cry for help.
So, if an aggressive action does not fulfill the four standards outlined above, then it is almost certainly a violation of the nonaggression principle, and therefore immoral.
Let’s look at these one by one, to figure out where spanking lands on the moral spectrum.
An Unforeseeable Crisis
Many parents who spank claim that it is a reasonable reaction to an imminent crisis, such as a child reaching for a pot of boiling water on the stove.
This is not a valid argument, for several reasons.
First, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure a safe environment for their children, therefore it seems hard to justify hitting a child for the negligence of the parents. Basic childproofing requires that only the back burners be used on the stove, and that the handle be pointed toward the wall, rather than toward the kitchen. In the same way, cupboards, drawers, stairs, electrical outlets and so on should all be protected through child safety devices.
It is hard to imagine any dangerous action a child could take that could never have been anticipated or prevented by the parent, either through patient coaching or childproofing.
Also, any parent who is close enough to a child to hit him for reaching for a pot of boiling water is also close enough to pick up or move the child away in a nonviolent mannerway, which immediately eliminates the danger.
The initiation of force is the only possible remedy
As mentioned above, if a child is in imminent danger, and the parent is close enough to hit, then the parent is close enough to pursue nonviolent remedies to the situation. Furthermore, dangerous situations that are the result of my negligence do not excuse me from the results. If I don’t repair my failing brakes, and this causes me to crash my car into your house, I cannot blame the brakes.
The initiation of force can only be excused in an emergency if it is the only possible remedy – if I’m choking on a fishbone, and the Heimlich maneuver does not work, and the only chance I have for survival is an emergency tracheotomy, so be it. If I have a mild cough at my dinner table, and someone stabs me in the throat, that’s just plain assault.
Since the initiation of force is not the only possible remedy when a child is in a dangerous situation, it does not fulfill this requirement for moral justification.
The ‘victim’ would almost certainly give his consent in the moment if it were possible
Well, first of all, it is possible for the child to give his consent to being spanked, since there is no immediate time pressure for action. A child can certainly express his or her wishes, assuming an appropriate age – but of course spanking is only considered effective if it is thoroughly against the child’s wishes. Therefore spanking also fails this test.
The victim gives his consent after the fact
This one is very tricky, since many children who were spanked grow up into adults who claim that spanking was very effective in eliciting and maintaining good behavior. “My parents spanked me, and I turned out fine!” “My parents spanked me because I was a disobedient child with no discipline, and I became very well behaved and disciplined as a result, and so I am very happy that they did spank me.” “I deserved spanking because I was disobedient.”
This certainly could be considered the victim giving his consent after the fact, but there are some important caveats or restrictions on this.
First of all, it assumes that spanking is not abusive, in that it is only the perspective of the victim that determines the morality of the situation, which is not a valid principle. Many citizens are fine with paying taxes; this does not make taxation moral. There are countless examples of women who had been verbally and/or physically abused by their husbands who stay, and even claim to love their husbands – this does not mean that physical and verbal abuse suddenly become morally acceptable. The Stockholm Syndrome is a well-known psychological phenomenon in which the victim of violence and abuse emotionally bonds with the abusers, and may even fight to defend them from justice.
Secondly, aggression which impairs judgment cannot easily be excused by the victim. To take an extreme example, if a man is forced to submit to a frontal lobotomy, and afterwards, claims to have no moral problem with the operation, we cannot take his word at face value, since his cognitive abilities have been enormously harmed by the procedure he was subjected to.
Also, propaganda dilutes clarity of thought – that is its real purpose of course. A 20-year-old man who was raised in Russia in the 1950s would likely profess great affection for communism and Joseph Stalin, but his perspective was not arrived at through a process of independent, sovereign and free inquiry. Amish children cannot grow up with independent and critical thinking about the Amish religion, and so we must rationally apply an extra layer or two of skepticism to their adult pronouncements about the forms of thought that they were indoctrinated with as children.
Children raised in heavily religious households would also very likely have been subjected to heavy propaganda about physical punishment due to the general conception of the Biblical commandment that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.
Furthermore, since spanking has been scientifically linked to lower IQs, it is mildly analogous to the frontal lobotomy example, in that it can impair cognitive abilities to the point where any judgments about spanking that come from the victims of spanking are at the very least suspect.
Spanking also creates many emotional and social problems, from depression to anxiety to self-destructive rebelliousness to increased aggression towards other children, a decreased capacity to form positive and healthy relationships, and so on.
Thus, since we know that spanking can create irrational bonds with the perpetrators, lowers intelligence, impairs social development, reduces the possibility of positive and healthy relationships, and increases risks of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, it is certainly more difficult to get objective approvals from the victims many years after being spanked. Rather than rely on self-reporting, we must defer to the objective science on the effects of spanking.
This problem is only compounded by the fact that, at least in my experience, very few people who claim to approve of spanking after-the-fact have any knowledge about the negative effects it has likely had on their intellectual, emotional and social development.
I will be much more prone to forgive someone for stealing a cardboard box of mine if I do not know that my wife was using it to store $20,000 worth of our gold. In other words, if I’m not fully apprised of the negative effects of an aggressive action, it is not possible for me to provide an objective judgment of that action.
Thus, the standards of acceptance for spanking would have to be, at a minimum:
A reasonably detailed knowledge of the objective effects of spanking on the development of children.
A reasonable amount of time in professional therapy to ensure that any irrational attachments have been addressed.
A philosophical understanding of the basic fact that personal approval does not equal moral justification.
Common Spanking Defenses
“Kids Can’t/Won’t Listen to Reason”
How do you know your kids won’t listen to reason? If you spank your kids because they won’t listen to reason, you’re not exactly finding out if they can listen to reason in that moment, are you? The science is not in your favor here, since babies can process mathematical odds at 9 months, show empathy at 14 months, and perform basic moral reasoning at 18 months.
This position would have at least some credibility if spanking was preceded by years of failed reasoning attempts – but if the spanking comes first, it becomes a classic self-fulfilling prophesy. Since spanking tends to lower IQ and provoke defiance and evasion, it sure looks like it’s “needed” because kids don’t listen to reason – but that’s like saying I need to spank my kids because they don’t speak Mandarin, when I have never exposed them to Mandarin.
Also, if you believe that your kids can’t listen to reason, are you sure that you as a parent are being perfectly rational? Are you telling them that flags must be saluted and war is heroic and public schools are great and that they have to kiss Aunt Millie even though she smells? Does your behaviour match your commandments? Do you tell your kids that they have to do the right thing even if they don’t feel like it in the moment, and then sit and watch football all Sunday instead of playing with them?
Do you hit them because they hit others? Do you take away their toys and then tell them to respect other people’s property? Do you tell them to respect their mother, while treating their mother disrespectfully?
Remember that children are born as total foreigners to the world you take for granted. They have never heard of America or Europe or Jesus or Krishna or war or prison or history or culture. They are born empirical and striving mightily and endlessly for rationality – delusional is the culture that dares to say that any children who oppose or question cultural norms are by definition “irrational.” That would require something other than culture – it would require a truly rational and philosophical world, and that is something we are still generations away from.
It is very hard to be truly rational in this world. It means rejecting an enormous number of beliefs held by others. It requires great courage, and a deep commitment to reason and evidence at all costs. So – can you look in the mirror and state with absolute certainty that you have to spank your kids because they are irrational, while you are 100% rational?
Also, why is it only children who must be spanked for being irrational? Have you ever been pulled over unfairly by a cop? Harassed by a border guard? Received bad service from an unapologetic waiter or valet? What about your own parents, as they age? Are they becoming any less clear-headed? What about that kinda-sorta racist woman at the office? Isn’t she being irrational? Or that dude next door who won’t support Ron Paul, even though he supports so many of his positions?
So – we can spank those who don’t listen to reason? Well OK, so just let that cop or coworker or neighbour have it! What? No? You’re not rushing out to do that? Why not? You have the moral right on your side!
Irrationality and injustice surround us – and irrational adults have infinitely less justification for their foolishness and inconsistencies than children whose brains are still so very young. So – why pick on kids?
“Kids Brains are Immature”
You say that children must be spanked because their brains are physically immature? All right – if physical mental limitations require spanking, does that mean we must spank elderly people with dementia? What about mentally handicapped adults?
You get that that would be morally repugnant, right? Surely those with physical limitations need more tender care, not more aggression.
“It’s the Only Way Kids Will Listen”
Many parents use the word “listen” when what they really mean is “obey.” What if your kids are listening to you, but just disagree with you? What if they have legitimate criticisms of your values and/or behaviour? Is that all right?
“It Teaches Children ‘Respect'”
Again, the word “respect” is used, when “obedience” is usually the goal. Respect, of course, must be granted before it can be requested. If you treat your children with respect, you can reasonably ask for mutual regard – if you spank them, frightening them into compliance with your size and strength, you are only compelling them into obedience against their will and judgment; you are not treating them with respect.
The goal of parenting is to create self-sufficient virtues in children. Applying external pressure and punishments tends to teach them fear-based compliance rather than the internalization of moral standards.
If spanking worked, then its use should quickly curtail. 40% of high school students are still being spanked by their parents, which is proof against the idea that spanking allows children to internalize values. Spanking causes compliance and resentment, obedience and resistance, which is why its use tends to increase over time – or at least not decrease.
