"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
A Farewell to Kings
I guess I can blame my parents for plaguing me with those two most dangerous questions. 'Why?' and 'What if?'
Having parents who always encouraged free thought and experimentation, I think I was destined for a libertarian philosophy. I was an avid reader at an early age, and was reading college level texts by the sixth grade. I spent a lot of time in the library.
It wouldn't be fair to say that I was any more intelligent than my other friends, but all that early reading was bound to create a gap of interest and understanding. Consequently, as I was growing up, some of my closest friends were adults or children much older than me. Most notably, there was Cecil. He was old. I never learned his last name. He was called a 'crazy old coot' by some of the people on the block, but he and I would just sit on his front porch and talk for hours about the 'Whys' and 'What ifs' of life. Until I got into my teens, I didn't participate much in the activities that other kids my age were doing, and toys were for taking apart to figure out how they worked.
Born in 1963, not long after JFK's assassination, I am old enough to remember Neil Armstrong's famous words as he stepped on to the Moon, old enough to remember the hippy generation, Vietnam, Watergate and Nixon's resignation, and Kent State. Even though I was just a kid, I think it would be foolish to say that these events and all the numerous and sundry items attached to them did not have an effect on who I am and who I am becoming. I think it's safe to say that I was a potential draft dodger by age 10. My musical garden was seeded with much of the anti-war, political, and 'psychedelic' music of the day.
Not to impugn anyone's religion, but looking back, I think my earliest memory indicating that my philosophy would be what it is today was a Bible School class, which I attended at about age 9 at the behest of my grandmother, the family matriarch from the 'old country,' who managed to convince my parents that, 'Zay neet to lairn abutt Gott.'
Of course, the classes began with a recounting of the book of Genesis. I think I was the only kid to see a variety of logical inconsistencies and began asking some questions. As I recall, the pastor was a nice guy, but he always had an explanation that never really answered my question. I think I lasted for about three of those weekly classes before I wound up begging my parents to let me stop, coming home to describe my experiences in the most brutally honest way that a nine year old could -- 'I just can't believe it, Mom!'
As I got into my teens, my contact with and resistance to 'authority' really began to bloom. With a huge interest in rock music and dreams of becoming a 'star' (to say nothing of 'getting the girl'), recreational drug use, addiction and being subjected to victimless crime laws began to take a toll. I eventually kicked the addiction, but the effect of the state's treatment of me during that period really helped to shape my philosophy. By this time I was already fairly familiar with the writings of many of the American founders and their mentors, especially Thomas Paine, though I wasn't getting that information from my public school luminaries. Did I mention I spent a lot of time in the library?
I was also getting into the music of Rush, who have penned some of the most libertarian minded lyrics I've had the pleasure of hearing and consequently was introduced to Ayn Rand through their '2112' saga, one of the first Rush works I had heard. '2112' was dedicated to Rand, and depicts the plight of a man who simply wanted to make his own music after discovering an old guitar in a cave behind a waterfall. Both he and his instrument were ultimately destroyed by the socialistic theocracy he lived in. As a guitarist, after hearing this, my fate was sealed! The state must die! And you can have my guitar when you can pry it from my cold dead fingers!
After I graduated from high school, I started a small pro audio production business and went to community college intermittently for a few years, focusing on business management, psychology, philosophy, physics, computer science and whatever else seemed to be my curiosity du jour.
As the responsibilities of life on my own and the necessity for full-time work began to take precedence, there wasn't much time for cultivation of my political, economic, or spiritual philosophies. I got into computer programming and website design to make ends meet and help finance the audio business, so I reluctantly entered the corporate world for a while, which actually caused a stagnation and in many ways, a devolution into authoritarian and statist thinking.
After being laid off from my last corporate I.T. position about six years ago, I began freelancing my website design and programming talents as I kept with the pro audio and recording business as much as possible. Then the state did something which would not help them much and would be the big wake-up call to my slumbering libertarianism ' the IRS decided to pay me a visit.
If anyone reading this has ever been approached by the IRS about an audit, you know what I mean when I mention the fear that spreads through your chest like a wildfire. I began using resources on the Internet to try and figure out how I might get through this dilemma with my skin intact.
Lo and behold, aside from the fact that like many others, I always hated the income tax, I discovered that there is a lot of controversy surrounding said tax. Without going into all the details here, and regardless of anyone's personal views on the income tax or taxation in general, let's just say that over the last six years, I've learned enough about tax law, statutory and regulatory law in general, constitutional law, and general law philosophy to know that there is a big stinking fish that needs to be pulled from the river where the IRS and the income tax is concerned, and I am now a very active member of what many call the 'tax honesty movement.'
This inevitably led me to an understanding of the evils of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking and to become a proponent of hard money and a friend of NORFED.
I was a member of the Libertarian Party for a couple of years, but decided that didn't really make much sense. Besides, apart from the days of my overboard drug use, I was never much of a party animal to begin with.
Where voting is concerned, I pretty much flipped my last bird to the system by voting for Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik in the last presidential election. I haven't voted for any candidate since, though I still vote against all local tax bonds and levies while encouraging others to do the same and providing as much information as possible as to why it would be wise to do so.
While I don't really see voting in and of itself as any measure of activism toward reducing state involvement or intrusion into our affairs and for the most part see it as a process which actually subverts liberty, I recently became a member of The Free State Project. I know that there are many out there, especially anarchists who would disagree with this approach, but after watching the FSP for a couple years, I decided that they may actually be on to something. When I consider the "Boiled Frog" analogy, I like the idea simply because New Hampshire seems to be a place where the temperature of the boiling pot is lower and there are actually frogs jumping around to the effect of turning down the heat.
Oddly enough, I've discovered via my research into libertarian literature that where law is concerned, libertarians and anarchists seem to be more versed in law and the 'rule of law' than those who support government and vote under the propaganda built up around the 'rule of law.' Go figure.
I've read Frederic Bastiat, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Wolf DeVoon, Lysander Spooner, and Herbert Spencer, just to name a few.
Today I easily identify myself with labels such as 'free market anarchist,' 'anarcho-capitalist,' 'libertarian,' and 'paleoconservative.' Seeing that I mentioned the god thing earlier, I'll also note that my spiritual philosophy is Deism.