The Libertarian Case Against Trump

On Jan. 24, Christopher Cantwell published an article arguing that libertarians should support Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In this rebuttal, I will show on a point-by-point basis how the case for supporting Trump is flawed.

It is true that democracy is a terrible system of governance. To quote Hans-Hermann Hoppe, it is a soft variant of communism, and only rarely in the history of ideas has it been taken for anything else. But because this system is almost certainly not going to be abolished before November 2016, someone will almost certainly be elected President of the United States. According to Cantwell, this leaves a libertarian with four options:

  1. Support a candidate who will do things which are unlibertarian, but is less harmful than the other candidates.
  2. Support a candidate who will do things which are so unlibertarian that society will be irreparably harmed and the government will collapse that we might rule the wasteland.
  3. Support a libertarian candidate who has absolutely no chance of winning.
  4. Renounce elections as unprincipled, wield zero influence, and remain in a powerless echo chamber of libertarian autism.

Cantwell argues for the first option, and expresses contempt for the latter three. There is another option, but let us deal with these four first by exploring the problems with the first option and the benefits of the next three. By engaging in the political process to support a candidate, one helps to legitimize the political system in the eyes of onlookers as a means of affecting libertarian change. Supporting Trump as the best of a bunch of bad candidates, or as the best candidate with a reasonable chance of winning a presidential election, is just typical “lesser of two evils” nonsense extended to a larger number of candidates. Also, any money donated to or effort expended for Trump’s political candidacy is money and effort that cannot be put to another use. In other words, focus put on politics is focus lost to anti-politics. Who knows what innovations that increase liberty by creating a way to ignore or fight the state will be lost because the efforts needed for those innovations were instead put toward the Trump campaign?

On the other hand, supporting a candidate whose policies are so bad that they will collapse the system could make the necessary revolution more likely. To quote from the Declaration of Independence, mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. While this may seem to be a pernicious deed in the moment, electing the worst candidates over a period of time could be the best long-term use of the political system by libertarians if it makes the revolution occur sooner. There is also the matter that states always collapse in time because people inevitably fall victim to their perverse incentives and steer the system toward ruin, so this outcome will occur eventually regardless of election results absent a libertarian revolution.

Supporting the Libertarian Party candidate in 2016 is not necessarily a worthless endeavor, especially if the election results are favorable enough to ease ballot access efforts in 2020, when a well-known anarchist activist plans to run. Even though victory would still be nearly impossible, such a campaign has the potential to convert more people to libertarian thought than even the Ron Paul presidential campaigns, and that is the most useful role that the Libertarian Party can play.

When one votes, one is helping to impose violent rulers upon peaceful people and give the appearance of legitimacy to institutions which deserve none. Voters are effectively asking a particular person who seeks to violently dominate society to command government agents to commit actions on their behalf which would be considered criminal by any objective standard, and which are considered criminal if an ordinary person commits them. The idea that voting can be an act of self-defense is false because voting harms bystanders who are not innocent shields. Also, renouncing elections as unprincipled need not result in wielding zero influence and remaining in a powerless echo chamber of libertarian autism. It depends upon what one does instead of voting on Election Day. If one sits at home and rants online in a libertarian chat room, then this will occur. But if one goes out to the polls not to participate in the election, but to protest against statism in general and democracy in particular, then there is an opportunity to engage with and convert new people to libertarian thought.

Finally, there is one more basic option to consider:

  1. Use force to shut down polling places and repel voters from them.

Because voting is an aggressive act, using force to stop it is morally justifiable. But it is tactically unwise on three counts. First, given the number of polling places, the manpower and resources needed to shut down each one, the possibility of alternative polling places, the length of early voting periods, and the possibility of voting by mail, it is safe to say that the election will continue despite any such efforts. Second, if libertarians actually had the means to stop a presidential election by force in just some parts of the nation, then it would be far more effective to use force to expel government agents from our lands and continue to use force to resist any government agents, terrorists, warlords, mafiosos, or common criminals that attempt to cause trouble afterward. Third, using force against voters and election personnel is likely to bring people into the fight between anarchists and statists on the statist side, as they will view the revolutionaries as an existential threat which must be quashed rather than a movement which they could join.

On the issue of dealing with aggressors, it is necessary to use both force and reason. One has a right to defend oneself by escalating the use of force as far as necessary to subdue the aggressors. After this is done, one should ready one’s argumentation ethics and denounce the aggressors as moral criminals in order to justify one’s use of force to one’s peers. The same must be done regardless of whether the aggressors consist of a lone common criminal, all government agents in a geographical area, or anything in between.

The crux of Cantwell’s argument for supporting Donald Trump is that years of arguing for revolution have proven fruitless because there are prerequisites for revolution which have yet to be met, and Trump will help to meet those prerequisites, the most important of which is the suppression of the political left. While it is true that left-wing influence is threatening the very survival of humanity, we must not be blind to threats to liberty from the right-wing. Ludwig von Mises wrote of European fascism in 1927, “It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history.” Immediately afterward, he wrote, “But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error.” Mises would learn the hard way just what a fatal error this was, as it was ultimately fascists who forced him out of his academic position in Vienna and away to America to basically start over at the age of 60. He would go on to write Omnipotent Government in 1944, which remains one of the best anti-authoritarian works ever penned.

