Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 551, January 3, 2010

"Perpetual tea parties for perpetual peace—and freedom."

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

Americans Withdraw
by Jim Davidson

Special to the Libertarian Enterprise

A few days ago, I got involved in a discussion with Jim Quinn of who seemed to want me to read an essay he wrote on gradual changes in governmental madness. I wrote back to say that I don't think gradualism has a chance. In fact, I don't think it deserves a chance at this point. It has, after all, been the political gradualism of groups like the Libertarian party that have failed decade after decade.

Here's an early problem in Quinn's essay. "Decade after decade, Americans have voted for intellectually and morally bankrupt dullards that promise them more goodies under the tree."

But, one ought to know, they don't. Decade after decade, Americans do not register to vote, do not go to the polls, and do not vote for these dullards. In 2008 the presidential election attracted about 131 million voters, including any number of dead who rose from the grave to cast straight party ticket ballots. Which means Obama won less than 23% of the population's endorsement, minus the dead people.

By a coincidence more strange than funny,
That's exactly how we treat our money.
—Aristophanes, The Frogs

In 2008, just about exactly 130 million Americans filed any sort of personal income tax. There were 307.5 million persons in the country that year. Almost 58% of the country does not vote and does not pay any income tax.

Some say they suck off the teat of the state; I say they convert stolen goods to private use. That which was stolen is held in common until someone claims it, one way or another, and puts it back into the private sector. It is not as though the persons taking funds from the government were not also stolen from every time they found their paycheck had been raided before it was handed to them.

Americans have already withdrawn from the system. We know it is not working for us, but against us.

There are many reasons Quinn cannot succeed with his flat tax reform proposal, and other reforms. He is trying to fix a system that isn't broken, from the perspective of those who run the system. It pays them fabulous salaries—the average Congress critter is worth two million dollars. It provides for their retirement, even if they only serve one term in office. It allows them to allocate trillions of dollars among corrupt contractor companies who pay them handsomely for their efforts.

What Buckminster Fuller said is correct. "You never change the existing reality by fighting it. Instead, create a new model that makes the old one obsolete."

Jim Quinn isn't creating a new model. He is only making reforms around the edges. Make taxes more tolerable, but still fund the same corrupt contractors, and how long before they find another endless war to have others fight?

Here is a new model: agorism, from the Greek "agora." The market place where free men met to trade and discuss. Also this backronym I made up a few months ago: Avoiding government and operating realistic, individualistic, sensible markets. Agorism.

Learn it, live it, love it. The taxes you save would be your own.

The national debt? That isn't my debt. I didn't sign for it, I didn't agree to it, I didn't offer to guarantee it. That debt is the debt of the political system, in which I don't participate, because I don't consent to be governed. The debt is owed personally by each member of Congress who voted to spend more than the country took in, who voted to raise the debt ceiling over and over again (heck of an architect built that ceiling that keeps raising, huh? Gramm Rudman and Hollings should be so lucky).

Let the national debt be paid out of the mansions and labor of those who violate their oaths to uphold the constitution. Let it be paid by confiscating the wealth of the military contractor companies and their executives. Or let it not be paid.

The system is unworkable, unsustainable, and not fixable. Good. Judging by the results, it wasn't worth having. Henry David Thoreau pointed this out in 1848. It is about time you worked it out for yourself.

But, as Murray Rothbard points out in his essay attempting to eviscerate Sam Konkin without ever bothering to prove many of his points, it is easy to tear down the system as unworkable. It is far harder to propose something new. ([cite] for Rothbard)

I would begin by following up on L. Neil Smith's excellent proposal of the covenant of unanimous consent. Dennis Lee Wilson has pointed out recently that the covenant covers the basics of human relationships.

It says, to me, among other things, let other people alone. Don't try to run their lives. Don't make choices for them. If you cannot tolerate being around gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons, men who wear eye liner, punks, rude words, clear thinking, Islam, Catholicism, Nazis, or other weird ideologies like environmentalism or Marxism, then stay away from such people. Or leave when they present themselves. Or engage them in dialog. But don't aggress against them—you have no right to coerce their agreement.

Of course, this ideology makes a mockery of the border police and the xenophobia that accompanies them. Recently, a science fiction writer from Canada was beaten and arrested while leaving the USA. Clearly we don't need an aggressive border patrol. Once we end all tariff and duty collection, it seems to me we don't need any border patrol.

Withdrawing from the state by refusing to vote, refusing to file papers, avoiding taxes that may be avoided, is already the choice of the vast majority of 308 million Americans. It is among the many choices in the free market. There are things to buy, things to sell, and many things to do. Pick your trading partners carefully, and get busy.

Need a plan? I know people who write plans for a living. Need an organisation? Find one, or build one. Or more than one. As Rothbard is at some pains to point out, there is nothing wrong about organising, planning, and setting up your projects and companies with clearly defined roles. But it is up to you. Choose what you would design and make real.

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

Jim Davidson is an anti-war activist involved in the divestment project detailed at He is also an author and entrepreneur. His latest book Being Sovereign is now available from > and should be available, soon, from Amazon.


The Ready Store

Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

Big Head Press