According to the standards outlined in this essay, spanking is a clear violation of the non-aggression principle, and thus an immoral action.
This is not to say that all parents who spank are immoral. Morality requires knowledge; if all parents who spank are immoral, then all libertarians were immoral before they discovered libertarianism. Most people need exposure to the argument that taxation is theft before they can reasonably be held morally responsible for understanding the violent basis of the state. It is only within the last few decades that serious moral and scientific objections to spanking have spread within society, and patience and persistence is the key to convincing others of this essential and actionable moral reality.
That having been said, however, now that you have read this essay, you need to refute these arguments and disprove the science, or stop spanking. If you lacked knowledge and clarity before, you deserve sympathy. If you cannot refute these arguments, and continue to spank, you have no excuse anymore.
As society progresses, humanity will come to realize how irrelevant and obsolete government, as we’ve known it for thousands of years, truly is. Once the flimsy shackles of government-run school propaganda are broken, there will be a massive shift away from Statism as a brute-force, violent solution to societal problems. For example, self-driving cars will make speeding traps obsolete. If car accidents and traffic violations shrink to insignificant numbers, a great number of police officers will be laid off. Children raised in healthy, peaceful homes have a statistically insignificant chance of becoming violent criminals. Because of this, we will simply outgrow the state. Technological progression and improved child-raising techniques will eventually toss Statism permanently into the historical trash heap of archaic, barbaric, violent institutions that humanity has left behind.
The complete failure of political activism at shrinking the size of government is an undeniable fact backed up by centuries of historical data. In fact, if you can point out a single case in human history where a government even a fraction the size of ours was significantly, and for a substantial amount of time, reduced through political activism, I will join the Republican Party (or whatever your pet organization is) tomorrow. You’d be just as successful joining the mafia in an attempt to reduce the size of the mafia.
On the other hand, the immensely effective, and positive societal impact of raising human beings to be healthy, rational, and peaceful is backed up by decades of statistics and empirical, scientific evidence.
No Criminals, No Government
The prevailing theory is that Government exists primarily to protect society from violent criminals. Human beings who develop in a healthy, peaceful environment simply don’t grow up to be violent criminals. We must focus on the root causes of violence and criminality. Only when we eliminate these root causes can society become healthy, free, and peaceful.
Show me any evidence that political activism is significantly reducing the size of government long-term, and not just shuffling it around. Otherwise, I’ll stick to the very basic, and scientifically proven argument that to change society from violent and authoritarian to free and peaceful requires us to remove those things in society that fundamentally screw people up, and cause drastic increases in psychopathy, violence, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, depression, etc.
Children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.
This fact is irrefutable: virtually all violent criminals were abused as children. Numerous studies of family violence have found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood abuse, and later tendencies to victimize others.
In a 1988 study of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States, 12 had been brutally abused as children, and 5 had been sodomized by relatives.
Conversely, the more peacefully a child is raised, the less likely it becomes that they will ever become a violent criminal. It would seem that the inoculation for human violence and crime is obvious; raising children peacefully.
Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover, noted as much in this article by The Economist:
Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime.
Parents, do you want to significantly reduce the chances that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become—a criminal, an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues? Start by not hitting and yelling at them so much.
The big question is, why is the government not actively working to advocate for peaceful parenting?
Without crime, the government would become obsolete and unnecessary. Asking the government to advocate for peaceful parenting is like asking Marlboro to advocate for a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.
Not only does childhood trauma increase the chances for a wide spectrum of dysfunctions in adulthood, it also increases the chances the chances of developing several kinds of chronic diseases, according to the ACE study:
The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.
As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.
Once we have eliminated the root causes of human dysfunction, criminality, and violence, government simply becomes obsolete, and entirely unneeded. This will indefinitely free society from the never-ending cycle of government oppression that has plagued our species for centuries.
The Root Causes of Violence and Criminality
So, let’s examine these root causes more closely. Let’s work from the premise that there is a clear and proven link between early childhood and criminal behavior. There are obviously other factors, but child-rearing is by far the biggest predictor of criminal behavior later on in life, and the science supports this:
• High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers.
• State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.
• The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.
• The type of aggression and hostility demonstrated by a future criminal often is foreshadowed in unusual aggressiveness as early as age five or six.
On the other hand:
• Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.
• The mother’s strong affectionate attachment to her child is the child’s best buffer against a life of crime.
• The father’s involvement in raising his children is also a great buffer against a life of crime.”
“Being abused or neglected as a child increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent, as an adult by 28 percent, and for a violent crime by 30 percent according to one study that looked at more than 1,500 cases over time.”
Increase risk of criminality persists even in twin studies:
“Child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime. This is true even if we compare twins, one of whom was maltreated when the other one was not.”
“Juvenile delinquency studies in Great Britain indicate that the roots of delinquency primarily lie within the family.”
Another study confirms childhood mistreatment increases risk of criminality:
“Study results found evidence that the apparent negative effects of maltreatment on children’s tendency to engage in crime were real.”
Childhood abuse and neglect leads to long-term, multi-faceted consequences:
“This factsheet explains the long-term physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect.”
The studies go on and on.
What does this have to do with government, politics, and freedom? An article by The Association for Psycho History explains:
“Today both Austria and Germany have laws making hitting a child as illegal as hitting an adult. Careful personality studies recently show both Germans and Austrians reporting less authoritarian attitudes than Americans.
Psychohistory’s main discovery is that war and genocide, like homicide and suicide, is a psychopathic disorder that simply does not occur in the absence of widespread early abuse and neglect, and I hope to show you that Austrian childrearing today has advanced sufficiently so that similar genocides and racist wars have become impossible for Austria in the future.
What has happened in the past half century to literally transform Vienna from a city described as having “a sheer magnitude of antisemitic violence greater than in any other city of the Reich” to a city of exceptional freedom, independence and tolerance? That the astounding change came only after childrearing vastly improved is obvious.”
According to Psychology Today, “Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, they lack conscience and empathy, making them manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal.”
One of the most chilling discoveries among researchers of early childhood trauma is the link to psychopathy/sociopathy.
(Note: There is no official definition of the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, and some say that the terms are largely interchangeable. In fact, the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists both psychopathy and sociopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personalities.)
According to Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chair of psychiatry and director of the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “These people [psychopaths] really see you as a piece of furniture and the empathy that allows us to feel others’ feelings is missing,” he said. “These people are wired differently. Their brains are different.”
About 50 percent of these neurological traits are inherited and 50 percent are shaped by other influences. Having the genetic predisposition and growing up in an aggressive environment can be lethal.
“Intimidation and bullying creates bullies,” said Galynker. “”We all do bad things, but with a true psychopath there is a predation about them,” he said. “They prey on other people.”
“… it is suspected that serious child abuse could be an underlying factor behind psychopathy, and secondly, in neuroscience, it has been noted that many with psychopathy show a significant underdevelopment of a number of regions in their brain.
If we work with the assumption that child abuse and trauma could be behind the development of psychopathy, we have the environment in question, only it is more than a selecting factor – it is a causal factor.
…If a psychopathic parent was subjected to child abuse and trauma, then perhaps they will act violently and aggressive to their children because of their disorder – violence begets violence. “
When children suffer trauma at a young age, and grow up in violent, unhealthy homes, they are at a significantly higher risk of criminality, violence, and psychopathy. Most people believe that the solution is more government, laws, jails, etc. In reality, the violence and criminality we see are merely symptoms of a root cause that isn’t being addressed.
My proposition to you is that if we can solve these root issues, we can virtually eliminate violence, criminality, and psychopathy in society, and therefore eliminate the need for government, laws, jails, etc.
Psychologist Martha Stout, clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for 25 years, estimates in her bookThe Sociopath Next Door that as many as 4% of the population are psychopaths who have no empathy or affectionate feelings for humans or animals.
4% might not sound like much, but that means that 12 million Americans are psychopaths.
Not only is psychopathy, and the resulting violence and criminality a huge drain on society’s resources, there is another enormous, and dangerous threat that psychopaths and criminals pose; their lust for power and control.
Power, especially political power, draws psychopaths like flies to manure. The more power a position has, the bigger the draw it has for psychopaths. In the case of governments, which have nearly unlimited amounts of power and weapons, and very few consequences for wrong-doing, this combination is often catastrophic.
In fact, governments are the leading cause of unnatural death in the world, with over 262 million people murdered in the last century alone; a phenomenon known as “Democide“, a term coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel.
According to Rummel, “The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.” Rummel concludes that concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.
The only explanation for these 262 million murders is that the world is, quite literally, run by psychopaths.
To create an organization in society called “government” that is virtually immune to it’s own laws, and give it the power to print money whenever it wants, the power to start wars, to incarcerate at-will, to create laws at-will, to bribe their friends and punish their enemies, and believe that not one single evil person will be interested in running that organization is beyond naive. And so we recognize that you can’t create this monster machine called “government,” and not end up with psychopaths and evil people driving it.
Murray Rothbard wrote, “the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale.”
There is a very clear link between early childhood trauma and violence, psychopathy, and authoritarianism. Political beliefs are formed in childhood.
“Two historians have located a joint memoir by Hitler’s half-brother, Alois, and half-sister, Angela. One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler’s father, also called Alois, and how Adolf’s mother tried to protect her son from regular beatings.
“Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his unbridled rage, she [Adolf’s mother] decides to put an end to the beating. She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but cannot deflect the father’s final blow. Without a sound she absorbs it.”
This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family that the public has never seen before.
“The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.”
If you want to make a real difference in politics and society, focus on the issue of parenting and early childhood. Again, the Association for Psycho History makes this point clear:
“Why were there people brave enough to risk their lives to save Jews from Nazi Persecution? Much scientific inquiry has been expended on this question. I was convinced that there must have been some special factor in the childhood of the rescuers that made it so fundamentally different from what the war criminals had experienced, but at first I couldn’t prove my hypothesis. For years I sought in vain for a book that would give this subject adequate coverage.
Finally I found an empirical study by the Oliners, based on interviews with more than 400 witnesses of those dark days. It confirmed my hypothesis. The study concluded that the only factor distinguishing the rescuers from the persecutors was the way they had been brought up by their parents.”
Is Spanking Child Abuse?
As people who believe in peace, freedom, and the Non-Aggression Principle, we absolutely must apply these beliefs at home first with our own children. This is how we change society. In my opinion, this is the single most important issue facing the “Liberty Movement”, and the science proves it.
The only way to achieve freedom in society is by raising children peacefully and rationally. This means means that we apply the Non-Aggression Principle to children.
Just in case I need to make it even more clear, this means you don’t yell at or spank your kids.
(If you believe in the Non-Aggression Principle, but have never thought about it’s application to parenting, please read this article entitled Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle, written by Stefan Molyneux.)
Most people think that child abuse is some mysterious, subjective phenomenon that can be debated over. Is yelling at children abusive? Is hitting children abusive?
The truth is, trauma and abuse can be shown objectively using fMRI, and other neuro-imaging scans. These scans can clearly show damage in the brain caused by abuse, stress, trauma, violence, neglect, etc. Child abuse is no longer subjective, and cannot be hidden.
As cameras become ubiquitous, child-care providers can be easily ruled out as suspects. Aside from daycare, young children typically spend their time almost exclusively with their parents. If those parents are yelling at and spanking their children, and those children’s brains show signs of abuse, then the debate is over.
As the science and technology improves, scanning a child for abuse and trauma will soon be as easy as taking their temperature.
If I were a parent of a young child today, I would be extremely careful how far I dipped my toes into the spanking and yelling pond.
Trauma is a spectrum, and some children are far more sensitive than others. There is no one-size-fits-all demarcation between what is, and is not, traumatic to a child. Every child is different, and many children show clear signs of trauma after being spanked and yelled at, even though it is totally legal, and most people would not characterize that as child abuse..
The science is overwhelmingly against spanking children.
Tulane University study provides strong evidence that spanking leads to aggressive behavior in children:
“In a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children’s short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run. Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.
“The reason for this may be that spanking sets up a loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Even if children stop tantrums when spanked, that doesn’t mean they get why they shouldn’t have been acting up in the first place. What’s more, spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that aggressive behavior is a solution to their parents’ problems.”
Spanking teaches children that aggression is a solution to their parent’s problems. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Libertarians are always arguing against using aggression in society to solve problems, but too often, as parents, they do exactly that with their own children.
A real-time study found that, not only did the parents hit their small children (between 2-5 years old) nearly 1,000 times per year, oftentimes for trivial reasons, they often did it to discourage their children from hitting:
“Moms and dads who spank do so because they believe it’s effective, and research actually shows that it is — in the short-term. A child reaching for a tempting object will stop if he gets swatted. “It does work in the immediate moment, but beyond that, in most cases, it’s very ineffective,” says Holden. “The most common long-term consequence is that children learn to use aggression.”
Case in point: one mother in the study hit her toddler after the toddler either hit or kicked the mother, admonishing, “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.”
“The irony is just amazing,” says Holden.”
The percentage of people who approve of spanking has fallen dramatically in the last 50 years; however, the population of parents who still spank their toddlers on a regular basis is between 70 and 80 percent. This suggests that as a society, we are practicing behind closed doors what we are ashamed to admit publicly. While most parents spank their children in private, their unwillingness to approve of spanking publicly reveals what they likely already know; spanking is objectively harmful to children:
“In 2002, University of Texas at Austin professor Elizabeth Gershoff decided to look at several decades of past research. She surveyed 88 studies that included 117 tests of the hypothesis that spanking is associated with harmful side effects. Of those tests, 110 showed such effects. Straus calls the 94 percent agreement rate “an almost unprecedented degree of consistency” for scientific research.
As Straus sees it, studies like Gunnoe’s are outliers. If you’re a parent who spanks today, he says, the vast majority of studies show that “over the long term, there are greater odds that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become — an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues.”
Studies have shown that spanking decreases grey matter in the brain, and causes a decrease in IQ:
“Spanking erodes developmental growth in children and decreases a child’s IQ, a recent Canadian study shows.
This analysis, conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, offers new evidence that corporal punishment causes cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.”
Recent studies have found that up to 35% of babies were spanked in the last month.
After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, researchers at Columbia University have found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.
A study out of the University of Pittsburgh says yelling at adolescents can be just as harmful as hitting them. If yelling is harmful to adolescents, how much more harmful is it to a much more sensitive, younger child?
It is quickly becoming clear that children who are being diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from living in violent homes with violent parents:
Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive.
When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.
Brown’s findings, which she presented in May at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication.
It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but a study published in 2010 estimated the number could be nearly 1 million.
Stefan Molyneux sums up the situation perfectly:
“The degree to which the psychiatric community is complicit with abusive parents in drugging non-compliant children is a war crime across the generations, and there will be a Nuremberg at some point in the future”
“Six in 10 children aged 2 to 14 are regularly beaten by caregivers.
The report, drawing on data from 190 countries, paints a picture of endemic physical and emotional violence inflicted daily on children, mostly at home and in peacetime rather than on the streets or during war.”
Rebellious children are merely conscientious objectors to an absolutely insane world they’re being introduced into. They must be beaten and drugged into compliance.
We can no longer look the other way.
If you want a truly effective, scientifically-proven, long-term strategy for achieving a free, prosperous society, simply advocate for applying the non-aggression principle at home during the most important part of a human being’s development.
Once we apply the non-aggression principle to our own lives, only then can we be philosophically consistent, and raise a generation capable of accepting the non-aggressive philosophy we espouse.
To achieve a healthy and peaceful society, this also means staying home with your child, and not funneling them off to a daycare or government school for 8-10 hours per day.
Multiple studies have proven that young children and infants who are put in daycare for more than 20 hours per week suffer from severe attachment disorders which have long-lasting negative effects on the child. The length of separation is the determining factor, not the quality of care:
“Belsky (1988) determined, after reviewing two longitudinal studies, that infants exposed to more than 20 or more hours per week of child care displayed significantly more avoidance of mother on reunion and were more likely to be classified as insecurely attached than children with less than 20 hours per week of care. This is not surprising since fear, according to Perry, Runyan, and Sturges (1998), is a major impediment to a healthy attachment.
In a recent study (NICHD, 1999), the length of the daily separation appears to be the important determinant of infant-mother interaction. NICHD (1999) found that the breakdown they observed in mother/ child interaction was the result of the long hours of separation, not the type or quality of care.”
The more time a mother spends at work, away from her child, the worse the effects on the child:
“Four- to six-year-olds whose mothers worked a significant number of hours each week tended to exhibit more socio-emotional difficulties and problem behaviors than other peers. Early and extensive maternal employment was the strongest predictor of socio-emotional functioning, exceeding poverty and maternal education. Early and extensive maternal employment was associated with increased behavioral problems, less compliance, and insecurity.”
More devastating effects of putting children in daycare; approximately 40% of children lack a secure attachment with their parents:
“The approximately 40 percent who lack secure attachments are more likely to have poorer language and behavior before entering school. This effect continues throughout the children’s lives, and such children are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training, the researchers write.”
The average wage of daycare workers in the US is $9.48 an hour; slightly above minimum wage. If you hired a stranger to take your spouse out on a date for $9.48 an hour, would your spouse consider that a suitable replacement for you?
Then what makes you think a daycare worker is a suitable replacement for you as a parent to your children?
When the first studies about the harmful effects of BPA on children came out, there was no scientific consensus at all. Some studies were inconclusive, and some showed BPA as harmless. Yet, the mere possibility of harming the endocrine system and healthy development of children caused an absolute frenzy among parents who began demanding BPA-free products en masse.
Now, it’s hard to find plastic cups or food containers that do contain BPA. “BPA free” has become the new standard.
The science backing the harmful effects of spanking on children is as conclusive as you can get, yet parents still disregard it.
Taking a risk with BPA isn’t worth it, but spanking apparently is.
Political Activism: The Great Time-Waster
You can’t do anything about the Federal Reserve, endless wars, domestic spying, or the growing police state. What you can do is apply the principles you espouse in your own home to raise a generation of healthy people who value peace and freedom.
Can it really be that simple? Well, at least it’s one thing that hasn’t really been tried yet. The same can’t be said for political activism.
The reason I call political activism into question is simply because I see it as an inferior use of time and resources. If I can prove, scientifically, that there is a more effective use of time and resources than political activism, then I feel the obligation to make that case.
