For those who read (sadly a dwindling number in America), here is a compelling back-and-forth between my friend Lawrence Ludlow and an unidentified acquaintance of his. If so inclined, it will make you think...
LL: This was called my best back-and-forth thread with a statist on Facebook. I deleted his name because he’s a valued friend, even if he is a statist.
STATIST CLAIM #1: If you do not want to pay the State Income Tax, do not live in a state that has a state income tax. If you do not want to pay a federal income tax, live in a country that does not have one. The decision to live in Michigan and in the United States is your consent.
LARRY’S RESPONSE: I do not believe for a single minute that one's human rights depend upon one's geographic proximity. That is the problem that people have who have never seriously studied ethics but repeat a received opinion without scrutinizing it. There is a concept called meta ethics, which determines how you can develop a system of ethics. It has to be universal just as the laws of physics and chemistry must be universal and repeatable. That is why your criticism has absolutely no merit. The public school system ensures that people never make a serious study of the science of ethics, and as a result, even supposedly well-educated people have absolutely no conception of it. It is the equivalent of a flat Earth Society in the realm of philosophy and ethics, and it has created the system that now exists, and it helps to generate comments such as the one just made. Do you see the difference?
[Additional thought, not stated but obvious]: The claim boils down to the suggestion that it is my fault that I cannot find a more hospitable neighborhood in which to live and that it’s my fault that criminal gangs (i.e., governments) control the land surface of the planet. Translation? If the Statist had lived in the year 400 A.Dl, he would have said the following to a slave: “Look, slave: it’s your fault that slavery is practiced all over the world without exception and that you cannot find a place where slavery is not practiced.
STATIST CLAIM #2: “you wish to take advantage of the services and quality of life provided by the payment of taxes but assert that having made the decision to enjoy those benefits does not constitute consent to pay for them. I do not see that as logical, fair or ethical. If you contend that taxes are too high, or the government provides poor service or spends money fecklessly, that would be different (although frankly not one which I would agree broadly). Magical Fairy Dust, to be brutally honest, is believing that anarchy works.”
LARRY’S RESPONSE: You are claiming that I wish to take advantage of services that I did not request and that I would not select if I were given an opportunity, the funds for which were taken from me without my consent. I do not see how one can possibly say that I want to take advantage of these "services." You have made a false statement, and I would appreciate it if you would not put words in my mouth that I have not said. That lowers the level out of the realm of argumentation and into one of false claims. Because I am standing on the planet Earth does not mean I have granted my consent for anything. You are assuming that a conceptual entity [the state] has rights, and that actual existing human beings do not. To demonstrate how bizarre your concept is, just because I happened to be standing in front of a Kroger store does not mean that I should be forced to purchase a shopping cart full of items that I did not ask for, did not want, and do not feel are worth the price. In the world that you live in, I do not have any choice about what I purchase in any venue, but other people are able to tell me what they think I should buy and how much I should pay for them. You are actually defending such a system. Or that appears to be the case, and at least I am granting you an opportunity to show how it is not the case. But you use the term "I wish," which is absolutely false, and I am making that denial here.
Furthermore, as to the denial that ethical private property anarchism can function properly, the same protest has been made for every invention and Improvement of mankind. There was a caveman who proclaimed loudly tens of thousands of years ago that the idea of a wheeled vehicle is absurd. Likewise, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, there were people that wished to maintain the institution of slavery because the concept of emancipation and a society without slaves had, and I quote, never been tried [before]. The same comments are now being made about people who, like me, are making that case that the institution of organized repression, theft through taxation, and obedience to gangs of voters, who violate the human rights of minorities, is not a system that a civilized being should submit to. Every new and wonderful advancement of humankind has been derided by people who feel comfortable with the matrix into which they were born. I do not personally blame you because you are not given a choice when these ideas were pounded into your head by means of the Prussian style factory school system that generates conformity and obedience in our society, but you should be aware that people are able to perceive this truth nonetheless. That is why I do not get angry about it. I, too, before I began to examine many of the premises that I absorbed as a child, shared many of these beliefs. It is just a matter of time before people can awaken themselves out of this slumber.
[Additional note] The idea that a conceptual entity has real existence is called the “reification fallacy.” It stems from Plato and his belief that concepts have an independent and superior existence that is more “real” than entities that exist on Earth, where such earthbound entities only reflect (imperfectly) the more-real reality of the divine forms/concepts that are the patterns for all things substantiated on the Earth. This fallacy was refuted (I use this word to mean “decisively disproven,” not merely disputed, or argued about) by the nominalists of the Middle Ages, primarily by Roscellinus of Compiegne and his followers. They demonstrated that our mental concepts, although very useful and necessary for humans to think in an abstract way, do not have an independent existence. Instead, they are merely puffs of air (flatus vocis). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscellinus
STATIST CLAIM #3: Your anarchy is a Utopia, in both senses of the word. It is as likely to occur as Atlantis is to be discovered.
