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.

Justice Is a Social Construct

If you’ve spent more than five seconds on the internet, chances are good you have heard of the concept of a social construct. Most notably, social justice warriors tout the idea that race or gender are social constructs. This discredits the idea that social constructs actually exist because race and gender are both biologically determined and determinant. There are distinct attributes that separate the races, and there are specific sex organs that separate the genders. These are scientific facts and the debate of which are outside the scope of this article. However, what I would like to discuss is the fact that justice is a social construct.

A social construct is defined as a jointly constructed understanding of the world that forms the basis for shared assumptions about reality. What then is justice? A cursory dictionary search will produce several definitions, but the only descriptive and meaningful definition in this context is, the administering of deserved punishment or reward. There are several questions that we must now ask. What is deserved punishment? Who decides what is deserved? How should it be administered? Who is responsible for administering the justice? We will see in the answering of these questions we must come to a shared and chosen agreement between ourselves as to what is just; we must construct in a social setting what we believe justice to be.

What is deserved punishment?

I think we would agree that the punishment must fit the crime. Surely taking off someone’s hand for stealing a loaf of bread is a bit extreme, however often the practice may have taken place in more barbarous civilizations in the Middle East and Africa. Letting the crime go unpunished also seems a bit too lenient. There is also the possibility that the owner of the bread may take mercy on the thief if he or she is starving and may let him or her have the loaf as an act of benevolence. We see then that there are many conditions that go into determining a just punishment. We must consider the crime, the intent and motivations of the perpetrator, and the wishes of the aggrieved. Surely it would not be just to throw a man in prison for stealing a loaf of bread when the baker that baked it would rather the man eat the stolen bread than go to jail. Also, it would not be just to let a rapist go free simply because he justifies his rape on the grounds of a lack of sex. We must also consider if killing violent offenders is something we consider just. Is jail the correct option, or is indentured servitude a better solution? This leads us to our next question.

Who decides what is deserved?

As we discussed earlier, who is aggrieved by the crime must have a say in what is deserved, at least in so far as if punishment should be administered. A grieving mother may want to see the murderer of her children flayed openly in the public square, however, the rest of the members of society may find that punishment to be entirely too severe, or at the least something not worth displaying publicly. Who else should be involved? The elders of the society who have seen the outcomes of crimes and punishments administered in the past? Perhaps scholars who have researched the best applications of different punishments? What about a jury of your peers? These are questions that must be answered and agreed upon by every member of society, otherwise no system of justice will be recognized as just.

How should justice be administered and who administers it?

Think of your current legal system. In America we have police, attorneys, prosecutors, judges, juries, and a prison system. We have determined that police should apprehend offenders, prosecutors should bring charges against them, a judge ensures their trial is fair, an attorney defends them, and a jury judges them. Sentencing is also often carried out by the judge, and then the administration of that punishment is carried out by the prison system. Is this the best solution possible? How do we even decide what the best solution ought to be? This leads to our final, and yet unasked question.

What is the purpose of justice?

The concept of justice is often represented as a blindfolded woman with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. The blindfold assures there is no bias in the evaluation of wrongdoing; only the facts are heard. The sword ensures that the society and the system are defended and the capacity to mete out punishment is adequate. Finally, the scale is there not to ensure the punishment fits the crime, but to attempt to restore the value that was destroyed by the initial crime. If you steal my car, I not only lose the value of my car, but also the convenience of being able to transport myself wherever whenever. This may include my job, so I may lose wages. It may include my girlfriend’s house, so I may lose pleasure. It may include the movies, so I may lose leisure. Returning my car to me does not rebalance the scale. I am owed the value of my lost wages, pleasure, and leisure, plus the depreciation on the car that occurred while it was not in my possession. Replacing my stolen car with a new one may rebalance the scale, depending on the value of my old car. However, if it does not, I am owed some form of additional compensation. Locking a man in prison will most likely not regain me my lost value from the crime, so the punishment may not be just.

So what is the purpose of justice? The purpose of justice is to restore the value that was lost during the original crime. We as individuals have to decide the value of things in our lives, and we as members of society must agree upon a system that is best suited to restore that value when it is taken from us by acts of aggression and violence. We must agree that all values are subjective, and that any system we devise will be inadequate in restoring that value, regardless of how detailed or intricate our system is. This is why we must strive to live in a society without crime in the first place. It is only through such a pursuit that we can flourish, and it is why I believe in anarchy so much. We must be free to determine our own systems and beliefs by which we choose to live our lives because otherwise we will never be able to construct a system of justice, let alone a just system for life.

