Please share it far and wide to help achieve Liberty in Our Lifetime. Peace.
(warning: graphic images)
The United States may be finished dropping bombs on Iraq, but Iraqi bodies will be dealing with the consequences for generations to come in the form of birth defects, mysterious illnesses and skyrocketing cancer rates.
Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail reports that contamination from U.S. weapons, particularly Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions, has led to an Iraqi health crisis of epic proportions.
Over at Free Keene, Ian Freeman reports the sad news that activist Rich Paul, the creator of the historic 420 celebrations in downtown Keene, New Hampshire, was found guilty on April 18 for selling cannabis:
Even though Rich Paul knew that what he was doing was illegal according to the criminal enterprise known as the State of New Hampshire, a lot of people were still sad to see him caged since the acts he performed were peaceful in nature.
Some people seemed to forget their consciences, however, and had no sympathies for Rich Paul simply because he did something the government said not to do. Thomas Clement was one such heartless person:
I sometimes wonder how personal slavery, a very serious form of aggression, existed for so long. Weren’t people repulsed by it? How did they stand by and let it exist? One hypothesis is that many people were obedient to government. Since government supported slavery many people may have consequently gone along with supporting slavery as well.
I wonder what Thomas Clement would think of Frederick Douglass‘ story if he read his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Would he agree with most people of our time and say that it was unjust for people to enslave him? Would he agree that the government’s fugitive slave laws were unjust? Would he have sympathy for Frederick Douglass?
If so, would he retract his comment pictured above that knowingly breaking a law is reason enough to not have sympathy for a lawbreaker?
It’s hard to imagine that many people in today’s world would not have sympathy for Frederick Douglass and his peers who were beaten or killed for breaking unjust laws. I bet that Thomas Clement would feel sympathy for them and I bet that once he realized this he would be more inclined to be sympathetic to other heroic people who bravely break unjust laws for the sake of their own freedoms and everyone else’s freedoms.
People like Frederick Douglass and Rich Paul make the world a better place. It’s sad to see them harmed, especially when so many people support the aggression against them.
Consider moving to New Hampshire for the Free State Project to help achieve Liberty in Our Lifetime.
The first time I encountered the argument that there exist implicit contracts between mothers and their fetuses that make it so the mothers do not have the right to evict the fetuses from their bodies was when Mark Stoval made the argument in his post, “Murray Rothbard and I Disagreed on Abortion and Child Abandonment.”
I recently encountered the argument again in Jakub Wisniewski’s essay, “Response to Block on Abortion, Round Three,” and felt the need to respond more clearly, since I still do not believe the argument succeeds. Wisniewski writes:
[Walter] Block tries to show the supposed untenability of my reliance on the principle of pacta sunt servanda on the grounds that “at the time of intercourse (…) there is no one for the voluntarily pregnant woman to have a contract with!” True, but why should we treat intercourse rather than conception as the moment at which the relevant, binding decisions take place? since, obviously enough, no contract (even an implicit one) can be made with the fetus before it comes into existence, it seems only natural to think of the moment at which it comes into existence–i.e., conception–as the moment at which the mother, who voluntarily invites a new potential human being into her womb (i.e., voluntarily allows it to appear there), makes an implicit contract with it. Block’s attempt to portray intercourse as the relevant point of focus appears to involve a significant mischaracterization of the situation.
But the mother does not necessarily “voluntarily invite a new potential human being into her womb (i.e., voluntarily allow it to appear there)”, even if she did have consensual intercourse. At the moment of conception and perhaps the moment right before conception, the mother may be thinking, “Oh no, there are sperm cells and an egg cell inside me. I hope they don’t fuse and form a human being because I don’t want a human inside me. If I could do something to prevent a human from appearing inside me I would, but it is out of my control whether the sperm and egg fuse together or not.”
It’s clear that she’s not inviting a human inside her (i.e. voluntarily allowing it to appear inside her) since she is explicitly stating that she doesn’t want the sperm and egg to fuse together (i.e. she doesn’t want a human to appear inside her) and since she can’t control whether or not the sperm and egg happen to fuse together and cause a human to appear anyway.