While the desire to do something besides making calls for revolution that land on deaf ears is certainly understandable, the installation of reactionary figures atop the democratic statist apparatus has been similarly fruitless. All historical examples have ended in failure for a variety of reasons. The reactionaries can over-correct, taking society backward beyond the point at which they believe mistakes were made, causing needless damage in the process; they can take society off of one wrong path and put it onto another, even worse path; or they can make changes only to lose power and see their changes reversed by a counter-reactionary movement. Most importantly, as Cantwell correctly recognizes, democracies inherently move leftward over time. The deep state is generally impervious to elections. Never has there been a reactionary movement that could achieve its goals and maintain them against attempts at reversal. The aforementioned failures also suggest that supporting Trump could be the second option listed above rather than the first one.

A useful metaphor for the appeal of a figure like Trump among anarcho-capitalists may be found in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. While Tolkien always strongly held that his works should not be seen as a metaphor for anything, there is scarcely a better metaphor in all of literature for state power than The One Ring, and Tolkien self-identifies as an anarchist in his letters. What Sauron expected was for a champion of men to wear the Ring in battle against him, and he knew that his vast military might could overwhelm the forces of men, take the Ring, and restore his full power to him. He could not foresee that the forces of good would have Frodo Baggins to sneak the Ring into Mount Doom to destroy it there until it was too late. But this almost did not happen. Had Faramir chosen to take the Ring from Frodo when they met in Osgiliath, the former outcome would have eventually occurred. Those who seek to wield state power against the leftist enemy through Trump are playing the part of Faramir, and they risk making the terrible mistake that Faramir avoided. The state itself is the primary problem; to instead try to use its power against the leftists who currently use it does nothing to prevent its power from eventually falling back into their hands, as it always has.

Cantwell mentions several behaviors as social negatives; drug use, sexual promiscuity, feminism, homosexuality, and racial and cultural diversity. But for many centuries, these behaviors were discouraged not by the market, but by theocratic states and the religions enforced by them. There are many examples of other societies throughout history where such behaviors were common, although one could argue that such societies experienced turmoil more frequently on average. Free markets would not necessarily discourage such behaviors; they would only prevent them from running rampant, as there would be no entity that could force people to associate or integrate against their wills or force the economic consequences of unbridled degeneracy onto the rest of society, as states do. This would mean that people would either have to learn to handle their vices or be destroyed by them, which would have a positive effect on a civilization.

While Donald Trump does offset leftist influence to a greater extent than anyone else in recent memory, this has been accomplished solely by his presence as a presidential candidate and public figure. He need not win the presidency in order to do this. Now that he has proven that the politically correct media machine is a paper tiger and the cuckservative and cuckertarian establishment has been repeatedly discredited, other candidates and public figures can and do speak uncomfortable truths without fear.

It is true that absent a democracy, we are left with a choice between anarchism and unelected government. But as Cantwell previously recognized, “A 17th century British monarchy may seem preferable by comparison (to democracy), but we can look at countries like North Korea to get our measure of liberty in a modern dictatorship, and cross that option off of our list.” This is because there are two factors of importance in citizen response to government: voice and exit. The reactionary seeks a system of no voice and free exit, and a world full of micro-nations operating in this manner would certainly be preferable to the current system of democratic nation-states, which offers only an illusion of voice coupled with significant barriers to exit. But this is not the likely outcome of a collapse of democracy that does not also collapse the statist system. The likely result of no voice and no exit is the worst of all possible worlds. At least in a stateless world guided by the likes of Cato, Reason, and C4SS, the market could sort out their nonsense and return us to better practices. To quote Cantwell, “Anarcho-capitalism does not require any number of people to agree with it, only that the system of coercion impeding it be rendered ineffective. Remove the systemic coercion, and economics will take care of the rest.”

The idea that the left should face political opposition from a true right-wing movement is appealing on its face, as this would make leftists deal with a political threat rather than focus their attacks solely upon libertarianism. But state power need not be used for this. A resurgence of right-wing libertarianism would be sufficient to repel the toxic influence of the new crop of left-libertarians, and Cantwell’s own efforts on this front have been quite valuable. Also, the danger of the right-wing movement coming to power and inflicting its own brand of statism upon us cannot be ignored.

To conclude, the struggle for liberty is a local, anti-political effort. Looking for a strongman to save us will only lead to further ruin, even if that ruin is of a different sort. Bleak though the outlook is at this point, the path to a free society is revolution or bust.

On the Zeroth Position

Regular readers of my column at as well as my own site will quickly encounter the term ‘Zeroth Position.’ As it is used nowhere else at the time of this writing, an explanation of the meaning, origin, and rationale of the term is necessary. We will begin with an overview of political terms and then see how they factor into the Zeroth Position.

If there is a zeroth position, then there must also be positions of higher ordinal value. The first two positions, like much of contemporary political terminology, can be traced to the aftermath of the French Revolution, although their origins are much older. Conservatism, the first position, favors retention of traditional social and political institutions. Moderate conservatives emphasize progress to an extent which will not disrupt societal continuity and stability, while more ardent conservatives may seek to return to an idealized past. The term was first used in a political context in 1818 during the period of Bourbon restoration to denote people who wished to repeal policies from the French Revolution. The meaning of conservatism varies between societies because traditional social and political institutions vary between societies, but most conservatives support economic freedom to a greater extent than social freedom.

