Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 529, July 26, 2009

"Agorism proposes not to confront tyranny
in the streets, but to use counter-economics
to withdraw support from tyranny."

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What I Believe
by Jim Davidson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

There are many ways to get to know someone, personally, physically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, mediated by text, voice, video, or in person. All of these ways of learning about and understanding the beauty which is someone else's mind, person, spirit, soul, are great. But of all these, I think the most interesting, the most significant, and the one with the deepest insights is to examine what someone believes.

Very clearly people here believe in freedom. Many people believe in the zero aggression principle, though some deprecate it in various ways. A great many people here are actively against the idea of a state. It ought to be safe to say that most people here are against war, hatred, racism, abuse of power, and the things which we all feel are terribly wrong—like torturing prisoners to death without any possibility of due process to even argue their guilt or innocence.

To assist in the process of uncovering beauty, sincerity, passion, vigor, depth of spirit, and to further understanding, I want to say what I believe. For some of these beliefs, I can supply reasons why I believe, or intellectual support for the belief. For some, I believe for reasons that are deeply personal and which I don't think you'll find compelling unless you have similar deeply personal experiences of your own. More than what I believe, I also seek to say what I desire, what I want, what drives me. Together, these are some of the reasons why I am here.

I believe that I am free and sovereign. I believe that this condition is natural, good, decent, and correct. Moreover, I believe that the only essential requirement for anyone to be free and sovereign is for that individual to claim freedom and sovereignty.

What do I mean "free"? I mean the condition of not being coerced by any other against my will. I believe that coercion is evil. Coercion is surplus order, it is order imposed externally, and it is wrong. For coercion to exist, the threat of actual physical force has to be present, or actual force has to be used. I do not believe that talking or yelling or writing can be force, no matter how passionately stated, because nothing is easier than changing channels, going somewhere else, ignoring a person who is acting or speaking distastefully. But I do believe that as soon as you raise a fist against me, you are seeking to coerce me, and that is wrong.

I believe that I have the freedom to defend myself at all times, in all places, for any reason, against any perceived threat or actual use of force. I believe that this freedom is inherent in my human nature, is a part of my sovereignty, and is one of the things meant by saying "I own myself." Since you don't own me, you have no right to command me, no right to limit my use of defensive force, no reason to expect me not to retaliate against an actual attack on my life, liberty, or property.

I believe that the universe is much larger, much more complex, and much more delightful than is commonly held in society at large, as I've perceived such views. The universe is effectively infinite in every direction, is expanding, and divides at least as often as quantum events take place. Because of the divisions of the universe we are able to perceive light as both a wave and a particle depending on how we choose to experiment. Because of the infinite variety of the multiplicity of the universe, we are able to detect quantum events not only in our own narrative thread, but in closely related narrative threads, so quantum computing is both real and valuable. I believe that the reason we have never created a computer consciousness or "artificial intelligence" has nothing to do with processor speed or memory or neural network connectivity, but does have to do with the ability of our neurons to communicate with neighboring narrative threads, an ability which is inherent in our own consciousness, and which is evidently present in the consciousness of other beings like ourselves (whales, dolphins, dogs, apes, etc.).

For many reasons, mostly personal experiences which I cannot convey to anyone who doesn't seek to have similar experiences, I believe in God and Jesus. I believe that the universe of God's creation is cornucopia, plenty, an infinite bounty, and that essentially all of the scarcity we perceive is political and therefore artificial. I believe that authoritarians took control of the early Christian church, deleted vital works of testament, confused the message with authoritarian rantings of Saul of Tarsus, and by the time of the Council of Nicaea the teachings of Jesus were almost entirely misunderstood, or lost. Therefore, it makes sense to me that Essenes would believe that another prophet, such as Muhammed was sent to set things right. Moreover, I believe that authoritarians took control of Islam in the early years, also mutating it beyond recognition.

So I understand that believing in God, or Jesus, or any ancient religious teachings is not universally popular, especially among anti-authoritarians. And I believe that for you to come to your own understanding of the universe is much, much better for you, for me, and for God, than for you to blindly follow anyone's dogma, especially mine. What you choose to believe is up to you.

I believe that sovereignty means self-ownership, and self-rule. I do not believe in the absence of rules, nor in the absence of rulers. Rather, I believe that the individual ought to rule him or herself. You should rule you, choose for you, take your own choices, be your own monarch. And the same for me.

I don't believe in hierarchy. Which is to say, I don't agree that you are born into any particular station. A caste society is essentially a slave society, especially for the caste which is regarded as untouchable. I think hierarchy and bureaucracy are pernicious tendencies which begin with harmful assumptions and result in tedious ineffectiveness bound up in tradition, sanctimony, and red tape.

I do believe that freedom is consistent with planning, leadership, and division of labor, but that a plan for me might not be a good plan for you. I believe that leadership is based in part on character, but in large measure on planning, and if the plan makes no sense, you shouldn't follow that leader—no matter how charismatic, sexually attractive, oratorically skilled, or enthusiastic that person may be.

There are several touchstones which, like the stones which help identify precious metal coins from dross, can be useful in many situations. One of these touchstones is the obligation to do what you conceive of as the right thing to do. I hold that I have no other meaningful obligation, except to do what I believe is right, at the time I believe it. Since I am also convinced that I am fallible, capable of error, and very likely to err, I also believe that apologising and making amends are often not only the right things to do, but the best and most important things to attend to as soon as possible.

