Song Lyrics: Stickman

This song is written in honor of Kyle Chapman, better known as Based Stickman. He bravely engaged communists in battle on March 4, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. He was then arrested and charged with several felonies for defending protesters from street hooligans when the police would not. He has since been bailed out and has become a folk hero, appearing on several libertarian and nationalist podcasts. The song does not fit well with my vocal range, but I may attempt to record this anyway.

[To the tune of Spoonman by Soundgarden]

[Verse 1]

Antifa enters the fray
(Based Stickman will save the day)
Stickman
Policemen stand down and watch
(Save us from the Red assault)
Stickman

[Chorus]

Stickman, shield and stick are in your hands
Help us, we’re together with your plan
Help us
Help, oh

[Verse 2]

Volunteer to save our rights
(Based Stickman is our alt-knight)
Stickman
Cops try to put him away
(Their cells can’t keep him at bay)
Stickman

[Chorus]

Stickman, shield and stick are in your hands
Help us, we’re together with your plan
Help us
Help
Help us
Help us, yeah
Help, with your

[Bridge/Guitar Solo]

C’mon x12
With your shield
With your stick
With your
C’mon x4
Stick

[Interlude]

Good night to Antifa x8

[Chorus]

Stickman, shield and stick are in your hands
Help us, we’re together with your plan
Help us
Help, help us
With your, with your stick

[Outro]

Communists come ’round again
(More Stickmen will follow him)
Stickman

Why We Need More Political Violence

The 2016 election season has seen the United States become more polarized than at any time in recent memory. The rise of Donald Trump on the right and of Bernie Sanders on the left has emboldened radical elements on both sides which had formerly been politically homeless. This has led to a greater number of protests, some of which have resulted in violence and threats thereof. Even third-party candidates have found themselves in danger from violent extremists.

Of course, the establishment media has condemned the violence, though most of the blame has predictably been levied upon Trump and his supporters rather than upon radical leftist elements. Most alternative media, with the notable exception of Christopher Cantwell, have followed suit. But there is a case to be made that politics in America have become too tame, and that more violence in politics would actually be beneficial. Let us consider that case.

First, let us note the hypocrisy of those who call for peace. For example, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, “There should never be a ‘but’ when comes to condemning violence and intimidation. Violence and intimidation are never acceptable under any circumstances.” Yet she is the chairperson of one of two organizations which control the United States government, the most powerful and dangerous criminal organization in human history. In this role, she has presided over the use of violence and intimidation of the American people (and the rest of the world, by way of foreign policy) on a scale scarcely imaginable to an individual Sanders (or Trump) supporter. Most of the others who have made such statements are less directly connected to the state, but still bear vicarious liability for its crimes to some extent.

Second, libertarianism allows for the use of violence in self-defense. As such, when protesters attack people, those people may defend themselves with any amount of force necessary to end the threat. Moreover, when statists seek to wield state power against people to do what would be considered criminal if they were to attempt the same actions on their own, those people have a right to defend themselves not only from the state, but from the people who would employ it against them. In fact, using force against a group of citizens in this case is likely to cause less bloodshed than using force against agents of the state while achieving a similar result.

Third, for much the same reason that the Cold War never went hot and gun-free zones are disproportionately targeted by criminals, the very possibility of political violence tends to foster greater mutual respect. The knowledge that both sides of a dispute are able, willing, and even eager to forcefully defend themselves makes an attempt by either side to violently impose their will upon the other side more risky and therefore less attractive. However, if one group is willing to use force and the other group is not, then the group that is willing to impose its will upon others will win. As Vegetius said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Fourth, the possibility of political violence can have the same effect on politicians that it has on citizens. Back in the days when dueling was common, a person who spoke ill of someone else risked having to either back up his words with deadly violence or be considered a coward. With this custom removed, political discourse is not necessarily harsher, but the harshness is more widespread because one need not back up one’s words with any show of force. (Notably, such duels occasionally managed to not only resolve a personal dispute, but to change the political course of an entire nation, as when Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton.) One could even make the case that a system of dueling would be preferable to a system of voting for determining political leaders.

Fifth, the past few years have seen the rise of a radical left-wing element, and this element has become increasingly violent and hostile toward civil liberties. Whenever someone says something with which these people disagree, their response is not to present a reasoned case against it, but to shout down speakers, deny them a platform, get them fired from their jobs, get them banned from social media platforms, ruin their reputations, and physically assault them. Private property rights also mean nothing to them, as they have shown a willingness to do this not only on public university campuses, but at private venues as well. These people are unwilling to peacefully coexist with people who are different from them, and their detachment from reality is capable of destroying civilization as we know it if they are allowed to triumph. The only sensible option, then, is to violently suppress these radical left-wing elements as a matter of self-defense. Leaving this up to the authorities risks pushing us closer to an authoritarian police state while making us less self-reliant for our own protection, so political violence by right-wing groups against left-wing groups in order to, as Murray Rothbard wrote, “take back the streets, crush criminals, and get rid of bums,” is essential. Such a move could also help to establish the sort of culture of resistance needed to abolish the state for the long-term.