So I disagree with Wisniewski’s position that whenever a woman has consensual intercourse and gets pregnant, she makes an implicit contract at the time of conception with the new human in which she agrees to carry the fetus to term.
Allow me to make the argument again in the form of a hypothetical conversation between Wisniewski and a woman for the sake of clarifying the argument:
Woman: I recently voluntarily allowed some sperm cells into my body. Currently they are moving around and there is a chance that one of them will fuse with an egg cell and form a new human being. There is nothing I can do to prevent one of them from fusing with an egg cell causing a new human being to form. If a sperm and egg do fuse together forming a new human, I will evict the human from my body.
Wisniewski: But that would be unjust to evict the human from your body.
Woman: Why would it be unjust?
Wisniewski: Because you would have formed an implicit contract with the human in which you agreed not to evict it from your body.
Woman: When would I have made this contract?
Wisniewski: At the moment of conception.
Woman: But I am saying right now that I don’t want the human to appear inside me and that I don’t agree to let it stay inside me if it happens to appear. And soon, when the moment of conception arrives (assuming it does arrive), my will won’t be any different. So how can you say that I would make an implicit contract with those terms if I am explicitly stating now that I do not agree to the terms of the contract and if at the time you say the implicit contract is made I am still explicitly stating that I do not agree to the terms of the contract?
Wisniewski: That’s a good question. Maybe my argument is mistaken. I think I might have assumed that the fact that you consensually had intercourse means that you would later (at the moment of conception) agree to have the human appear inside you. But now that you point out that it does not make sense to say that a person makes an implicit contract if that person is explicitly stating (at the time that the alleged implicit contract is made) that they don’t agree with the terms of the contract, I realize that this was a false assumption.
So in summary, I disagree with Wisniewski’s position that an implicit contract between the mother and new human obliging the mother to carry the fetus to term is made at the time of conception.
However, I am not sure that I fully agree with Walter Block. In Wisniewski’s essay, “A Critque of Block on Abortion and Child Abandonment,” he writes:
Further, he [Block] denies that the voluntariness of the pregnancy obliges the woman to carry the fetus to term; such an obligation could stem only from there being an implicit contract between the two, and Block denies the existence of any such contract on the ground that one cannot consent (even implicitly) to any decision made before one came into being.
While I agree with Block that no such contract (even an implicit one) between the mother and fetus exists (as I argued above), I disagree with Block in that I don’t think that such an obligation for the woman to carry the fetus to term could only stem from a contract between the mother and fetus.
For example, could such an obligation not also stem from a contract between the mother and father? The father could say, “I will not have intercourse with you unless you contractually agree that if you get pregnant as a result then you will carry the fetus to term (unless doing so threatens your own life, etc.).”
If such a contract is legitimate, this would not mean that all evictions should be illegal, because it would not necessarily be the case that all fathers and mothers would make such a contract. However, for those possibly-soon-to-be-fathers concerned about eviction, they could make contracts like this with their partners and if their partners ended up becoming pregnant they would not have the right to evict their fetuses.
Achieving a society with both freedom and peace is of course no simple task. It will require great strategic skill, organization, and planning. Above all, it will require power. Democrats cannot hope to bring down a dictatorship and establish political freedom without the ability to apply their own power effectively.
But how is this possible? What kind of power can the democratic opposition mobilize that will be sufficient to destroy the dictatorship and its vast military and police networks? The answers lie in an oft ignored understanding of political power. Learning this insight is not really so difficult a task. Some basic truths are quite simple.
A Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji, for example, outlines this neglected understanding of political power quite well:
In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).
Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.
One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”
Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.
On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.
Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”
Also recommended is Gene Sharp’s 2011 documentary How to Start a Revolution.
While I did not find it as impressive as Rothbard’s essay The Anatomy of the State, it is definitely an important work.
In the essay, Rothbard agrees with a critic who says that the libertarian movement does not have its priorities right. Specifically, many libertarians spend a lot of time worrying about issues such as the “demunicipalization of garbage disposal” rather than the major problems of our time.
Rothbard then argues that the most significant issue of our time is war. He argues that all wars waged by states are aggressive and that states commit the worst crimes in wars. As Randolph Bourne realized, “War is the health of the State.”