Liberalism, the second position, has been and still is the primary opponent of conservatism. Liberalism is founded upon the ideas of liberty and equality. As these values frequently contradict each other, liberals divide into classical liberals and progressive liberals, with classical liberals prioritizing liberty and progressive liberals prioritizing equality. Moderate liberals seek gradual progress, while more ardent liberals may seek to quickly and radically transform society. Liberalism originated during the Age of Enlightenment, with its foundations being laid throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Liberals reject the ideas of state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings, and hereditary nobility in favor of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, secular democratic government, and (in the case of classical liberals) free markets.

The Third Position originated later than the first two, and is best understood as a synthesis of the extreme elements of both. This position, best described as authoritarian, combines reactionary right social views with radical left economic views. The term originated in the early 20th century, and has been used by both National Bolsheviks, who combine right-wing nationalism with left-wing Bolshevism, and Strasserists, who combine right-wing fascism with left-wing syndicalism. Moderation among such authoritarians can usually be found only in the means they are willing to use to achieve their ends, not in the ends themselves. Third Positionists support racial separatism, ethnopluralism, and environmentalism while opposing communism, capitalism, and individual liberty.

Thus far, we have covered three corners of the Nolan chart. The only remaining corner is libertarianism, which promotes liberty through individual sovereignty, non-aggression, and private property rights. Moderate libertarians seek to merely reduce the size and scope of government, while more ardent libertarians favor anarcho-capitalism. Like classical liberalism, libertarianism originates in the Age of Enlightenment, although a different construction of libertarianism from reactionary principles is possible. Libertarians favor both economic and social freedom.

One could label libertarianism as the Fourth Position by going in chronological order of rise to prominence in world affairs, but there are several reasons to consider libertarianism, particularly its consistent, anarchist form, the Zeroth Position instead. The first is that all other political positions can be expressed in terms of libertarian anarchism plus contradictions. Because the state is a group of people who exercise a monopoly on initiatory force within a geographical area, all statist positions (including the First, Second, and Third Positions) necessarily advocate some degree of initiatory force. When people agree to engage in rational argumentation, they implicitly accept certain behavioral norms. Two of these are that truth is preferable to falsehood and reason is preferable to force, for the alternative positions make engaging in peaceful discourse both a contradiction and a ruse. Other types of anarchism also fall prey to contradictions, such as the fact that arguing against hierarchical structures requires the use of a hierarchical structure in the form of language. Second, humans have existed in anatomically modern form for about 200,000 years, but city-states have existed for less than 10,000 years and nation-states have existed for only 5,000 years. Thus, for the vast majority of human (pre)history, people lived in stateless societies. Finally, global statism is unsustainable on many counts. Whether by agorism, civil disobedience, cryptocurrency, peaceful parenting, philosophy, political migration, seasteading, technology, violent revolution, or some combination of the aforementioned, statelessness will return someday unless something causes human extinction before then.

This concludes the explanation of the meaning, origin, and rationale of the term ‘Zeroth Position’. My other philosophical works deal with its applications and implications.

When Gun Deaths Are Good

With the relatively large number of high-profile cases of mass shootings, leftists are predictably calling for more gun control. When arguing for their position that it should be more difficult for morally upstanding people to build, purchase, keep, carry, and use guns to defend themselves from aggressors, they frequently refer to statistics concerning gun deaths. The implication is that every death caused by firearms is a tragedy, and that if infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms saves just one of those lives, then it is worth doing. While we could dismiss this reasoning by way of reductio ad absurdum by pointing out that it would also lead us to stop using automobiles, electricity, and any other invention which causes people to die on occasion, let us present a sharper defense by examining some cases in which gun deaths are good.

First, proponents of gun control like to point out that having a gun available to a person who is contemplating suicide increases the risk of a successful suicide attempt. The problem is that they assume without proof that this is a negative outcome. A person of sound mind has a strong instinct of self-preservation, and killing oneself is antithetical to this instinct, but there are factors which can override this instinct. One such factor is terminal illness. A person who has a rather short amount of time to live and will be in excruciating pain for the entirety of that time may decide that nonexistence (or going to whatever afterlife the person believes in) is better than existence as a terminally ill person. In such a case, a self-inflicted gunshot wound can act as a form of euthanasia compared to the protracted suffering which would otherwise lie ahead. (And because many governments still violate the sovereignty of their citizens over their own bodies by prohibiting physician-assisted suicide, this is a roundabout case of bad people with guns being defeated by a good person with a gun.) The tragedy in such a case is not the gun death, but the terminal illness behind the gun death.

Another factor can occur during an armed conflict. A person whose position is being overrun by enemy forces may commit suicide to avoid capture, interrogation, and torture at the hands of the enemy. Historically, many women did this to avoid becoming victims of war rape and many people with valuable knowledge did this to keep themselves from being tortured into divulging important information to the enemy. In such cases, a self-inflicted gun death can be the best of a multitude of bad options.

Still another factor is mental illness. A person whose brain does not function properly can come to believe that putting a bullet through one’s skull has some effect other than ending one’s life, or that self-preservation is not a worthwhile endeavor. While there are many cases in which intervention is needed and the death of the mentally ill person would be regrettable, there are some people who have a chronic and incurable mental condition. A strong desire to end one’s life in the absence of terminal illness or an impending worse fate is a mechanism of natural selection to eliminate organisms which are not sufficiently fit to reproduce and take care of the next generation.