Peace, and human freedom in society starts from childhood, and no amount of logical arguments or political activism will convince psychologically damaged people on a large scale to choose peace, smaller government, or more liberty. There is only one scientifically proven strategy to achieve peace and freedom in the world, and that is to advocate non-aggression toward children. If we took all the time and money that was given to the Ron Paul campaign, and put it into advocating for this, the world would be a whole lot closer to outgrowing the state.
Ron Paul wrote in his newly-released book, The School Revolution:
“To limit the work of liberty to politics is to play into the hands of numerous political interests groups and agendas that all boil down to this: social salvation by legislation. I simply do not believe in that agenda.”
When you consider all of the things that we, as the “Liberty Movement” could be doing with our time and resources, we must also consider all the alternatives. Should I go door-to-door campaigning for this candidate? Should I hold a sign at this rally? Should I argue with this marxist on Facebook? Should I tell this war veteran that he lost his limbs in vain? Should I attempt to convince this lady on welfare that the organization she depends on to feed her kids is immoral and should be abolished?
What if, instead, you convinced a parent to stop hitting their child?
As responsible individuals who are out to make the world a better, more free place, we must be very rigorous with the use of our time and resources. If we claim to hold the truth, then we have an obligation to spread that truth in the most effective way possible.
If you’re an entrepreneur with $10,000 to grow your business, how would you go about spending those hard-earned dollars? Keep in mind that all of your competition is asking themselves the same question. Would you spend the money on things that make you feel productive, or would you do all the research you could, consult all the experts, and spend each dollar as slowly and deliberately as you possibly could?
We must consider our limited time and resources with the same level of rigor, skepticism, research, and diligence. Changing the future is a much more important task than growing a company. We must be fact-based in our analysis of how to spend our time, otherwise it’s just self-indulgence to make ourselves feel good.
The biggest vote count the Libertarian Party ever got in a national election was in 1980. They attained an earth-shattering 1.06% of the vote. Ever since then it’s been around 0.50%. In the most recent Presidential Election, the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 0.99% of the vote.
No progress whatsoever in 40 years (technically, that is a net loss).
If this was a government program, that’d be considered a rousing success. If it was a business, their shareholders and investors would have executed them in the streets.
However, because it’s “political activism” and “working for liberty”, somehow this is acceptable.
Libertarians and “Liberty Republicans” treat political activism like a government program; dump a ton of time, energy and resources into it with no regard to the actual results.
I’m not speaking negatively about the individuals involved, I am simply pointing out that political activism is almost the least effective method to achieve the goal of liberty, and as a movement based on facts and reason, we should be the first ones to admit this. Again, it’s like joining the mafia so you can shrink the mafia. Am I thankful that someone is “working” to shrink the mafia? I guess. Joining the mafia is about the last thing I’d recommend doing in order to achieve that goal, though.
We must constantly be asking ourselves, “what’s the best possible thing I could be doing right now?”.
Libertarians pride themselves on their knowledge of economics. What they seem to miss is that economics is simply the study of how to get the most out of life. To get the most out of life, to think like an economist, you have to be know what you’re giving up in order to get something else. These are known as”Opportunity Costs”. Getting the most out of life means using that precious time wisely, and examining your opportunity costs.
In order to vote for Rand Paul, you have to give up the time, energy, and gas it takes to drive the polling location (assuming you don’t mail in your ballot). Because we know Rand Paul won’t change anything at all, and government is just going to balloon further like it always does, you’d have been better off making a nutritious smoothie with that time and gas money.
If you want to grow a business, you study how to grow a business. Likewise, if your goal is to change people’s minds, you must study the science of how people make decisions. It is thoroughly irresponsible and self-indulgent to pursue something without examining the facts and science behind all the alternatives.
Unconscious childhood trauma is the single biggest indicator for how people make decisions. People don’t change their minds based on facts, reason, logic, or better arguments. If that’s all it took, we’d have already won. Reason and evidence are already on our side, yet it’s done nothing. In fact, the proportion of people who vote libertarian is actually declining.
The bottom line is, people will listen if they have processed their childhood trauma. People with unprocessed childhood trauma will almost never listen to reason and evidence. Trauma interferes with capacity to process reason and evidence.
If we say we want to change people’s minds without researching how minds are changed, we are snake oil salesmen and frauds. I don’t want to be a fraud, or waste my short life in petty self-indulgence, spinning my wheels, and rearranging the political deckchairs on the Titanic. I want to spend my few, precious days as effectively as possible.
How Childhood Trauma Prevents Rational Thought
The science shows that childhood trauma causes permanent changes in the brain, and limits development of the regions of the brain responsible for reasoning:
“The main implication of the research, says study co-author Carmen Sandi, is that it links two previously observed phenomena: the higher rate of aggression among those experiencing early-life stress, and the blunted activation of a brain region known as the orbitofrontal cortex among people with pathological aggression. Social learning, it seems, may not be the only thing that makes abused kids more likely to grow up aggressive.
“Our work is novel in many ways, particularly because it provides concrete neurobiological pathways that link early trauma with pathological aggression.”
Why would early traumatic experiences crave permanent changes in the brain? Evolutionarily, such brain changes may have helped us to survive a harsh and cruel environment, by keeping us on edge and ready to confront any possible threats, Sandi says. Today, however, those same changes may do more harm than good, leading some victims of abuse to slip into a vicious cycle, seeing threats where none exist, and overreacting to situations, often with violence.”
This kind of damage alters the human brain permanently, and leads to the following phenomenon:
“Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows. And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that’s contrary to their point of view.
Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains were monitored while they pondered.
“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”
The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
“Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.”
Not only does childhood trauma greatly diminish the ability to reason through political decisions, it also causes people to react out of emotion in response to moral dilemmas. Childhood trauma greatly limits the ability for people to come to well-reasoned moral principles that are the basis of a free society:
“In a study that combines philosophy and neuroscience, researchers have begun to explain how emotional reactions and logical thinking interact in moral decision-making.
The results suggest that, while people regularly reach the same conclusions when faced with uncomfortable moral choices, their answers often do not grow out of the reasoned application of general moral principles. Instead, they draw on emotional reactions, particularly for certain kinds of moral dilemmas.
The researchers also measured how long it took subjects to respond to the questions. In the few cases in which people said it is appropriate to take action in the personal moral questions — like pushing a person off the footbridge — they tended to take longer to make their decisions. These delays suggest that this subgroup of people were working to overcome a primary emotional response, the researchers said.”
These “primary emotional responses”, unconscious reactions to perceived threats, and rejection of facts that contradict deeply held beliefs are all unconscious effects of childhood trauma, and prevent people from thinking rationally and logically.
The biological reasons for why people panic when confronted with new information, refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints or think critically, and react out of emotion and violence, are easily explained:
“Early exposure to trauma — extremely fearful events — and high levels of stress affect the developing brain, particularly in those areas involved in emotions and learning. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two brain structures involved in fear and traumatic stress.
The amygdala detects whether a stimulus (person or event) is threatening and the hippocampus, the center of short-term memory, links the fear response to the context in which the threatening stimulus or event occurred.
These two brain structures also play an important role in the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, influencing the capacity of the prefrontal cortex for regulating thought, emotions, and actions, as well as keeping information readily accessible during active learning.
In response to overwhelming stress in young children:
The brain drives the “fight or flight response” and release of stress hormones,
The young child has limited capacity to manage this overwhelming stress and experiences increased arousal — fear and anxiety (physical and emotional sensations).
Excessive fear and anxiety and excessive cortisol (stress hormone) can affect the capacity for stress regulation as well as development and higher functions of the brain, and
Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems (physical and mental health).”
When you present alarming information to someone that threatens to unravel their deeply-held beliefs or worldview, and they have unprocessed childhood trauma, you are lighting up the parts of their brain responsible for fear and stress; the amygdala and the hippocampus. You are effectively putting them in a fight or flight scenario, and they will react accordingly; not with reason and logic, but with emotion, bias, stress, and defense. To learn and incorporate new information, your brain must be in a state of “attentive calm”, a state traumatized people rarely achieve.
The evolutionary primacy of the brain’s fear circuitry makes it more powerful than reasoning circuits. When people become anxious or afraid, the reasoning centers of the brain shut down. They react on instinct, whether it be evasion, anger, avoidance, contempt, etc. They are reacting to what they perceive as a threatening situation.
It is very easy to tell if someone has unprocessed childhood trauma. If you tell them that taxation is theft, or that the government is monopolized violence, both very logical statements, and they react out of emotion, instead out of intellectual curiosity, then they are traumatized.
People with unprocessed trauma are too busy managing their stress and anxiety to be able to think clearly and rationally. Unless you resolve childhood trauma and early difficult experiences, you will never be able to access the reasoning centers of the brain, or potentially become rational or wise.
You experience this in almost every political debate you enter into. It is evidence of trauma. This is what the science tells us. When people attempt to debate something, deep-brain impulses drive emotionality, fear, anger, “fight-or-flight”, etc. When you tell someone taxation is theft, or that welfare is immoral, they get angry, the reasoning centers of their brain shut down, the negative emotional centers light up, and the information is rejected in order to calm the brain storm that is wreaking havoc inside their skull. It is not a rational process, which is why more reason and evidence gets you nowhere.
The brain has been permanently altered by traumatic and stressful experiences during early development, and the default instinct when that person feels that their beliefs or worldview are being threatened is to shut down in order to survive the encounter, not to calmly and rationally examine the situation.