All Rights Are Positive Rights

If you’re not familiar with rights theory, two classifications of rights are said to exist, positive and negative. Negative claim rights came first, and they are called negative claim rights because they are considered to exist in absentia of other people. These include the right to life, liberty, and property mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States. These are considered negative claim rights because they do not require other people in order for them to exist. Positive claim rights, on the other hand, do require other people to be involved. These include, but are not limited to the right to healthcare, education, social security, and any other promised free handout a government wants to sell you. I cannot get healthcare without a doctor to treat me, and I cannot get educated (in theory) without an educator to teach me. This is why they are positive claim rights. In this article, I am going to argue that all rights are inherently positive claim rights. They are all derived from a positivist approach to legal theory.

There are two theories of law, natural law and positivism. Natural law is the idea that our conduct as humans is governed by an observable, objective set of moral principles. Murder, rape, theft, and deception are all considered crimes under natural law because they have an observable victim that has been harmed. These laws are believed to exist as gravity exists; they are a condition of reality. Legal positivism, on the other hand, believes that laws are socially constructed, are relative to the society that creates them, and are established by best practices within a given society. Under such a legal system, you have the right to free speech if and only if the law allows it. The only rights you have are those granted to you by the government.

At this point it would make sense to connect natural law to negative rights, and positivism to positive rights, and that is typically what has happened throughout most of our public discourse on rights and legal theory. However, rights do not exist. They are not a tangible part of reality. My water bottle and this computer are tangible. My physical body is tangible. Rights are not. They are beliefs held in your head, and sometimes they are written on paper. No matter their presentation, whether in your head or on paper, they require recognition from other people in order to be real. It is not a right that is observed when someone does not steal from you. You are witnessing a choice being made by an individual person. Choices are real, and actions are observable. However, the reasons people have for their choices are always up for debate. In any case, your right to life and your right to property are every bit as dependent upon the choices and actions of others as are your rights to healthcare and education.

Due to the fact that negative claim rights are as dependent upon the actions of others as are positive claim rights, all rights must be characterized as positive claim rights. Natural law does not require the recognition of rights, only the presentation of an aggrieved party. Also, anarchy does not require the recognition of rights, only the recognition of reality, part of which is self-ownership, something I discuss here.

Now, the argument can be made that natural law depends upon the actions and choices of others to recognize the suffering of the aggrieved party and act in a way to ameliorate that suffering. It can also be argued that anarchy demands that others recognize self-ownership. While both arguments are valid, natural law and anarchy require only that members in society live in accordance with observable reality. It is easy to observe when someone is the victim of a crime, and it is easy to observe self-ownership. In fact, one is using self-ownership when they engage in the act of observing. Determining when something is wrong, in the sense that it does not comport with reality or violates self-ownership, is like observing the weather; you need only pay attention. I would like to note here that punishments for crimes, justice, vengeance, and retribution are all positive acts and thus require a positivist framework within which to operate. These are concepts outside the scope of this discussion.

I do not argue from a rights perspective because rights do not exist, and the argument over rights is like arguing about whether or not a hypothetical rain storm will extinguish the fire that is currently consuming your house. So much time, effort, thought, and language goes into arguing and debating rights that in so doing we miss the very obvious wrongs being perpetrated by our governments and the people that run them. Taxation is theft. War is murder. Citizenship is slavery. Until we, as individuals, start recognizing reality for what it truly is, we are doomed to live a dimmed existence of our potential selves.

The Three Justifications for Morality

Morality, defined here as conformity to how one ought to act, has three different foundations throughout history. They are God imposed, State imposed, and self-imposed. All three of these theories are also theories of ownership because it is only through ownership that proper action can be dictated. Ownership is defined here as the ability to execute exclusive control on an object. This includes your body. So, who owns you? Our perceptions about ownership have defined our lives in the past and our legal structures that subsequently evolved. It is through our understanding of this history of ownership that we can seek to liberate ourselves and achieve true freedom and flourishing.

The first ideas of morality come to us from religion. These ideas are God imposed, most notably in the Western European world as the Ten Commandments, and they have been implemented and followed throughout our legal systems to a large extent. My concern here is less with the history of the legal systems and more with the ideology that governs our recognition of authority when it comes to dictating morally correct action. In the God imposed theory of morality, we are all owned by God. Jesus is our shepherd and we are but lambs, and language of the like. The very mentality of the religious believer is that the individual is incapable of knowing right from wrong; only God can know such things. So, in order to be virtuous, I must do what I am told by God. God controls my fate, and it is only by his grace that I shall make it into heaven, lest I be cast into hell. God has the power to dictate how you ought to live, and this can only be established through the recognition and acceptance of God’s ownership over your body.