Sixth, given that the state is the most powerful and dangerous criminal organization within its geographical area, it is entirely unreasonable to expect efforts to gain control of it to result in anything other than violence. In this sense, democracy is an unhealthy historical aberration. When voting with bullets is replaced by voting with ballots, the risk of using force against one’s fellow human beings is immensely reduced. It is much safer to have the state send a tax collector to take property from one’s neighbor than to take up arms and try to rob that neighbor oneself. This risk differential and the potential to profit from what Frederic Bastiat termed ‘legal plunder’ is great enough to make using violence to gain control of the state apparatus appealing to people of a certain mentality.

Finally, the ultimate check on state power, the greatest source of violence of all, is the ability and willingness of the populace to use force in self-defense against the state. In the words of Frederick Douglass,

“Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Ideally, this would be an anti-political form of violence intended to permanently abolish the state, but such a revolt would be far more likely to replace one form of statism with another at present. The American nation was founded with political violence in the form of a long and bloody war for independence from Great Britain. But as soon as political violence ceased to be used successfully by the American people (usually dated to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-94), the new American state began to grow into its current monstrous form. But such defensive violence need not overthrow a state to be effective; it need only make government agents think twice before victimizing the innocent. The 2014 Bundy standoff was one example of this, as the presence of militia groups caused the Bureau of Land Management to back down from its efforts to seize Bundy’s cattle. Another example was the killing of two NYPD officers in December 2014, after which most non-essential police activities were significantly curtailed. As explained above, an activity becomes less appealing if there is a greater risk of experiencing violence for engaging in it, and being an agent of the state is no exception.

Whether the goal is to protect oneself on the street, reduce political cowardice, suppress destructive degenerates, prevent rivals from gaining control of the state apparatus, or to alter or abolish the state apparatus, we do not need less political violence; we need more.

Bring Back the Joust: A Modest Proposal

Every election season, people complain about the ineffectiveness of democratic voting as a means of achieving meaningful change. This is because major parties have conspired to keep minor parties from having a chance of success, wealthy donors determine who has enough money to stay in a primary contest long enough to win, and incumbents are able to use the considerable perks and powers of their offices to campaign for re-election. Voting also serves to sanitize statism and hide some of its inherent violence from the population. There must be a better way, and perhaps there is one that does not require a popular uprising or a cultural shift. To improve the future, let us consider something from the past: the joust.

Cavalry games date back to Roman antiquity, as does the idea of chivalry. The dearth of recorded history during the 5th to 8th centuries makes a link between the Roman hippika gymnasia and medieval jousting difficult to establish. What is known is that jousting tournaments were a development of the High Middle Ages and continued through the early Renaissance. Their invention is credited either to Henry the Fowler (876-936, r. 919-936) or Geoffrei de Preulli (d. 1066). The earliest known use of the word ‘tournament’ dates to 1114, and refers to the keepers of the peace in the town leaving it ‘for the purpose of frequenting javelin sports, tournaments and such like.’ Regular events of this type were held during the lifetime of Charles I, Count of Flanders (1084-1127). By the 1160s, the sport of jousting had developed into the form it would maintain into the 14th century.

There were two major types of joust; the joust a plaisance, which used blunted lances and was expected to be non-lethal, and the joust a l’outrance (also called joust à la guerre), which used sharp lances and was fought until surrender or death. Joust a plaisance was used for tournament contests while joust a l’outrance was common during wartime or for dispute resolution.

During the 14th century, jousting became more regulated and less lethal. A barrier between the riders was added and specialized jousting armor was produced which was too heavy for any other practical purpose. The sport declined due to the invention of the musket in 1520, the death of Henry II of France in a joust in 1559, and the rising popularity of the theatre as a form of entertainment. The final jousting tournament was held on March 24, 1624, but revivals of the sport have been attempted since the 1970s.

