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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

I am no fan of pragmatism.  Pragmatism is the historical cop-out.  I am not a fan of apathy or complacency either, but these are the direct off-spring of pragmatic thinking.  The combination of these elements turn even the most principled men (and women) into wet noodles and ultimately into willing slaves.

An interesting concept popped into my head this week.  It’s one that I’ve actually spoken on in the past such as with my previous entry on Galt’s Oath.  For lack of a better term for it, I am going to call it ‘anti-pragmatism’, but it is in fact a form of pragmatism and one made possible through either apathy or complacency.

My thoughts on this concept came up, among other discussions, in regards to a discussion on the ‘Sanction of the Victim‘ from Atlas Shrugged.  The Wiki entry does a good job of explaining this concept from the book saying:

The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin‘ of creating values”.[23] This concept may be original in the thinking of Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it.

This ‘Sanction of the victim’ extends from the kind of pragmatism I speak of, a pragmatism spawned from either a complacency or a judgment call on behalf of the individual.  Those that choose to call it a judgment call will defend it staunchly as the ‘moral’ and ‘rational’ choice.  This is the principle I have been mulling over in my head this week – is it really?  In reality, this is the concept I’ve been mulling over my whole life – probably that most volitional people struggle with – but I have arrived at a different conclusion.

My life is non-negotiable!

Property that has been ethically obtained is a product of the application of one’s life.  When someone comes to appropriate your property without proper cause or your specified consent, they are appropriating a portion of your life.

If someone came and demanded your foot, or your eye, or your kidneys would you be so willing to concede out of expedience?  Yes, I understand, one cannot survive without a lung and losing a hand is more significant than losing 25% of your latest check, but that’s the point – that’s why it’s easier to take your paycheck – because you will accept it!  Because you will tolerate it!

There is an evil embedded in those that will take advantage of the willingness of people to accept levels of tyranny knowing that those exploited will tolerate it rather than fight it.  There is an evil inherent in those that are fully aware of this fact and continually push the border of it gradually, but stay just short of exceeding the tolerance of such tyranny.  But that evil is enabled by the evil that is the tolerance itself.

Pragmatism is summed up by ‘the ends justifies the means’, but the type of reverse-pragmatism I speak of is summed up by asking ‘What difference will it make to compromise your own ethics and morals [for the sake of expedience] if the end result comes out the same?‘  In other words, it results in convoluted logic such as “I pay my taxes because the government forces me to.  I do it because they hold a gun to my head.”  I say if that is your argument, then make them show up with the gun – then and only then pay with reluctance.  It is because people continue to comply that nothing ever changes.

How many of you have actually had a tax man show up at your door with a gun?  What you are saying is that it ‘could’ result in that, and I don’t want to put up with that.  (what would the neighbors think?  what would my boss think?)  I can’t afford to and still maintain the ‘other’ things I want. (after all, you might have to give up the SUV or the big screen TV!!!)  I’ll trade my morals for security and comfort.   You are saying in big bold letters to all the lawmakers “my life is negotiable so long as the balance is tolerable.”

The end result is the same.  Government grows, freedoms wane and tyranny wins because people are willing to tolerate a given quantity of it.

I say again, My life is non-negotiable!  When you tolerate a given amount of evil for expedience, you only teach those pursuing the evil that there is an amount of it you will tolerate.  At that point, all they need to do is change that level in gradual steps, bit-by-bit, until it is too late for you to realize you are a slave.

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I have engaged in an interesting chain of discussions lately that led to an further interesting chain of thoughts.

One of the first conversations dealt with the American Civil War and the effects it had on the 9th and 10th amendments, state’s rights and federalism.  One of the responses from someone at work to this comment was that it started long before, and that basically the civil war was just a final nail in the coffin.  And it is true, the fight between Federalists and Anti-Federalists started very early in our country’s history and led to the adoption of the Bill of Rights as well as it’s inclusion of those two amendments.

A subject that seems to come up a lot lately is the nature of the Federal Reserve system and possibly putting an end to it.  Yet problems with central banks aren’t new either.  Andrew Jackson fought against the National Bank (founded with help from Alexander Hamilton) for reasons very similar to what we are hearing today in regards to the Federal Reserve.

Other discussions ongoing over the last few years focus on the ‘redistribution of wealth‘ issues.  These too have included reference as far back as the founding fathers, even going back to church dogma in the gospels of Christ and before.

