Category: Blog

Truth in a Totalitarian State

Truth in a Totalitarian State

An Essay on The End of Truth from F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.”

“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.” ― Adolf Hitler

The author is a self-declared right-wing anarchist and enthusiast of the Austrian School of economics. You can follow him on Twitter @chillywillers. That’s all we’ve got on him; The rest is a mystery.


Totalitarian states are necessarily anti-truth. The argument’s strength pertains to the operations leading towards the institution of the totalitarian state as such, as opposed to particular leaders at particular times and places. At first glance, it may appear that the success of the social plan requires nothing more than broad agreement on goals. However, due to the nature of central planning, a broad agreement must also exist regarding the evidence used to justify the measures employed. Such consensus can only be maintained by the control of information, suppression of dissent, invasion of non-political areas of life, and ultimately the destruction of truth and reason. 

Maintaining the social plan’s acceptance is achieved by coercing or convincing the people to believe in its goals. The latter is essential to the long-run success of a planned economy and relies on effective propaganda. Propaganda exists in every society, but it is categorically different in a totalitarian state because of the absence of competing ideas. In a free society, propagandists have no assurance their assertions will take hold, but the propaganda monopolist does not share this difficulty. In a free society, it may be the case that from time to time, leaders of industry dominate the attention of the people, academia, or religious institutions; however, differences between and within these competing outlets ensure that their influence captures a majority for only a short time. Conversely, under totalitarianism, these institutions are increasingly beholden to the state. 

A second distinction is that totalitarian propaganda destroys morality and truth. This distinction becomes apparent when we consider that totalitarian propaganda must extend beyond questions of value to questions of fact. Justifying the importance of the social plan is achieved by demonstrating the connections between means and ends. The social program requires imposing a universal moral code that does not exist in a free society. The planner may not be aware of this necessity, or may be unable to plan the universal moral code because his decisions aim to resolve conflicts as they arise spontaneously. The planner is tasked with making decisions without the assistance of a definite moral code and finding some way to justify them to the people. The planner must announce some theories which are likely to appeal to the greater part of the people. 

The necessity of suppressing dissent derives from the nature of the social plan. Since most of the social project details are never explicitly stated, acceptance of the social plan increasingly becomes equivalent to the approval of every act of the planner. It follows that the schools, media, etc., must abandon truth and be directed to support the “facts” that justify the planner’s social plan. In a totalitarian state, control must necessarily extend into non-political areas of life. This is an outgrowth of how the social project gains acceptance in the economic sphere. We have seen the merit of an activity is to be judged by the extent to which it accords with prevailing theories. And at the root of all these theories is the idea that collective effort toward goals is superior to individualism’s chaos.

At this point, truth is no longer something to be discovered. Instead, it is imposed from above and subject to change to accommodate the inevitable evolution of the social plan. Arguably, in any case, what the masses regard as truth is at all times informed by several destructive ideologies such as commercialism, so there is no harm in guiding them in a more high-minded direction. While it is true that larger segments of people are prone to accept prevailing ideologies uncritically, it is quite different from saying we should reduce the number of doctrines to one. This misunderstands reason’s growth, which occurs through the interaction of individuals with diverse knowledge and values. A contradiction arises because while planning begins with rationality as its highest ideal, it can only succeed by erecting boundaries around thought and thus set in motion the decline of reason.

CW


The War on Reason

The War on Reason

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design.” – Friedrich August von Hayek

Jon McDonald is an energy economist in Texas focusing on the international trade of natural gas and natural gas derivatives. He has a master’s degree in energy economics from Rice University. Follow him on Twitter @jonnymack1010.


It is true that history gave us some philosophers who believed, through the power and process of human reason, they could predict the future of mankind as if it were as simple as watching the hands on a clock or the sun rise and fall. They claimed they were granted this power by a higher authority. Through their own arrogance they sought to produce absolute eternal truth. These utopian philosophers prepared schemes for paradise on earth but neglected the fact that what they believed to be eternal truth was just their own hubristic creation. The belief in this divinely awarded position led them to promptly establish absolute moral codes binding on all men. To free themselves from criticism, they raised themselves above fallibility and incorporated the intolerance and violent oppression of those who would dare disagree with their philosophy. Only these philosophers knew what was best for mankind so they sought dictatorship for themselves or for those who would put their ideas into practice. Only their ideas could end suffering. 

