Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 571, May 23, 2010

"The old order is clearly dying and a bright,
raucous, energetic new disorder
being born as we watch."

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Sixty Wasted Years
by Jim Davidson
jim at vertoro dot com

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

So, tonight I hung up on a decent, kind old man. The fact that I was tired, that I'd been up since the day before, that my mother's dog is quite probably going to die despite our trip to the emergency on-call vet's—that doesn't excuse what I did. And I'm not writing this note to excuse my action, nor to apologise, because I did what I thought was the right thing to do. And I still think so.

Julian Heicklen is a decent, kind, elderly man who believes in classical liberalism. He believes that he has constitutional rights, that the state exists with his consent, and that it proposes to take a large amount of his income, a part of what he spends on gasoline, and a part of nearly every other thing he does or buys, and with that enormous wealth—trillions of dollars over the last sixty years, defend his life, his liberty, and his property. He's wrong.

He's mistaken because the system of classical liberalism to which he has devoted his life is based on fallacies. It is based on the fallacy that the state cares about his consent. It does not. It could care less if he chooses to consent or not. The people who run the state do not care whether or not he agrees to their terms. If he objects, they'll put him in a cage. If he resists, they'll kill him. They have already put him in a cage and killed many who have resisted. For example on 4 May 1886 in Chicago those who ran the state instigated a riot by police which killed many. For example 4 May 1970 in Ohio those who ran the state instigated a massacre by national guard troops who killed and wounded many—on the orders of president Nixon. I could give other examples of people whose resistance at any level was met with brutality—Waco, Ruby Ridge, those people you saw being butchered by a militaristic pig in a helicopter on that Wikileaks video.

The state is killing people right now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and sometimes you learn of it. The state has not "declared war" or followed the constitution in any aspect of torture, indefinite detention, execution, and mass murder. To expect it to do so is madness.

For sixty years the state has been making things safer for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For sixty years the state has been capturing and logging all the communications in the world under a program called ECHELON administered by the National Security Agency. These institutions exist to protect these institutions, not you.

The state does not care whether you consent or not. The state is perfectly agreeable to killing you, today, without trial, to protect the interests of those who run the state. The state has not gotten better by being admonished about fully informed jurors. And the state has persisted in making up evidence, lying on the witness stand, and engaging in double jeopardy over and over again to get its way. The Donald Scott case, the Tonya Craft case, the Watergate investigation, every scandal for the last sixty years reveals that those who operate the state are prepared to lie, cheat, and steal in court just as much as they do in elections, just as much as they do in all other aspects of your encounters with the state.

So then a friend of mine informs me that he turned the conversation some hours after I hung up. w00t.

Well, tell me about it, Keith. Tell me about something involving not spending the next 60 years of my life doing the same things that Julian Heicklen has been doing, making things worse. Tell me about somehow not having the state get worse and worse, built up and built up over his objections to counter his resistance. Tell me all about how things are going to be better some other way.

Because I tell you this: No eternal reward can forgive us now for wasting the dawn. I cannot accept Julian's proposal that we join him in "doing this for sixty years" in celebration of the results of his endeavours. To accept his proposal would be madness.

For sixty years he has tried engagement, negotiation, and protest. For sixty years he has handed out literature and been arrested eight times. For sixty years he has demanded that the state fulfil its obligations under the classical liberalism fallacies that the state involves his consent, that the state serves to protect his freedoms. And for sixty years the state has spat upon his point of view and treated him like dirt.

Can you see that this proposal isn't working? Can you imagine that it would ever work? The people who operate the state are knaves who do not give a DAMN about his consent. They exist to separate him from his property, his liberty, and to the extent they choose, his life, for the benefit of those who run the state. Sometimes the state is polite about spitting on him, and sometimes they are unpleasant about it. But he is not welcome to speak, he is not "allowed" to pass out literature, and he is not to be photographed while being arrested, "or else." And on rare occasions, in their consummate finesse, they "allow" him to pass out literature and judges still excuse jurors who think they have the ancient authority to judge the law as well as the facts.

The justice he seeks in their courts does not exist. The state has taken away all due process, already, and the president has authorised the execution of an American citizen without trial, without any opportunity to present a defence, without any of the other protections for the accused. And Julian's method has therefore failed.

So, yes, Keith, if there is some way forward, I might like to hear about it. I'm not confident that I have the stomach to listen to the old man moan about the constitution again for the first hour to get to this glorious third hour you mention, so maybe you could simply riddle me this: What's it all about?

Confronting the state and resisting it directly is a snare for your feet. What is it about the results from the American revolutionary war that you would care to repeat? What is it about the protests at the Haymarket in Chicago and at the campus of Kent State in Ohio that you would like to see happen again? Is it the bloodshed? Are you thinking that you have enough blood, this time, to wash away the state and its depredations?

How many died in vain for this belief on the battlefields at Saratoga and Yorktown, all the while Washington and Hamilton were plotting the rise of their dominating central state? The regular army was a complete failure until Yorktown, losing battles, retreating in disorder. The militia, including the volunteer sharpshooters kept winning, including at Saratoga. Yet Washington insisted on a "professional" military with discipline he imposed—at times with death, on more than one occasion in the face of full blown mutiny.

Why? Because he wanted a cadre who would obey, no matter what. And he got it, and that is the seed around which the military of the USA was built. The direct, necessary consequence of that choice is a helicopter full of gung ho morons slaughtering civilians on that video at Wikileaks. Stare into the face of that viciousness. Or stare into the viciousness of the Nazi SS as they slaughtered 20 million civilians in addition to their share of the tens of million more dead from the combat.

And for what did all those people die? A different brand of injustice.

American soldiers and sailors and airmen have been fighting and bleeding and killing and dying since before the nation declared its independence for what? For nothing. It has done no good.