Of course, it may also be argued that God has given us freewill, and we have the capacity to choose our actions. This may be technically true, but God still dictates which choices are correct and incorrect. We lack judgement over our own actions, a fundamental necessity of ownership. In the religious view, we are no different from a cow owned by a farmer. We may choose when to eat grass and where, but our choices are limited by the fence around the field. Yes, the fence may offer us protection from predators, but it also prevents us from eating whatever grass we may desire, and it has also deprived us of the choice to erect our own fence should we choose to have one. We are not autonomous creatures that own ourselves.

The second idea of morality comes from government. Sometimes called rights, the government dictates to us what actions we can take, and which ones we cannot. The punishment and reward systems are not as prolific as those in religion, namely freedom from jail is heaven and jail is hell, however, they do still exist. Instead of listing commandments, the government grants rights. Governments take a more positivistic approach; they tell you what you are allowed to do, and if it isn’t listed, you cannot do it. In some legal traditions, most notably common law, it was understood that if the law didn’t explicitly forbid it, you were allowed to do it. This interpretation has since given way to the more explicitly positivistic approach in which the government allows you certain freedoms through rights. An example of this is with the U.S. constitution. When the first amendment was written, James Madison marveled at its relevance. He argued that the right was superfluous because nowhere in the constitution did the government have the capacity to regulate speech. This interpretation has since been turned on its head and every free speech battle has been about what the first amendment allows the citizens to do and not what power is given to the government by the constitution.

Governments steal from their citizens through taxation and asset forfeiture, they limit services we can provide or receive, they decide who can provide what services and how through licensing, they mandate how we can receive medical care, they dictate what constitutes money, and they regulate what we are allowed to put into our bodies. Again, it could be argued that we have the freedom to decide these things because we have the freedom to vote, but this is even less reassuring than freewill. At least with freewill we can make choices on a daily basis. With voting, we get a choice maybe once every two, four, or six years. And even then, politicians rarely keep their campaign promises. We are owned by a schizophrenic, sociopathic master, with no regard for our wellbeing, and every incentive to sell us out as chattel to the highest bidder. We are not just cows in a fenced in field anymore; we are in the back of a semi-truck on our way to the slaughterhouse and all we get to decide is who is driving the truck.

Finally, we come to our final theory of ownership, and thus basis for morality; self-ownership. I am the only being capable of moving my fingers to type this article. I am the only being capable of blinking my eyes, turning my head, or walking a mile on my legs. You can put a gun to my head and force me to do these things, but you cannot control my body as I can. No being on the planet is capable of exclusively controlling the body of another living creature. I cannot will a rabbit to eat grass, a gazelle to run from a lion, or a person to read this article. I can use force or the threat of force to compel action. I can use compelling speech or coercive deception to compel action. However, I have no capacity to will action from another being. This is because self-ownership is self-evident, it is a priori, and it is a condition of reality. Once we recognize this, no other basis for morality is possible save our own self-imposed one.

I am not arguing for moral relativism, i.e. the idea that every individual has their own morality and thus can to whatever they feel is right at the given moment. No, I am arguing for a morality that acts in accordance with our observed reality, the one that demonstrates that every living being owns his, her, or its body, and to try to compel action from another necessarily requires force or coercion, which violates the self-ownership of the being actively being compelled into action. You are the only person that can decide to use your eyes and your brain to read and interpret this article. If I put a gun to your head and force you to do it, I am violating your ownership over yourself. Your exclusive control over your body is being violated by my threat of complete destruction lest you choose to comply with my dictates. My actions would be immoral because they do not comport with reality. Indeed, they violate the evidence of reality.

Self-imposed morality, or a morality based upon self-ownership, dictates that in order to be moral, we must act in accordance with reality. Reality very evidently shows that you own your body and I own mine. For anyone to attempt to violate that ownership, they must aggress against us, and thus their actions are immoral. This is where the concept of the non-aggression principle is derived. It states that the initiation of the use of force is morally wrong. This is a valid moral principle because the initiation of the use of force always results in a violation of someone’s self-ownership.