History gave us Georg Hegel and Auguste Comte. Hegel from Germany and Comte of French descent. Hegel knew everything in the universe that could be known. His doctrine held that to fully know anything required the knowledge of everything. He said the “truth” was revealed to him by Geist, or “The Absolute Spirit”. Though a brilliant thinker, nobody could interpret his work. Some took it as a reason for the autocratic dictatorship of the Prussian Church while others interpreted it as the reason for atheism and revolution. Comte said he could predict the future and he thought this entitled him to the position of supreme lawmaker. Comte worked to establish a new religion to replace Christianity and picked out a woman to supplant Mary. Comte was insane.1

The war on reason was borne out this line of thinking. It was not the result of careful self-examination, modesty, caution, or humility on behalf of the utopian philosophers nor was it caused by the failures of the natural sciences. The economic freedom which emerged as a by-product of the political freedom obtained in the late 17th and 18th centuries gave rise to the freedom to maximize knowledge towards the application of human needs. The result was the marvelous growth of science which ultimately changed the face of the world. It would be pointless to attack the technological improvements of the human race over the course of history as they speak an undeniable language of great progress and human ingenuity. Those who would wage the war on reason took aim at another target – Economics.2

The war took shape out of the conditions which existed in the 19th century. The classical economists – Say, Smith, Ricardo, and Bastiat among others – had laid socialism in its grave. They were yet to find the solutions to the classical system as drawn by Jevons and Menger, but they had done enough to expose the delusions of the socialist utopians. The communists were finished. There was only one way left open that could resurrect the collectivists ideas. They could attack reason and replace it with magical intuition.

History would choose Karl Marx to propose this solution.

Based on the omniscience granted to Hegel by Geist and the mysticism of Comte, Karl Marx gave himself the ability to predict the future for all of humanity. Karl, being the supreme knower of all things, was better informed than Hegel and Comte on the plans of Geist. In Marx’s vision of the future, the final outcome of humanity’s evolution must be the establishment of the socialist utopia. Socialism will inevitably arrive as time progresses as if it were natural law, he declared. Since every stage of human history improves upon the previous, the ultimate result of mankind’s evolution will be socialism and it will be perfect. Socialism is the highest form of civilization that man could ever achieve. Time is all that is necessary to bring about our socialist destiny and time will arrange everything for the best. There is no reason to listen to the advice of mere mortals. 

Marx still had one more hurdle in his path. The critique of the economists stood in his way, but he had a solution in mind. Human reason, he claimed, was insufficient to find truth. Universal logic and truth do not exist. Marx, replacing Hegel and Comte as the chief exhorter of “truth”, asserted that the different classes of society formulate logic in fundamentally different ways simply because the different classes have different incomes. Proletarian logic is different than bourgeois logic, he claimed. The bourgeois mind cannot produce anything other than an apology for their capitalistic exploitation of the proletariat. Therefore, bourgeois logic is irrelevant, and the proletariat class will soon abolish all classes to convert the earth into a socialist heaven. Marx stated that whatever the mind produces is ideology which can only demonstrate the selfish interests of the theorists own social class. To Marx, universal truth and reason were not available to the human mind. Yet, according to the supposedly higher mind of Marx it was universally true that socialism was mankind’s destiny.

Fittingly, some members of the bourgeois were granted the ability to logic like the proletariat. By the work of some unspecified miracle, Marx was endowed with this special ability. Karl Marx, the son of a wealthy lawyer and married to a Prussian noble, was a member of bourgeoisie awarded the knowledge of the logic of all class’s past, present and future. His collaborator Frederick Engels, a wealthy textile manufacturer, was also granted this special privilege – an obvious coincidence. That Marx and Engels both attained a wealthy status by what they called “capitalistic exploitation” by other members of society was irrelevant. They had the approval to determine absolute truth by Geist and were therefore exempt from their own theory. 

In the Marxian universe, everything revolves around the income of someone else as if it were the gravity that holds that world together. The Marxist doctrine is a false prophecy that attempts to teach the world how to properly covet, envy and despise the position of another. Marx asserted that the logical structure of the mind is dependent on class, or, essentially, income and status. Thus, the Marxists reject the economic concept of scarcity as outlined by Lionel Robbins. They reject it not only because the socialist order cannot account for this reality in its operation, but because Robbins rose from the humble life as the son of a farmer to the ranks of a prestigious professor at the London School of Economics. To a Marxist, an economic theory developed by a member of the bourgeois is spurious. The Aryans reject the theories from economists like Ricardo, Rothbard and Mises because they were Jewish. The logic of a racist differs only from Marxian logic in that it ascribes to each race a different logical structure of the mind and holds that all members of certain races, regardless of class, are endowed with this logical composition. 

