The Question, the Answer, the Result

Column by Paul Hein.

Exclusive to STR

It has often been pointed out that the “masses,” the “public,” obtain wealth in several ways: most usually by earning it, or, less commonly, receiving it as a gift or inheritance. For most of us, this means yielding about 40 hours of our lives weekly to obtain what we need or want.

A different way of acquiring wealth is practiced by those calling themselves “government,” or “the state.” Their technique is to simply claim it, and if not yielded, to take it by whatever force is necessary. This, of course, is known as stealing, and Missouri Statutes define it as precisely that. (570.030. 1).

A person commits the crime of stealing if he or she appropriates property or services of another with the purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his or her consent or by means of deceit or coercion.

However, the statutes are written, administered, enforced, and adjudicated by those same individuals (“government,” “state”) that demand our property. You will not be surprised to learn that they do not enforce the laws against stealing against themselves. Sadly, this thievery has such a long history that its victims have resigned themselves to it.

It would be helpful, in interpreting one’s role in society, to ask a simple question. I’ve remarked before that the Rulers cannot or will not answer simple questions which tend to expose them for the thieves they are. This question is one that the victims should ask themselves, in order to clarify just who and what they are in the eyes of the Rulers.

This is the question: If this (my wallet, bank account, home, car, etc.) is really and truly mine, how can anyone else have a claim on it? Even those who demand your property will admit it is YOUR property that they desire. How could one say anything else?

You commonly acknowledge the claims of others upon what is yours. Every bill you pay is such an acknowledgement. The utility companies provided you with fuel to heat and cool your house, and you have agreed to pay for it. Could it be otherwise? You could not expect them to satisfy your fuel needs for nothing, nor could they expect to provide it without compensation. In other words, there is an agreement between you and them. The same could be said for every merchant with whom you do business, although in most cases the agreement is tacit and unwritten.

It is not the same with the Rulers. They not only demand your money, but consider that their claim upon it is greater than yours, even though they acknowledge that it IS yours! True, they may provide services, but there has been no agreement between you and them. You may not need or want the services they provide; it matters not. It is as though, as you walk through the mall, merchants demand you buy goods you do not need or want. But it’s worse: If you decline the shoe salesman’s demand that you buy shoes, he cannot compel you to buy them anyway, but you WILL finance public schools, even if you deplore the idea of such schools, and have no children attending them. There is no voluntary agreement.

So what, then, is the answer to: If it’s truly mine, how can someone else claim it? The answer is as simple as the question: Nobody else can claim your property absent your agreement with them. But the Rulers claim it anyway, with threats of dire consequences should you not give them what they demand. All of your ruminations about ownership, property rights, and voluntary agreements mean absolutely nothing. They cannot be punished for doing what, were we to do it, would be felonies, because what they do is legitimate; i.e., according to the law which is, however, what they, as its authors, say it is. Private property, a cornerstone of a civilized society, doesn’t exist as long as Rulers, whose job should be the protection of your rights--especially to your own property--can demand it for whatever reason they might invent.

The result? There are three possibilities. You can try to escape to someplace where your right to your own property is protected. I don’t think there is such a place, but if there were, the Rulers would eventually find and punish you.

You could simply defy the Rulers, citing moral and lawful principles: Thou Shalt Not Steal, as well as the aforementioned Missouri statute (if you live in Missouri!) that defines stealing as just exactly what they routinely do. As you languish in your cell, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are right, and they are wrong. Hopefully you will find that adequate compensation for your incarceration.

Or you can do what virtually everyone else does: You can submit. Perhaps as a child you had to give your lunch money to the schoolyard bully. Now you give your wealth to the bureaucratic bully. The enduring myth is that if you stand up to the bully, he will back down. Don’t try it. In the schoolyard you would have ended up with a black eye and a bloody nose. The bureaucratic bully will leave nose and eye untouched, but your wallet will suffer. What he doesn’t get, your lawyer will.

So to summarize: The question remains if it’s mine, how can you have a claim upon it? The answer: Don’t waste my time; hand it over or else. The result: You become a fugitive, a prisoner, or a slave. The choice is yours. This is America, 2017.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


dhowlandjr's picture

Well, which one is it for you? fugitive, prisoner or slave?This would be a good article if you thought your readers were worthy of knowing what you perceive to be the solution. Let's look for ways to exemplify our vision of moving towards something better, please.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

I wouldn't presume to speak for Paul on this, but it seems to me he's just telling it like it is, and challenging the uninitiated to think about it.  YOU come up with a "solution."  LOTS of voluntaryists are talking all the time about "solutions."  ALL of them have flaws, and all of them are multi-generational, at best.
In short, settle in.  Things are going to be as Paul describes them here for a long, long time yet to come -- no matter what you or I try to do about it.
And now I just *know* who's not going to be able to resist "rebutting" what I've just said with his sacred website.  Wait for it.....