Self-imposed morality also gives us the freedom to decide for ourselves how we ought to act. We are limited only by the immorality of aggressing against other living beings. We are free to decide what relationships we value, what labors to pursue, what virtues to embody, and how happiness is best experienced. Religion is unnecessary, however, you are free to follow one as long as you or your congregation are not violating the non-aggression principle. Governments are also not necessary, however, should you and your neighbors choose to form a voluntary coalition with common goals, you are free to do so as long as you do not aggress against anyone. You are free to make or earn your bread as you so choose. You are even free to characterize this state of existence as anarchy, and I encourage you to do just that.

The Moral Case for School Vouchers

How much do you know about public school funding? If you do not have children, I would be surprised if you knew very much. If you do have kids, it could quite possibly be the biggest headache of your life. The reason for this is due to the fact that public education funding is drawn from property taxes, and the higher your property value is, the greater the revenue is for the local public school. This may seem pretty straight forward, and it may even seem equitable or fair, but I can assure you it is not.

The purpose of public education is to ensure every child has equal access to education. That seems simple enough, yet, as with all things involving people, the idea is not so straight forward. Every child is different, and what constitutes an education varies widely. In an effort to parse these ideas into concepts that are manageable, let us accept that every child is different, because in reality they are, and let us also define education as the development of skills and accumulation of knowledge that helps an individual flourish.

By this standard, our current public schooling system fails miserably. On the front end, we have a system that tries to universalize standards and teaching methods across the board. Every student must sit in a desk and be lectured to. If they do well in this environment and like the subject matter, they get good marks and get to move on. However, if they are not engaged physically, creatively, or intellectually, they flounder. Worse yet, graduation rates being one standard of success for schools, in an effort to show improvement, the standards for graduation are reduced so more kids, who are not engaged properly, are pushed through a system that has effectively taught them nothing.

To add insult to injury, standardized testing has stripped individual children of their curiosity and interest in learning. Teachers are no longer teaching children so they can flourish in life; teachers are teaching children so they can pass a test. Life is not about your ability to fill in the correct bubbles on a test; it is about applying your innate talents, developed skills, and acquired knowledge in a way that will help you experience happiness as often as possible. No part of our current system teaches this to children, let alone prepares them for it.

On the back end, our children are suffering even more. After going through the meat processing plant that is our current public education system, our children are not equipped to handle a regular nine to five job, let alone get married, buy a house, and have kids. These were the standards of the American Dream, and instead of improving our institutions to ensure all of our kids can accomplish this dream if they want, we have changed the dream itself to simply, “Be happy with what you can get.” Upwards of fifty percent of college students need remedial courses upon enrollment. This is a clear statement of the failure of our current system.

I personally have first-hand experience with how inadequate our system is. I graduated from one of the wealthiest school districts in the state of Ohio. You are probably thinking, how is that a bad thing? It is a bad thing because it is proof our system works just well enough for those with means to not complain about it. My mother did everything she could to get me into the school district I went to, which meant moving within its jurisdiction. She was fortunate enough to be able to move me there, and I benefited greatly from the choice she made. The problem is that access to great education should not depend upon your zip code. If the people that moved into affluent areas with wealthy school systems were forced to send their kids to the same underperforming institutions the less affluent have to endure, the system would be changed in a matter of months. Instead, because those with the power to change the system can simply move to an area where the system is still working, nothing changes.

I do not fault these people for moving. In fact, I applaud their hard work to ensure their children have the best possible opportunities, just as my mother did for me. The people I do fault are the legislators for seeing the broken system and being either too controlled by teachers’ unions or too afraid or lazy to make the changes necessary. What are those changes, you might ask? Simple. A publicly funded voucher program.

As it stands, all of the money gathered locally for schools goes to the public institutions, and the kids are sent there based upon their zip code. The state and federal governments have money that they grant for various programs, some of which are voucher programs, but a large portion goes to the institutions as well. A voucher program will instead send the money to the children directly. Every child, regardless of zip code, will receive the same amount of money from the state for the purpose of funding the child’s education. The parent will then be able to choose to which school they will send their child. This will allow for a whole new market in educational services to grow.

Private schools, charter schools, online schools, Montessori schools, other institutions unimaginable right now, and yes, even public schools will all be competing with each other to provide the best possible education for our children. If a parent does not like what their child is learning, or if the child expresses dissatisfaction with their teachers or school, the parent can change where the child learns in a matter of days. Schools will have to work to serve the children, and not the legislative mandates and bureaucratic entanglements that ensnare and obfuscate progress on a daily basis in our current system. Teachers will have the freedom to teach their students in a way that accords with their abilities and beliefs, and the students will have the freedom to choose the teachers that suit their aptitudes and interests. If our goal is to help every individual child flourish, a voucher system is the only solution that can come from a publicly funded educational program.