(If you are a “Libertarian” or “Liberty Republican”, and you are angry or upset by what you have read so far, and are not able to rationally consider the facts and evidence being put forth, you are exhibiting the exact signs of trauma that the science predicts.)
A Measurable, Attainable Solution
Simply put, political activism and education are not going to change society, or lead to long-term freedom. The only way we can change society is from starting in the home. Traumatized people simply cannot process the facts, and neither can we hand freedom to a society that is fundamentally dysfunctional. Instead of arguing with crazy people, we must be working, and advocating for raising sane people.
Fundamentally, people believe we need government to protect us from violent criminals. If we want freedom from government, the obvious answer is to simply reduce violence and criminality in society to the point that government is no longer necessary. In order to do that, humans must be raised peacefully and rationally, and society as a whole must be convinced of our arguments.
The best way we, as the “Liberty Movement” can convince society that our philosophy is the most beneficial is by modeling it first in our own homes and communities by working to overcome our own trauma and dysfunction, raising our children peacefully, and helping others in our community overcome the dysfunction in their own lives. It’s simply not going to happen by trying to philosophically bludgeon people’s brains with the ideas of liberty.
Even if you are able to convince a lot of people of your political beliefs, advocating for liberty in the political realm will not bring about the deep changes in society necessary to sustain peace and liberty. Human dysfunction is the primary enemy of liberty, and we have to deal with this root issue first. Peace and freedom are the natural results of healthy individuals raising other healthy individuals.
No amount of political activism will be able to sustain peace and freedom in a society full of violent and psychologically damaged people. Ideologies like ours, that are based upon reason and evidence, threaten society. Only ideologies that cater to society’s vanity, violence, superficiality, and emotionality will flourish.
This is why liberals, conservatives, and statists of all colors can effectively use political activism to achieve their goals while we’re left spinning our wheels. Their messages appeals to the emotions without confronting anyone with hard truth that will threaten their beliefs or worldview. They sustain the status quo, and promise to comfort and take care of everyone who goes along with them. Our ideology is seen as a direct threat to the beliefs, worldviews, and way of life of the majority of society. Because they are traumatized, they will only react out of emotion and self-defense.
No wonder liberty, peace, free trade, and voluntaryism can’t find a seat at the table. We can’t use these same methods that the other political players use. We must have a different approach.
We must regard children as highly, if not higher, than the rest of the human beings. We used to regard slaves as sub-human. It used to be acceptable to “discipline” your wife with corporal punishment, including hitting her with wooden spoons, paddles, and leather straps.
Once a minority starts fighting for equal treatment, it generally takes around 100 years for society as a whole to consciously regard these sub-groups of people with the same level of respect as they do the rest of humanity. We are just beginning the battle to bring children up to the same level.
“Physical punishment is considered too severe for felons, murderers, criminals of all kinds and ages, including juvenile delinquents, too demeaning for soldiers, sailors, servants and spouses. But it remains legal and acceptable for children who are innocent of any crime.” – Adah Maurer, Ph.D. and James S. Wallerstein
This is a multi-generational approach to achieving freedom, and not a quick solution to the problem. However, scientifically, and statistically, the data is clear. If we raise children peacefully, do not spank them, do not hit them, do not yell at them, and do not aggress against them, the result will be a tiny fraction of the violence, psychopathy, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, and depression we would otherwise see. Again, children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.
70 to 80% of parents in America admit to hitting their kids regularly. We cannot have a free society if children are growing up being hit by authority figures, thereby learning that aggression and violence from authority are solutions to our problems. When people are raised this way, they will be accustomed to surrendering control to a violent, central authority to solve problems in society.
The state makes no sense logically or morally. The only way it makes sense is if we have had experience with something like it before. If we learn aggression, subjugation, and a bizarre, irrational respect for power and authority as the only solution to our problems as children, then the state will make perfect sense to us as adults.
Political beliefs are formed in early childhood.
If we raise children peacefully and rationally, the state will appear as bizarre and repulsive as a murderous cult to us as adults. The mere suggestion that we need this cult to rule us with violence will be absolutely ludicrous.
All Human Relationships Should Be Mutually Consensual
Voluntaryism is simply the belief that all human relationships should be mutually consensual, or “voluntary”.
Voluntaryists reject the initiation of aggression in all its forms; violence, threats of violence, theft, coercion, fraud, bullying, rape, murder, etc.
Self-defense using physical force is not an initiation of aggression, but rather a reaction to it; therefore, it is morally acceptable to use force to defend your life, the lives of others, and justly acquired property.
Voluntaryists follow the Non-Aggression Principle, which is a moral principle that “prohibits the initiation of force by one person against another.”
This belief is hardly a controversial one. It is little more than basic, kindergarten ethics. Few of us believe that forcing someone to do something against their will is morally acceptable, unless they are initiating aggression against someone else.
When you force someone to have sex with you, it’s called rape.
When you force someone to give you something they own, it’s called theft.
When you force someone to die, it’s called murder.
While you likely agree with the Non-Aggression Principle, as most do, and conduct your life accordingly, there is still a rather large group of people within society that violates this moral principle in egregious ways every single day, and does so legally.
You likely support this group, give money to this group, defend its actions, and believe that its violations of the Non-Aggression Principle are legitimate, without even realizing it.
Government is Made Up of Human Beings
The “Law of Non-Contradiction” is one of the basic laws in Classical Logic. It states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time. For example, I cannot be both blind, and not blind at the same time. I cannot be both alive, and not alive at the same time.
“Government” is made up of human beings just like you and I. They are not supernatural. There is nothing inherently special about these human beings. We are the same exact species.
They are susceptible to all of the same human flaws and maladies; greed, illogical thinking, selfishness, pride, lust, envy, etc.
Because the government is nothing more than a group of human beings, according to the Law of Non-Contradiction, an action cannot be both moral for those human beings (the government) and immoral for you and I, at the same time.
I cannot levy taxes against you, and put you in a cage at gunpoint if you don’t pay me.
I cannot tell you how to live your life, and put you in a cage at gunpoint if you don’t obey me.
These are things that I cannot do, because they are immoral.
The government has acknowledged these things are immoral, which is why they have also made them illegal.
These things clearly violate the Non-Aggression Principle.
Yet, you support the government doing these things.
These things cannot be both immoral for you and I, and moral for the people who call themselves the “government” at the same time.
After all, the government is made up of people just like you and I.
So, how do we resolve this obvious, logical contradiction?
The Social Contract
According to the Wikipedia definition of “Social Contract Theory”:
Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights.
The so-called “Social Contract” that is used to justify the government’s authority fails to meet the legal standards of a “Contract”.
According to the Wikipedia definition, a “Contract” is:
An agreement having a lawful object entered into voluntarily by two or more parties, each of whom intends to create one or more legal obligations between them.
The elements of a contract are “offer” and “acceptance” by “competent persons” having legal capacity who exchange “consideration” to create “mutuality of obligation.”
In fact, the “Social Contract” is entirely unenforceable by the government’s own standards.
In order to be legally enforceably, a contract must be agreed to:
“Without Duress” (without the threat of harm)
Both parties must be “Competent”.
There can be no “Undue Influence”.
There must be a “Mutuality of Obligation”.
If you live in the United States, you are entered into the Social Contract from the moment you are born, without your voluntary consent, and if you refuse to acknowledge the social contract, force will be used against you. You are under duress.
You can’t enter into a legal contract with a new-born infant. Yet, you are entered into the Social Contract from birth, before you are considered “Competent” under the law.
Undue influence involves “one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person.” This one is obvious. Under the “Social Contract”, one of the parties employs legions of armed men, and possesses a seemingly endless amount of power and resources.
With no “Mutuality of Obligation,” there can be no contract. If the other side of the contract is not meeting their obligations, there must be recourse.
The United States Supreme Court ruled that police have no obligation to protect you, even if you are a woman who has obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband.
The appeals court had permitted a lawsuit to proceed against a Colorado town, Castle Rock, for the failure of the police to respond to a woman’s pleas for help after her estranged husband violated a protective order by kidnapping their three young daughters, whom he eventually killed.
For hours on the night of June 22, 1999, Jessica Gonzales tried to get the Castle Rock police to find and arrest her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, who was under a court order to stay 100 yards away from the house. He had taken the children, ages 7, 9 and 10, as they played outside, and he later called his wife to tell her that he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver.
Ms. Gonzales conveyed the information to the police, but they failed to act before Mr. Gonzales arrived at the police station hours later, firing a gun, with the bodies of the girls in the back of his truck.
In fact, most police officers openly state that “The No. 1 duty of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift.”
If self-preservation is the first and foremost priority of a police officer, then you get what we have seen in recent months and years — a series of unsettling police shootings.
You get what we saw on that video released last week showing Dallas police shooting a mentally ill man nonchalantly holding a screwdriver in his hands.
You get the questions swirling around the shooting death last month of an unarmed man said to be approaching a Grapevine officer with his hands raised.
It would explain other such shootings in situations that seemed to pose no immediate threat to officers.
Maybe it’s time to quit nodding along and question the maxim that going home at the end of the day trumps all other considerations.
The government takes our money in exchange for protection services, yet has no obligation to actually render those services. When they fail to provide those services, you have no recourse.
If you pay for a service from a private business, and don’t receive that service, you can sue them and get your money back.
If the government had the same obligation, everyone affected by 9/11 would get a large refund.