Now, it is irrelevant for economics to critique the concepts of class and race as prescribed by the Marxists. It is not the purpose of economics to ask a Marxist when and how the logical structure of the mind changes when a member of the proletariat succeeds in joining the ranks of the bourgeois. It is not necessary to ask a racist to explain the logic of people who are not of a single race.

Economics has more important arguments to put forward. 

The belief that simply discussing the background of an author will suffice in the attempt to illuminate the fallacies of a theory is entirely asinine. What is necessary is to construct a system of logic to counter the contested theory to show why the theory contains invalid logic. Neither the Aryans nor the Marxists have ever been able to design such a system. Nor have they been able to demonstrate precisely in what logic the proletarian logic differs from that of the bourgeoisie or the logic of the Aryans from the non-Aryans. If such a system of counter-logic cannot be constructed, a Marxist or an Aryan would have to consistently maintain that certain ideas are false because the author is not a member of the proper class, nation, or race. However, consistency is not their strength. The Marxists and the Aryans will approve any thinker whose doctrines fit their own ideology. Anybody else is their enemy guilty of treason.

In a free market system where individuals with the natural right to choose the pursuits to which they will direct their labor, either for necessity or desire and unobstructed by the arbitrary powers of another, every change in the market setting will affect the short-run interests of several different groups of people. This dynamic makes it easy to expose every single change in the existing conditions as a change which benefitted the “selfish interests of greedy people.” Many authors today fall victim to this low-hanging fruit and Marx did not discover this procedure. It was known long before his time. It never occurred to the supporters of such dogma that where there are selfish interests in favor of certain changes there must always be selfish interests against such changes. It is completely unsatisfactory to explain any event as an affair that favored a special class. The question that is necessary to answer is why the rest of the populace whose pursuits were injured by such an action failed in challenging the efforts of those who were favored by it.3

Every firm in every sector of a free and competitive economy is interested in a higher quantity of sales for its products or services. In the long run, however, there exists a prevailing tendency towards the equalization of profits in the various sectors of production through the process of competition. If the demand for the products or services of a certain branch of industry increases, prices will rise until sufficient productive capacity can be built to meet the rise in demand. The rise in price signals a shortage and an arbitrage opportunity to a profit maximizing agent. Investors rush into the sector attempting to capture a return on capital. In consequence, more capital flows into the sector increasing the productive capacities of competing firms. The dynamics of new entrants and higher production results in lower prices and the competition of new enterprises brings the height of net returns down to a more equal level.

Those at the helm of the already high profitable firms have little interest in the preservation of free competition. They are, however, opposed to new entrants expropriating their profits and would rather keep competition at a minimum to ensure higher prices. On the other hand, they are in favor of government measures which prevent new business from challenging their position in the market. Those who fight for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of the rich. They want the opportunity left open to the unknown entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow whose ingenuity will make the life of coming generations more agreeable. They want the way left open to further economic improvements. They are the watchtowers of human progress.


*Special attention was given to the work of Ludwig von Mises in the writing of this essay. The majority of what is written here can be found in Human Action – ‘Economics and the Revolt Against Reason’. My hope was to bring this work back into discussion in a condensed version.

[1] Ludwig von Mises, “Human Action”, 1949. Hereafter abbreviated LVM.

[2] LVM

[3] LVM


The Rise of the Medical Dictatorship

The Rise of the Medical Dictatorship

Jordan Taylor Swaim is a social service worker, podcaster and producer out of Calgary, Alberta, where he resides with his wife Janelle, and son TJ. Check out his podcast, The Peaceful Way, and learn the concepts, ideas, and strategies behind making a more peaceful and nonviolent world.

This article was originally published on Medium.com. Read the original article.