The argument is simple. If human flourishing is our standard of value, forcing children to go to underperforming institutions with poorly designed educational programs and unsatisfactory methods of teaching clearly fails our standard. Our children are suffering, and the most in need of quality education are suffering the worst. The system we have still works for the wealthy, and they should not be faulted for taking advantage of it. For those of us that see the problem, it is our job to point it out and educate all those around us so they too can see the truth. If we want to live in a society that works for everyone, we must admit when society is failing those among us that need our help the most. The educational system we have is failing, and it will be only a matter of time until it affects everyone, even the wealthy. This is why we need to tackle this problem now and start working towards a better future. Take voucher programs seriously, and start advocating for school choice today. If we want a better future, we must help the children that will inherit tomorrow flourish today.

By this point you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with anarchy?” After all, in a world of entirely voluntary interactions, the only “public” education would be that provided by private charities or voluntary community organizations. We do not live in that world. We live in a world with public education, and if we ever want to get into a state of anarchy, we must start pushing for a freeing of the educational system so that the ideas of freedom start permeating the minds of our children. That can only happen today through a system of school vouchers and school choice. This is why it is relevant to anarchy, and it is why, if you are reading this blog, it should matter to you.

What Is Politics?

A friend of mine recently told me that politics escapes her. Given that we recently had a presidential election in the United States, I thought it would be appropriate to take a stab at trying to explain the concept because it is clearly lost on many people.

The first thing we have to understand is that politics is the end of a much longer and more in-depth train of thought that begins with morality. I am going to define three concepts that all build upon each other, and I will start with morality.

Morality- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of an action based upon a universal standard of value. (See my discussion on morality here.)

Ethics- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of enforcing morality.

Politics- The discussion and determination of the rightness and wrongness of a system designed to enforce ethics in order to achieve justice.

These may seem esoteric and possibly difficult to conceptualize in these terms. So, allow me to simplify with an example. Murder is one of the most commonly cited morally wrong and universally banned actions, and as such, I will use it to explain how the action fits into my definitions.

When discussing morality, we ask, “Is murder right or wrong?” I think every person can agree that murder is wrong. Why murder is wrong is also something discussed in morality, and let me put it simply that murder is wrong because it violates the self-ownership of the victim. (Again, see my blog here for more.)

Now that we have accepted that murder is morally wrong, we must ask, “Is enforcing a ban on murder right or wrong?” As an aside here, you may be wondering if we should ask, “Should we ban murder?” The answer may seem a self-evident “Yes!” but for any detractors I will say this. What would be the point in determining if murder is right or wrong if you weren’t going to ban it on some level? Even restricting you own actions against murder because you know it is morally wrong is a ban on the act. If murder is wrong, and a ban on it is something we should support, even if only on a personal level, would it be acceptable to tolerate a murderer living amongst us? This would be a contradiction of morality. If a ban on murder is good, then people violating that ban are bad and must be dealt with. Thus, we establish that enforcing a ban on murder is right.

We know that murder is morally wrong and enforcing a ban on murder is ethically right, but how do we implement our ethical determination? This is where politics comes in. Politics is the engineering in a world where morality is the physics. What works neatly in theory does not always work with the materials available. Bridges used to be built with stone and wood, then brick and mortar, then steel, and now with steel, titanium, concrete, and computers. The materials improved and thus so did the bridges. The physics was always the same, but the engineering adapted to the materials. In politics, our materials are individual people. The physics is still the same; morality remains unchanged. The only way to improve our materials is to improve people’s understanding of morality and enhance their capacity to act upon that understanding.

Politics is like bridge building with rocks, bricks, wood, steel, titanium, and the occasional computer design; you never have enough of any one input to build a bridge perfect for your material, so you cobble together what you can where you can. This is pretty much why politics sucks. Imagine you are a piece of steel trying to justify the building of a bridge that you are capable of supporting, but you are talking to a bunch of timber, bricks, and rocks. Are the rocks going to be able work with you on that bridge? Most likely not. To dispel the idea that I am calling stupid people rocks in this analogy, think of it this way. How hard is it to build a bridge of rocks and stones compared to a bridge made of steel? When building with steel, the complexity increases considerably. With rocks, you just stack rocks until you get your bridge. Both are applying physics to meet a desired end, and one does it with far less complication. When discussing politics, you want to be the rock, not the steel.