Any time the government fails to protect someone from harm or violations of their rights, they have failed to uphold their end of the contract.
By any legal standard, the “Social Contract” fails.
It is legally invalid at best, and criminally fraudulent at worst.
There is nothing legitimate about the belief that, because you were born in a certain country and have not moved, that you have implicitly consented to surrender your rights in exchange for protective services (that the government isn’t obligated to give you, anyways).
The entire argument underpinning a government’s legitimate authority over a “country” and its “citizens” is false in its premise, and incredibly flawed in practice.
The idea that the government has to violate your rights in order to protect your rights is absurd anyways.
Borders are imaginary lines. Countries don’t exist. Governments don’t exist. The “Social Contract” doesn’t exist. Laws don’t exist.
Human beings exist.
We are all of the same species. We are all flawed. We are all equal.
Not one of us is qualified to “govern” anyone else.
There is no evidence or argument justifying the claim that governments have authority over us, or that their laws and constitutions apply to anyone. It’s merely an opinion; an assertion of power.
The justification for the government’s power is nothing more than “because we said so, and if you disagree, we will use force against you.”
A law is nothing more than an opinion with a gun.
There are no facts. There is no proof. There is no evidence (other than circular logic saying “the law applies because the law says so”, or the “Appeal to Authority” logical fallacy).
If you disagree, just try calling the government, and asking them what facts or evidence exists that their laws apply to you.
Call your local IRS office right now, and ask for the evidence yourself:
If you don’t feel like doing that, then check out Marc Steven’s videos on Youtube. He’s asked many IRS agents this very question, including a federal magistrate and other educated bureaucrats such as John Buttrick and Nick Cort:
The “government” is nothing more than men and women forcing us to pay them.
It’s just that simple.
If you did business in the same manner as the government, by forcing people to pay you, you would be considered a criminal.
Laws, taxation and force
Even if your argument is that this group of people receives just power from the “consent of the governed”, you must also admit that one cannot give consent on someone else’s behalf, without their permission.
You may consent to being governed, but that does not mean that I, or anybody else, necessarily consented to be governed as well.
Because not everyone does consent to be governed, or at least don’t consent to all of the laws that the government passes, force must be used.
To impose governance by force on a peaceful person who has not harmed you or violated your rights is an immoral act.
To impose anything by force on a peaceful person who has not harmed you or violated your rights is an immoral act. This is the very definition of aggression.
When it comes to forced taxation, you do not get to choose whether your tax dollars fund the Iraq war and locking up non-violent drug users, or whether your tax dollars fund homeless shelters and welfare programs.
To put it another way, would you personally pay the bill for the bullets and bombs that kill innocent civilians?
Would you personally contribute to raiding and locking up peaceful people for owning a plant the government said they can’t have?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, quit reading now.
If not, then why do you believe that forcing people to pay for these things via taxation is a moral thing to do?
If you live in a country with a government that commits acts that you deem immoral, you don’t get to refuse to fund that government.
You either give money to the government to fund all of their actions, or they can and will use force against you.
Taxation is not consensual or voluntary. It violates the Non-Aggression Principle, and if you or I tried to do it to each other, it would be called coercion andtheft.
If you refuse to pay taxes to the government to fund things that you disagree with, they will forcibly extract money from you through wage garnishments, or property and bank levies.
If you resist, you will eventually be put in jail.
If you resist being put in jail, physical force will be used against you, up to and including lethal force.
The government will kill you if you don’t pay them. It really is as simple as that.
Do you think this statement is hyperbole?
Consider the case of Eric Garner, who was, quite literally, killed by the government for not paying a tax.
[Eric Garner] died after being placed in a chokehold while being arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island on July 17.
Every law the government passes carries this same death threat if you do not comply with it.
Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter writes for Bloomberg in an op-ed called Law Puts Us All in the Same Danger as Eric Garner:
On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.
I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t.
Every new law requires enforcement; every act of enforcement includes the possibility of violence.
There are many painful lessons to be drawn from the Garner tragedy, but one of them, sadly, is the same as the advice I give my students on the first day of classes:
Don’t ever fight to make something illegal unless you’re willing to risk the lives of your fellow citizens to get your way.
If you support taxation, this is what you are supporting.
If I disagree with a government program that you support, and I choose not to fund it, you are supporting the direct use of violence against me.
While you may have originally agreed with the Non-Aggression Principle, you support the government violating it when it comes to laws and taxation.
For some reason, simple, logical, moral rules are completely abandoned when it comes to our relationship with the government.
“The Government is a Monopoly on Violence”
This is not a statement made by Ronald Reagan, a religious conservative, a libertarian, a Tea Party member, or an anarchist.
It is a statement made by President Barack Obama.
What Obama is literally saying is, “violence is bad for you, but okay for me”.
This is the belief that government is the one and only institution in society that can morally, legally and legitimately use violence against others in order to accomplish its goals.
We all believe that it is wrong for us to use violence against one another in order to get what we want, yet the group of people who call themselves “government” somehow get an exemption from this rule.
…a society where almost everyone is a criminal will still be a society where the sheer number of hostile interactions between police and civilians will be very large, which in turn ensures that there will be considerable room for abuse.
Moreover, curbing police abuse through training, supervision, and after-the-fact accountability is far from an easy task. Among other things, prosecutors are understandably reluctant to go after the very same police departments whose cooperation they need to gather evidence and apprehend suspects.
There is no way to exaggerate the epidemic of violence by our government on its own citizens, often for acts as innocuous as being the wrong color, or possessing a plant that some politicians decided you can’t have (let alone enjoy).
Again, there is nothing inherently special about the group of people that calls themselves “government”.
When their uniform is off, violence is immoral and illegal, but the second they put their uniform on, using violence against other humans instantly becomes legal and morally acceptable for them.
The Gun in the Room
Upon hearing this, most people will say, “Yeah, but that’s why we have democracy! The majority gets to vote and choose who we use violence against. That way, it’s fair”.
The fact that we vote, and the majority gets to decide who violence is used against does not make it morally acceptable to use violence against peaceful people.
If you vote Republican or Democrat (or any other party, for that matter), you are voting for the government to force your ideology, values, priorities, and preferences onto millions of other people, through legislation.
There is no fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives, aside from what they want the government to force you and I to pay for, and what rules they want the government to force you and I to obey.
You would never hold a gun to someone’s head to get what you want. You have the government do it for you.
And that’s all a law is; an opinion with a gun.
Penn Jillette points out the gun in the room when it comes to helping the poor:
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, it is never morally acceptable to use the guns of government to force someone else to obey your will.
Whether you want to use the government to stop gays from getting married, or force bakers to bake cakes for gay couples, you are holding a gun to a peaceful person’s head and forcing them to do something against their will.
This is barbaric.
The way you get rid of bigots is by choosing, voluntarily, not to buy products from bigots, trade with them, or associate with them.
If someone wants to hang a “No Gays Allowed” or “No Blacks Allowed” sign on their business, they won’t be in business very long, anyways.
You don’t get rid of bigotry with force, threats, guns, and violence. This is the opposite of “progressive”.
You get rid of bigots by ostracizing them; giving them the “social death penalty”.
Ostracism is way more painful, way more effective, way more efficient, and way less immoral than using guns, anyways.
Ostracism or exclusion may not leave external scars, but it can cause pain that often is deeper and lasts longer than a physical injury, according to a Purdue University expert.
When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury, Williams said.
When society chooses to ostracize bigots, it hurts them more than if you beat them physically.
Not associating with someone does, in no way, violate the Non-Aggression Principle. Everyone has the freedom to associate with anyone they choose to, and no one can force you to associate with a bigot.
If other people choose to associate with bigots, let them.
People respond to pain. Bigots can’t live as hermits. We all depend on each other for survival. If all of us as a human society choose to only associate with non-bigots, eventually bigotry dies a painful death.
Guns and threats of violence aren’t the answer.
Laws are not moral principles
There are several times in history where the law has flagrantly broken fundamental moral principles.
Slavery is the first example that comes to mind.
Here are just a few examples of when the government was on the wrong side of history:
The Fugitive Slave Clause, enshrined by the Founders in the Constitution (which also considered blacks as only 3/5 of a human being
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (which Lincolnenforced, along with his judges and his federal marshals)
The segregation and Jim Crow laws of the late-1800’s to mid-1900’s
Alcohol Prohibition, which made the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol illegal in the 20’s and 30’s
Many on the right believe that the police are justified in using force any time someone is “breaking the law”.
These people believe that, no matter how illogical or immoral the law is, if you are breaking it, the police are justified in using force, up to and including lethal force, against you.
These same people seem to forget that the entire American Revolution was a blatant violation of British law, and Jesus himself was tried, convicted, and executed for breaking the laws of the government he was under at the time.
How can these people support law enforcement, and still hold criminal acts like the American Revolution, and criminals like Jesus in such high regard?
This is yet another seemingly unresolvable contradiction.
The arrest and crucifixion of Jesus should, at the very least, tell us that governments occasionally condemn peaceful, innocent people.
The government is an extremely unreliable measure of ethics.
Police officers enforce unjust laws every single day. They are not allowed to choose which laws they enforce. They are required to use force on, and lock peaceful people in cages every day for “crimes” that have no victim.
There are tens of millions of people sitting in prison right now, not because they have harmed anyone in their life, but because they were in possession of the wrong plant or substance.
