You Have No Right to Free Speech

Amidst the throng clamoring over censorship on the internet, the idea of a right to free speech is bandied about habitually. However, what this right is has seldom been elucidated. This keeping in the shadows benefits all involved as a clarification and exploration of the nature of such a right would result in both sides having nothing further to discuss. I like to throw my conclusions out first and then extrapolate backwards so the diligent reader knows where I’m going, and so the lazy reader can stop pretty early while still taking away the correct message. The truth is, both sides in the debate are wrong, and the right to free speech does not exist. Why both sides are wrong, however, is not because the right to free speech does not exist, as you will see presently.

Let’s start with the conservative argument, which typically involves the Constitution and the First Amendment to it. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” There is more to it, but I have extracted the relevant lines. The argument goes, the First Amendment recognizes our natural right to free speech, and therefore any law or action that restricts that right is a violation of said right. Notice here the language used in the writing; the Amendment does not say, “the right to free speech,” it says, “the freedom of speech.” The freedom of speech is the natural state of affairs, and positive action comes only from interfering with said freedom. The idea of a right implies that others are required to listen, but I’ll address that in a minute.

Conservatives and others that advocate for the existence of rights fall into the positive rights trap (See All Rights Are Positive Rights for more). When you have a right, it necessarily requires that a responsibility exists for someone else. In this case, a right to free speech implies that the government must positively protect and ensure that all individuals have equal access to free speech. This brings about clamors for the regulation as a utility of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms from the conservatives, which seems to fly in the face of standard conservative talking points for deregulation. However, no one is demanding the New York Times or Washington Post be regulated as a utility. Twitter and Facebook clearly act as publishers since they edit the content you are allowed to see on their platform. This means they should be treated as such and held responsible for the content of the users whose posts they do permit. That being said, I must digress back to the topic at hand.

Conservatives miss the boat completely on free speech, and it is because of this that our legal system is so befuddled. Free speech is the natural state. The only way to abridge someone’s freedom of speech is to initiate force against them. If you stand on your front porch and start talking to the world, how can someone stop you? Want to print up a pamphlet and send it in the mail? As long as you buy the correct postage, how can anyone stop you? Want to write a blog on the internet? As long as you pay for the service on the blog hosting site, how can anyone stop you? The answer is, they have to initiate force against you. Men with guns can put you in chains and kidnap you off of your front porch, men with guns can destroy or order the destruction of your pamphlets or order they not be circulated, and the blog hosting company can violate the terms of your contract and cancel your service arbitrarily and men with guns can stand by and tacitly endorse the aggression against you. This recognition would have prevented volumes of legal precedent and case law from being necessary.

On to the liberals.

Liberals make two misconceptions when it comes to free speech, and the first causes the second. First, they believe in the right to free speech, which necessarily mandates that everyone must be heard that wants to be. This of course requires a platform for voicing said speech, and it requires everyone to listen and therefore validate the person speaking. This is why liberals when not in power demand to be heard in protests, on television, in public speaking events, etc. and why now that they are in power, insist on deplatforming speakers with whom they disagree. Not listening is not an option for them. Neither is exposure to differing opinions, but we already knew that.

This desire to strip a certain group of their fundamental human rights necessarily leads to the second misconception the liberals make; hate speech. What is hate speech? Can it be defined? Calls for action against a certain group that is hated by the caller is not speech; it is a call to action and therefore not speech. The only real definition of hate speech is, speech which is detrimental to the current power structure. With this understanding, those in power can silence those challenging the status quo by condemning them as proponents of hate speech. You always want to demonize the group you are seeking to abuse or exploit, or whose freedom you want to restrict. Don’t believe me? The next time you hear someone accusing someone else of hate speech, take a closer look at the arguments perpetuated by the accused. Chances are good you’ll find some truth in there.

If you have made it this far, you are quite the diligent reader. You should be proud. And I will go pat my ego… Anyway, liberals and conservatives completely miss the boat on free speech, and it is to the detriment of everyone. Conservatives cannot frame the idea correctly, and liberals cannot stand the idea of anyone disagreeing with them. Until everyone learns that the only ethical principle is the initiation of the use of force is morally wrong, we will continue to see fights about the proper arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The New Religion

Are you an atheist? Agnostic? A Christian with a crisis of faith? A Satanist? Or perhaps you are someone who simply doesn’t know in what to believe anymore?

Well, have I got some good news for you!

I am proud to introduce to you the only religion you’ll ever need; Statetheism!

Tired of stressing over the existence of God? Good news! With Statetheism, you never have to worry about the existence of the government! You see those guys over there with the guns, that’s the state for you! And those pesky tax collectors, they’ll be there to restore your faith every time you get paid! And don’t worry, if you don’t comply with their edicts, they’ll be happy to send you on a pilgrimage to the state or federal penitentiary where you can pay your penance on your knees servicing the biggest, scariest mother f’n sinner in prison with you. I hear if you don’t struggle, they are more likely to be gentle…

Are you worried about what or how to worship? No need. Human rights are the new liturgy. The United Nations has laid out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I know those old religions stressed what you weren’t allowed to do with all of their, thou shalt nots, like thou shalt not kill, and the like, but that just leaves too much ambiguity and freedom in human affairs. Too many humans making their own choices can only lead to chaos. Thankfully, our betters at the U.N. have laid out a list of thirty things we are entitled to simply by virtue of being human, and the State is obligated to provide those things for us. The government truly is a benevolent lord and savior.