To our idea of murder, how do we enforce a ban on murder in a way that does not violate morality while simultaneously achieving justice? Answering that question is the purpose of politics. The system devised is limited by the people devising it, implementing it, and to which it applies.

If the people devising the system believe that, while murder is wrong, forcible imprisonment is right, they might devise a system in which every single person is in solitary confinement all the time. Murder would certainly be stopped, but so too would anyone’s will to live.

If you lived on a world where the intelligent people were three feet tall and blind, while the aggressive and violent were six feet tall and had no compunction against murder, the implementation of any system the intelligent people designed would fail.

If all of the animals of the jungle were to try to devise a plan in which murder was banned, the entire ecosystem would collapse. The predators such as lions, cheetahs, and tigers would all die off as they would not be able to eat, and all of the prey species would overpopulate and decimate the vegetation, thus killing themselves off in the process. Trying to apply politics to that scenario would undoubtedly fail.

For humans, if we were all perfectly rational, well informed, and had a strong grounding in morality, we would have no problem building a political system out of rocks. Ideally, anarchy is a world in which the rocks work freely together with the rocks, the steel works with the steel, and whoever wants to build whatever wherever is perfectly free to do so because every participant is doing so voluntarily. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world, and few of the materials in our political metaphor understand politics, let alone anarchy. So, we are stuck building the best bridge we can with the inputs we have.

Is Social Media Engineered Distraction?

Humans are social beings by nature and by evolution. As an individual, humans are not particularly well suited to survive. We don’t have sharp claws, massive amounts of strength, and we aren’t particularly fast. What we have is a cognitive frontal lobe that allows us to problem solve and create abstractions to better understand our environment. This alone, though, does not give us any advantage over a predator unless we can plan in advance a way to defeat the predator. What do we have then?

Humans are excellent at cooperating with each other. Together we can build traps and walls to keep out predators, cultivate land for a consistent food supply, and build houses and structures to protect us from nature. Effectively, we built civilization out of cooperating with each other. This cooperation requires us to be informed about the other members of our community as well as our own standing within that community. We have to know who is reliable and who is going to not shirk their responsibilities. We must also know how others perceive us; are we liked, do others find us dependable and trustworthy or are they going to kick us out of the group? Out of the necessity to be informed about the other members of the group and our standing within it, we have developed a hypersensitivity to social life.

In today’s world, we have the internet and social media; effectively social life on steroids. Not only can we keep up on the lives of everyone we went to high school with but on the lives of celebrities, politicians, and complete strangers. We are socially so well connected that our capacity to process and function in life is inundated at times. How much of your life have you wasted scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed? While it can provide necessary distraction from time to time, largely it distracts us from more productive activities. We could be improving our relationships with our friends, family, or significant other; we could be improving our knowledge base; we could be discovering virtue within our own lives and impacting the world. Instead, we are all consumed with what Suzie did on her last vacation, or if Terry from high school is doing as well as we are in social standing. The negative impacts of this on our life are evident, but I want to know if this detriment is intentional.

What if Facebook was designed to distract us from a failing economy, worsening race relations, international conflict, a European migrant crisis, potential currency collapse, chronic unemployment, and an international cabal of governments and corporations intent on constructing a supranational governmental body that supersedes national sovereignty and therefore individual sovereignty? I don’t think the original intent of any social media platform was to do just this. I think they were designed as a way to improve communication and provide a form of entertainment for internet users. I do, however, believe that the various platforms have been coopted for just the purpose of distraction and obfuscation of the truth.

When you see Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube actively policing posts or content providers for reasons that are clearly intended to silence their voices, and Google limits search results, the question of motives comes into play. When you have the owners of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Apple all encouraging and supporting the United Nations, a supranational governmental body not beholden to any sovereign people, taking over the internet, you must ask why. Are these people technocrats that honestly believe they can use technology to reshape the thinking of humans? Do they believe they can control you if they limit the information to which you are exposed?

Yes they do. These people are no different from any other authoritarian in the past that has believed humans are flawed and must be reshaped into something better. Socialists, Communists, and Marxists all believed this. Proponents of the public education system believe this as indoctrination is the sole purpose of public education. If the government can control the information you are taught for twelve years, they can control how you approach any topic or idea for the rest of your life. Unfortunately for them, the human spirit desires to be free. Fortunately for humanity, those of us that desire freedom above all else are endeavoring to use every means necessary to fight back.