In accordance with the objective of reducing the amount of aggression committed by the state, Rothbard calls for libertarians to make reducing the number of innocent people murdered by states in war their top priority. This is achieved first by pressuring states to not wage war:
The libertarian objective, then, should be, regardless of the specific causes of any conflict, to pressure States not to launch wars against other States and, should a war break out, to pressure them to sue for peace and negotiate a cease-fire and peace treaty as quickly as physically possible. [page 7]
Secondly, this is achieved by disarming states so that they are less capable of committing aggression in war:
Highest priority on any libertarian agenda, therefore, must be pressure on all States to agree to general and complete disarmament down to police levels, with particular stress on nuclear disarmament. In short, if we are to use our strategic intelligence, we must conclude that the dismantling of the greatest menace that has ever confronted the life and liberty of the human race is indeed far more important than demunicipalizing the garbage service. [page 9]
So go read antiwar.com and donate. War is indeed the worst part of the state. For those of you who wisely embrace a non-interventionist foreign policy and oppose war, but are not yet anarchists, please consider reading Roderick T. Long’s An Open Letter to the Peace Movement. Thank you.
Tony wrote a note on his cartoon saying:
Unfortunately, not very funny, but so very true. Our priorities should be more on disarming our violent government, not leaving the citizens defenseless against it.
I definitely agree, as did Murray Rothbard.
Ten years ago today, on March 7, 2003, Professor Roderick T. Long wrote the following open letter to the peace movement urging peace activists who opposed the Iraq War to be more consistent in their support of peace by opposing domestic as well as foreign aggression.
Dear Peace Activists:
All honour to you. In your opposition to the United States’ impending war on Iraq, you represent a welcome voice for sanity and civilisation, lifted up against the incessant baying of the dogs of war.
But I want to urge you to follow the logic of your position just a bit further.
Much has been said, and eloquently so, about the need, in dealings between nation and nation, to choose persuasion over violence whenever possible. Hear, hear!
But why this qualification: between nation and nation?
If persuasion is preferable to violence between nations, must it not also be preferable to violence within nations?
Suppose my neighbour runs a business out of his home, and I’d rather he didn’t. If I call the zoning board and ask them to shut his business down by force, am I acting like a peace activist? Or am I acting like George Bush?
Suppose I go to the polls and vote to maintain or increase income taxation, or gun control, or mandatory licensing, or compulsory education. Am I not calling upon the state to invade people’s lives and properties? To impose my will, by legalised force, on those who have done me no harm? To choose violence over persuasion? Am I acting like a peace activist, or am I acting like George Bush?
As Ludwig von Mises writes:
It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
To the extent that government initiates force against its people – and every government qua government must do so, since a government that maintained neither coercive taxation nor a coercive territorial monopoly of authority would no longer be a government, but something a good deal more wholesome – every government is waging a war of aggression against its own people. A consistent peace activist must be an anarchist.
It may be objected that in democratic countries, the government represents the will of the citizens; since the citizens are understood to consent to the government’s actions, those actions cannot count as “aggression” against the citizenry. Volenti non fit injuria.
The notion that voting counts in any meaningful sense as “consent” was subjected to devastating criticisms in the 19th century by the English classical liberal Herbert Spencer, in his essay The Right to Ignore the State, as well as by the American abolitionist Lysander Spooner, in his pamphlet No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. Both works are available online; those tempted to regard majority rule as a form of self-government are invited to consult them.
As peace activists, we understand that aggressive warfare between nations is neither moral nor practical. If violence is to be employed, it must be defensive in nature, and it must be the last resort, not the first. Why would this principle hold good at the international level, but fail at the intranational?
Fellow peace activists: I invite you to join me in the work of the Molinari Institute. The state is the cause and sustainer of war, because the state by its nature is warfare incarnate. Its imperialist aggression beyond its borders is simply an extension of its inherent modus operandi within its borders. There is a peaceful, consensual alternative: Market Anarchism. The object of the Molinari Institute is to see that alternative implemented.
If you love peace, work for anarchy.
Yours in liberty,
Roderick T. Long, President
Originally Posted on March 7th, 2003.
Also published here: peacemovement.wordpress.com