LARRY’S RESPONSE: You are ripe for the picking! Actually, as you know, Utopia literally means no place. Those who are trying to pretend that the nature of mankind is otherwise are demanding a Utopia. We are simply trying to open people's eyes to the fact that the system of consent, unobstructed exchange -between human beings for goods and services, and a rule of non-aggression and non-molestation is the only one appropriate for human beings. We are making a case for a livable, even if imperfect world. It is those who are seeking perfection in the world, which we realize is not possible, that are seeking Utopia in its exact sense. On the link below, which provides access to a free PDF, you will be able to read on page 27 of the book "For a New Liberty," by Murray Rothbard, the basic theory of non-aggression and non-contradictory human rights. This chapter was one of the single most galvanizing experiences I have had as a human being in my entire life. It completely changed my worldview, and the footnotes provided by Murray Rothbard in this book and in his book "Ethics of Liberty" open up an entirely new world of ethical study which is guaranteed to change your life. The good contagion-cancer of freedom is already in your memory or in your ear, and it shall soon metastasize!
STATIST CLAIM #4: The single biggest flaw is that it does not take into account that people are people. Time to go to work.
LARRY’S RESPONSE: Actually, we are well aware of that concept. Consequently, since people are tempted to do bad things, we do not hand over Maximum Authority and the capability of coercion to people who are capable of doing evil with all of the Monopoly coercive powers of the state. That is why we prefer the ultimate decentralization of authority to the individual human being. We look with horror upon the centralization of coercive Authority in the hands of people who can do evil. In fact, we find it puzzling that people who openly acknowledge the flaws of human beings would put such power into the hands of such beings. It is just as Lord Acton stated about the concept of power corrupting. Since we are flawed individuals, we abhor the idea that one should put even more coercive power into the hands of such people rather than decentralizing it so that mistakes will be small and self-correcting rather than centralized and Unstoppable. The 20th century is a prime example of what occurs when power is centralized. The regimes of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Leninist Soviet Union, and Mao in China are examples of what occurs, and we are marching toward such centralization in the USSA at this very moment.
Let me make one request. You have said that I am a utopian. But I asked you to please look in the mirror and ask yourself if that does not much more accurately reflect your position. After all, the regimes of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler all promised a Utopia to the adherents of their ideology. And all of them shared the idea that the ends justify the means. We private property libertarians know very well from the examples of history that the ends are never achieved, and we also know that human beings are always subjected to the means. That is why we focus entirely on the means. That is why we forbid the act of aggression, which is the use of initiatory force. That is the means that we must live with. Since we now realize that a Central State simply cannot police itself, and it simply will not obey any laws it imposes on us, is it not utopian to expect a monopoly state to obey laws when it is indeed the only judge of whether it is obeying laws, and it is the final interpreter of all of these laws? Isn't that the mark of utopian belief? And since history has so many horrendous examples of such State Utopias engaging in mass murder, which we call Democide, is it not time for you to abandon the Utopia that you are proposing? And in this context, is it not clear that the libertarian private property anarchism idea is the only intellectually legitimate and consistent and noncontradictory alternative to such a utopian conception, which always devolves into a dystopia? This is a very important syllogism, and it deserves a good deal of consideration. It is particularly important at this time because we can see a polarization in our society between the nationalistic socialism of what is called the right, and the internationalist socialism of the Antifa left, both of which share a love of state-sponsored violence or aggression, which we Libertarians despise. And it is not a surprise that the first admirer of fascism in this country, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also imprisoned in concentration camps the Japanese population as he sought to emulate the regime of Mussolini in Italy and of Stalin in the USSR? And now, with the militarization of the police in the United States with their various forms of equipment from the battlefield, do we not see down the road what may very well lie in our future? This kind of movement in our country should give very serious pause to anyone who supports the conception of a centralized Monopoly State as opposed to the libertarian conception of individual freedom and voluntary Association. Rather than being considered extreme, it is the libertarian private property idea of voluntary relationship that is the middle way that avoids the extremes of the state by the left and the right. Our conception of consent and human dignity is the only one that is consistent in opposing the conflagration offered by both the left and the right.