Jim Davies's picture

An excellent suggestion, dhowlandjr.
The "bureaucratic bully" will keep bullying for ever - Paul's right - if he has anyone working for him, to carry out the coercion. But what if nobody will work for him? What would it take, to cause everyone to quit such work?
More, probably, than just the QuitGov site. But that's a start, it may help.  It's a free gift, use it as you wish.
One thing continues to puzzle me, though, about those who think that "America, 2017" is a permanent condition, that no solution or escape exists for you or me or anyone else to find. Why bother, in that case, thinking about freedom or discussing freedom or writing about freedom or reading about freedom, here on STR or anywhere else? Why not just go away and eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die? 
Well, there's a second puzzle too, closely associated: writers, readers and comment-posters about liberty usually say that freedom is the condition properly and ideally suited to human beings, that it's the right and natural condition for our species (in those words or some like them.) But if in practice freedom were unobtainable, an ideal beyond human reach for the indefinite future, that cannot be true. Thus, a contradiction exists. So which is it; have humans evolved in ways suited to slavery, or to liberty? Or if you prefer to say there's a creator, has that Creator made humans for servitude, or freedom?

Samarami's picture

Seems I've said forever: If I choose to be free, I shall be free. Today. Here. Where I'm "at".

So can you if you so choose.

    "...So which is it; have humans evolved in ways suited to slavery, or to liberty? Or if you prefer to say there's a creator, has that Creator made humans for servitude, or freedom?..."

Makes no difference whether I "evolved" or "got created". The choice for my liberty is still mine, and no body else's. Actually, I began to learn freedom as a snot-nosed kid, enslaved ("drafted" ha ha) into the white man's army of murderers. Later I took a graduate class "in the hole". If you don't know what the white man's "hole" is, you're no doubt still struggling with liberty.

The choice might be easier if a critical mass of my neighbors and friends would cease submitting confessions ("filing returns" ha ha) and voluntarily complying with psychopaths hiding under the mantle of that brainless abstraction we've come to combatively call "the state". But I can't wait for that to happen.

The clock is ticking. Sam

Jim Davies's picture

Probably, Sam, you're one of those to whom Paul referred with "As you languish in your cell, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are right, and they are wrong." And it's important and admirable. Seriously.
But that's only one part or aspect of freedom. The other part removes the cell.

Samarami's picture

And, my dear friend, I could have anticipated you'd lump me with those "...languishing in my cell..."

However, I've become a student of the art of eliminating the "cell" from my life -- without fellowshipping or complying with the beast. In fact, the art I think of as "freedom" includes the ability to sidestep and circumnavigate the beast. For now.

The white man is ignorant at best, stupid on down the scale; but aware his hold is constantly at risk of slipping from his grip. His stock in trade is keeping you in the syndrome of feeling the need to change others in order for you to be(come) free.

Matter of fact, I understand that the place you're probably referring to as "...the good ole US..." has currently become the largest police state anywhere on earth, in all of recorded history -- with more folks incarcerated (per thousand, or 100 thousand, or however you're estimating population) than Iraq, Iran or Communist China. In the science of rulership it's never good to incarcerate and/or murder too high a percentage of those who make up your robbery ("tax") base; so inroads must be made by those lunatics in winding down "the-drug-war", which has given rise to a large percentage of the lockups.

Of course I'm old, my hide is tough from a lot of chewings over the years. The beast likes younger, more tender meat -- more easily coerced into being "...a 'citizen'" (a tame, compliant citizen at that). I've never nor will ever fit that category.

A fun time to be alive. I fully plan to live to see anarchy in my time. We're already seeing a sort of model in Somalia -- but, that's shaky at best, due to tribal and other factions attempting to work within the science of rulership "to-bring-order" where there is virtually no disorder.

Please refrain from attempts to be combative with those who are trying to become free -- today, now, where they're "at". Encourage 'em. Doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to conduct your "courses". But freedom will come for many who are now just starting to conceive liberty -- without my help, or yours. Sam

Samarami's picture
    "...Thus, a contradiction exists. So which is it; have humans evolved in ways suited to slavery, or to liberty? Or if you prefer to say there's a creator, has that Creator made humans for servitude, or freedom?