Another, more recent conversation focused on the ‘great unwashed’ speaking of people who tend to abdicate individual responsibility to instead follow charismatic leaders.  Instead of thinking for themselves, they echo whatever viewpoints ‘feel’ the most compelling to them.  This discussion focused on the fact that such people always seem to exist and without compelling them in the right direction, even the best ideas of morals, ethics, governance and the like will never have success.

In other words, ignore the people who act as sheep and someone else may not be as willing to ignore them and may ultimately sway them against you.  Looking back over time, the method of governance historically speaking, generally involves ‘popular’ movements and exercising of force.

The gist of the second discussion was that a sound government will not continue to exist if you cannot maintain popular opinion in support of it.  That opinion may be founded in the minds of irrational individuals who do not consider the philosophical issues and do not think beyond reciting what others say.  Being ‘right’ and ‘objectively accurate’ in both your arguments and conclusions will not do you a lot of good if no one listens to your arguments or shares those conclusions.  Or at least supports your right to exercise them freely.

Do all the right things, earn your own way, take responsibility for yourself and you will still be left with nothing if someone convinces a mob that they have the right to the results of your hard work.  Minding your own business will only take you so far.  You still need to live in a world where other people will ‘let’ you mind your own business.  To this end, it becomes necessary to play a role in influencing public opinion as a facet of your own self-interest. (whether it be ‘right’ or not that you need to do so.  Is what is – wish all you want, an inspired mob can still overpower a righteous individual by force)

Thus came up the subject in these discussions, “if these forces have been at play for so long, why are they becoming an issue ‘now’?”  And by ‘now’ in that context, I refer to the past century.

If you take the end of the Civil war as a general turning point, you can see a steady, downward trend in state’s rights, individual rights, individual freedoms and expanding government.  Sure, you can see some forms of it before that, but the rate of change seems to be increasing.

There was Theodore Roosevelt and the introduction of progressive policies, the adoption of the 16th amendment establishing a federal ‘income tax’, Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve Act,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Great Society, James Earl Carter and the creation of the Department of Education all way up to ObamaCare.

So why is it becoming more problematic within the last 100 years? What I arrived at was one word.  ‘Frontiers

All those things I listed above followed the expansion of the US over geography of what pretty much constitutes the modern US borders.  Prior to that chain of events occurring, there were still large expanses of unclaimed, undeveloped or otherwise frontier based land.

Why is this important?  Well, if you didn’t like what government was doing in your particular state or part of the country, you could pack up your bags, load up your wagon and head for the American Frontier to take your chances and start anew.  We’ve all heard the stories about the ‘Wild West” – all the stories about people creating their ‘own law’ or being outright lawless, all the stories romanticizing the good guy vs. the bad guy, the black hats vs. the white hats, even the frontiersman vs. the native savages (with all due respect to native Americans, I refer more to the symbolism of the civilized/rational world versus a barbaric/primitive world view).

But now the frontiers are gone.  People and nations are forced to draw their lines in the sand.  Yeah, these forces against individual freedom and liberty have always existed, but we are running out of places to go to get away from it.  People are increasingly being confronted with the nature of government as they can no longer escape it.

I’d like to make a few predictions.  If new frontiers open, be they space or living on/in the oceans or in the sky, people will flock to them in droves to form newer, freer societies.  If new frontiers do not open, it will result in the ultimate confrontation between the state and the individual – and will suck the entire world into that fight.

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Dear world leaders,

You may be a politician, a businessman, an aristocrat, a president, governor, chancellor, CEO, King or Queen or any other person with such influence.  You may head a country, a state, a business, or an empire.  This letter is addressed to you who have the ability to sway a large group of people or have authority over a reasonable amount of territory.

This letter comes by way of a suggestion.  If you would like to see innumerable achievements and successes, if you would like to see your influence expand.  If you would like those people who look to you for leadership or follow your example prosper.  If you would like to increase the self worth of your holdings and the magnificence of the people you oversee.

There is a notion that was born among men, formed by men and instituted by men.  It is a notion that is disappearing rapidly from the one place on earth where it was tried in it’s purest form by men and for men.  When it was still untainted it proved itself as the means to expand those people under it’s domain in ways never before seen to achieve tasks and wonders never before witnessed in the history of man.  Those that followed it prospered and advanced faster than at any time in antiquity.