Social media is useful at distracting and controlling the sheeple, but it is also incredibly useful in waking them up. The phenomena of “Red Pilling” is something that was made famous in the movie The Matrix, and it has been overwhelmingly adopted across the internet thanks to freedom fighters and their use of social media platforms. People are waking up every day thanks to the internet and the moral virtue of individual freedom. Freedom is good and it is the best virtue to fight for. That is why it will win. The entirety of the world’s armies cannot adequately oppose men with morality on their side. Moral conviction is the strongest motivator within human action, so I ask you to take up the cause of freedom with me. Let us stand together as we wage the war for freedom all across the internet. No longer shall we let Suzie’s vacation pictures or Terry’s new car distract us. Let us be the content providers for how the future should be. Let us fill everyone else’s feeds the ideas of freedom, liberty, and anarchy. Let us espouse moral virtue as our guiding light so that others may find it and join us on this journey.  Together, we will achieve anarchy, we will achieve freedom!

Why Anarchy Gets a Bad Rep

What if I told you the Constitution is a non-binding document that has done nothing to stop the growth and power of the government? What if I told you police are not required to defend your life or property? What if I told you that taxation is theft, war is murder, and mainstream media is propaganda, all legally authorized by the government? What if I told you the word government means “mind control?” What if everything you have been taught to believe is a lie? What if it is not just a lie, but an intricate system of obfuscation designed to completely control you and extort from you your productivity? What if you are nothing but a free range slave within the confines of your tax farm, with nothing more than the opportunity to vote for a different face to your tax farmer every few years?

What if patriotism is an intentional form of deception designed to gin up support for a system that seeks only to control you and dominate the world? What if “fighting for your freedom” actually means oppressing and killing innocent people in foreign countries? What if soldiers aren’t heroes? What if cops aren’t there to serve and protect, but to brutalize and exploit? What if they are the enforcement arm of a system of complete tyranny over the individual? What if the system is so terrible, and yet good at obfuscation that the officers enforcing the laws honestly believe they are doing good and you respect them for it? What if politicians running for office actually have good intentions when they start out, but it is the nature of the system to corrupt anyone that touches it? What if power is more addictive than crack cocaine, and once you have had a small taste of it, you want only more?

What if everything I just said is absolutely true and you refuse to believe it? What if you are so conditioned to believe you are free that when actual freedom is presented to you, you reject it because you think it is evil? What if you have the capacity to be responsible for your own choices and control over your own property? What if you are better than anyone else at allocating your time and money? What if you are capable of resolving disputes without violence? What if you can see a violent coercive monopoly on the use of force for what it is; an elaborate extortion, racketeering, and murder organization that you have been conditioned to not only accept, but worship?

What if there was a better way and you knew what it was? Would you not seek it out and want to share it with as many people as possible? Would you not see the beauty possible when individuals are allowed to determine for themselves how best to live their lives? Would you believe me if I told you this system is anarchy? Would you believe me if I told you a world of exclusively voluntary interactions would allow humanity to truly flourish? Would you help me spread this message so one day our children can inhabit such a glorious world? Will you join me in my love affair with human flourishing?

Rights, Do We Have Them?

Definitions are important in order to ensure proper understanding. If I say my favorite fruit is an orange because I love the crisp crunch and bitter sweet taste as I bite into its green flesh, you are going to look at me like I am strange. Clearly what I am describing as an orange is actually a granny smith apple, and the concept of orange is different between the two of us. This is why the analogy of comparing apples to oranges makes sense. In my example, I am literally confusing an apple with an orange. This makes for very poor conversation, so I will always try my best to present the best definition possible for ideas I am discussing. That being said, I will now address the question at hand; do we have rights?

A quick Google search of “What is a right?” will return the following definition that is most pertinent to our discussion: “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.” When we think of rights, we think of the right to life, liberty, happiness, freedom of speech, to bear arms, and in more common dialogue, the right to healthcare or education. Let’s break this down a little bit. If we have a right to life, we are entitled to live, which means other people are obligated to not interfere with our life. This puts a claim on the actions of others. If I have a right to the freedom of speech, then others are obligated to let me speak in a public forum. If I have a right to healthcare, then doctors and nurses are obligated to treat me when I am ill or injured. A right, by definition, obligates others to affirm a claim I have as a living person. So, where do rights come from?