The uncomfortable truth about authoritarian regimes is that they come into power primarily through the expressed permission, or general apathy, of the population which they rule. It is always after the fact, after the ethnocides, secret police, show trials, and rigged elections that the public realizes the monster it has participated in creating. The pretence under which the citizens accept the dictator is primarily an irrational fear of some sort of perceived existential threat, coupled with scapegoating of a smaller segment of the population, or even a single individual. In Pol Pot’s Cambodia for example, influenced by a monolithic Buddhist culture, peasants often had a very blase attitude towards human death and suffering, attributing torture, starvation, and displacement to bad Karma from a previous life, making it taboo to even intervene. In the early years of the cultural revolution, Mao Zhedong was able to galvanize poor farmers to publicly torture, execute, and even cannibalize slightly less-poor farmers for the sin of being wealthier than themselves, under the auspices of being “capitalists” and “robbing them of their wealth”. Power lusting tyrants love nothing more than to feast on people’s fears, while portraying themselves as messianic figures ordained for “such a time as this”. The tyrant himself, however, can hardly be held entirely responsible, without the explicit support of the masses, police departments, military, academia, and even mass media. Without these, a dictator is simply a boat without a rudder. It is the dark marriage with the passions of the common man and his ruler which makes totalitarianism unconscionably vicious.

In the age of COVID-19, these dynamics are no less relevant. As governments around the world reel over the best response to the latest global pandemic, there has been a disturbing trend of trampling on rights, eliminating personal choice, invading privacy and blithely dismissing constitutional protections in the name of hypothetical and momentary safety. When and how our freedoms might be restored is a complete afterthought, there are no targets, thresholds, or circumstances, short of entirely eradicating the virus (a literal impossibility), in which our “benevolent” overlords might afford us a refund of our liberties. The utterly depressing aspect of the situation we find ourselves in, is that in the majority of cases, these governments enjoy massive levels of public and institutional support. Be it Jacinda Arderns historic re-election in New Zealand for her downright fascistic response to the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo receiving an Emmy award for all but a total shut down of the state of New York, or the World Health Organizations gushing over China’s inhumane and deadly measures it imposed on it’s own citizenry. In Canada, approval ratings have sky rocketed for premiers who behave in the most draconian of manners, while a more hands off approach like that of Alberta’s premier, Jason Kenney, get punished in the polls. It is clear that it is not only the government’s themselves, though they deserve plenty of blame, but the population at large. Your neighbours are encouraged to call the police on nonviolent people for the cardinal sin of having a gathering in their own home, perhaps you will be stopped by a moral busy body while shopping if you are not wearing mask, or it could be throngs of fanatical zealots belonging to the lockdown religion who will bully and harass you on social media for any perceived impropriety which violates their puritanical dogmas. In the ushering in of our new dystopian future, the government hardly has to lift a finger, its people are more than willing to do its dirty work.

“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy” — Plato

What distinguishes the current species of authoritarianism from previous iterations is that it operates under the auspices of public health, as the enemy is not a racial or social class, but rather a virus. Its thought leaders are not radical activists or military generals, it is doctors and scientists. In this materialist era, slogans like “believe the science” are brandied about with reckless abandon, giving any unelected public health official a blank check to thrust their top down, command and control style economic fantasies upon the rest of us without our consent. And now, almost anyone can utter the words “I am following the science” as if it were a magical totem used to ward off any and all skepticism of a particular policy proposal in response to the pandemic. Prior to the entrance of COVID-19 onto the global stage, politicians would often give homage to “the scientists” in reference to all sorts of topics. Be it the environment, pharmaceuticals, or conservation, we have seen a disturbing trend to more heavily rely on “experts” to drive public policy with almost no reference to a cost benefit analysis of said policies, or any type of examination of the unintended consequences or ethical implications. Thanks to the coronavirus, we have now reached a tipping point where the populace is more or less begging for a technocracy to be instituted with complete and unrestrained power.

The dismal part of all of this, is that science, its institutions and its academics, have become so politicized and tribal within the cultural zeitgeist that it more resembles a fundamentalist cult than a beautiful process of inquiry, experimentation, and observation. Science is not a “thing”, it is a process. It is not a noun, it is a verb. It is what we do when we explore the world around us, follow our curiosities, innovate, and turn imaginary futures into concrete realities. The scientific method has given us the cure to so many ails, improved our productivity one thousand fold, and given even the poorest among us the ability to live as royalty of a bygone age. But somewhere along the way, science, or more accurately “pop-science”, became not an honest intellectual pursuit, but rather, a political bludgeon to cast out heretics and naysayers. Rather than having every past conclusion be open to scrutiny and falsifiability, political scientism has become a holy writ in which even the slightest deviation from the “consensus” orthodoxy is punishable by public shaming and banishment from polite society. Public health officials have been christened as oracles, and only they have the ability to correctly read interpret the scientific literature. We, the ignorant peasants, must passively accept their edicts as gospel, without question.