By now, you are probably wondering about saints. These are a facet of any good religion, so of course Statetheism has a wonderful pantheon of saints to choose from for your eternal worship. If you prefer the living saints, you may worship Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Paul Krugman, or everyone’s favorite teetotaler, Hillary Clinton. She really is the embodiment of Stately virtue. If you prefer the presence of the anointed fallen and resurrected, you can always worship at the altar of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, Lyndon B Johnson, and everyone’s favorite, Abraham Lincoln. However, it is only the truly devout that will ascend to worship the exalted and divine saints of Rockefeller and Rothschild.

One of the most important facets of Christianity is the triune God-head. God exists above you, beside you, and within you; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit respectively. Not to fear, Statetheism has a much more tangible presence in your life. The Father of Statetheism, which is above you, is the Bureaucracy that makes the laws that stifle the freedom that is such an abominable sin. The Son, which is beside you, is the men with guns waiting around to correct you if you fall out of line by doing something that isn’t allowed by the Bureaucracy. And finally, the Holy Spirit is inside your wallet right now. It is the currency circulated across the country and around the world. It is printed from nothing, has no intrinsic value, and is used everywhere because everyone has faith that it actually means something. You can’t get more spiritual than that!

Another facet of any good religion is an all knowing, all powerful God. I can assure you that thanks to the internet, Google, and the NSA, the government knows everything they possibly can about you. And don’t worry, if they feel the need to assert their power over you, they will either blackmail you with your search history, or entrap you in some sort of a pedophile sex scandal. If you want to see power, just look at all the people the Clintons have had killed. Is it any wonder they are such exalted saints within the religion? It is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But, don’t worry folks, under Statetheism, the government is God, so it cannot be corrupted.

Now, I know at this time you may have some questions. Not to worry. Have a nice long conversation about all of these ideas and assuage your fears with one of our clergy. Chances are good you voted for one of them recently. And even if you didn’t vote, for them or at all, they will be happy to reaffirm the belief that the government is there to serve the people and do for them what they cannot do for themselves. Which, if you are a devout Statetheist, you know is absolutely nothing. As our faith professes, we love humanity, but human beings are terrible creatures going to bring about the destruction of the world through global climate change or some other disaster unless they let us completely control their lives for them.

Don’t be afraid. Choosing a new religion is always a scary decision, but I can assure you, whether you are a willing member of the faith or not, you are practicing the religion every day. So, why fight it? It is part of the social contract after all.

The Inevitable Separation

If the rule of law is what we say it is, what happens when two groups say it is something different?

What does it mean to be an American? Ask ten self-identified Americans, and you’ll probably get something about ideals of freedom and human rights for all people, and how anyone that believes in these ideals can be an American. This is American universalism. It is globalist in nature, inevitably futile, and it completely ignores reality. Let’s address these statements in reverse order before we answer the original question.

In demonstrating how American universalism ignores reality, its futility will become apparent. If America is an idea and all people can be Americans if they so choose, why aren’t there 186 United States of Americas in the world instead of just 1 U.S.A.? The reason is the people that live in all of those other countries. The Constitution is not copy written, and if it is so great to be an American, then all of the people in all of the other countries can implement the Constitution within their own boarders. So why don’t they?

Because they don’t want to. Italians like being Italian. Irish like being Irish. Saudi Arabians like being Arabs. Chinese like being Chinese. Japanese like being Japanese, and so on. However, unlike white Americans, all of these other groups recognize that not everyone is like them and they like to live their lives in their own way. In the relevant case for America today, Mexicans like being Mexican, they love Mexico, and they don’t want to become Americans despite their desire to live here.

Ignoring this reality leads to the importation of millions of people that are not Americans and do not want to be Americans. They do, however, like everything Americans have, and they want to take it for themselves. Italians did this with organized crime. The Irish did this with public offices and services. The Mexicans do this with welfare, cheap labor, and demographics. Los Angeles used to be a white city. It is now brown, black, and white. They are using their increasing population to take over the public offices and dish out welfare for themselves. This is how it is also inevitably futile to believe in the myth of American Universalism.

Mexicans are far more socialist than white Americans. They just elected a Venezuela style socialist as their president. If the Mexicans in America gain enough voting power through demographic shift, they will continue to progress this country down the road of socialism and inevitable failure.

That American universalism is globalist in nature should be fairly self-evident, however, I’ll clarify the case here. If we assume that everyone can be an American, then we recognize that everyone can subsequently live under the same government. This is the very ideal of globalism, to get everyone under one government.

The flip side of this coin is recognizing that the United States of America was founded by a specific racial and ethnic group that was established within the bounds of the country at the time of its founding, and they founded it for themselves and their descendants. They were not arrogant enough to assume that everyone could be an American. They recognized that the government they formed was for themselves and their progeny specifically. Everyone else was something else.

In the subsequent years, it was recognized that other Europeans can become American citizens, but not without a period of naturalization. It was also understood subsequent lines of immigrants are not part of the original ethic group that founded America. This is why there has been so much racial tension within the borders of the United States; different groups want to be recognized as Americans so they can justify their power and control over the system that governs all people. So, if we legitimize the Mexicans and their claims to be Americans, they will eventually take power in this country, and we will all be living in Mexico.