A combination of joust a plaisance and joust a l’outrance could serve as an alternative to political elections for determining who should hold government office. Rather than have candidates seek ballot access, advertising time, media appearances, campaign contributions, and debate access, all candidates for a particular office could be put into a jousting tournament bracket, much like the joust a plaisance of old. But the contest should be a l’outrance; a candidate must advance through the tournament bracket by either killing one’s opponents or by making them surrender to avoid being killed. The exact nature of this may vary by jurisdiction and office. In some cases, all contests would be to the death, with refusal to deal a coup de grace being punishable by death. In others, surrender would be not only an acceptable alternative, but the encouraged outcome. A surrender might allow one to try again in the next tournament, or perhaps it would bar one from seeking government office again for a number of years or for life, thereby substituting political death for physical death. A case where both contestants in a match either die or forfeit would create a bye for someone in the tournament unless it occurs in the final match. If a double death or forfeit should occur in the final match for an office, then the office may either be filled by another tournament or left vacant until the next political term has ended. A person who declares candidacy and is unopposed may not take office; all who take government office must joust at least once. Incumbents may or may not have to joust at least once per tournament, depending on the jurisdiction and office. A government office which cannot be filled after several tournaments have been held in an effort to fill it should be abolished.

This system presents several advantages over contemporary democracy. The joust severely curtails the influence of money in politics. The difference in electability between a candidate of a major party and a candidate of a minor party is usually far greater than the difference in jousting ability between the equivalents. A great expense on riding lessons, quality horses, and quality equipment will certainly bestow an advantage, but not as much as the advantages that establishment candidates currently have over outsiders or minor party candidates. The influence of money could be diminished further by standardizing the horses and equipment used for the joust.

Second, the jousting system eliminates two problematic types of politician in the current system: the chicken hawk and the oathbreaker. A chicken hawk is a politician who advocates for wars and other military actions while having refused to enter the military oneself and/or acting to keep one’s children out of military service. The jousting system ensures that no one can get into a position of power to be able to declare, fund, or carry out a war without risking one’s own life in combat. Thus, all who would vote to declare war would have at least some degree of combat veterancy, even if with antiquated weapons. Some oathbreakers could be weeded out in the tournament, as they display cowardice when faced with mortal combat and are punished accordingly. Other oathbreakers could be challenged in a recall joust, which would function as an analogue of contemporary recall elections.

Third, the jousting system channels political violence into a more controlled format. Assassination attempts should be far less common, as one may legally kill an unpopular politician by entering a jousting tournament against that person and winning. Even the threat that this may happen should make politicians treat their constituents with far more dignity and respect than they do now, and could lead unpopular politicians to resign more frequently.

Fourth, the jousting system would disabuse everyone of the notion that government is anything other than an institution of violence. Seeing their would-be leaders careening at each other on horseback while aiming sharp lances at each other would make clear to everyone that these people are intent on exercising a monopoly on initiatory force against the civilian population, to the point of being willing to kill people for the opportunity. The reaction of people to staring this reality in the face is likely to change the political climate for the better, toward less of a belief in a role for the state in society.

Fifth, the jousting system would essentially create term limits, as it is a very dangerous activity that leads to many injuries. After a certain number of jousts, a competitor will be sufficiently injured as to be ineffective. This would spell the end of the era of career politicians who stay in office for decades until dying of natural causes. While term limits can create perverse incentives in an electoral system, the joust mitigates those incentives as discussed above.

The joust would also have some non-political benefits. The code of chivalry developed alongside the joust, and the return of jousting could lead to a resurgence of chivalric values, such as courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and charity. The sport would also be a great source of entertainment, especially if a plaisance tournaments for fun and profit were held in addition to the political contests. Sports gamblers would have yet another subject for betting, and sports bars would have another subject to bring in customers. Merchandise could be made not only for those who joust, but for fans of jousting in general or champion jousters in particular.

Of course, we may anticipate some criticisms. One is that by abolishing voting, the joust takes us back to a time when the common person had even less power. The truth is that a voter has very little power; in some cases, the odds of deciding an election are less than the odds of being killed in a car accident on one’s way to the polling place. Unlike the historical jousts, this proposal allows anyone to seek office by entering. After all, titles of nobility, entry fees, and other such historical and contemporary encumbrances are rather petty in light of volunteering to fight to the death in order to hold government office. Another related criticism is that women and racial minorities may be disempowered by the change from elections to jousts. This is truly meritless; most of the energy delivered by a jousting lance in a collision ultimately comes from the horse, and any woman or person of color may enter the joust, just as a white man may enter. It may be that there would still be a minority of women in government office, but this should be expected regardless of the methods used to choose rulers simply as a matter of biology. There is also the matter that a highly skilled jouster may be nearly impossible for an ordinary person to challenge and defeat, but this is still more likely than an ordinary person with ordinary means challenging and defeating an establishment politician. Finally, one may wonder why all of the effort should be made to re-establish jousting when firearm duels could achieve many of the same objectives. The answer is that the joust provides a lengthier entertainment, requires more skill, and (most importantly) involves less luck.

Admittedly, it is unlikely that this method of choosing politicians will ever be implemented, and it is not the answer for creating a libertarian society. But as shown above, replacing elections with jousts could do far more good than harm. Bring back the joust!