The American Manifesto

by May 30, 2013 05/30/13
American Flag

I am a sovereign man, responsible for my own actions and their consequences. I am the supreme authority of my life, and I may do with it as I please. I hold this to be an inalienable right of my humanity, and I will not suffer it to be infringed upon.

I wish to assume the calculated risk, to wager my livelihood and well-being upon the decisions I make; I desire to test my skill and intelligence against all form and fashion of challenges. Danger is the spice and variety of life: all danger is simply risk, and I weigh the risks and pursue those that offer the highest return; whether that return be material gain, spiritual enlightenment, temporal pleasure or simply the euphoria of success.

I will neither ask for nor receive unearned handouts; I will trade value for value. I will work for what I own, and I will own what I work for. I abhor debt, considering it as merely a front for economic slavery. I do believe in the principles of capitalism, where one is rewarded according to his ability and productivity. I make money, not just gather it: producing products and services of value, squaring off against my competitors in an effort to win.

I am fiercely competitive, and proud of my country and myself. I strive to be the best I can be, not by pulling other people down and restraining them, but by striving to outdo them, to better them at every opportunity. I will not apologize for my ability, nor will I cower before any foe; I resolutely embrace my skills and intelligence, and use them to my best profit. It is my right to be uncommon, to walk the path less traveled by. I hold that if everyone were to work for their best interests while refraining from infringing upon others, then the competition would drive quality up and price down: that we would raise each other up, instead of pull each other down.

I choose my friends and company from among my betters, constantly seeking to improve myself. I maintain an inviolate sense of honor, my word is my bond: I deal with people in a straightforward way, expressing the truth, with tact, in all I do and say. I communicate precisely and simply, speaking and writing what I mean to convey exactly.

I neither impose my will upon others, nor do I forcefully oppose their will; if I choose to attempt to convert someone to my point of view, I use logos, swaying them through reason and immovable logic. I will readily yield to another point of view, maintaining an open mind, provided I am convinced through the use of persuasion that the other party is correct. I refuse to coerce or be coerced.

As the logical result of my economic and moral conscience, I believe in living under my means and preparing for a rainy day. I fix things myself. I become the master of my possessions, learning their inner workings and using them to best effect, not to be held in their thrall. I buy things of superlative quality, both for the item’s intrinsic value and because something made to such a high standard shows a mind and mentality such as mine.

I am always a student. I enjoy studying the literary works of great acclaim, apprenticing under the tutelage of a master in his trade, and exposing myself to fresh experiences. This does not mean I accept everything I come to understand, I apply myself to think critically and skeptically of all new material: keeping the grain and letting the wind blow the chaff away. I do not limit myself to any particular trade or subject, but seek out and delve into diverse topics.

Being responsible for my own fate, I do not deign to leave it in other people’s hands. I take it upon myself to acquire skills and knowledge that I can use to defend myself and those I love, and to give myself as much of an advantage in any situation as I can. I maintain a high level of awareness, both of my surroundings and myself. I respond decisively and with no apology to defend myself, my possessions or the lives of others.

I dress immaculately. I present myself with composed confidence, sure in myself, certain in my choices. I am tactful and good company, not to curry favor with others, but because anything less would be disgraceful and below the level at which I hold myself. When the time to work comes, I wear clothes whose form is expressed in flawless function.

I do not dwell on that which is outside my control. I accept it and adjust accordingly: I am permanently flexible and perpetually stoic. I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

I consider religion a personal matter. Whatever I believe, I separate it from my politics and my judgment of others.

I voluntarily surrender a measure of my authority over myself to my government, which I hold to exist for the sole purpose of removing coercion as a viable means to achieve an end. I participate actively in the politics of my land, not as a method to raise myself above my peers or achieve a position of power, but to serve. I consider political service a necessary duty, not a career; I regard a large, intrusive government to be the greatest of all evils, because all that is required for it to succeed is for good men to do nothing. For this reason, I am a proponent of citizens being free to arm themselves, as they ought: the point of arming the populace is not pleasurable pastimes nor is it individual protection, the point is to empower the people. If the people have less force available to them than the government, then the government is free to coerce them. At that point, they are no longer citizens, they are now subjects.

I am an American. I own my life, the product of my labor and my mind. With these, I will contend with fate. I will not trade my freedom for a guaranteed existence. I am, therefore I think.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note:  Please join us in welcoming Wesley B. as a contributor on ITS Tactical. Wesley enjoys working with his hands and has spent the last 8 years in construction. He also enjoys working out and training.  We are proud to have met Wesley when he attended the Inaugural ITS Tactical Muster.