Now that we understand better what it means to be an American and why demographics matters, we must address the first question. Right now, there is a significant portion of the population of the United States that does not believe President Trump is legitimate, and they also believe that the rule of law is something that only applies some of the time and only to those they dislike. Illegal aliens cross the border, thus breaking our law, and are then subject to the consequences. Instead of insisting the law breakers follow the legal means for immigration, they insist our laws change to accommodate millions of indigent people that cannot read so that said indigent people can have a shot at a better life. That they end up on welfare and as a significant leftist voting block is outside the scope of this article. So the question is, how do we handle the advocates for the subversion of our laws that are considered citizens of our country?

Reasonable people have reasonable discussions. They are mature and polite in discussion, despite disagreements they may have, because they know that reason and rationality are the only ways to form civilized society. They also recognize that violence only begets violence. It is in fact the mutual threat of violence from both sides of a debate that allows for reasonable discussion. If I know my debate opponent is going to punch me in the mouth if I don’t agree with them, I’m going to make sure I can defend myself, launch a much more devastating counter attack, and make it clear that violence will not be tolerated. The other option is to not engage. This has been understood in civilized society since the dawn of discussion. Why then, is this no longer the case?

First, we have had peace for so long that the thought of violence is appalling to most. Subsequently, most people having discussions assume their opposites will be non-violent. This has led to the rise of the violent left. Conservatives and other controversial speakers have been confronted in the past few years with extreme violence from those that oppose their ideas, and power structures designed to protect citizens from violence have been utterly unresponsive. As a result, we end up with conservatives and controversial speakers not being able to speak freely.

We are faced with an extremely violent segment of society that opposes the rule of law and openly flouts it. So, how do we deal with these people? We have to separate from them. Those of us that support the rule of law and the systems that facilitate the enforcement and alteration of such laws, however imperfect, must band together and recognize that we cannot live freely with people that want to destroy our civilization.

The Nazis, Soviets, and British could not all live together, so they ended up going to war. The violent, radical left cannot live in a civilized country with the rest of us. They must be forced to comply with the law by law enforcement, and all violators must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Those of us that are civilized must be willing to recognize that violence is going to inevitably ensue, but it is necessary if we are going to reestablish order. The only alternative is a dissolution of the United States, and a reformation of different countries composed of different people with different interests.

Where does anarchy come in to all of this? Anarchy is the recognition that all of life is chaos and it is individual humans who order and organize it into systems and procedures by which we all live. Just because a system is the way it is doesn’t mean it’s the way it ought to be. Nor does it mean it cannot change. As an anarchist, one must recognize that systems of order are always in a state of flux and can change whenever enough people with focused intent act to do so. Those of us that desire a more just and free social order, one that values quality over quantity, and one that honors the traditions of individual freedom and respect for individual achievement while not initiating the use of force, must recognize the potential shift in power structures as a way to establish a better system than the one we have now.

Life Is Action

There is no idle in life. Get busy living, or get busy dying. Utopia does not exist. This idea that we can create a world of endless pleasure and ease is a fantasy. Any system humans create must be maintained by humans in perpetuity. Even if we create robots, someone still has to maintain and program them. Do you want to change the world? You have to get out and do something about it.

This world is shaped by those that interact with it. Our society is like a clay pot, and we are the hands that shape it. If we are not getting our hands wet and working the spinning wheel, we aren’t doing anything. Hypothesizing about different molding techniques and spin speeds without actually touching any clay will not accomplish anything.

I’m not saying you have to get involved with government, but you do have to engage with other people in your community. At the very least, you have to get engaged in a positive way on the internet.

I don’t like voting or the concept of voting because I don’t like government. However, when there is a policy issue or candidate that I think will make a difference, I will vote. Supporting a policy initiative or a candidate that will lead to more freedom is never a bad thing. As much fun as it is to discuss hypotheticals and ideals, it is not the world in which we live. Ideals and theory are great for giving us a direction, but we must navigate with them through the world in which we live, not the one in which we wished we lived.

Here’s an analogy: you are walking through the woods and you come across a crack in the ground. You walk on top of it for a while, but eventually, it starts to split and deepen. You have to choose a side. You decide to go left. Now, you’ve been walking for over an hour and you are four miles down that left path when you look out and realize the trees have cleared and the path in front of you leads to a desert and death. You then look to your right and see on the other side of the chasm, which is now a mile across and 3000 feet deep, a flourishing and vibrant forest with lush greens and ample fruit. You know that continuing on your current path will leave you dead. You also know that crossing the chasm from where you are to where you want to be is impossible, even though you really want to get over to the other side. So what do you do? You turn around and retrace your steps until you get to a place where getting back on the right path is an option.

We are on the left path, and we are facing a desert if we continue in our current direction. Making hypothetical arguments is as helpful as wishing for a bridge to get across the chasm. We have to make the practical journey back the way we came so we can start again in the right direction.

Progressives are lauded today as being the best and most virtuous people on the planet. However, progressing in the wrong direction is still progress, and our progressives are driving us into that desert as quickly as possible.

