Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 707, February 3, 2013

Government kills. Government steals.
Government kidnaps. Government enslaves.
Government lies. Government is vastly
worse than anything or anybody it was
created to protect us from.

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Proper Forms of Resistance
by Paul Bonneau

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I suppose it's beginning to dawn on people that we are in a country at war. No, not a war with Yemen, or whatever other Middle Eastern plunderzone du jour is on the menu. What I mean is war between the ruling class and the people the rulers think of as peons - us.

There was no formal, clear declaration of war; but the Patriot Act, NDAA, War on Some Drugs, the final corruption of the courts, official adoption of torture and rendition were all declarations, nevertheless. A declaration much more difficult to misconstrue are the current victim disarmament efforts being pushed through the legislatures and Congress. So obvious are they in fact, that certain county minions have publicly said they are not going there. They know which side their bread is buttered on (despite the federalization of cops and the military toys that have been doled out to them), and they also know they do not want to be shot by their irate, gun-owning neighbors. Self-interest is always dominant. This time they actually do want to pay some attention to the constitutions, even if up until now they had not much use for them.

I thought it might make some sense to discuss what sorts of resistance are both legitimate and productive, and which aren't.

Why? Think about Fort Sumter.

Now, I am sure a pretty fair moral case could be made for bombarding that fort - after all, they did threaten to sink any ship that passed by into Charleston harbor and refused to submit to their theft.

But that is exactly what Lincoln wanted to have happen. That should have been a clue to the Southerners who ordered the bombardment; that while arguably justified, it was far from the wisest course of action. Just think how much better off they would have been if the fort first had to actually sink a ship or two, killing men (and even better, women and children)? It would likely have stopped Lincoln in his tracks. So also would have been a decision by the fort commander not to fire on ships after all, despite his orders.

The first thing to consider is the NAP. As libertarians and/or anarchists, we cannot morally initiate aggression. Then the question becomes, "what is aggression"? Can we just take the fact of NDAA's existence, for example, and call that aggression, justifying any and all "responses"?

I don't think so. There is a fine line to tread here; defense shades into offense, depending on how it is looked at. Just as with Lincoln's plans, a pretty good way to judge whether something is aggression or defense, is by how bystanders will look at it. Now, I understand that bystanders, being themselves indoctrinated and plugged into the Matrix, aren't the most reliable of judges in this matter. But the point about Fort Sumter remains - even if an argument can be morally justified, that does not make it wise.

Resistance should happen and it will happen. Let's just make sure it is not counterproductive.

One almost sure way to guarantee that, is to stick primarily to nonviolent resistance. This should be our number one tool, because it will not ever be construed as a Fort Sumter blunder. Everyone, even in the hard-core gun culture, should become familiar with methods of nonviolent action. For example, study the methods of Gene Sharp, and look at this list of 198 different nonviolent actions you can take - a list that now could be significantly expanded in this age of the Internet.

One fine current example of nonviolent action are the refuseniks in New York state who promise not to obey the law and encourage others to follow that course.

Well, what about armed action?

I would argue that at least in the outset, these should be limited entirely to actions that are responses to clear, violent attacks. As a guide, what do people think about Ruby Ridge or Waco? Both involved armed, defensive actions.

Despite some apologia (by the Ministry of Propaganda) for the government actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco, the bottom line is that we didn't have too many more Wacos subsequently! The rulers figured out that what they did there made them look pretty bad. Bottom line, the armed defensive actions of the victims were considered justified by most people.

There are other cases that are not quite so cut-and-dried. For example, given the current court system, which now resembles a mechanism to feed the Gulag more than a tool to find justice, how does one respond to an arrest attempt? Will you be thrown into some hole never to be seen again, as NDAA "authorizes"? US jails, after all, are filled mostly with political prisoners. Does one simply lie down and submit to an offer to ruin the rest of one's life?

The problem of course, is that most people still believe the government religion, and think that submission to arrest is the only reasonable course. We still aren't up to Stalin's gulag yet (I'll bet few Russians had delusions about it at that point).

Why should we care how others look at it? How much should we care?

The why is simple. The reason society exists at all is that people care what others think, as a general rule. There is no getting around this fact. In a completely anarchist society, this tendency will be even stronger, not weaker.

But as with anything else, the devil's in the details. We shouldn't necessarily care what everyone thinks. Clearly, government cronies and employees (including members of the Ministry of Propaganda) are mostly going to be satisfied with nothing less than our abject and complete surrender. We shouldn't care what they think!

Some large segment of the population tend to blow with the wind. I have referred to them as "furniture" in the past. We should probably care a little bit what they think, but not go overboard with it.

There is another large segment that is our potential support group - people who might be called "the Remnant", those still with some amount of principle operating, with some appreciation for liberty. In any rebellion, there may be ten of these for every actual fighter. These are clearly the people we really need to care about. We must avoid any actions that lose us significant support in this group.

The way I look at it, is that nonviolent actions tend to be collective (the larger the better), while armed defense tends to be individual (like Kleck said, 2.5 million individual defensive uses per year). The two happen in largely different venues; so the concern, of some like Gene Sharp, that violent defensive responses might mar nonviolent events may be a little overstated. Even Martin Luther King was armed or was protected by armed friends, when that was appropriate.

It may be just you and the cop, out on that lonely highway. If he and you both act respectfully, then "no harm no foul" - even if he is stealing some of your money for no good reason. The time to have contested that practice is long gone, maybe a hundred years gone - until the next societal reset, that is. But if he deploys his taser and decides to assault you and bash your head against the concrete, it looks like the war has finally come to you. Prepare to lick his boots and submit to his abuse, or fight.

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