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MRay
MRay

This piece is an elaboration of Dean Alfange's "I Do Not Choose To Be a Common Man," or at least I believe it is, as the phrases and timbre of the sentences are very similar in style.

I Do Not Choose To Be a Common Man.

 

It is my right to be uncommon - if I can.

I seek opportunity-not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.

I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and succeed.

I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, "This I have Done!."

by Dean Alfange

DavidGuenthner1
DavidGuenthner1

Whenever I run into anti-government Christians, I ask them about Romans 13:1-5. I'd almost replace religion with spirituality in the writing, and I am a follower of Christ. Most of the new Testament is trying to explain the mistakes of their religious practises. One last thing, I'm not comfortable with the judgement statement. I know we all judge, but I think this document is all about trying to be better at all this stuff, and trying not to judge others is something I'm trying to do better. I wholeheartedly thank you for your words.

Wesley B
Wesley B

Thanks to all of you who appreciated this essay, your words are encouraging.  I have, since posting this and thinking more about it, made some changes: would anyone be interested in me posting the newer version here in the comments?


free_thinker: hedonism is actually the belief that pleasure is the highest or only good, and is definitely not something I espouse our believe in.  Also, I don't see where in the section of the Constitution you quoted there is anything socialist: if you believe the general welfare to mean "providing the general public with welfare", then I suggest you look up the definition of "welfare" from 1787, or as close to it as you can get.  It did not mean provide entitlements to the poor.  If you would like to have a civil discussion on the matter, I'd be happy to oblige.

Also, each paragraph begins with "I" to make a point; it is a fairly simple task to rewrite the manifesto with whatever pronoun you prefer, or none at all.  This is my manifesto as an American, and as such, I wrote it to myself, more or less ... it hasn't been modified.  But if you would like to suggest a change, I'll definitely consider it.

free_thinker
free_thinker

Who begins every sentence with "I"? 

Such gratuitous self-admiration has another name.  "Spoiled child"

The reality that a spoiled little boy is the author for such a shallow and egomaniacal manifesto was expected.  

Hi Wes.         

free_thinker
free_thinker

Absolute individual freedom to seek pleasure and profit, otherwise known as hedonism, is not and has never been an American ideal. It is the Ayn Rand kool-aid, and it is quite toxic.

The actual Constitution is quite Socialist and Libertarian at the same time:

"We the people of the US, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, .."

Socialism...YIKES!  It's in the fucking constitution.  Well, can't we be activists like Scalia and ignore this reality?

We can!  All we need to do is call ourselves "originalists" and the label will become the perception. 



JenniferAnnM
JenniferAnnM

This was amazing! I'm the same age and even I'm impressed at someone so young writing this.

joe
joe

Nice manifesto Wesley and welcome. I always enjoy ITS discussions.

Kris
Kris

Well done Wesley! Way to represent yourself! I wish more 22 year old people had thought as much about themselves as you obviously have about yourself. Glad to have met you last year. Good luck in your endeavors!

The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project
The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project

I have always enjoyed reading these posts. they are what help me through a day when I am having a rough day.

Wesley, you might think about making this into a audio file of some kind for download. If you do I would like an update.

The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project
The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project

I have always enjoyed reading these posts. they are what help me through a day when I am having a rough day. Wesley, you might think about making this into a audio file of some kind for download. If you do I would like an update.

Matt
Matt

Thank you for sharing this. I hope it's words and intent awaken and ignite the fire in more of our fellow Americans. I wish others would heed its words and embark on a journey that would increase there personal quality.

Thank you ITS

Semper Fi

Matt
Matt

Thank you for sharing this. I hope it's words and intent awaken and ignite the fire in more of our fellow Americans. I wish others would heed its words and embark on a journey that would increase there personal quality. Thank you ITS Semper Fi

Chris
Chris

Wesley, I don't know if you have ever seen the poster from the website Holstee called the Manifesto, but people buy it and put it on their walls. My wife has one in her office.

I believe if you were to print most of this on a poster I bet a lot of like minded folks would consider buying it. I just wanted to say nice job and I found it to be a very good read.

Chris
Chris

Wesley, I don't know if you have ever seen the poster from the website Holstee called the Manifesto, but people buy it and put it on their walls. My wife has one in her office. I believe if you were to print most of this on a poster I bet a lot of like minded folks would consider buying it. I just wanted to say nice job and I found it to be a very good read.

Scotty
Scotty

To Wesley and David,

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion I just read, it is always great to see well spoken (or written) individuals in a thoughtful respectful discussion (thank you ITS for the platform as well!).

Just a note; although it has a few slightly different definitions "anarchy" in it's most plain definition is the absence of government. That's all. Which by the way an absence of government is only one step away from minimal government which very many patriots are so fond of voicing their desires about lately as a solution to THE problem.