We have to stand up and oppose the direction in which we are being dragged kicking and screaming. We also must recognize that although we know where we want to go, the path back may not be pretty or nice. Those of us that support human flourishing must engage in society so we can start to shape it as we see fit. Making arguments in rooms of likeminded people will not change minds outside of that room, and our goal must be to change those minds.

Government and society are comprised of individuals, and they are led by people that interact with it. We need to start being those people that stand up and lead society so we can all end up in a better place.

The Aristotelian Mean of Identity

We currently live in a world where the ideal of individualism is reaching its extreme. Gender is now fluid. Race is a social construct. These group identifiers based upon biology are now optional. Everyone is a unique individual, completely unlike any other person, and has the complete capacity to choose who they want to be and how they want to identify on a whim. We are all also completely interchangeable. If this is not an extreme, I don’t know what is. The final nail in the coffin of this extreme is post-humanism; the idea that we can now become something other than human, and that is certainly our last collective identity.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have collectivism, whose extremes include communism and fascism. During the twentieth century, both of these ideologies have shown themselves to be extremely detrimental to human civilization. However, collectivism is not the same thing as a collective identity.

As human beings, we are by our very existence social beings. We are born into a family, or at least to a mother, and are raised in a world with other humans. We are born male or female, barring rare exceptions, and we are most often born into one race. These are collective identities determined by genetics, and genetics determines more than these two factors in our lives. Our height, hair and eye color, athletic disposition, intellectual capacity, and several other aspects that are intertwined with our genes are decided for us at conception. Additionally, epigenetics can change our expressed genetic profile given our environment. This subject is outside of the scope of this article, however, it is necessary to point out our initial framework as humans.

Essentially, our genetics make us a unique individual on this planet. However, we share the vast majority of our genes with the rest of humanity. We are both unique individual configurations of DNA, and we are part of a genetic collective. We exist in a balance of individualism and collectivism, and we must recognize this if we are to survive.

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle argued that the ideal state of any virtue was to be found in the mean between its extremes. Courage is a noble virtue, however, too much courage is foolhardy and too little is cowardice. We have to find the balance between excess and deficiency in all things. This is true for identity as well, however our balance is between individual identity at one end and collective identity at the other.

In order to avoid the extremes, we must first recognize the difference between chosen identity and predetermined identity. Predetermined identities are things that are unchangeable by reality; race, gender, height, eye color, IQ, pretty much the things you get in trouble for saying cannot be changed. Chosen identities include; religion, political ideologies, sports team affiliations, recreational activities, etc.

You can tell we are in a place of extreme individualism by the fact that the most controversy within the identity discussion arises when discussing race, gender, and national identity, especially when genetic determinism is discussed. You can choose any religion you want, change it on a whim, and no one cares. You will get more pushback from a Browns fan if you decide to become a Steelers fan than if you are a Catholic and choose to become a Protestant or an agnostic. We recognize the choice inherent in these latter collective identities, however, we cannot seem to accept the reality of an absence of choice in the former identities mentioned.

The extreme of individualism insists that all identities must be optional, including the predetermined ones bound by genetics and reality. In this extreme, you can choose to be a man, a woman, or something else entirely. You can decide to be white, black, Hispanic, or anything else you want (there is controversy over this, however, the principle applies.). You will soon be able to choose between human and cyborg. We can tell this is an extreme because it ignores, and sometimes violently so, reality. The research regarding genetics, and the arguments about national identity are irrefutable. Japan is Japan because of the Japanese people. It has nothing to do with the land other than that the Japanese people live there. The same is true for the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and every other European country. It is also true for the United States. Americans are not Mexicans, and to assume flooding the States with 30 million Mexicans will not change the structure of the country is foolish and an obfuscation of reality.

Being born white is not evil. Neither is being born black or Hispanic. However, making value judgements based upon race is very evil. We have to recognize that our predetermined identities will characterize our lives and our preferences, and we will make choices based upon those. Recognizing that individuals of different predetermined identities will have different preferences for their lives is necessary in order to survive as humans. No group characteristic defines an individual, however, predetermined group identities will influence an individual’s choices. Just as a tall person will most likely prefer a home with tall ceilings, a white person will most likely prefer a home in a majority white neighborhood. There is nothing wrong with this, and to assume there is, is to characterize the desired state of being as one of self-loathing. If I like myself, it stands to reason that I would like being around other people like me. To demand otherwise is to demand individuals hate the very characteristics about themselves they cannot change, and this position is completely untenable.

So what must be done?

We must recognize that even being an individualist is a collective identity, and collective identity is not a bad thing. We must recognize that all individuals have preferences, and those preferences are influenced by their choices and their genetic realities. We must recognize reality and not back down from insisting that it be recognized. We must also not back down from living by our preferences and insisting they be respected. Assuming that all people can happily live together under one monoculture is foolish and ignorant of reality, and we must push back when such ideas are asserted.

Where does anarchy come into this discussion?

Anarchy is a state of the absence of coercive laws and institutions, one in which all people are free to choose where and how they want to live. Individuals in a state of anarchy are free to choose with whom they want to live, collectively organize, choose where they want to live, and choose how they want to construct their societies. As long as they aren’t imposing their will on the unwilling, there is nothing immoral about this. It is only through this absolute freedom of association that humanity can prosper and flourish. Instead of warring with each other about how we all should live, let us separate and decide for ourselves in our own lands. We must bring identity back into its balance between individualism and collectivism by embracing collective identity and letting all groups of people live separately if that is what they want.