Second, accidental gun deaths are a concern for gun control advocates. Whether by inept usage, improper repairs and maintenance, or failure to keep out of the hands of young children, guns sometimes kill people by accident. Some of these cases are best prevented by education of gun owners, but others are a mechanism of natural selection. The gun owner who handles his guns haphazardly or maintains them improperly can remove himself from the gene pool when the gun either shoots him or fails catastrophically in his hands. The gun owner who is a parent and fails to secure his guns around young children is less likely to get to be a grandparent, great-grandparent, and so on.

Third, guns may be used in self-defense against aggressors. When a criminal is killed in self-defense by a gun owner, there is one less threat for the surrounding community to worry about. A dead criminal is incapable of victimizing any more innocent people and requires no expenditure of funds by the state or private alternatives for arresting, transporting, trying, imprisoning, and rehabilitating the criminal. Although leftists frequently claim that firearm use in self-defense is rare (or even that owning a gun causes more danger to the owner than it eliminates), there is good reason to doubt empirical methods in cases involving counterfactuals as well as the particular methodologies of the studies in question. This is because it is impossible to count criminal cases which did not happen because the criminal was deterred by the sight of a firearm in the hands of the criminal’s target as well as to know what would have happened if victims of their own firearms had not been armed.

Fourth, guns may be used in battles between criminals. While this can kill innocent bystanders and should therefore be stopped whenever this is a concern, a quarrel in which criminals kill each other and no innocent bystanders are victimized is a win-win for morally upstanding people. If evil wishes to fight itself and this will not harm innocents, it is in the interest of good people to allow this to go forward and then deal with whoever survives. Notably, one side of such a conflict can be wearing costumes and claiming certain affiliations, which brings us to the fifth and final example.

Finally, guns may be used in self-defense against agents of the state. When government grows more oppressive than people are able or willing to tolerate, guns give people the means they need to remove that government from power. Even a single instance of government agents being killed can greatly reduce oppression, at least in the short term. A more sustained effort of decentralized, anti-political, guerrilla attacks have the potential to make being a government agent too dangerous of a employment prospect to be worthwhile, thus eliminating the state from the bottom up. While leftists tend to deride such a suggestion as pure fantasy, anyone who has bothered to seriously think through the possibility knows that it is not, including high-ranking United States military personnel.

To conclude, the arguments made by gun control advocates frequently use empiricism where rationalism is the correct method of knowing and commit numerous other logical fallacies. Deaths caused by firearms frequently serve a noble purpose and are no cause to restrict public access to guns or ammunition.

Nine observations on the Oregon standoff

On Jan. 2, a group of armed men took over the unoccupied headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. Three of the men involved are sons of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose own standoff with government agents made headlines in 2014. Ammon Bundy, the spokesman for the group, has vowed to stay at the site for years if necessary, calling it “the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” a ranching family in the area that saw two of its members sent to prison on Jan. 3. Nine observations on these events follow.

1. The current standoff is a reaction to a long list of government abuses. In order to understand this situation, it is necessary to examine the history of the area and the conflict. The area was originally inhabited by the Paiute Native American tribe. President Grant allowed white settlers into the area in 1876, and the Paiutes were forced off their land in 1878. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt created an Indian reservation devoid of Native Americans as a political scheme to create a wildlife preserve and breeding ground for birds. This would become the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

In 1964, the Hammond family purchased their ranch in the Harney Basin. The purchase included approximately 6,000 acres of private property along with four grazing rights on public land, a small ranch house, and three water rights. It was already one of the last ranches in the area, as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had been buying up ranches and adding them to the wildlife refuge. In the 1970s, these agencies revoked grazing permits and raised costs for the ones that remained, making some ranches unsustainable. In the 1980s, the agencies diverted water to flood ranch properties near the Malheur Lakes, then drained the land once the ranchers were forced to sell their submerged lands.

Starting in the 1990s, the agencies started targeting the Hammond family specifically. Susie Hammond researched the situation and discovered a 1975 FWS study which found that the “no use” policies of the FWS on the refuge were causing wildlife to leave the refuge and move to private property, to the extent that private property had four times as many ducks and geese as the refuge and migratory birds were 13 times more likely to land on private property than on the refuge. The Hammonds also obtained a new deed for water rights from the State of Oregon, which the BLM and FWS unsuccessfully challenged in State Circuit Court. The revelation of this study and the court case led to many vindictive acts by government agents.

The next action by BLM and FWS was an arbitrary revocation of one of the Hammond’s grazing permits. When a federal judge ruled that the federal government does not have to observe Oregon state laws which require no obligation on the part of an owner to keep his or her livestock within a fence or to maintain control over the movement of the livestock, the BLM and FWS forced the Hammonds to either build and maintain miles of fences or have their private property rights infringed upon. The Hammonds were forced to remove cattle from their ranch because they could not afford to fence the land. The Hammonds had to sell their ranch and home to get another property with enough grass to feed their cattle. This property also had grazing rights on public land which would also be arbitrarily revoked later. The Hammonds would eventually regain their original ranch after the person who bought it from them died from a heart attack.