The Drug War is the perfect example of the government enforcing laws that will, no doubt, be looked back upon the same way we look back on alcohol prohibition; barbaric, illogical, and immoral.
The government, to this day, is throwing people in cages, taking their property, and ruining their lives for voluntarily and peacefully giving each other pleasure.
Police officers are not allowed to object when a law is clearly immoral. They must obey their chain of command.
The same is true of soldiers fighting in unjust wars and killing innocent people in countries that have not attacked us. This is not self defense or “National Defense”. This is aggression, and it is immoral.
This unquestioning chain of command enables immorality to be legitimized by governments all over the world, and has for centuries.
Since the government is exempt from morality, and the majority “voted” for it, nobody can be held accountable.
The government enables selfishness and shields people from personal responsibility
The expertise of a politician is to appeal to the irrational and selfish desires and emotions of as many short-sighted people (voters) as he possibly can. That’s how he keeps his job.
Politicians aren’t immune to this, either. After all, they’re flawed humans just like us. Their incentive is to do whatever they can to achieve their short-term goal of re-election, with no regard (or personal responsibility) for the long-term consequences of their actions.
The worst instance of this is when police officers and members of the military commit murders and other atrocities, and suffer no consequences because they are sanctioned by the government, and are virtually immune from prosecution.
Voters and politicians, for the most part, are selfish and concerned with addressing their immediate and visible needs and concerns, while disregarding the hidden, long-term consequences of their actions.
The government acts as an enabler of selfish people to grab as many short-term benefits as possible, while shielding them from the consequences of their decisions.
Almost all economists and political scientists now accept that the average citizen’s level of political knowledge is extraordinarily low. At the same time, however, scholars have also largely come to believe that this doesn’t really matter, because democracy can function well under almost any magnitude of voter ignorance. How is this possible?
Democracies frequently adopt and maintain policies harmful for most people. Protectionism is a classic example. Economists across the political spectrum have pointed out its folly for centuries, but almost every democracy restricts imports. Admittedly, this is less appalling than the Berlin Wall, yet it is more baffling. In theory, democracy is a bulwark against socially harmful policies, but in practice it gives them a safe harbor.
H. L. Mencken quipped that “democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
The problem of poorly informed voters is not a problem that can be fixed; it is an inherent flaw in any Democratic system.
Likewise, a politician not incentivized to be wise, intelligent or make long-term decisions for the good good of society.
His job, as a politician, is to enable voters to grab as much free stuff and visible benefits as they can in the short-term, and push the costs, responsibility, and hidden, long-term consequences off onto others as much as they possibly can.
That’s what politics and government exists for; to facilitate selfish human being’s short-term, selfish desires and preferences, and make someone else pay for the long-term consequences (and shield them from personal responsibility).
To make things worse, most people “believe in” and get emotionally invested in their chosen politician, and stop debating ideas rationally.
Then it becomes a “My Politician vs Your Politician” mud slinging competition, and the only goal is to “win”, and defend their chosen politician to the death.
Our brains are only slightly evolved over our primate cousins, and we still think in terms of My Tribe vs Your Tribe.
“Our tendency toward partisanship is likely the result of evolution—forming groups is how prehistoric humans survived. That’s helpful when trying to master an unforgiving environment with Stone Age technology. It’s less so when trying to foster a functional democracy.”
The government is nothing more than a funding mechanism
You may feel morally justified in advocating for using taxpayer money to fund good things, like helping the poor, free education, healthcare, roads, hospitals, national defense, space exploration, etc.
The government doesn’t actually provide any of these things. Private individuals and businesses build all of these things, and the government pays for it.
The “majority” simply uses the government as a funding mechanism for all the things they want done.
The government is nothing more than a middle man between the “majority”, and the private individuals and businesses that actually do the work, and provide the things for which we are taxed.
If the majority of people agree that something is good, and they want to fund it voluntarily anyways, you don’t need the government to force them to fund it. They will fund it on their own.
We all agree that we need protection services. No one needs to force any of us to protect ourselves from criminals.
The government currently has a monopoly on this service, and forces us to fund it, even though they have no obligation to render this service, and their number 1 priority is to protect themselves, not you and I.
As with any other monopoly, the consequences are predictable. The service is inefficient, bloated, unreliable, and there is virtually no recourse if they violate your rights.
Private, market-driven police and protection services are already here, and they are peaceful and effective.
There is no need for us to rely on government police forces for protection when private police forces can and do compete with each other to reduce crime and violence as efficiently as possible already.
When enough of us agree that something is beneficial to ourselves and society, whether it’s a business or charity, we give money to it.
When something fails us to convince us that it is worth our money, we don’t give money to it.
The same economic principle applies to everything the government currently funds.
If we agree that something should be funded, then we can just fund it. There is no need for force to be involved in the transaction.
A lack of government does not mean that society’s progress slows. We can have all the services we currently have, without force and violence, if we choose to fund them voluntarily.
The fact that government funnels resources to itself as a middle man to facilitate these services just slows progress down.
Here’s a simple diagram to illustrate my point:
NASA, for example, does a lot of good science that benefits all of us, and we will probably agree that it deserves the funding it gets.
In the same way, I am entirely convinced that my local internet service provider is deserving of my $50/month. They don’t have to force me to fund their services.
Even if only 10%of the US population agreed that NASA should be funded, they would only need to pay about $50/month each to fully fund it.
I, for one, would gladly donate $50/month for this work to be done. Nobody would need to force me to fund this. I am convinced, voluntarily, that it is worthy of my money.
Now, imagine if we could all take that $50/month, and voluntarily donate it to whichever space program we thought would use it best, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic?
Would NASA be able to compete, and win over donors and customers voluntarily?
If not, why should we be forced to fund it?
There is no telling where we would be, as a species, without forced taxation throwing away trillions of dollars every year on waste, excessive regulation and red tape, inefficiency, enforcement of immoral laws, and in the case of the Department of Defense, immeasurable amounts of destruction and human misery.
This is to say nothing of the staggering amount of lost human potential, not only from the lives destroyed by governments all around the world, but also of those who chose to enforce immoral laws and support our current system, rather than do something to contribute value, and benefit themselves and the rest of humanity.
The government has made us significantly poorer over the past few decades.
According to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth:
“The average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations—a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now.”
If you made over a quarter million a year, would it be a financial hardship for you to fund NASA for $50/month?
What would happen if each of us had an average of $277,000 additional every single year to fund charities, organizations, projects, and companies that contribute real value to the world?
How much more could NASA accomplish?
NASA doesn’t need the government to force people to fund it.
NASA just needs to convince 10% of the people in the US that it is an organization deserving of their $50/month.
The Planetary Society, founded by Carl Sagan and now led by Bill Nye, has 40,000 paying members worldwide.
The society’s stated mission is:
“To empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration”
This organization is actually launching it’s own spacecraft in 2016, known as Lightsail-1.
The Planetary Society proves that science and space exploration can be funded voluntarily, in the free market, without forced taxation or violence involved.
This organization only gets funded if it can convince people like you and I that we should voluntarily donate to it. They have to make the case, and convince us that they will use our donations responsibly, efficiently, and ethically.
The government cannot possibly convince rational, grown adults that they will use our money responsibly, efficiently, and ethically.
The national debt (which is currently almost 20 trillion dollars) is evidence enough that they have absolutely no idea how to manage our money effectively. They have no incentive to.
Regardless of how essential you think these government services are, it is in no way morally acceptable to force other people to fund them.
Introducing guns into the equation is unnecessary, immoral, and counterproductive.
The fact that force is involved is an admission that the ideas aren’t good enough to convince others of voluntarily. They must be enforced at gunpoint.
All governments are inherently immoral
If I start a group that threatens to kidnap you and throw you in a cage if you don’t pay me 30% of your income, I go to jail for extortion.
The result is that governments are responsible forover 260 million murdersin the 21st century alone, a phenomena referred to as Democide, a term coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel.
According to Rummel:
“The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.”
Rummel concludes that concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.
The only explanation for these 260 million+ murders by governments is that the world is, quite literally, run by sociopaths.
Centers of power attract power-hungry people. Those who seek power are the least worthy of wielding it. The problem is, the people who are worthy of wielding power don’t have any desire to.
It takes a certain amount of sociopathy to desire to rule over other people. This is “The Problem of Political Authority”, as author Micheal Huemer states it.
Governments and rulers match the stereotype of the violent, bomb-throwing anarchist perfectly.
Chaos and anarchy already reigns in the world we live in largely due to this type of violent anarchy.
Only without these anarchists can peace be possible.
“Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.
In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”
– Robert Higgs
Simply put, governments are too dangerous to be tolerated. They are archaic, obsolete relics of the past.
Government is regressive, not progressive.
Government has done more to prevent and destroy human progress than any other organization in society.
The logical and moral conclusion of the Voluntaryist philosophy is that we must abolish the idea of “Government” entirely, much like we have done with other violent and obsolete institutions, such as serfdoom, feudalism, monarchy, slavery, etc.
The classic response when someone advocates abolishing the government is, “Who will build the roads?”
I’ll divert to Tom Woods:
Suffice to say, asking what will happen if we abolish violent institutions is silly, and a poor way to evade the moral argument presented by the Voluntaryist philosophy.
