Narrated by talk show host, Brian Wilson, “Down With Power” a Libertarian
Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
Number 1,045, November 3, 2019

We could be headed for another Lexington and Concord

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Loyal to Life
by Jim Davidson

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

"The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.”
— Joel Stein

Please take a few minutes and think about who you are. Spend as much time as you need, and then get back to this essay. If it means meditating, or sleeping, or going outside, or doing whatever it is you do to get in touch with who you really are, please take that time.

Let me say who I think each one of us is, especially in the context of who I am. In the past, in these pages, I've written what I believe. You have your own views, your own past, your own experiences, your own dreams, hopes, ambitions. Each one of us is a soul, a being of consciousness. You are not merely the body you occupy because you know from experiencing life that there are people whose bodies look just the same but are no longer occupied. Death stills the animating spirit.

It has been said in various ways that you are a spiritual being that is having human experiences. You are the animating spirit of your body. You are here in your body, in your life, living and being and experiencing. Your self-preservation may be instinctive, but it is also spiritual. You are loyal to your own life because you don't want to be without it, right now, at this time.

Higher Values

You are also aware that there are other people and things in your life. Of course, these have value to you. Some people are really annoying and you'd like to be as far away from them as you can get. Others are really awesome and wonderful and you love them. There are people in your life whose absence would be a devastating blow. Therefore, there are people to whom you are loyal.

It is perfectly natural to have a group loyalty, especially to family, lovers, friends, people with whom you are close. Moreover, there is an instinctive response to preserve your species, even at the risk of death to yourself. You are loyal to the lives of those you care about, and if you had to stop a bullet to save your child, you would.

Since your existence, and the future of your genetic heritage, depends on the continued existence of the human species, it is natural to feel loyalty to your kind of being. It is also the case that in the absence of many people, the things you find enjoyable would be much less available. Less food would be produced, fewer comforts, less music, fewer inventions, fewer books, fewer performances, a great many things that make life fun would be out of reach for a great many more people. Thus, it is natural to want things to go on more or less as they have been, without great cataclysms and catastrophes.

Perverted Values

However, there are people who want your loyalty because it gives them power over you, and over others near you. By organising their activities they can arrange things to their advantage. Whether it is done through advertising and marketing and promotion, or whether it is done through coercion, it is possible to create loyalty. There is a vast array of loyalties which most people find familiar, and a great many of these are innocuous.

For example, you might like your neighbourhood, care about it, want it to be tidy, and pick up litter if you see it on your front lawn. You might like the people near you and act to protect their property while they are away. You might have some enthusiasm for your town or city and go to community picnics or festivals or fireworks shows. There are all manner of loyalties to have.

You went to a school, or several, and you may feel inclined to honour that past connection. You might "root for the home team" in athletic competitions. You might loyally watch a particular team as it makes its way through the season of their sporting activity. I myself rather enjoyed seeing the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup last year. Great team, and a most enjoyable sport. It has always seemed to me that a physical contact sport where people are punished for knocking one another down has a strange level of hypocrisy built in. Hockey doesn't have that pretence, or not as much.

However, it is possible to go too far. There are people who feel that they should show up at the sports arena not in the spirit of good sportsmanship but in a sort of vendetta. There are football hooligans (or as you call them soccer hooligans) who gang up and beat up fans of the opposing team. There are people who riot and destroy property. There are people who let themselves be told to do terrible things.

Yes, some of these people wear special costumes called uniforms. And therein are some of the biggest problems.

Loyalty Unto Death

People are told to do things and, because it is easier to obey than to think, very often people do what they are told. Much of the time, that doesn't go anywhere bad, really. You are told by a parent to clean up your room, you do, and it isn't so bad. You are told to stop playing that video game right now and take out the garbage. Ugh! You do. You are told by an instructor to do fifty push ups, and you do them. It is easier to obey than to rebel, so, in many instances you do.