In 2001, Steven Hammond called the fire department to inform them that he was going to perform a routine prescribed burn on their ranch. This is a common method used to remove weeds and increase productivity on ranches. The fire spread to public land and burned 127 acres of grass, but the Hammonds put out the fire without help. In 2006, lightning started a wildfire on federal lands which threatened the Hammond family’s land. Steven set a backfire on their private property to stop the wildfire, which was successful. The next day, federal agents accused Steven and Dwight Hammond of multiple charges, which the Harney County District Attorney chose not to prosecute. Dwight and Susan Hammond’s home was raided by federal agents in September 2006, who informed the Hammonds that they were looking for evidence that would connect them to the fires.

In 2011, the U.S. Attorney Office filed terrorism charges against Steven and Dwight Hammond under the Federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of death. During the trial, Federal Court Judge Michael Hogan did not allow the Hammonds to present a proper defense, allowed the prosecution to use a witness who was not mentally capable to be credible, and conspired with the prosecution to tamper with the jury on multiple occasions, including pressuring them into a hasty verdict. Once convicted, the judge sentenced the Hammonds to less than the mandatory minimum sentence, believing the mandatory minimum to be cruel and unusual punishment for the Hammond’s actions. The Hammonds served their sentences (Dwight 3 months, Steven 12 months) starting on January 4, 2013 and were released.

In June 2014, the prosecutor and two BLM employees filed an appeal with the Ninth District Federal Court seeking Dwight’s and Steven’s return to federal prison for the entire five year mandatory minimum. The court re-sentenced them in October 2015 and were also forced to grant the BLM first right of refusal; if the Hammonds ever sell their ranch they will have to sell it to the BLM. Dwight and Steven returned to federal prison on Jan. 4, 2016. The Hammonds are also being forced to pay more fines to the BLM, sell them the ranch, or face further prosecution.

2. Governments do not legitimately own land. Property rights are a logical consequence of self-ownership. A person mixes one’s labor with unowned natural resources and thus establishes a right to exclusive control over them. The owner is then free to use, trade, gift, or destroy said resources as he or she sees fit as long as doing so does not violate anyone else’s right to life, liberty, or property.

Governments do not acquire property in this manner. Because a government is not an individual, it cannot perform labor or make decisions; people can only claim to do so in its name. Therefore, a government cannot legitimately acquire property. Instead, governments acquire property simply by claiming it and committing armed robbery, extortion, and murder against any rightful property owners who resist such a claim.

3. The protesters are justified in occupying federal lands and buildings. Because everything exclusively controlled by governments has been stolen from its rightful owners, it is legitimate for someone to not only occupy the land for a protest, but to permanently seize and re-homestead it to return it to private ownership. To quote Murray Rothbard,

“Suppose, for example, that A steals B’s horse. Then C comes along and takes the horse from A. Can C be called a thief? Certainly not, for we cannot call a man a criminal for stealing goods from a thief. On the contrary, C is performing a virtuous act of confiscation, for he is depriving thief A of the fruits of his crime of aggression, and he is at least returning the horse to the innocent ‘private’ sector and out of the ‘criminal’ sector. C has done a noble act and should be applauded. Of course, it would be still better if he returned the horse to B, the original victim. But even if he does not, the horse is far more justly in C’s hands than it is in the hands of A, the thief and criminal.”

In this case, A is the federal government, B is the Paiute Native American tribe, and C is the Bundy-led protest group.

4. Government courts function through conflict of interest. When the BLM and FWS revoked the Hammond’s grazing permit, a federal judge in a federal court ruled that the federal agencies did not have to observe state laws of Oregon. The conflict of interest involved with being the plaintiff, the judge, and the court operator in a case would never be considered acceptable in a case not involving the government. The prosecutor and judge would later conspire to obtain a conviction in the criminal case against Dwight and Steven Hammond.

5. This is a conflict between two groups of statists. The Bundy-led protesters have expressed support for the United States Constitution and do not question the validity of the state as an institution. They are only asking for certain remedies for grievances committed by the federal government against ranchers in the Western United States. As such, there is no good side in this conflict from a libertarian perspective, only a bad side and a much worse side. “What we’re doing is not rebellious. What we’re doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land,” Ammon Bundy said on Jan. 2. “We’re out here because the people have been abused long enough, their lands and their resources have been taken from them to the point that it is putting them literally into poverty.”

6. The government is the terrorist organization, not the protesters. Many people in the lapdog media and on social media have denigrated the protesters as terrorists, labeling them #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS. The most parsimonious complete definition of terrorism is the use of violence, threats, fear, and intimidation to achieve political, social, and/or economic goals. As explained in point #1, the federal government has a long history of this. The protesters, on the other hand, have yet to resort to violence and have announced that they will only do so if attacked by government agents. To the extent that the protesters are using threats, fear, and intimidation, they are doing so in an effort to defend against state aggression.

7. This is different from Black Lives Matter protests because it does not interfere with private property. Many leftists in the pundit and political classes are claiming that the Bundy-led protesters are benefiting from white privilege because according to them, blacks or Muslims who behaved identically would be gunned down by police by now. Aside from the fact that this is a counterfactual and therefore unprovable, the Black Lives Matter protesters have interfered with private businesses and caused harm to innocent third parties in the process. The Bundy-led protesters, on the other hand, have a clearer idea of who their adversary is and are only targeting government-held property with their sit-in.