They swore an oath to uphold and defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, and they failed. They failed and have been sent, since 1945, to fight countless wars in countries all over the world without any declaration of war. The USA has intervened in dozens of countries, has bases in over a hundred countries, and totally ignores the constitution. Is that the liberty these men fought and bled and died to defend?

They swore an oath to defend the constitution which says that the accused have rights. And the accused have been stripped of their rights on military bases in Cuba and elsewhere. The constitution says that no one who swears to uphold it shall inflict cruel and unusual punishments. And the military inflicts those cruelties and punishments, without trial, without compulsory process for defence witnesses, without the accused having the freedom to confront the witnesses against them. The military has failed.

And if the military has failed, if the millions who have worn uniforms and have fought and bled and died have failed, what a miserable idea it is to charge the barricades. What additional valour do you bring to this party? You bring more blood, it is true, and I would that you did not empty your arteries on the ground at the feet of tyrants. But you bring no greater gallantry, no more noble daring. And you don't have any better weapons. What usually happens when men and women without guns go up against men and women with guns? Consult the bodies at Kent State.

It hasn't worked. Resisting the state has built up the muscles of the state wherever it has been resisted. Protesting the state for sixty years has utterly failed to improve things. Rather, to the contrary, Julian Heicklen's efforts have made things worse. The state is more tyrannical, more vindictive, less amenable to change because it is being resisted.

Another Path
For some time now I have made this point and sought that it might sink in. I see that I too have been a failure. But at least I have not been at it for sixty years. Yet.

The point is not really my own, but was made by the ancient Chinese sage and philosopher Laozi. It was made again by Étienne de La Boétie.

You do not have to place your hands upon the tyrants to make them fall. Withdraw your support and they'll fall.

Shedding your blood before a federal courthouse in a reckless charge of the barricades is not withdrawing your support. It is engaging the system.

Arguing with federal pigs about your right to video an arrest or a distribution of literature is not monkey wrenching the system. It is engaging the system, asking for permission from the seat of power, validating their control.

What does it mean: monkey wrench? It refers to a particular type of spanner that was invented by Charles Moncky. It is an adjustable-end spanner. Throwing one in disgust into the works of a factory may have the sometimes desirable result of sabotaging that factory. Which brings us to the sabots or wooden shoes that workers in France used to use for such work, gaining them the name saboteur.

So monkey wrenching the system would involve shutting off the power to the court building. Or burning the post office to the ground the day before tax payments are mailed. (Whoops, most tax payments are not mailed, and most of those tax returns mailed in are demanding refunds of taxes already withheld. Too bad.) Monkey wrenching might involve an asymmetric thrust on one of the shuttle solid boosters causing carnage to all in the vicinity as the shuttle shears off its restraining bolts and makes like a Catherine wheel toward the viewing stands, as in a fabulous scene written by Victor Koman in Kings of the High Frontier.

But engaging the federal pigs and recognising their authority to accept or prevent your little literature distribution festival? That isn't monkey wrenching. That does not destroy the system's ability to oppress you. It recognises it.

I am not against the protesters
Don't mistake my position. I am for those who protest the state even though they do so in a way that I am confident won't work. I am for those who have been arrested and abused and seek justice. I don't expect them to get it in the enemy's courts, but I'm happy to support their efforts. I am for those who are oppressed winning the day.

And sometimes the system imagines that it is better served by letting our friends go, or charging them with assaulting a federal officer and then, curiously, releasing them on bail to be a future "danger" to other federal officers as they have confusedly done in the case of George Donnelly. I want George to have the best representation possible, and if that means money, I'm happy to provide money. If it means other forms of logistical or spiritual support, I'm happy to do that. Not at all because of any love lost between George and me over the years—I don't agree with his positions on many issues.

But I am also not for sending more men and women into the meat grinder. And if you are, if you can show me how this has worked out well in the past, if you can assure me that your generation of blood brings to the butcher shop some special class of bloodiness that is going to make all the difference this time, I shall listen, and watch.

Your path has failed, again and again. Men and women with equal vigour and far better weapons have failed again and again. Would you, looking at the mangled bodies of these people, consider another path?

I do not say that it is an easy path to walk. I do not offer medals for courage and the enthusiasm of those who seek only bravery. You may be called a coward and a reprobate and far worse things—a capitalist and a whore.

But it is a path forward that has worked, again and again, for free people. It is the path of agorism. It is the path of withdrawing your consent and your wealth and your mind from the state. It is the path of John Galt's strike of the productive. It is the path of Laozi turning away from power.

And I do say that in this generation we have invented something new that makes all the difference, that brings added value to this approach. We have open source software, encryption, and private economic exchange technologies that allow any two people anywhere in the world to exchange value privately without detection. Embrace these techniques, help make them easier to use, and gain for them widespread acceptance, and the state shall wither. For what they cannot detect they cannot regulate, prohibit, nor tax.

Without compulsory taxation, the state is just another bully. And perhaps in those death throes of the state it might make sense to charge the barricades one last time, for old time's sake, to mingle our blood with the wasted lives and crippled bodies of patriots who thought theirs was the final battle, or the final war. You can do that if you choose. You can go to hell, I'm going to Mars.

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Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, and anti-war activist. His 1990 venture to offer a sweepstakes trip into space was destroyed by government action as was his free port and prospective space port in Somalia in 2001. His 2002-2007 venture in free market money and private stock exchange was destroyed by government action in 2007. He's going to Mars if he has to walk. His second book, Being Sovereign is now availble from Lulu and Amazon. His third book Sovereign Self-Defense will be released for Kindle soon. His fourth book Being Libertarian will be available for free download as a .pdf, being a compilation of all his essays and letters in The Libertarian Enterprise since 1995. Contact him at or


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