But you remain responsible for your choices. And if you choose actions or inaction that causes other people to be enslaved, to be brutalised, to be hurt, to be robbed, or to be killed, those are your choices. Those are consequences you've caused. Actions have consequences. Sometimes words do, but only if someone acts on them. Also at times, doing nothing is a mistake, and causes harm. It is in the nature of the universe that actions have consequences and it is in the nature of your soul that you may come to regret causing some of them.

There are people who have been ordered to put other people into gas chambers, in large numbers. In last week's essay, I quoted from RJ Rummel who did a lot of research into how all that was done, especially in the 20th Century but also in previous centuries, and who concluded that it was a great task to complete so he wouldn't have to think about all the inventive ways in which millions of people have been killed, burned, and mutilated.

There are people who have been the whip hand of the overseer, who have tortured others, who have put people in chains. There are such people today, some of whom are jailers, some of whom are told they are gleaning national security secrets from enemies of the state, and there are some who perversely enjoy hurting others.

So, it is one thing to be told to run a play in a competitive sport, and do the things your team mates expect, and lose the ball or make the play. It is one thing to win or lose a game. And it is another to do what you are told when someone asks you to commit an atrocity. There are going to be other games in your life, most likely, and so losing a chess game because your teacher told you to make a certain move, or losing a ball game because you tried a daring play and it failed, these are not the end of the world, however much status may be riding on victory or loss.

Loyalty to Life

Thus, we come back to you thinking about who you really are. Are you in uniform? Are you in a job that requires you to hurt others, deliberately? Is that who you really want to be?

You have a choice. You have the choice to choose to do no harm. You have the choice to object conscientiously. You have the choice to disobey. It comes with consequences, you may have a trial, you may have a prison sentence, and there are times when people are killed for refusing to obey an unjust order. Still.

Would I rather you not be loyal to an artefact of human crafting? Absolutely. I'd rather you stop being an idolator. Stop worshipping a flag or a parchment or a uniform or a potentate. Stop obeying because it represents some dogmatic belief in a nation state or a local government, which is, after all, just a bunch of people.

If you are with the police, or military, or the prison system, I don't have anything against you in particular, nor anything in favour of you. The only thing I want from you is that you quit. Don't re-enlist. Resign. Stop bullying other people. Stop using your power to harm others. Stop enslaving, stop torturing, stop hurting, stop killing, stop tormenting others. Resolve to serve no more and be free.

If you are not with any of those sorts of groups, if you are not a judge or prosecutor, not a sheriff deputy or constable, not a soldier or sailor or airman, not a prison guard, not a torturer, then please don't get involved in those things. Remember who you are. Remember why you are here, in this life, having these experiences. It isn't so you can dominate and brutalise and overpower others. It is so you can learn and grow and experience. Live your life for life, for the experience of making living a better and more enjoyable thing, not only for yourself but for many others. Get out of the mindset that says for one to win many must lose and look for answers that involve everyone winning, everyong being better off.

The Road Ahead

It is likely that things are going to change very rapidly now. People are going to do a lot of new things, and a lot of old systems are going to fall apart. Economies are going to crash. Jobs are going to end. Natural disasters are coming. How do I know? These are things that are always true.

Rebellions are happening right now. Chile, Hong Kong, Catalonia, France, all have active rebellions with people in the streets. People are fighting for change. People are dying for change. People in governments are brutalising, enslaving, and killing people who rebel.

You have choices. You always have choices. So many people in Denmark acted to make sure that their neighbours were not hauled off to death camps that the Germans were most dissatisfied during World War Two. Yet, there was a strength in that common will to resist.

Yes, it may kill you to remain loyal to life, to freedom, to caring about humanity. I suggest it is worth paying a high price. Some things are of inestimable worth, and it should come as no surprise that we pay dearly for them.


Jim Davidson is cfo of and vision director of He is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and dancer. You can find him online as and elsewhere. Lately he also likes

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