One may argue that the repressions we live under are temporary and only because of extraordinary circumstances, I beg to differ. There is almost no instance in history wherein a government or bureaucracy completely surrendered its powers after a crisis abated, barring the old regime being disposed. The US military, for example, still occupies Germany and Japan despite those countries posing no threat whatever. Canada introduced the income tax to pay for World War One and promised to abolish it after the war. Nations around the world have continued to outlaw the development of nuclear energy out of a Cold War hangover, despite its ability to realistically address carbon emissions. This is not necessarily because of any malicious intent (though there is certainly enough of that to go around) but rather powerful bureaucratic inertia that is naturally associated with very large institutions.

Detractors may believe I am over exaggerating, and they may be right. To this point there have been no firing squads on political dissidents, no liquidations of entire people groups, or any sort of weaponized hunger. But as for me, I prefer to observe the lessons of history, and not allow it to get to that point.

Jordan S.

When a Virus, the State, and Self-Ownership Collide

When a Virus, the State, and Self-Ownership Collide

“When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we in essence accept that the state owns our bodies.” – Ron Paul

There was cause for concern back in August when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory. He later changed his tune by saying: “We can’t hold someone down and make them take it,” but added he strongly encouraged everyone to do so. We’ve had similar concerns in Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this [corona virus.]” His statement seems to imply the government expects 35M Canadians will voluntarily receive the vaccine. Surely the state must recognize the individual right to self-ownership. Left to wonder if and what future government mandates may look like, it may be prudent for concerned citizens to start preparing.

This quill’s intended purpose is not to weigh in on the benefits versus risks of vaccination programs as much discussion already exists on this topic. For those new to the idea that vaccinations may pose risks, Stefan M. Kløvning has written a valuable booklet on the subject, and I encourage everyone to explore it. This quill’s main objective is to flesh out potential strategies the government may employ in their attempts to administer the COVID-19 vaccine broadly and how we should respond. As an extension of individualism, we at the LQ hold that vaccinations should be voluntary. We base our position on the view that non-consensual medical treatment goes against the fundamental human right to life (or person) and self-ownership. I have covered the topic of natural rights in previous quills and encourage readers to go back and read them to complement the discussion at hand. 

Before exploring potential government approaches, a brief delve into self-ownership will benefit anyone who may be new to the term. One definition of self-ownership is: “The concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity and be the exclusive controller of one’s own body and life.” It is familiar to proponents of libertarianism, liberalism, and anarchism, and as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, it is consistent with the ideas of individualism. To reject this concept means to accept others can determine what is in the best interest of you and your body. Applying this idea to vaccinations may, upon first glance, seem somewhat overstated. Historically, there has been much trust put in recommendations from health authorities. But what if this trust were to erode (if it hasn’t already?) Who ultimately makes the decisions regarding what happens to our bodies?

A document issued by the United Nations and the World Health Organization entitled “The Right to Health” acknowledges the individual’s right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment. Many federal and local governments protect similar patient rights. Not surprisingly, these “rights” fail to protect citizens when governments deem mandatory vaccinations to be in the public’s best interest. Herein lies the problem. Clearly, from government responses to COVID-19, the vaccine will undoubtedly be viewed as a requirement to get us back to any semblance of normalcy. In Canada, the National Immunization Strategy objectives for vaccination rates range between 80-95%. Assuming similar targets are applied to the COVID-19 vaccine, governments will likely have a near-impossible chance of achieving the target rate through voluntary vaccination campaigns. A WebMD reader poll from this past summer revealed:

“Fewer than half of people plan to get a coronavirus vaccine in the first year it’s available, and an even smaller group — fewer than a third — say they’ll get it in the first 90 days… The poll of 1,000 readers finds many of them reluctant to take a potential COVID vaccine, even though public health experts have said it’s the best way to move past the pandemic. Just over 40% said they planned to get a vaccine, while 28% said they did not. Another 30% were unsure.”

Speaking to these results, John Whyte, the chief medical officer at WebMD, stated:

“If immunization rates are low, then we’re not going to achieve the level of herd immunity needed to protect us from this virus. How are we going to reopen if people aren’t getting the vaccine? We need a ‘Plan B,…”

Could “Plan B” involve mandated vaccines, and if so, how would that be implemented? The reader should remain open-minded as we explore the possibilities of two different coercive approaches.  