If you told a plantation owner from the deep south during the 1800’s that cotton would be picked by giant metal robots from the future that run on extinct tree juice that we sucked out from deep inside the earth, they would probably shoot you.
Yet, 200 years later, here we are:
Those who advocate for non-aggression in our society today face the same objections that abolitionists faced in the 1800’s.
“People believed that slavery couldn’t be abolished in America. Without the slaves picking the cotton, they thought there would be no way for cotton to get picked. If cotton didn’t get picked, clothing wouldn’t get made, businesses would go under, children would freeze to death, slaves couldn’t take care of themselves (racism at its worst,) and many other ridiculous things.
Today, we understand how ridiculous all that is. Since we eliminated slavery we’ve developed some of the greatest technology innovations in history to pick the cotton. That technology development would have been impossible to predict before we freed the slaves. When the slaves were freed, the incentives were in place for someone to invent it.
Morally speaking, when asked who will pick the cotton when we free the slaves, my answer is:
It doesn’t matter. If something is unethical then we shouldn’t be doing it. The ends do not justify the means. I don’t care if some people will have to walk around naked if the alternative is creating a subclass of human beings that we can exploit. Slavery is not justifiable.”
The point is, we can’t predict how society will organize itself without violence and coercion, but we can rest assured that it is the only moral position to take. Without violence as the basis of our society, peace will come naturally.
As Muray Rothbard stated in his famous lecture, Society Without a State:
“If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad.
By eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.”
If you are afraid that society will devolve into rule by the largest gang, then I’m afraid your worst nightmares have already come true. Rothbard elaborates this point in his book, The Ethics of Liberty:
“If the bulk of the public were really convinced of the illegitimacy of the State, if it were convinced that the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large, then the State would soon collapse to take on no more status or breadth of existence than another Mafia gang.
Hence the necessity of the State’s employment of ideologists; and hence the necessity of the State’s age-old alliance with the Court Intellectuals who weave the apologia for State rule.”
Do governments “work”?
The government does not fund itself through voluntary means like every other group in society does.
It doesn’t try to please customers in order to win their business.
It doesn’t do good work in order to convince people to donate to it.
It funds itself through involuntary “taxation”, coupled with coercion and threats of violence if you refuse to pay them.
This group of people isn’t legally obligated to give you the services that you pay for, and without any competition, it doesn’t provide services in an efficient manner anyways.
It’s a problem of incentive; when you have a monopoly on a service, and forcibly take money to fund your organization, you have no competition, and therefore no incentive to provide an affordable, efficient, high-quality service.
You’re going to get paid whether you provide a good service or not, and nobody can complain because the only place they can go to appeal and obtain recourse is… you, the government.
It is an enormous monopoly of the worst kind.
Giving a monopoly on violence to a special group of people called government may “work” in some sense. Surely, police do stop some crimes, roads get paved, and schools get built, but does that make it moral?
Do you care?
Personally, I don’t mind paying for some of these things. I do mind being forced to pay for these things.
I want whoever thinks they can provide these services best, for the lowest price, to be able to compete for my business.
Instead, we get the worst monopoly humankind has ever devised.
Governments are monopolies, and governments use their influence and legislative power to create and preserve monopolies in the marketplace.
Monopolies are inefficient and cannot compete, and do not exist in the market.
Monopolies only exist when they are protected by force.
Force is expensive, bloody, and bad for business.
Peacefully giving customers what they want is profitable.
Eventually, those who use force lose out to those who trade peacefully.
The only group that can afford to preserve monopolies through force is the government. It doe so by enacting legislation that gives certain businesses an advantage, and/or forces their competition out of the market.
Jeffrey Tucker makes this point brilliantly in an article from the Foundation for Economic Education:
The actually existing monopolies that do these bad things are created not by markets but by government policy. Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.
For generations, economists and some political figures have been trying to bring competition to these sectors, but with limited success. The case of taxis makes the point. There is no way to justify the policies that keep these cartels protected. And yet they persist — or, at least, they have persisted until very recently.
None of this is an accurate representation of capitalism. As stated previously, capitalism is nothing more than people trading voluntarily and peacefully with each other, without state intervention, violence, force, or coercion.
Violence, force, coercion, and war is expensive. Peaceful trade is cheap, and good for business.
What we see on Wall Street is a horrendous marriage of government and the market. Corporations are fictional entities created and protected by the government. In a free market, corporations couldn’t exist.
The inevitable marriage of corporate and government power is exactly why neither should be allowed to exist.
Even if you are not concerned with morality, but are instead concerned more with utility, “practical solutions”, and making things “work”, the institution of statism still makes absolutely no sense, and the nearly 20 trillion dollar national debt, failing school systems, crumbling infrastructure, and high rates of violent crime are proof positive of that.
Here is a graph that contrasts 40 years of federal funding for education, and its impact on reading, math, and science scores:
An article by the Cato Institute’s Paul Ciotti examines the most expensive educational experiment ever performed in the United States. This experiment forever puts to rest the argument that the primary problem facing the public school system is funding.
Here’s a summary:
“For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.”
The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.”
In Kansas City, they did try.
For more than a decade, the Kansas City district got more money per pupil than any other of the 280 major school districts in the country. Yet in spite of having perhaps the finest facilities of any school district its size in the country, nothing changed.
Test scores stayed put, the three-grade-level achievement gap between blacks and whites did not change, and the dropout rate went up, not down.“
I have written in-depth about the harmful effects of government schools here.
This a graph showing the effects of 40 years of federal drug control spending on the rates of drug addiction:
The “War on Poverty” was declared by President Johnson in 1964. Prior to that, the poverty rate was dropping by around 1% each year.
We were only one generation away from eradicating poverty completely. Then the “War on Poverty” began.
Every time the government declares a war on something, whatever they are fighting always grows exponentially:
On all fronts, the government largely fails at effectively providing the services it taxes you for.
Do you realize that you have virtually no recourse if the state fails to provide those services, or if they commit a crime against you, because you cannot appeal to anyone higher than the state itself?
Even if you do sue the state, the judges who decide the case work for the state, and the state has virtually an endless supply of cash and resources in which to fight you back. Lawyer costs are not an issue for the state.
Because the government has very little incentive to use tax-payer dollars wisely and responsibly, private individuals and businesses know they can over-charge the government to an obscene degree for projects they are contracted for.
This is why government projects are notorious for blowing past projected budgets and timelines.
If a department within the government completed a project on time and under-budget, their funding would likely be decreased the following year, and the individuals involved would be laid off.
Governments have a direct incentive to be bloated and inefficient.
To use money responsibly and efficiently would mean losing their jobs.
The government exists to grow itself, not to provide efficient services.
No crime, no government
Most people believe that the most important service that the government provides is preventing criminals from violating our rights, especially violent criminals who seek to harm or kill us.
This fact is irrefutable: virtually all violent criminals were abused as children. Numerous studies of family violence have found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood abuse, and later tendencies to victimize others.
In a 1988 study of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States, 12 had been brutally abused as children, and 5 had been sodomized by relatives.
Conversely, the more peacefully a child is raised, the more unlikely it becomes that they will ever become a violent criminal.
Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover, noted as much in this article by The Economist:
Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime.
It would seem that the inoculation for human violence and crime is obvious; raising children peacefully, with as little hitting, neglect, violence, and emotional harm as possible.
There would still be a minor outlier of people with brain tumors or mental illness that have violent tendencies, but, for the most part, violent crime would be a thing of the past.
So, why is the government not actively working to advocate for peaceful parenting?
The answer is quite simple, without crime, the government would become obsolete and unnecessary.
If there were no violent criminals, there would be no need for a government to protect us against them.
Additionally, if people were raised in a healthy and peaceful manner, without dysfunction, who would want to be a police officer, prison guard, or soldier, violently enforcing laws against peaceful people?
Asking the government to advocate for peaceful parenting is like asking Marlboro to advocate for a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.
The difference? Marlboro can’t impose taxes on you, and when you do pay Marlboro, they actually deliver what you paid for.
Government is a faith-based institution
The faith that people have in government power is staggering. Most hold it in as high of regard as they do a deity, and would never dare think critically about their beliefs in regard to government.
To do so would be to challenge the faith they have been raised in since they were born.
Government is a fairy-tale; a faith-based institution, and it brings with it all of the religious texts, symbols, rituals, ceremonies, insane beliefs, and violent zealotry of any other religion.
In order to accept this religion’s claims, you must do so regardless of a complete lack of facts or evidence. Or, in spite of them.
You must take politician’s claims on faith.
The fanatical devotion you see to this murderous institution is far more dangerous than all of the jihadists and religious zealots worldwide combined.
Again, governments are responsible for 260 million murders in the 21st century alone.
Governments are the #1 leading cause of non-natural death in the world.
Government is a death cult; a deranged religion that requires human sacrifice:
Most people, even skeptics, don’t think critically about government.
They worship it with the same fanatical devotion as the most extreme religious fundamentalists that they so often ridicule.
“Systems based on fundamental falsehoods always get more and more complicated as endless corrections and adjustments pile on in order to make them look moral and right.
Every few generations, these accumulated errors become so ridiculously complex that the entire system becomes unsustainable and… kind of embarrassing. Even the non-expert grasps that something must be fundamentally wrong with the whole mess. And a few brave souls take out a blank sheet of paper, push aside all their prior preconceptions and start from scratch, based on reason and evidence, rather than the accumulated errors of history.