8. The Hammond family’s statements are being made under duress. “Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family,” the Hammonds’ lawyer W. Alan Schroeder wrote to Sheriff David Ward. This has been represented by the lapdog media as a rejection of the Bundy-led protests, but even if this were clearly the case, the Hammonds are under duress. When one is being ordered to report to prison to serve another four-plus years on a charge based on an anti-terrorism statute, advocating violent resistance to government is not conducive to one’s well-being, especially when five years is the minimum sentence and the maximum sentence is death.

9. The Bundy’s cause is just, but their tactics are unwise. Governments are not competent at much, but they are quite capable of destroying centralized opponents. Just as they did at Ruby Ridge and Waco, federal agents may yet lay siege and murder some or even all of the people who dare to defy their rule. If they do, the lapdog media will cheer for the costumed criminals and demonize those who were defending innocent people and private property rights against their assault. The protesters are correct to resort to force; they are dealing with a violent aggressor that vindictively bullies innocent people and uses underhanded means to corrupt peaceful efforts to resolve disputes. But a centralized foe of the strength of the United States government can only be fought through decentralized methods, such as guerrilla warfare waged with the intent of expelling government agents from a geographical area and maintaining a functioning society by continuing to defend against any further threats to people and property.

A case against the Nineteenth Amendment

One of the most esteemed parts of the United States Constitution is the Nineteenth Amendment, which reads:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

This will sound like a good idea to the vast majority of people at the time of this writing. Most people would agree that laws which prohibit women from voting are unfairly discriminatory and that a constitutional amendment was necessary and proper to prevent such practices. But the matter is not that simple. Let us examine why extending voting rights to women was a mistake and consider a better alternative.

In the words of Frédéric Bastiat, “The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.” There have been many arguments made against women’s suffrage which can now be clearly seen to constitute an inept defense of restrictions on voting at best and baseless misogyny at worst. The following list of such arguments is not exhaustive, but includes the most common arguments which were made.

  • The argument that women and men have ‘separate spheres’ was generally true in ages past, but is much less true today. (Whether societal changes in gender roles over the past 150 years are positive, neutral, or negative developments is outside the scope of this article. We shall concern ourselves only with the nature and effects of these changes here.)
  • The argument that women should not vote because they do not serve in police or military forces and would thus be making decisions to which they would not be directly subject is no longer valid because women do serve in police and military forces today.
  • The argument that most women have no desire for the vote is empirically false; in United States presidential elections, female voters have outnumbered male voters in every election since 1964 and voter turnout percentage has been higher for females in every election since 1980.
  • The argument that introducing a female element into an imperial electorate would weaken the central power in the eyes of people living in the colonies is invalid on two counts; the age of colonialism has ended and women’s suffrage was achieved earlier in most colonies than in the colonizing empires.
  • The argument that women are inherently inferior to men is impossible to measure objectively and therefore impossible to prove.
  • The argument that women are already represented by their husbands fails for any woman who is not married to a man.
  • The argument that women’s interests are safe when men wield political power and women do not is too absurd to take seriously.
  • The argument that women have a vast indirect influence on politics through their influence on the men in their lives is true, but this indirect influence is no match for direct wielding of political power.
  • The argument that women are emotional creatures incapable of making sound political decisions is an unwarranted generalization. Many men also make unsound political decisions.
  • The argument that women are naturally conservative and would cost left-wing parties victories in elections is empirically false; since 1980, more women than men have voted for Democrats in United States elections.
  • The argument that the role of women is in local affairs is countered by several of the above observations.

With the weak arguments disposed of, let us turn to arguments which fail to make a solid case but cannot be dismissed without explanation. The first is that involving women in politics leads to a decline in marriages and birthrates, thus leading to a demographic catastrophe. Marriages and birthrates have certainly declined in Western democracies and a demographic catastrophe will occur if nothing is done soon to prevent it, but to consider this a direct result of women’s suffrage would be a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The link here is more roundabout in nature, owing to progressive policies which create perverse incentives that lead to female voters choosing to expand state power. This growth of state power, progressive policies, and perverse incentives weighs against marriage and childbirth. Progressive policies were already being enacted years before women’s suffrage was established, and it is entirely possible that men could have passed the remainder of progressive policies without female votes.

The second is that women’s suffrage is based on equality of the sexes. While it is impossible to show that people of one gender are inherently inferior to people of the other, this does not mean that gender equality is true. A lack of inequality being synonymous with equality is only true for that which is quantifiable, as that which is unquantifiable cannot be less than or greater than something else. This fact alone does not make a case against women’s suffrage, but a case for women’s suffrage must find some other basis.

The third is that when women’s suffrage was first being debated, few women owned property. If they were given permission to vote, then men who did not own property would also have to be given permission to vote. This is a valid concern; people who do not own property but vote on matters that affect property owners have a perverse incentive to use state power to steal from the haves under color of law and give to the have-nots. But the answer here is not to deny suffrage to women; it is to deny suffrage to people who do not own property.