This notion consists of the principles of freedom, self-rule and of individual accountability and responsibility.

These concepts were once the means to greatness on the north American continent in the United States.  But these principles are rapidly deteriorating here and the prosperity they once brought with them is fading along with them.  When the promise of these notions was still strong, people flocked to the shores of this new land and built a nation to out shine any nation to ever come before it.  In many cases, they gave up all they had to come to a virgin land virtually unbroken by the hands and workmanship of man and built upon it’s soil a burgeoning society.  That society too is losing it’s luster with the loss of it’s freedoms and core principles.

The example has been shown through the history of the United States that ‘if you build it, they will come.”  My suggestion to you leaders is to begin with the original principles that spawned this great nation.  Remove from them the dated notions such as the 3/5ths compromise, institute a fair tax, and include the Bill of Rights but with a preamble that specifies those rights extend from the natural rights – not endowed by a creator but self-evident through reason and arrived at through logical deduction from the very nature of life – that all men are created equal and have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would strongly suggest to include the right to propriety over the products of  one’s life – to property, to one’s identity, a to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Allow each man to pursue his own dreams and neither limit nor provide him largess toward that end.  Hold each man accountable for his own needs and desires and allow none to exercise force to prevent him from fulfilling them as long as he uses no force against others in their fulfillment.

Limit the power of the government to the protection of each and all in the collective against external threats and to the mitigation of disputes that arise among them.  And specify clearly that those limits are not to be usurped for any reason or as a result of any popular caprice.

Limit the power even of taxation to fees for the (limited) services of government and otherwise exercise a voluntary taxation policy among men.  If you provide sound government to enable the free will of reasonable men, they will support it willingly.

Allow no notions of state-sponsored compassion to seep into your governance.  Whether they come from subjective philosophers or intrinsic prophets, maintain a strict and unwavering abolition of any participation of such ideas in the rule of men.  Allow the men to follow whatever axioms they desire, but limit the rule of law to strictly objective principles and concepts.

Do this and they will come.  Do this and those that come will build your society, your business, your nation, your state or your empire for you.  You will not need to motivate them, leave them to find their own motives.   You will not need to supply them, let them find their own means of supply.   You will not need to teach them, they will build their own schools and form their own research facilities.  You will not need to build for them, you will instead see them building for themselves, for their profits and by extension for the others among them before your very eyes.

They will exceed your highest expectations as long as you allow them to profit from their own endeavors, seek and keep their own rewards and interact freely with their fellows with the limited protection of whatever means of governance you [and they] choose to protect them from undue force or fraud.

Finally hold them ALL accountable for themselves and disallow them to petition you for largess and you will not see looters and leeches coming to join you.  If they do find parasites amongst them, let them wither – hold for those that refuse to achieve no mercy or compassion what-so-ever.  Praise the achiever and give him free reign, and all that which is under your control will prosper.

Sincerely,

Scott Webster Wood

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Originally posted on Facebook Notes
Published in the Ann Arbor News*

I have been trying to spread a new notion to anyone that will listen. There is a problem inherent in our culture that is allowing a dangerous kind of thinking to resonate. It is a misinterpretation embedded within the very mythos that makes up modern thinking….

The best example comes from the story of Robin Hood that is one of the truly unique mythologies of western culture. I start by asking people if they are familiar with the story of Robin Hood then asking them what his claim to fame was?

Most people will answer this question by replying “he stole from the rich and gave to the poor” – and herein lies the problem. That is a misconception, and that is the reason certain types of political suggestions take hold. Re-examine the story of Knottingham and re-learn it’s message.

Robin Hood was in essence a tax evader. Robin Hood was basically a grass roots motivator who led an anti-establishment rebellion. What he and his merry men were known for doing was not stealing from the ‘rich’ but “taking back” from the government what rightfully belonged to the people. He did not, in fact, steal from the rich to give to the poor, he stole from the oppressor to give back to the oppressed!

Most people view the story of Robin Hood as noble, heroic and just – and they should! But until people begin to understand the truth of that story they will not be able to comprehend the truth of what really is noble to be doing now.

Pass this along with my permission!

(*for some reason the ‘author’ on the archive of piece is mis-attributed now that the Ann Arbor News is no more and it’s op-eds nothing more than an archive.  I have contacted their webmaster but they don’t seem very responsive when it comes to correcting the archived content, but I assure you that  I was the author.) 


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