The Bounds of Free Will

What is destiny? What does it mean to believe in fate? Are we all destined for greatness or to an end beyond our control? What if our delusions of grandeur are a subconscious projection of our innate capacity fully realized in the world? If this is the case, how would we even tell? What if fate is our ex-post-facto justification for our own choices? What if destiny is the lie we tell ourselves for not making better choices? Is free will a delusion we thrust upon ourselves to feel our lives are meaningful? After all, if we aren’t free to choose and our destiny is set, what is the purpose of doing anything at all in our lives? I cannot speak to the existence of fate or destiny, but I do believe in free will.

The notion of unadulterated free will is a straw man designed to give the nihilistic determinists a foe they can burn. Unadulterated free will does not exist, and it is not possible for it to. In order for the concept to exist, it must be bound by reality. More importantly, it must be enacted by actors composed of matter bound by reality. The existence of anything bound by matter immediately gives it restraint. This is one of the arguments against the existence of God. If God is all powerful, all knowing, and essentially limitless, then he cannot exist because existence would give him constraints. This argument is worth discussing in further detail another time, but hopefully it illustrates the point. Unadulterated free will cannot exist because we are actors bound by existence in matter in space and time. So what sort of free will does exist?

Activistic determinism is the theory that our free will is bound by our existence in space and time. More specifically, our choices are limited to our environment and the circumstances of our actions. I cannot simply choose to buy a new car, even though I might desire to do so, and given the means I would. If I lack the money for a new car, my will is restrained by that fact of reality. Likewise, if I want to be able to deadlift a truck, but I cannot pick up a barbell, I am not going to be moving any car. This, however, does not mean I cannot make choices in order to better enhance my freedom of will. If I work harder, or take a job that earns more money, I will be able to get a new car. Likewise, if I train regularly with weights, eat correctly, and probably take some steroids, I will be able to lift that truck.

Ludwig Von Mises believed in three requirements for human action: one, an unease with your current situation; two, a perception of something better; and three, the belief that positive action will get you from where you are to where you want to be. These too are restraints on your free will.

Choice implies action or the option to act. If you have no desire to improve your situation given the lack of a sense of unease, essentially you are completely content, you will not act, and therefore are not exercising your will. In this instance, you would be oblivious to the possibility of something giving you unease. Likewise, if you are ignorant of any perception of something better, despite living with a sense of unease, you cannot act, and therefore are not exercising your will.

Let’s say, however, that you have a sense of unease, and you perceive something better, however, you do not believe you have the capacity to take positive action. You are still making a choice about your capacity to act, and are therefore exercising your free will. In this instance, your will is bounded by your own belief in yourself. This is often the greatest limiting factor for so many people; they simply lack the belief in their own capacity to improve their own lives or the world around them.

Lastly, let’s look at the scenario in which a person recognizes their sense of unease, perceives something better, and believes they have the capacity to change their situation. This person is at the maximum capacity of their free will. Regardless of their choice to act or not to act, their will is not bounded by a lack of capacity, and is therefore at its greatest potential. They are also in a position to take full responsibility for their choice. If a person lacks the capacity to make a change, they can hardly be faulted for not trying. However, it is the person that can make a change and chooses not to that shoulders the consequences of their choice to not act. Despite this capacity for actualization of the personal capacity, the actor is still bounded by external constraints.

An individual may be uneasy about his inability to transport himself places, recognize the potential of owning a car, and believe that getting a job will help him pay for that car and know he can get a job that pays enough. He still faces external boundaries. He will be limited by the kinds of jobs he can get, either by his own skills or the market. He might want to and be capable of drilling for oil on the moon, however, that does not mean that job is available to him. Likewise, he might want a five wheeled car, however, those are not readily available. Even at our greatest capacities for exercising our wills, we are still bounded by reality.

It is possible that destiny is the sum of all of our choices, given the limitations of our reality, both external and internal. However, it is not possible that our free will is boundless. Nor is it nonexistent. Anarchy is simply the realization of our own limits, our desire and capacity to find them, and the moral imperative not to limit others with aggression, coercion, and initiated force. I hope it is within your capacity to join me in the splendor of anarchy, and I hope you choose to do just that.

Thanos Needs an Economics Lesson

To those of you that are Marvel movie fans, this is a spoiler warning. If you have seen the movie, or have no interest in seeing the movie, then please continue. You have been warned.

In the latest Marvel movie, Avenger’s: Infinity War, the big bad guy is named Thanos, and he has a plan to eliminate half of all conscious life from the universe. How he has to do this is less important than why he thinks he has to do this. Thanos believes that while some life is good, too much of it leads to deplorable conditions and a meager, subsistence lifestyle. He believes that by eliminating half of all life, there will be a state of abundance left for the survivors, and they will flourish. When you look at it from his perspective, his choices seem noble. However, morality aside, you have to be completely ignorant of economics to think his actions are a good thing.