The first, likening itself to a doomsday account, could see governments deploy armed medical enforcement. State agents would be responsible for administering the vaccine as a matter of national interest. Willing recipients would report to designated sites, receive the vaccine, and be issued documentation proving they had complied. Non-compliant citizens would be deemed a threat to the state, rounded-up, and incarcerated to separate them from the rest of society. As a father, an additional fear would see the separation of minors from their parents in order to immunize children within non-compliant families. All of this may seem a step too far, but there have been several developments in recent months, which would have seemed inconceivable only one year ago. I don’t consider myself overly conspiracist, but I find it increasingly difficult to rule anything out these days. However, the state would be taking substantial risks enforcing vaccinations in this manner and would likely only succeed by marginalizing small numbers of non-compliers. At this point, authorities in the U.S. and Canada would be hard-pressed to attempt this approach while avoiding massive domestic instability as a result. 

The second and more plausible approach would be to incentivize those willing to receive the vaccinations voluntarily. Incentives would not increase existing benefits but rather keep our current freedom of movement intact. Documents issued upon vaccination would grant an individual access to restricted locations and services. Examples include air travel, public buildings, private businesses, government services, etc. Undecided individuals facing such a decision would be highly motivated to accept immunization and return to the comforts of their day to day lives. I have previously written about the barriers humans run into when living out their contrarian beliefs and referring back may again complement the current topic at hand. Monitored activities could remain accessible by substituting existing methods or as the result of innovations. Circumventing restricted access to grocery stores could be achieved by roadside pick-up or delivery, which is already in existence. Air travel, although highly impractical over long distances, could be replaced by automotive travel. Certain services could be offered remotely versus existing requirements to conduct them in-person. The lockdowns have already resulted in innovations within different sectors. There is reason to be hopeful that refusing the vaccine wouldn’t necessarily cut people off from our current way of life. The most significant area of concern is how non-compliance could play itself out in the workplace.

I’ve mentioned before that as a public servant, I rely on the state for my income. Ideally, this wouldn’t be the case, but it’s the situation I find myself in for the time being. I’m aware of what refusing a mandatory vaccination could cost my family and me. If the state implements mandatory vaccinations for government employees, logic follows that my refusal could terminate my employment with them, which is not an easy barrel to be looking down. On the other hand, private sector employers requiring their employees get vaccinated could offer alternatives such as working from home or wearing masks as a suitable compromise. I doubt the state would afford public sector employees such flexibility given that non-compliance threatens state authority.     

So how should we prepare? That’s an individual decision, but I believe people should be thinking about all of the potential scenarios and readying their mindsets accordingly. If you believe the vaccine will be safe and plan on receiving it, you likely won’t have experienced much apprehension while reading this quill. But if you want no part in a mandated vaccine, start considering the consequences of refusing it. Perhaps that means holding off from making any large financial decisions in the event non-compliance terminates your employment. Maybe those fearing the first scenario might begin drafting up off-grid plans and developing like-minded communities to navigate that outcome. One thing I’ve decided to do is make it as difficult as possible on vaccine administrators. Freedomtaker is a website (for our American readers) that contains links to several useful forms which can help deter administrators from quickly attaining their objectives. Many thanks go to our friend Don Wilson, leader of the BC Libertarian Party, for developing a non-consent form which fits within the Canadian context, and is available for download under the “resources” tab of our website. I don’t presume these documents to be legally binding, but they can be useful tools when asserting your non-compliant position. Additionally, knowing your rights can go a long way, and Canadian readers can find more information on patient rights here

As 2020 draws to an end, the future remains unclear, and 2021 will likely present many of the same challenges. The best we can do is to prepare for potential eventualities. Preparation will require some imagination, prayer (or reflection), and planning. The world is changing, and we must determine what kind of existence we hope to achieve during the years we are given. One of our past “Weekly Tokens” depicted several rolling hills with this simple caption, “it may be time to consider which one you’re willing to die on.” My sincerest prayer is that it never comes to this, knowing many have paid dearly while standing for their convictions. In closing, let me say, a world devoid of self-ownership is a world devoid of human dignity, and that, is a position I won’t be coming down from. 