Natural Law would have you believe that your rights come from your humanity. You are a human being, so you are entitled to life, liberty, and property. This means other people are obligated to not interfere with your life or your freedom so long as you are respecting the rights of others, and to allow you to acquire property as long as you are not violating the rights of others. These are called negative claim rights as they do not require any positive action on the part of other people. However, these rights still place an obligation on other people. If you were on a tropical island with no other people, your need for rights would not exist as there would be no other people there. What about healthcare or education?

The United Nations has declared healthcare to be a basic human right. This means that other people are obligated to give you healthcare; doctors and nurses are obligated to give you care. Education is also often referred to as a human right. This means teachers are obligated to teach you. In fact, I would argue that if education is a human right, then anyone that knows more than anyone else is obligated to educate the less knowledgeable. Perhaps that’s why I’m writing this? I digress. These rights would be positive claim rights as they require positive actions on the part of other people. Doctors and teachers must intervene in your life and expend their time, energy, knowledge, and resources to give you something. This certainly does not seem just. Are we doomed then, to live an unjust life in an unjust world?!

That seems a bit hyperbolic, so let me put an end to this rhetoric of rights. Rights, as a physical entity, like say your shoes, do not exist. They are purely a construct of the human mind. Worse yet, they are a fabrication, and an elaborate one at that. Not only is the right to healthcare a farce, but so too is the right to life. There is no real difference between positive and negative claim rights as negative claim rights still place an obligation upon other people, even if that obligation is simply to do nothing but recognize that you are a person. At its worst, the right to life could be construed to mandate that all potential life has a right to life, meaning all eggs in a woman must be fertilized and granted life as a human. This would bind all living people to perpetually living for the not yet born, thus putting precedent on creating new life over living your own life. As rights to not exist, they are neither useful nor helpful in understanding our relationship with reality or each other. Instead of having a right to life, simply recognize that we exist, and any attempt to interfere with our existence from others violates the non-aggression principle. For more on that see my post, The Moral Framework. With all this talk of rights, who benefits?

Qui bono? That is the phrase we should always ask when unraveling a complex philosophical structure meant to deceive us. Who benefits from humans believing that we have rights and that they must be recognized and respected by other people? Why, those that enforce the rules for respecting those rights; governments and politicians. If I can convince you that you have an illness, and I am the only one with a cure, are you going to buy that cure from me? Of course you are! You get to feel better, and I get to take advantage of your ignorance. Governments have a direct incentive to grant the people as many rights as they can conceive of as those same governments will grow in size, scope, and revenue in order to preserve those rights. You have a right to life? Here’s a system to make sure people aren’t killing you. You have a right to property? Here’s a system to make sure people aren’t stealing from you. Oh, and we have to steal from you to pay for it, but we are going to call it taxation. What’s that? You want a right to healthcare? Of course! Here you go! You just have to wait six months before you see a doctor. You have a right to healthcare, but no one said you have a right to healthcare right now. Oh, and you definitely have a right to education. How else are we going to prevent you from thinking critically about any of our laws or your “rights” unless we indoctrinate, I mean educate you about them or how wonderful we are for providing them to you?

There is also the Positivist legal theory. This states that all rights are granted by the government. You can do only what the law allows you to do, and all power resides within the government to grant freedoms. You have the right to live because the government has given it to you. You have the right to speak as long as the government says it is OK. While this approach is more honest about the nature of rights, it is morally corrupt and logically inconsistent. To address the latter claim first, we know that ownership is defined as exclusive control over an object. In this case, we are referring to your body. If the government is the sole entity that can grant you the right to speak or move or live, then you are not the owner of your body. This is a contradiction of reality and it cannot stand. Governments understand this, which is why they use the threat of violence at the barrel of a gun to enforce their laws. This is also why this approach is morally corrupt. Enforcing the notion that the government has the authority to grant rights to people requires a violation of the non-aggression principle, and this is morally wrong. Positivism also fails to grant humans rights. So, what is the answer?

At this point, we can unequivocally say, “No, we do not have rights.”  Do you know the saying, “beware of strangers bearing gifts?” The government is one big entity of strangers, and the gifts they bear are called rights. Reject their rhetoric wholesale lest you get caught up in their convoluted mess of what rights you do or do not have and when, where and how. Instead recognize two simple truths. One, rights do not exist so you do not have them; and two, the ten scariest words in the human language are these, “I’m from the government, and I am here to help.”