Now, let us look at the valid arguments against women’s suffrage. The first is that politics are a corrupting influence on women. Power corrupts and is magnetic to the corruptible, and the voting booth gives women as a group a large amount of power. It is fair to point out that the same could be said of men and that the best options are to abolish political power entirely or to abolish democracy, but practically doubling the number of voters and thus the number of people corrupted by political power is still not a good idea.

The second is that women’s suffrage turns women against men. As mentioned before, progressive policies create perverse incentives that allow politicians to buy votes with stolen resources. This turns women against men by giving women a way to make poor choices without having to suffer the consequences for them. In more traditional societies, women had to either be successful on their own or choose a mate of good quality. Failing to do so would leave her (and any children she might have with an inferior man) in a precarious position. As such, there were social pressures on women to do the aforementioned and avoid promiscuous behaviors. With political power, however, these women could join with other women (and beta males) to use the state to steal from successful men and give to women who had made poor choices, thus incentivizing more poor choices in the future. It is also noteworthy that bans on drugs, alcohol, and gambling were also coming into effect around the same time as women’s suffrage in the United States. These were the result of women using political influence to get the state to force men to be better mates for them. Like all other attempts to legislate morality, these efforts failed to eliminate the targeted behaviors and created revenue sources for organized crime. Finally, the ability to rely on the state rather than on men or family led to the creation of pensions, unemployment insurance, government retirement benefits, and other such distortions of the market which are not sustainable over the long term. (To be fair, this is not entirely the fault of women because the World Wars resulted in many dead men, which incentivized women to turn to the state in the absence of suitable mates.)

Third, and best from a libertarian perspective, is that voting is an act of aggression and should therefore be opposed wherever possible. To vote is to impose violent rulers upon peaceful people and create the appearance of legitimacy for a system which deserves none. Misguided libertarians notwithstanding, voting does not qualify as self-defense because innocent third parties who are not human shields are aggressed against in the process. As such, the answer to the problem of men committing acts of aggression is not to allow women to do so as well, but to stop men from doing so. Giving women the vote may seem like a pragmatic position, but pragmatic efforts in the quest to end the state have a long history of backfiring.

To conclude, a repeal of the Nineteenth Amendment is a sufficiently remote possibility to be dismissed as a serious avenue of attack against state power, but it would be a positive development if it were to somehow occur. While the abolition of political power is the ultimate requirement for a free society, democracy is fundamentally incompatible with liberty and any measure that pushes back against democracy should be welcomed.

The Not-So-Current Year: 2015 In Review

Though the specific demarcation of the passage from one year into another is a rather arbitrary social construct, it does provide a useful annual period for self-examination and remembrance. Now that 2015 has entered the history books, let us take a look back at a year’s worth of essays and review the not-so-current year.

In December 2014, an assassination of two NYPD officers prompted many libertarians to signal hard against the use of force against agents of the state. I decided to argue the opposing case. The harassment of the Meitiv family by Child Protective Services prompted another such article. Julian Adorney resolved that good government police exist, and I responded by explaining why this is impossible. I used another NYPD incident to argue that when government agents and common criminals fight, we should pull for no one. When Tremaine Wilbourn killed a police officer during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tenn, I wrote a list of observations on the event which mostly follow the aforementioned articles.

Many libertarians praise decentralization, and rightly so. But it is neither good nor evil in and of itself. It can be used for good or evil ends, and I explored the latter.

On Burns night, I observed that a proper haggis was unavailable in the United States and found that as usual, the state is to blame. Staying on the subject of food, economically illiterate researchers blamed Walmart for causing obesity, and I explained why this is fallacious.

The 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz gave cause to examine how such an atrocity could be carried out without the state. The answer, of course, is that it would be all but impossible.

Entering February, I allowed my cynicism to wax to the point of formalizing it as a razor. It could use more detailing and strengthening, which is a project for a later time. I used the razor to explain why the Obama administration might want to disarm elderly people.

Alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht was convicted on February 4 and sentenced on May 29. I made lists of observations on both of these occasions. Some people were none too happy with the state’s treatment of Ulbricht, and their displeasure got them in hot water. This occasion also merited a list of observations.

The movie American Sniper did well at the box office, but a metaphor therein was left incomplete. I decided to complete the analogy of sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves by adding farmers of human livestock to the mix.

A video by Stefan Molyneux about two different types of statists compared them to warriors and wizards. I made the case that countering the state requires libertarians to be both character classes at once.

Ron Paul made a video appearance at the International Students For Liberty Conference, but some attendees decided to interrupt this by reading an open letter to him which was filled with leftist entryist nonsense. I wrote an open letter against them which gained wide recognition and helped run some of the people involved out of libertarian circles. It remains one of my proudest moments as a writer.

At the end of February, Republicans tried to use brinkmanship to force spending cuts, which failed miserably due to their track record of caving at the last minute. I wrote a list of observations on the event.

On March 9, I published my most popular article to date, which is also one of my most shallow, choir-preaching works. The correlation between the two can be most depressing at times. At any rate, here are 25 statist propaganda phrases and some concise rebuttals.

Several commenters have told me that I am at my best when I provide a sound defense for an idea that most people find to be outrageous. I did this several times in 2015, defending the killing of innocent shields in certain circumstances, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, letting Iran develop a nuclear deterrent, and the replacement of democratic elections with jousts to the death.