If ever there was a real life historical figure with which the fictional Thanos would agree, it would be Thomas Robert Malthus, a political economist and cleric that lived in the late 18th century and early 19th. Malthus was famous for the idea that became known as the Malthusian Trap. It stated, as food production increased, the standard of living for individuals in said society improved. Malthus observed, however, that the improved living standards led to a population increase, which resulted in living standards returning to subsistence levels. This cycle of improvement, growth, reversion to subsistence, was what Malthus called the trap, and he believed it would prevent humans from reaching a utopian existence. In fact, what he actually believed would happen was humanity would continue through the cycle until all of the natural resources were used up and we faced a catastrophe. That same catastrophe is what Thanos believes he is saving life from reaching in the Marvel Universe.

Imagine what life would be like today if half of all people that have lived from the dawn of recorded time had never lived. We may have never had Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Caesar, Augustine, Aquinas, Newton, Jefferson, Washington, Tesla, Mises, Rand, Rothbard, and any number of other great individuals whose ideas shaped our world for the better. Perhaps eliminating half of all life on earth would make more iPhones available to those that are left, but there would not be as many great minds remaining to invent the next revolutionary piece of technology. And that is why Malthus and Thanos were wrong.

Technology was the factor that Malthus never considered when he was writing, and it is the one input that Thanos completely disregarded. There are seven billion people on the planet right now, and if we are to assume that our living standards would be better if there were only three and a half billion, that is a hypothesis we can consider. Around 1966, the population of the planet was about three and a half billion. Would you say our standard of living has improved since then? I certainly would, although I wasn’t alive at the time. Let’s go back even further. If reducing population by half is good, why not by three quarters or even six sevenths? It was right around the time Malthus was writing, 1800, when the population was at approximately one billion people. I think it is safe to say our lives are considerably better now than they were then.

So what is the reason for this discrepancy between what the movie villain proclaims and what reality demonstrates? It is individual human action that leads to an improved standard of living, and the more individual humans we have working towards that goal, the better your standard of living will be. The agricultural revolution moved us out of a subsistence lifestyle, and from that, we were able to move into cities and start to industrialize. Industrialization led to an incredibly high demand for innovation, and the freedom of the capitalist market system allowed for that innovation to occur. The more productive people you have, the more potential innovators and improvers you have working towards the goal of flourishing.

Technology allows for better use of material inputs and a better outcome, which in turn leads to more opportunities to innovate and improve. Only if you believe that we are not capable of innovating and improving our lives would you think that eliminating half of all life is necessary to preserve the rest. In our current age, the only thing holding individuals back is onerous laws and regulations stifling critical individual innovation for the sake of maintaining government control and power over the people.

Thanos is the government, or the government is Thanos, however you want to look at it. When governments run out of the money to spend as they please, when they run out of the influence to rule as they please, and when they run out of the consent of the governed, they will go to war in an effort to kill off as many of their own population as possible in order to reaffirm control. Governments have even outright killed their own under the guise of the common good. Stalin killed 50 million or more citizens of the Soviet Union, just so he could “effectively manage” the economy. Chairman Mao killed upwards of 70 million Chinese in the Great Leap Forward, so as to improve the living conditions of the rest of the country. Thanos is the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe, but the government is the greatest villain in ours.

Say Goodbye to Starbucks

Starbucks is going to fail. Sorry to all of you caramel half frap, double whip, macchiato, cappuccino lovers, but the coffee empire is going to go out of business. Why, you may ask? Because they put ideology over profits. The recent flop of Solo, A Star Wars’ Story is evidence of this same phenomenon.

Star Wars is a beloved movie franchise, and because the producers and directors put ideology over profits, the fans have had enough. The movie tanked, and no one wants to see Star Wars movies anymore. They don’t buy the merchandise, and lifelong fans are walking away. Expect the same to happen with Starbucks soon.

There won’t be any one incident that shows Starbucks their future, but several years of declining profits and customer satisfaction will put the chain out of business. The reason is you cannot preach ethics to your customers through a customer dependent organization. You can make your ethical standards known, and hope people will choose to patronize your business, however, you cannot get a large customer base from being mostly neutral on ethical stances, and then take a radical stance, all the while expecting your customers to be OK with it.

The economy is going to start to constrict, and customers’ budgets will constrict with it. This is going to force people to decide where their loyalties lie, and they aren’t going to side with the organizations that are preaching moral superiority to their customers.

Additionally, losing 12 million dollars’ worth of revenue to put all of their employees through implicit bias training, something which is a complete scam, is clear evidence of poor business practices. If I were a stock holder in Starbucks, I’d be selling, and I won’t be surprised when others start to do that as well.

Another example of companies choosing ideology over profits and suffering for it is ABC Network cancelling Last Man Standing, and most recently, Rosanne, simply because the producers do not like the actors’ personal political views.

Businesses cannot dictate ethics to a society. They can only profit from them or suffer because of them. If selling sex slaves is very popular in your society, you will make a lot of money if you are really good at selling sex slaves. If, however, you insist on being a sex slave seller that berates his customers about the evils of slavery, you are going to go under quickly. Business serve customers. If you don’t like what the members of your society are buying, offer a better option or try to change the society. Don’t attempt to rebuke people into buying what you are selling. They will resent you for it.

I don’t care for Starbucks, or coffee in general, however, apparently their coffee is good. If they want to survive as a company, they need to get back to selling products customers want, and keep their cultural commentary to themselves. The same is true for ABC and Disney. You will not survive as a company expecting people to buy what you want to sell them instead of selling them something they want to buy.

