Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 635, September 4, 2011

"The people who benefit from the
system see reform efforts as attacks"

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The Objections Against a Standing Court
by Jim Davidson

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.
—Henry David Thoreau, 1848, On Civil Disobedience
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The propaganda says that the court system is there to provide justice. But there was a time on this planet, three thousand years ago, when most justice was provided on an ad hoc basis. When there was a crime or a tort (a negligent act) to be resolved, a court was formed.

There are still places on Earth, in high mountain regions of Asia, in Somalia, in other traditional societies, even among native populations in some of the supposedly "advanced" countries, where judgement is still found on this same basis. The family of the victim seeks justice. The family of the accused seeks to defend the accused. In many instances, there is a known judge or elder who is regarded as capable of sitting in judgement of each person. If those two judges are not able to resolve the matter, they call in a third. If the parties to the dispute don't agree with the judgement, they may appeal to a larger community of elders. Finally, the case is resolved, all parties having been heard, and the matter of compensation is established. Then the judges go back to doing what they were doing before, and the court is dissolved.

So, the propaganda that the court system is needed, that we have to have court buildings and court rooms and judges and bailiffs and all these laws against every conceivable thing, is all nonsense. We all know the truth. The truth, as Stephen King described it in "The Shawshank Redemption" is that the court system exists to provide young men and women from influential families with jobs in air conditioned offices going over paperwork. Not because those jobs are useful nor productive, but because they are comfortable jobs to have. (Here's a clip from the film version.)

You've seen them. You saw them on your last visit to a court building. Think about those people you saw in the courthouse, in the hallways, in the offices, in the judge's court room, even the judge himself. Think about them out in the heat, working in a field, de-tasselling corn, or shovelling manure. Picture them in your mind's eye doing that for 8 hours a day, as fat and unpleasant as they are. Do you see them? Do you see them toiling, sweating, suffering?

These are some of the most influential people in the county where you live. Do you think they care about justice? In a vague way, like they care about peace and redemption of the soul, maybe. Do you think they would go work in a barn shovelling manure for eight or ten hours a day if that were the way to obtain justice? No way. It isn't going to happen.

They don't serve you. They feed on you.

The reason there continue to be municipal and count courts is not because the world is filled with criminals. Far from it. The FBI's classic examination of this matter shows that something on the close order of 1.8% of the population ever commits a violent crime. People do not, by and large, choose to be violently criminal. And, of course, the only meaningful defence against a distributed threat such as violent crime or terrorist violence is a distributed response, such as having every person be armed and trained in self-defence. The strategy of centralisation has shown itself to be a failure at protecting against crime, not only because it is an unworkable approach to meet a decentralised threat with an hierarchical and centralised response, but also because the fundamental fact is still there: the court system and police patrols function to provide jobs and revenue to people who refuse to work at productive activities.

Nor is it evidently going to be possible to change things by working within the system to reform it. Consider the case of Julian Heicklen. I've mentioned him in the past in an essay about his continuing insistence on wasting his time on reform. More recently, he has been sentenced to time in jail for exercising his first amendment freedom to pass out literature about the ancient freedom of jurors to judge both the case and the law in every matter put before them. Here's an article on that topic.

As you can see, the process is completely "messed-up until no good" or "mung'd" as we sometimes say in coding. Or "FUBAR" as they used to say in the military—fucked up beyond all recognition.

There is no latitude in the system for attacks up on the system. Efforts to reform the system gradually, around the edges, are full of fail because the system thwarts such efforts. The people who benefit from the system see reform efforts as attacks. And that's because when we seek justice, when we seek reform, we really are seeking an end to the predation upon our brothers and sisters. We are attempting to end a system of plantation slavery, where we are all manacled and bound to serve, and the system is designed for the benefit of the overseers and the plantation owners.

To see the plantation is to leave it. But to leave the plantation is not acceptable to those who operate and own it. There is an inherent conflict here, between your desire to be free, and their desire to continue to own you.

Again, I've written extensively about how to move forward. One of the identifiable paths forward is withdrawal from the system, removing resources from it, and refusal to participate in it. That withdrawal has been recommended for thousands of years by historical figures such as Laozi, Etienne de la Boetie, Murray Rothbard, Sam Konkin, and others. Combined with principled libertarian trade and commerce outside the state it is a strategy called "agorism" written about extensively by J. Neil Schulman, Sam Konkin, Brad Spangler, Kyle Bennett, myself, and many others. Combined with open source cryptography and free market money, it becomes technically feasible to engage in trade between any two or more persons without any other persons knowing about it. What cannot be detected cannot be taxed, cannot be regulated, and cannot be prohibited.

Remember that we've seen this strategy in its broad outlines succeed, already, in defeating the Soviet Union, bringing down each of the Warsaw Pact countries. Many dictators lost their positions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. People do have the power to change their world.

As a result of these facts, my friends such as Shaun Lee, John Bush, Harry Felker, Diana Culda, Brad Spangler, and others have formed a series of mutual aid response teams. We're working on applying what we know about the system to current problems people face within the system.

Please join us.

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. He is currently working on a book about travel to Mars with John Wayne Smith, a book with international fugitive Chad Z. Hower on his story, a book on sovereign self-defence, and a book compiling his letters and essays in The Libertarian Enterprise from 1995 to 2010. Contact him at or Come visit IndSovU teams at gatherings in September 2011 in Montana, December 2011 in Florida, and March 2012 in Austin, Texas. Or join State Busters.

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