Towards liberty,

OA

When All Else Fails

When All Else Fails

“In life, you can choose to cry about the b——- that happens to you or you can choose to laugh about it. I choose laughter.”
– Kevin Hart –

Libertarians can be a funny bunch, literally. Perhaps humour is embedded within every contrarian spirit. If true, there are likely very good reasons. Marginalized groups routinely encounter overwhelming odds when working to impact the world around them. Often, individuals expend tireless energy with little return which can be extremely frustrating. When deeply emotional human beings experience the onset of disillusionment, those emotions can manifest through anger, sadness or greater yet, depression. But for many libertarians, that energy often gets converted into humour. 

Grab a spoon and a tub of ice cream for this first bit. We’re going to review some numbers, and no – they were not pulled from Wikipedia. The Libertarian Party of Canada currently holds zero seats in both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate. Given, Canadian Senators are appointed rather than elected and no Libertarian Party members are currently sitting in the House, the latter is no surprise. Big zero. In the United States, the Libertarian Party holds one seat in the House of Representatives (due to a change in party affiliation) and zero in the Senate. Looking only at elected positions, the political wing of libertarianism at the federal level in North America is batting 1 for 873. So what are we to do with this reality? Do we become disgruntled, or disenchanted, with our worldview and give up? Not likely. To borrow a line from Jeopardy, “I’ll take ‘Laugh’ for a thousand, Alex!”

Past studies have shown benefits of laughter include: improvements in physical health, mental relaxation, lowered blood pressure and pain relief. I’ve even read somewhere that laughter may have positive effects on boosting immunity (though I’m too lazy to find the link). Maybe instead of COVID lockdowns, we should just laugh it off – it wouldn’t cost much. But I digress. Others speak to the positive effects of laughter within relationships. Hara Marano from “Psychology Today” explains:

“levity can defuse anger and anxiety, and in so doing it can pave the path to intimacy.”

Humans relate intimately with the greater world around them. It is important to find satisfaction with regards to our place in the world. How then do libertarians learn to stay positive while working to advance a cause so slow in coming? Simple. They use irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. If you found that to read like a definition, give yourself a pat on the back. That is the definition of satire. Satirists often criticize personalities and viewpoints they believe to be flawed.

A further delve into this style of comedy could prove useful but I usually aim for a thousand words when writing so I’ll keep this brief. One form of satire is hyperbole, an exaggerated statement not intended to be taken literally. Sadly many struggle with this recognition. It’s not clear if the struggle is due to declining IQs, hyper-sensitivity, or both but the struggle is real. Please pray for those individuals. If you don’t know where to find them, they’re usually out trying to cancel parts of culture. The other form of satire is irony, the backbone of what most refer to as sarcasm. Irony is expressing oneself using language which signals the opposite of what you’re thinking. If you have never employed either, you’re definitely not a real libertarian. 

These satirical techniques can be expressed using several different methods. One common expression is through the use of memes. Any libertarian with a Twitter or Facebook account will tell you the social media communities rely heavily on the use of memes to convey opinions or even just to let off steam. Libertarians in America have even vowed to “Meme Jo Jorgensen into the White House” (LP presidential candidate) due to near mainstream media blackout. 

Parody, another commonly used form of comedy, uses imitation while deliberately exaggerating the subject for comedic effect. A well-known program exemplifying this method is “Saturday Night Live.” It debuted in 1975 and, for many years, delivered premier parodistic skits. Microsoft Word argues with me that “parodistic” isn’t a word. But what does Billy G. know anyhow? We’ve briefly covered several commonly used forms of humour often employed without giving a second thought. Imagine if we weren’t free to express ourselves in this way. Sadly, in some parts of the world, no such imagining is required.

So let us be grateful for the freedoms we still enjoy, especially the freedom to criticize both our officials and their policies when we believe those in authority to be misguided. Let us continue to fight for a freer future while encouraging one another to act as mouthpieces for liberty. And, although at times we may turn on one another (withholding all apparent mercies) let us remember the commonalities of those wanting to dramatically reduce government with those wishing to abolish it altogether. I may have just lost the anarchists. But, yes – libertarians, anarchists and contrarians at large are indeed a funny bunch. Let’s keep it that way. Without the healing effects of laughter, many are left with nothing more than hurt, disappointment, and disillusionment. As for me the choice is clear. Turning to laughter can’t really be avoided as it’s in my nature – I am Canadian after all.