I went on a rebuttal streak in the spring of 2015. President Obama proposed that voting be made mandatory, and I argued the case against this. Michael Eliot argued that a violent revolution is not the correct strategy for creating a free society, and that the use of methods such as seasteading will be more successful. I explained why this is false. Walter Block argued in favor of Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, and I demonstrated why he is not a good choice. Austin Petersen effectively made a case against libertarianism itself, and I rebutted it.

Paul Krugman delivered some rather standard talking points about public goods, and I showed why they are wrong. I revisited the subject later in the year.

Rolling Stone decided to go ahead with a completely false story about campus rape, and did nothing beyond wrist-slapping to those involved in creating and editing the story. They also defended the ideas behind the story, with which I took great issue. Another sex-related story occurred on April 21 when the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration resigned due to a prostitution scandal that occurred on her watch. I explained why we should not be surprised, and should actually expect more of such behavior. The purity spiral of campus feminism has grown to such an extent that even left-wing feminist professors are not immune. Rape accusation culture struck once more at Amherst College, and the victim took the university to court.

Baltimore police officers arrested Freddie Gray, who died one week later as a result of injuries sustained during the arrest. Riots ensued, and I wrote a list of observations on the event.

Charles Murray published a book detailing a novel strategy for fighting the regulatory state: overwhelm it with civil disobedience, create a legal fund to defend victims of regulation, and start treating government fines as an insurable hazard. I argued that this would fail, but that it needs to be tried anyway.

The prohibition of excessive bail and fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment, is a much-revered part of the United States Constitution. I argued that it should not be.

Dylann Roof carried out a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, and I wrote a list of observations on the event.

Late June is Supreme Court season, and they delivered at least two bad decisions in 2015. First, they ruled very narrowly in favor of raisin farmers, but left the rights-violating practice of eminent domain intact. Then, they crammed same-sex marriage down the throats of all Americans.

Litecoin exchange rates suddenly spiked in early July. I took an educated guess at why, but it ended up being pure speculation.

Turmoil in Greece threatened to boil over into a default or even a Grexit. I took a deep look into the situation and concluded that only anarchy can fix the problems there.

Two seemingly disparate stories concerning Planned Parenthood and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine had a common thread: there is no such thing as non-lethal aid to an organization that conducts lethal operations.

I wrote a three-part series about fascism and communism in America, as well as how a nation can be both. Although I lated discovered that Lawrence Britt does not appear to be a real person, I found the 14-point list of fascist characteristics to be sound, so I did not revise the article.

A problem which is frequently cited as a reason why we must have a state is the problem of pollution. I dealt with the issues of water ownership and pollution in order to show why the state cannot solve the problem of pollution.

In one of my more controversial articles, I argued that Vester Flanagan, the man who murdered a reporter and a cameraman in Roanoke, Va., was a model social justice warrior. Examiner decided to pull it for offending their audience, but you can find it here.

Everyone knows that the Libertarian Party is not exactly a bastion of excellent strategic thinkers. I decided to offer them help, and a response to my essay advocating an alternate strategy is also worth reading.

Liberty Mutual created a series of advertisements that air regularly in my area, and they are full of economic fallacies. They annoyed me enough to dedicate an article to debunking them.

Reservation scalping occurred at Disney World restaurants, which outraged many people. I applied Walter Block’s reasoning for defending ticket scalpers to argue against the outrage.

September 11 always brings about discussions on security. I argued that there can be no such thing; only temporary and imperfect protection from particular dangers.

The term ‘cuckservative’ arose from alt-right circles to describe those who are insufficiently conservative, selling out their constituents, and/or acting against their own rational self-interests. I created the term ‘cuckertarian‘ to describe a similar problem among libertarians. Another problem with the libertarian movement that I addressed is the embrace of hedonism when libertarianism only requires that we not use aggressive violence to stamp out non-violent degeneracy.

After several years in prison for tax resistance, Irwin Schiff passed away. I wrote a list of observations on the event that gained praise from his son Peter.

I belatedly refuted Matt Zwolinski’s six reasons for rejecting the non-aggression principle. I had meant to do so when he published his piece back in April 2013, but other work took precedence and it languished in development hell. Next, I dealt with Youliy Ninov’s arguments against anarcho-capitalism in what is my most verbose article to date.

Islamic terrorists attacked Beirut and Paris on November 12 and 13, respectively. I wrote a list of observations on the events.

Many libertarians misunderstand immigration and borders, so after several pro-open-borders articles published in quick succession by other authors, I tried to set them straight.

Black Friday is revered by most libertarians as a celebration of free-market capitalism. I explained why this reverence is somewhat misplaced.

Robert Dear attacked a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., killing three people and wounding nine others. I made the case that although the use of force against Planned Parenthood is defensive in nature, it is frequently impractical and counterproductive.

The success of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, as well as growing support for it in libertarian and reactionary circles, led me to examine the phenomena. I concluded that Trumpism is not a libertarian form of reaction, though we may have some common enemies.

My final article of 2015 addressed the common phrase ‘give back to the community.’ In short, it is communist nonsense that must be rejected.

I began work on another case against a constitutional amendment, but it was not completed for publishing before the end of 2015, so it will appear first in next year’s review.

All in all, it was an interesting year full of occasions to make sharp libertarian arguments. May 2016 bring more of the same. Happy New Year!