Another touchstone which I like is the zero aggression principle. I think L. Neil Smith expressed it very well. A libertarian is someone who believes that no one has the right to initiate force against anyone else for any reason, nor to advocate, nor delegate the initiation of force. Anyone who acts consistent with this principle is a libertarian, whether they know it or not. Anyone who does not act consistently with this principle is not a libertarian, no matter what they may claim. See for more of Neil's writings (and some of my own).

I am against war and against militarism. For me, these are essential parts of being against the state. War is the health of the state, said Randolph Bourne. War is death for profit, and those who profit, the merchants of death, must always have a cozy and generally perverse relationship with those who run the state. War is the ultimate of surplus order. Look at the mangled bodies of the children and understand what war really is. Spend some time in a war zone, in a hospital, to understand what it means.

Militarism is a poor choice because of the many errors of militarism—hierarchy, bureaucracy, surplus order, preparation for war, actual combat, murder, rape, looting, vandalism, and collateral damage. Being against militarism does not mean I'm a pacifist—I believe in self defense. It also doesn't mean that I don't understand war or military operations—I have studied history extensively. I believe any monarch, especially one who seeks only to govern himself, has to know how war works, how a military works, how to distinguish these from a militia, and how to organise for mutual defense with friends and neighbors.

But I also know to be alarmed by the hero on the white horse, the madman who leads people toward freedom and then suddenly ends up in control of a dictatorship. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I believe that each individual must judge. You cannot take anyone else's word for granted without judging the merits of that person, their honesty, sincerity, integrity, and command of the facts. You cannot give up your sovereignty to obey what a legislator has chosen for you, nor a president, nor a king, nor a priest, nor a banker. You should choose for yourself.

Being judgemental means using reason. It does not mean using bigotry. I think bigotry is ugly, and to be avoided. There is no sense to being bigoted against someone else for anything they cannot help, any aspect of their life that they did not choose. They did not choose their height, weight, skin color, gender, race, ethnicity, the religious affiliation of their parents, their nationality, place of birth, outcomes of wars, nor the placement on maps of imaginary lines masquerading as geography. I am indifferent to whether a person has a sexual orientation or religious preference by choice or by tradition or by some other function, because to me it makes no sense to be bigoted about these ideas. And, for the record, I believe that the book of Leviticus was part of the man-made laws that Jesus found objectionable, and inconsistent with God's laws—including those parts of Leviticus that condone price fixing and slavery, including those parts which object to homosexuality and witchcraft. So, in summary, bigotry is not reason, and is a poor basis for judgement.

These are some of the many things that I believe. So what do I want?

I want to live a long time. I wish to experience the beauty and majesty of reality in as many ways as possible. I want to build hotels on the Moon and go dancing there every night.

Most of all, I would like to be understood and left alone. I can think of no better way of being accepted, no more complete freedom, than to be able at my option, without prior notice, to be completely alone. I can think of no greater courtesy, no more sincere compliment, no greater treasure than to be left by myself to choose for myself just as I please.

The universe is vast. The bounty of the Solar System is enormous. The possibilities for human beings are endless. The potential that we are wasting every day by ignoring the beauty around us, by dwelling on the inconsequential, by listening to fools and bureau-rats, is staggering.

It is this essential fact that people are born free and everywhere in voluntary servitude that makes me very, very sad. I am sad because of the fantastic potential that is never realised, sad for the beauty that is never created, sad for the joy that is never felt, nor shared, nor seen, nor heard. I am sad because authoritarians have wrecked the peace, possibility, productivity, and splendor which belongs to each of us.

And out of this sadness I am angry. I am angered by foolishness, and do not suffer fools gladly. I am angered by wastefulness, where politicians and their cronies take and take and waste and waste, without ever producing. I am angered by greed, betrayal, animosity, and insanity. I am angered by war, militarism, blind allegiance, and jingoism. Were it possible, even briefly, to end any of these things, I would gladly go berserk. I think emotional outbursts and berserkergang intensity are aspects of the passionate nature of human beings, not to be trifled with, and not to be rejected.

At the beginning, as at the end, there is karma and love. Karma is a word that means actions have consequences. As you are completely free, do what thou will, but know that you are responsible for your actions, and that whatever you do has consequences. Be prepared for the consequences, be willing to admit errors, and make amends—no one can expect more.

Love is a word with many meanings, and is splendid in many ways. Physical love, intellectual love, spiritual love, emotional love, the love of body, the love of ideas, the love of soul, the love of passion, the enthusiasm of an anthem, and the engaging stimulation of a cantata are all aspects of love.

Emma Goldman was completely right about one thing. There should be dancing. A revolution without dancing is not worth having. Dancing is the expression of love, passion, vitality, energy, enthusiasm, syncopation, symphony, synergy, understanding, and possibility. It is the finest thing we do, and the very best reason to get high.

Jim is an entrepreneur and author. His tome Being Sovereign is due out any day now. His latest projects involve free market money, including publicity related to the Liberty Dollar trial; making films including a feature film based on the book Alongside Night and a documentary Destination Resorts in Orbit. He is also forming a network of independent spirits at —the agorism cadre.

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