The Virtue of Personal Responsibility

People will always look for a reason to misbehave. We know the difference between right and wrong, so when we find an opportunity to skirt around the edges, we take it. We know that drinking until passing out is wrong, however, it is excused so often for college students that some people will go to college specifically for the purpose of testing their liver. We know that smoking weed is a bad idea, however, when at a rock concert, it can be excused. So, we light up a doobie. It is evident that we know these actions are wrong simply by the time and place in which we choose to indulge. It is not OK for a 40 year old practicing attorney to show up black out drunk when defending a client, which is why no one does that outside of college unless they are an alcoholic. The same is true for smoking dope. We even use the rhetorical question, “Are you high?” to indicate our displeasure with someone’s choices. Our unwillingness to take personal responsibility within our culture is an epidemic worse than any amount of drunkards or potheads could inflict upon our culture. We are so incapable of taking personal responsibility for our actions, that now we no longer take personal responsibility for our feelings.

The idea of the special snowflake is one designed to describe the condition in which a person finds themselves to be so unique that any action by another person that is different from what they themselves would accept or undertake, is considered to be offensive and it is the actor that must apologize, regardless of whether or not any harm was done. Your speech must be limited because your words and ideas offend me. This is the new cry of our activist youth. While some go to college to test their livers, others go to test their outrage. Keg stands used to be cool. Now, organizing protests and getting teachers and administrators fired is the new cool thing. Notches on your belt used to be about your sexual conquests. Now, they are about how many lives you can ruin by making false rape allegations. Neither scenario is good. I am merely illustrating a point.

I feel the need here to explain that I am not a rape apologist or a victim blamer. I have never drank nor smoked weed. I am probably very much a prude by most people’s standards, and I cannot count the number of times I have been told I need to lighten up and relax. It is a testament to the depravity of our intellectual culture that I need to justify my personal character in order that my words not be dismissed on account of my personal choices. It used to be that we valued the content of the argument over the quality of the person presenting it. Now, it no longer matters what you say, only the groups with which you identify as you are saying it. Pedophiles and child sex traffickers go free as long as they endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, while lifelong devout Christians get thrown under the bus for suggesting that fathers are equally as important as mothers when raising children. We live in a sincerely bizarre time currently, however, the pendulum is coming back. If we want to survive and have some influence on where it lands, we must take a stand. Determining where that stand should be is hard. Good thing for you is, I have a solution.

Personal responsibility.

When we do not take responsibility for our actions, we weaken our character and cheapen our self-worth. One excused poor choice leads to another, and the spiral of self-degradation lands us in a pit of our own self-hatred and worthlessness. When we excuse ourselves from the consequences of eating too much cake because it’s someone’s birthday, we start eating desert every night, even though we know it will lead to poor health. When we get blackout drunk because we’re in college, it makes us more likely to be heavy drinkers later in life, which of course leads to poor health. Lifestyle related diseases are the number one killer in the West, and they arise due to a lack of personal responsibility.

I know why it happens. Taking personal responsibility is hard. Turning down cake at the next employee’s lunch birthday party will make you look like the bad guy. Sure, you might be looking out for your own health, but you are also pointing out to everyone else there how indulgent and irresponsible their choices are. What’s worse is you are showing them how weak they are in the face of temptation when you so easily say no to what they are so clearly enjoying. Their brain is receiving dopamine from all of that sweet, sweet sugar. Their subconscious is telling them, you really shouldn’t eat this because it’s bad for your health. Their conscious is telling their subconscious, shut-up it’s Steve’s birthday and I don’t get cake all that often. And by telling them no thank you on the cake, you are saying, choosing my own long term health and wellbeing is more important than my immediate indulgence and denying that indulgence really isn’t that hard. This makes them feel like crap, so they make you feel guilty by saying you don’t like Steve, and they guilt you into eating the cake all because they don’t want to take personal responsibility for their own crappy choices.

If, however, people took personal responsibility for their choices, denying themselves cake wouldn’t be so hard. We are a strange species. We are pre-programed with a set of natural drives that help us live. In every other species, those drives are called instincts, and in our natural environment, those instincts would serve us well. We are programmed to seek out and indulge in sugar because in our natural environment that sugar is found in fruit, which is incredibly healthy for us. Our number one indicator for longevity is fruit consumption, and the more fruit you eat the longer you are likely to live. However, we do not live in our natural environment. We live in a world of our own making because we have that capacity. Now sugar comes in almost every man made food on the store shelf, so we must be diligent in our consumption of it, lest we succumb to illness. Denying cake should be easy, if we would recognize our own power.

In Christianity, it is a moral virtue to resist temptation. According to Aristotle, finding the middle between indulgence and abstinence is the good. In our current society, blaming others for the way their actions and words make you feel is the good, and becoming the biggest victim is the highest moral virtue. Personal responsibility is the antithesis of our current creed of oppression Olympics, and it is also the cure to it.

Each one of us is responsible for the choices we make, and for the consequences of those choices. I am responsible for the words on this page, however, you are responsible for the way they make you feel. I have chosen to write, you have chosen to react. The action of writing is my choice, your reaction is your choice. We are each responsible for our own choices, and no one else’s. However, if we are to live in a civilized society, we must hold each other accountable for the consequences of their actions. If my words were libelous, I would be responsible for libel. If your eating habits lead to heart disease or diabetes, you are responsible for your related medical expenses and shortened life. It is unfair to burden your neighbors with your mortgage payment when you forgot to earn the money for the bill.