I'm optimistic, Jim. Perhaps it's due to my "station in life" (in my dotage???). But I see inroads being made -- perhaps not as fast as either of us would like. The "Brexit" and "Trump" phenomenon might serve as examples. Neither meant a lot to me (you wrote at least one essay hoping "Trump" to be victorious over "Clinton" to become grand Wizard of the Klan) -- except that more and more are beginning to question "conventional wisdom". Ron Paul was another. To what extent the questioning will be sustained and enhanced, I have some hope.

As I've said so many times, Jim: I fully intend to live to see "state" as we've always lambasted "it" ("it" only exists as a brainless, evil abstraction) buried in its own swill. The question: will a critical mass rid themselves of the superstition that is "authority".

    "...I believe that, much as Orwell suggested, it is the public's ability to engage in this type of doublethink, to be aware that the law is inherently political in character and yet believe it to be an objective embodiment of justice, that accounts for the amazing degree to which the federal government is able to exert its control over a supposedly free people. I would argue that this ability to maintain the belief that the law is a body of consistent, politically neutral rules that can be objectively applied by judges in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, goes a long way toward explaining citizens' acquiescence in the steady erosion of their fundamental freedoms. To show that this is, in fact, the case, I would like to direct your attention to the fiction which resides at the heart of this incongruity and allows the public to engage in the requisite doublethink without cognitive discomfort: the myth of the rule of law..."

A quote from Hasnas' "Myth of Rule of Law"


Alex R. Knight III's picture

And what did I tell you?  :-D

Thunderbolt's picture

As one who did languish in a cell over income tax, I appreciate the insights offered by Jim Davies. I think his analyses of the concept of freedom is convincing and useful for practical decisions. The Online Freedom Academy is priceless. Nowhere else have I found such a complete construct.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

That it is a well-done and useful website is one thing, and for the most part I don't disagree.  But that it is just a website, one minute factor in a wide panoply of voluntaryist media -- all of which is, at this point, itself miniscule comparative to statist propaganda -- seems to be a concept his hyperinflated sense of self-importance cannot sanction.  It is not and is never likely to be the key that unlocks the door to freedom.  That, if it ever happens, will be a cumulative effect from any number of sources -- from which we are still decades if not centuries away, in any case.
But don't tell him that.  His god-complex can't withstand it.  As was previously illustrated above.

Jim Davies's picture

Alex's savage, hysterical ad-hominem slurs are beneath contempt, but I will point out that TOLFA is far from being "just" a web site. Any who visit just its home page, and are literate, can see that it is a self-driven, interactive academy for freedom; a school, a place to learn; and having learned, a resource to which to bring others.
No harm in supplementing it with good material found elsewhere, but its 18 segments suffice alone to show any genuine student the intellectual necessity of anarchism, and to spread that knowledge throughout society and so cause the withdrawal of all government labor. Hence the slogan: Nothing less will do, nothing more is needed.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

And once again, folks, my point is proven for me.  :-D

Samarami's picture

The only thing I see as having been "proven" is that anarchists and libertarians are normal, emotional, egotistical human beings -- just like everyone else. One thing I've learned (hopefully and with some pain), however, is to try always to refrain from "acting out". Not quite as easily done as said, I'm 'feard.

Somehow I get the feeling that, with all this new and about-face knowledge, I've become your classic "shmexpert". I have the truth. Nobody else does. And that is that. It's the attitude that drives away the very people I need to augment and sustain my newfound liberty.

I'd like to see STR once again become the active, vibrant site for liberty and freedom it once was -- with many dozens of participants, all with their own non-dogmatic (well, some dogmatists, I suspect) essays regarding liberty. Sam

Jim Davies's picture

There's a huge difference, Sam, between dogma and a reasoned presentation or argument. STR has published plenty of the latter, but offhand I can't think of any of the former. Care to name one example?
We do, of course "have the truth" because we anarchists, alone, acknowledge that self-ownership is an axiom. Those who deny it do not have the truth. That's a fact, and stating it as such is not to be dogmatic or arrogant at all.
To be dogmatic would be to state as a fact some conclusion reached without reason or evidence. One example is Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Another example is the unsupported assertion above by Alex Knight that I have a "god complex." I do state many things with due emphasis, but can support them all with reason and evidence.

Paul's picture

Actually, the fugitive option is not all that bad. A lot of people don't pay any income taxes, and manage to get around or simply ignore many restrictions. One can be over-impressed with the reach of government. After all it is run by idiots who care for nothing but their pay and pensions.

In the meantime, I just wait around for the economic collapse, and try to imagine how I and mine would live and survive then.

For a little perspective, I advise reading this book. Humans got along for quite a while without the state, it turns out: