Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 798, November 23, 2014

There is no one in charge.
There are only lies.

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No One Is In Charge Here
by Tyrone Johnson

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

"To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire, and where they make a desert, they call it peace."—Calgacus, quoted in Tacitus, "On the life and death of Agricola," AD 98

"They build a prison and call it progress."—George Orwell, Burmese Days, 1934

"No one is in charge here."—Kelly Barth, 2012

Is someone in charge of your life, someone other than you? If so, why do you allow that situation to persist? Are you forced to obey, or do you obey because you don't want to make trouble? And if your freedom is important to you, why not make trouble?

There are those who claim that the government is in charge of you. After all, there are consequences for disobedience. If you don't obey the rules, if you don't pay your taxes, if you don't shuffle along in mindless support of the system, things can go very hard for you.

Police may come to your door. You might be arrested. You might be imprisoned. Evidence that would be exculpatory will be withheld from you, you won't be given a chance to make a defence if the judge and prosecutor want to coerce a plea bargain, and you might be killed if you try to resist. Refusing to do what the state demands, wherever you live, can cause your property to be seized, your control over a business enterprise removed, and the people you love tormented.

But those are the consequences of obedience, too. Those who think they are in charge are not better people than you. They are as unpleasant, temperamental, discouraging, self-centred, jealous, and violent as anyone else. Many of those who crave political and economic power are actually psychotic socio-paths, which are words we use to describe people whose behaviour is not alloyed with love or compassion. To say that such people are crazy is to deny that normal people have such feelings. Terms like crazy and normal suggest that there are identifiable ways of being that are acceptable and ways that are not, that those who act on their terrible urges are mentally ill. To the extent that anyone is in charge, here, those people are crazy, sick, demented, and evil. So, you cannot trust that by obeying their edicts you won't get into trouble with them. Obedience won't save you from perversity.

In fact, there is no one in charge. There are only lies. Those who demand you pay taxes tell lies to pretend that you have an obligation to pay them. Those who demand that you support the war effort, whichever war it may be, are lying. You have no obligation to support the war against drugs, the war against terror, the war against your freedom, the war against whichever dictator has fallen out of fashion, the war to support whichever dictators remain fashionable, the war to protect access to oil supplies, the war to protect the financial interests of the very wealthy. You are free to be for those wars or against them, just as you see fit.

You have no obligation to sign up for military service, or national service. You have no obligation to register with the national government for a future draft. You have no obligation to file tax papers, nor any obligation to collect taxes from others. You don't have to do the things those in power say you must do. When they say so, they are lying.

But, if people in power aren't really in charge, and they aren't really all that different from you or me, then what basis do we have for choosing? If the system of hierarchy established by, say, the Catholic church from the time of Bishop Irenaeus, or the hierarchy established by the British monarchy from the time of William the Conqueror, or the hierarchy established by those in power in your country, province, county, township, or neighbourhood, are not righteous hierarchies, have nothing to do with your free will, and are not in charge of you, how do you know what actions are right and which actions are wrong?

There is one basic principle, one guiding idea, that can sort out ethical problems. That idea is the zero aggression principle. Simply stated, "no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever. It is not right to advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else." This simple concept forms the basis for The Libertarian Enterprise's standard on "who is a libertarian," found here and is also the essential doctrine of the Covenant of Unanimous Consent.

Similar ideas have been expressed throughout human history. Philosophers like Lao-Tze, Buddha, Jesus, and many others have extolled the virtues of non-aggression. Many of the greatest writers have opposed the idea of participating in systems of aggression, opposed war, argued against torture and abuse, written eloquently about the failure of authoritarian ideas. Revolutionaries have fought against tyrants because of this basic principle. Inventors have developed endless tools and technologies to circumvent aggression that poses as government.

If you need an indictment of authority, consider what those in power choose to do. They ban ordinary items, plants like marijuana. They set ridiculous standards about how long a piece of wood or metal may be in a gun. They attack as "contraband" rubber washers and pieces of tubing that might be formed into a sound suppressor. Having banned sound suppressors, they attack gun ranges for being too noisy. Recently, one of the arrogant scum who promotes government intervention, Paul Krugman, proclaimed his enthusiasm for a ban on the chemical element phosphorus. In other words, there is nothing on Earth or in the heavens that the authoritarian won't ban.

Having banned things, the authoritarian declares war. There is a war against drugs, which is a global war, in which dozens of countries are treaty participants. That war was begun in the early part of the 20th Century, by racists, for the purpose of promoting race hatred. It has imprisoned millions of persons, excused tens of millions of arrests, and justified enormous expenditures by authoritarian governments on all kinds of tools, technologies, equipment, and personnel for the enforcement of the ban.

Having declared war on drugs, the authoritarian builds prisons. People are forced into those prisons, sometimes with due process of law but most often with a sham process. Evidence is hidden. Prison terms and penalties are waved at the accused. Plea bargains are always coerced, because there can be no plea agreement without coercion on the part of government. Prisons are filled up, which benefits the prison building and prison operating industries. Often, those in prison are forced to work against their will, or for slave rewards that can only be used in a "concession" for slightly less bad food or over-priced comfort items. The concessionaires get wealthy selling over-priced collect phone calls and pretending they are providing communications services.

Having declared war, the authoritarian demands more war machines. Bombers are built by companies like Boeing, not because they couldn't build space ships to explore the universe, but because they really like building bombers. Bombs, fighter jets, and other tools of warfare are sent around the world to support dictatorships such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a government which imposes the religion of Islam in its territory. Other religious states, including Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan are supported, while religious states such "the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," and Iran are derided as tyrannical. Military personnel are sent to fight wars by authoritarians for the purpose of propping up systems of authority and control. Espionage systems are designed and implemented to keep order.

Having gone to war, the authoritarian demands your money, your sons, your daughters, and your compliance. You must pay higher taxes because there is a war. Money must be borrowed from international financial enterprises such as Citigroup in order to "keep the government running," and keep the war machine funded. Interest on that money must be paid, and that means more taxes on you. When Citigroup's incompetent managers fail to safeguard their assets, they are bailed out with billions of government guarantees. You didn't agree to borrow the money, you probably didn't gain any benefit from the money being spent by government, but you are supposed to be a part of a nation, so you are supposed to pay for the national debt. Here's some important information from Ernie Hancock: It isn't your debt.

Your children are recruited to fight the wars. They are recruited to become police officers to bully people in your community. They are given riot gear and told to suppress free speech and free assembly. They are given uniforms and made into soldiers. They are sent to foreign countries for long tours of duty and put in the way of explosive devices and bullets. Those in power rarely send their own children, of course.

They make a desert of the entire world, and they call it peace. They tell lies in order to justify stealing, raping, and destroying, and they call it empire. They build prisons and call it progress. They lie, cheat, steal, coerce, and insist.

But the truth is very different. No one is in charge here. No one. No one is in charge of your destiny. No one has properly authorised power over you. You don't have to obey. You don't have to pay. You don't have to comply. You don't have to send your children to war. You don't have to go to prison. You have the power to choose.

Choose not to serve. Choose this day who not to serve. Choose not to serve those who lie, those who steal, those who build prisons, those who make war. Choose to be left alone.

Recently, a friend of mine, Justin Turrell, who is the technology lead for SilentVault, said something important. He said, "If your technology won't let you escape the state's grasp, rethink your technology, not your jurisdiction."

The company I work for is committed to creating tools to make it easier for people to remain free, to have economic privacy, and to do as they choose. If you look around, you can find people to work with who feel just the same way. Maybe that would be better than what you are doing now.

Your life is your own. Make the most of it. No one is in charge here.

Tyrone Johnson is the marketing and business development lead for SilentVault. Recently, the company developed and released two wallet applications that help to anonymize bitcoin and other currencies. You can follow his posts on Twitter @SilentVault or read his blogs here or here.

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