There is great freedom to be gained from personal responsibility because it grants everyone that wields this strength great power. When you take responsibility for your actions, you do not require laws, governments, or police because you will police your own actions, govern your own emotions, and write your own code for acceptable human behavior. We know the difference between right and wrong, justice and equity, and good and evil. We must shoulder the burden of living by the code of personal responsibility ourselves, and then we can start to hold others accountable.

This is not an easy path to walk, but it is at the core of anarchy. A world without coercion, one in which everyone lives by the non-aggression principle, can only be achieved if enough people take personal responsibility. Stop looking to others for direction on how to live, what choices to make, what clothes to wear, and what food to eat at Steve’s office birthday party. You are better than that. You are greater than needing someone else to tell you how to live. You are a strong, self-determining, personally responsible, empowered individual, and you are capable of greatness. Go find it.

The Uniting Quest for Individualism

The goal of my work is to help human beings flourish. I want individuals to achieve their highest and best selves, but I also want humanity to unite under one common understanding. That understanding is that we are all individuals. Life is not a spectrum, rather it is a confluence of indivisible units. Every single human being is a unique individual. We are not small parts of larger groups. We are whole entities in and of ourselves. While we may be part of larger groups, whether defined by gender, race, geography, or sports team fandom, those affiliations are only a small part of our identity. Who we are is an entirely subjective experience, and it is only able to be understood completely by ourselves. The only thing that truly unites us all is the paradox that we have nothing in common except that we have nothing in common. We are all individuals struggling to define and comprehend the enormity of our own individuality.

How do you define yourself? Are you a morning person? A night person? A cat or dog person? Do you do yoga, or lift weights? Do you eat meat, or are you a vegan? Do you like to read, watch movies, or are you a TV junkie? Do you watch videos on the internet? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? These are all very small aspects of how we characterize ourselves in order that we are better able to relate to other people. However, even in these relatively inane categories, the deeper meaning of our preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla is really only understood by ourselves. The reason for this is that no one else has our tongue, its taste buds, or our brain. No other human being is capable of experiencing our subjective experience of the enjoyment that comes from that sweet chocolaty goodness. And, the only thing we have in common with other chocoholics is that while we all experience joy from chocolate ice cream, our experience of that joy is entirely our own.

Do you identify as part of a gender or racial group? We are all part of one whether we choose to align politically with those that share our designation and coalesce as a political movement based upon choices we were unable to make. The problem is, no matter how you identify, or with whom you align yourself, no other person can know what it is like to be you. Other individuals can empathize with experiences you may have gone through, and our emotions are similar. We all feel pain when injured, but only we can feel the pain of our own injuries and what that means to us.

We have the capacity to unite together in groups to advocate for our race, our gender, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the abused, and the huddled masses yearning to be free. We also have the capacity to unite for higher political ideals such as freedom, liberty, and justice for all. We can fight for equality of opportunity, or equality of outcome. We can go to war for capitalism or socialism, communism, or liberty. We can even riot together because our favorite sports team just won or lost the championship. No matter how we choose to unite ourselves in any given moment, the only thing that truly unites us is our individuality. No two of us are alike, and on that we must all agree.

Being able to express our own individuality is the highest purpose of life. I would argue it is the only purpose. We must understand and be able to express who we are as unique individuals, or we will never be happy. Being able to love, experience joy or sadness, feel responsibility or shame, and express pride or disappointment, are all aspects of our own individuality, and while those might be experiences worth living for, they are merely expressions of our own uniqueness as individuals. We may have a commonality with all other individuals in our ability to experience all of these feelings and aspects of life, however, what they mean to us and how we experience them is an entirely subjective experience all our own.

We are all unique and complex individuals, united only in our shared quest for individuality. So, the next time someone tries to characterize you as part of one group or another, using three or fewer adjectives to describe you, know that they are trying to put you in a box so they can easily dismiss you or control you. Anyone that does not recognize you as a unique individual wants to use you for their own ends. Anyone that does not want to let you flourish so that you may express fully your own individuality, is threatened by it.

A world full of complex and vibrant individuals, all expressing themselves peacefully as they see fit, is a complicated world to try to rule. This is why those that seek to rule you want to keep you small and collectivized into easily defined groups. People are easier to rule and dispose of when they are all just parts of one group. However, when you recognize that they are all unique individuals, they become very real, and very hard to justify their extermination. It was easy for the Nazis to kill the Jews, but Lenny your next door neighbor, he’s real to you, so killing him is hard. The bourgeois under Marxism, the Kulaks under Stalinism, and the poor under Mao all had the same fate. Those same broad collective groupings are appearing again today.

We are all categorized as white, black, brown, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, cis, trans, straight, queer, etc. etc. These categorizations seek to do one thing; strip us of our individuality. Without our individuality, we are not real, individual people, with real, meaningful lives. We are just part of the other. No matter how we identify, we are always the other to someone, and therefore, eligible for hate. Instead of identifying ourselves through part of a group, why don’t we quest to identify ourselves as unique individuals? If we united under the shared realization that we are all unique individuals in search of our own individuality, we might just find common ground upon which all of us can stand.