Towards liberty (and jocularity),

OA

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler –

Libertarian philosophy encompasses many things. It values peace, personal responsibility and free markets among others. But before adopting these, people must first let go of their long held positions. Consider the monkey trap. Hunters place food in a container and fasten the container to an immovable object. The opening to access the food is wide enough to allow the monkey to slide their hand through. However, once the monkey grabs hold of the food (making a fist in the process) they are no longer able to pull their hand out. Despite having the option to let go of the food in order to escape, the monkey refuses and is eventually captured. The monkey’s freedom could have been realized by releasing the fruit. What do humans need to release to achieve freedom?

The first is falsehoods. Our ideas shape our worldview. We come about those ideas through varied experiences, interactions, and oftentimes through study, the majority of which takes place at school. Recent data shows 92% of Canadian and 82% of American K-12 students currently attend government schools, definitely the majority. The reality of government schooling: Both the schools and the teachers are government funded, the textbooks are government approved, and the curriculum is aimed at satisfying the government mandated testing criteria. Therefore, the school system may hold biases when presenting ideas pertaining to the role of government. Generation after generation are now accepting government endorsed curriculums with limited exposure to alternative theories and points of view. Given this bias, what other means are available to present our youth with alternative views on history, science, economics, and the realities of big government? Brace yourself! Parents. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. They can have an impact by choosing to homeschool or simply supplementing what is being taught. A great resource I recommend is “The Tuttle Twins” series of books by Connor Boyack. The series covers several topics from a non-curricular viewpoint. Some rely wholeheartedly on the government school system to educate their children. In the absence of personal responsibility, falsehoods taught in the classroom will continue to shape the views of our future generations.

Next up is the attitude of indifference. It has been said before awareness is most beneficial when translated into action. As a recovered alcoholic, knowing I had a drinking problem did nothing for me until I took steps towards recovery. Indifference keeps us in an inebriated state, preventing us from taking the necessary steps towards new life. In discovering new truths (whether economic, political, or philosophical) people should strive to apply them, challenging their worldview. If inconsistencies or incompatibilities exist, tension should be generated within the individual, forcing them to revisit the conflicting ideas. This is the boiling point. Does the individual embark on changing their old views or do they side with indifference to protect their notions of security and comfort? By keeping indifference at bay, we can learn to live more authentically. 

Perhaps this doesn’t happen at the broader community level but rather in individual lives. There are still benefits. When humans live by their set values, they often feel more at peace, reducing conflict. Individuals may also choose to be indifferent when they are minimally affected by the policies falsehoods create. As a white male living in a rural middle class community, having never experienced it myself, I could turn a blind eye to police brutality. Additionally, I could shrug off the ethical implications of forced taxation if I determine I am net benefitting from the services received at the expense of others. Self-centeredness, the root of such indifference, is something I try to resist. Self-interest is essential. But ensuring others are free to take care of their own self-interests is of equal importance in ensuring collective security. But what to say to the individual that isn’t indifferent, who wants to see change yet does nothing? What holds them back?

Fear. Publicly demonstrating contrarian views often comes with consequences. Ideas other than those considered mainstream threaten the current order. Speaking out on social media can result in being banned from those platforms. Worse yet, we now see people being arrested for organizing protests using Facebook’s platform. Current cancel culture applies pressure on employers to rid employees who speak against or don’t follow mainstream ideas. The fear of losing one’s income is a highly effective weapon against contrarian or “radical” thought. Another, is the fear of losing certain comforts, or at least initially. What if the size of government was vastly reduced and many of the provided services ceased? At least initially, our standard of living could be negatively impacted. For many, this may prove too much to endure. But what of the sacrifices if we let things continue? Unfortunately, by focusing on what could potentially be lost, we ignore what could be gained. Free market minded people are hopeful private enterprise and voluntary actions would bridge the gap in adjustments to our living standards. Perhaps the fear of diminishing comforts should be replaced with the fear of diminishing freedoms.

Dreaming of how life could be different is easy. Walking through a refiner’s fire to get there is not. It is beyond plausible hardships could befall us if the current structure were to change. But as already mentioned, to focus on the seen without giving due attention to the unseen is a mistake. I believe increasing individual freedom and personal responsibility leads to improved emotional and mental health. Our ailing system of big government breeds apathy, creating individual reliance on the state. Libertarianism offers an antidote far too many will never experience. It’s high time we abandon the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality, and be willing to let go of that which entraps us. 

Towards liberty,

OA