I am not a proponent of anarchism, I just want to be sure people understand the political terms they use and the difference between what they mean and what they imply. Specifically with "anarchy" I believe it has a negative connotation in the main stream only the same way that "militia" does. (Thanks media)

Like you, I only comment in respect, hoping to have a polite discussion.

Thanks for the comments so far! I love this site!

Scotty
Scotty

To Wesley and David, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion I just read, it is always great to see well spoken (or written) individuals in a thoughtful respectful discussion (thank you ITS for the platform as well!). Just a note; although it has a few slightly different definitions "anarchy" in it's most plain definition is the absence of government. That's all. Which by the way an absence of government is only one step away from minimal government which very many patriots are so fond of voicing their desires about lately as a solution to THE problem. I am not a proponent of anarchism, I just want to be sure people understand the political terms they use and the difference between what they mean and what they imply. Specifically with "anarchy" I believe it has a negative connotation in the main stream only the same way that "militia" does. (Thanks media) Like you, I only comment in respect, hoping to have a polite discussion. Thanks for the comments so far! I love this site!

Scotty
Scotty

Outstanding... Outstanding.

Ragnar Danneskjold
Ragnar Danneskjold

Superfluous means redundant and unnecessary. Not exceptional. Seems an odd adjective to use.

Other than that, great manifesto.

Ragnar Danneskjold
Ragnar Danneskjold

Superfluous means redundant and unnecessary. Not exceptional. Seems an odd adjective to use. Other than that, great manifesto.

David
David

Overall, I agree with the manifesto. I do take some issue with the second-to-last paragraph.

Here's how I would rewrite it (I am not trying to pick a fight, just to pick a discussion).

I begrudgingly surrender a measure of my authority over myself to my government under duress, which I hold to exist for the sole purpose coercion to achieve an unethical end. I participate actively in the politics of my land, not as a method to raise myself above my peers or achieve a position of power, but to attempt to free myself and my fellow man. I consider political service a unnecessary evil, not a career; I regard government to be the greatest of all evils, particularly a large, intrusive one, because "the object of power is power," (1984), and "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (John Dalberg-Acton). For this reason, I am a proponent of citizens being free. Most importantly, free to arm themselves, as they ought: the point of arming the populace is not pleasurable pastimes nor is it individual protection, the point is to empower the people. If the people have less force available to them than the government, then the government is free to coerce them. At that point, they are no longer citizens, they are now slaves (see Rollback by Tom Woods).

I realize that this viewpoint rubs basically everybody the wrong way, but I believe that this causes the second-to-last paragraph to be philosophically in line with the others. Remember that the manifesto mentions keeping an open mind and thinking critically on new material. To drive the point home, I encourage you to think of anybody who comes to power in politics. Do you think to yourself, "There's a righteous, ethical, moral, human. This person wants this job just to do good, and is actually smart enough to recognize what good is," or do you think, "At least he's not that other guy." When you necessarily have corrupt leaders, then your government is necessarily evil. Even nice leaders will pave the road to hell with their good intentions: welfare programs that strangle the private sector, foreign aid that eventually ends up in the hands of corrupt warlords, etc.

Again, the remainder of the manifesto is clearly written and ethically correct, and if more people would adhere to it, maybe government wouldn't be such a bad thing...

David
David

Overall, I agree with the manifesto. I do take some issue with the second-to-last paragraph. Here's how I would rewrite it (I am not trying to pick a fight, just to pick a discussion). I begrudgingly surrender a measure of my authority over myself to my government under duress, which I hold to exist for the sole purpose coercion to achieve an unethical end. I participate actively in the politics of my land, not as a method to raise myself above my peers or achieve a position of power, but to attempt to free myself and my fellow man. I consider political service a unnecessary evil, not a career; I regard government to be the greatest of all evils, particularly a large, intrusive one, because "the object of power is power," (1984), and "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (John Dalberg-Acton). For this reason, I am a proponent of citizens being free. Most importantly, free to arm themselves, as they ought: the point of arming the populace is not pleasurable pastimes nor is it individual protection, the point is to empower the people. If the people have less force available to them than the government, then the government is free to coerce them. At that point, they are no longer citizens, they are now slaves (see Rollback by Tom Woods). I realize that this viewpoint rubs basically everybody the wrong way, but I believe that this causes the second-to-last paragraph to be philosophically in line with the others. Remember that the manifesto mentions keeping an open mind and thinking critically on new material. To drive the point home, I encourage you to think of anybody who comes to power in politics. Do you think to yourself, "There's a righteous, ethical, moral, human. This person wants this job just to do good, and is actually smart enough to recognize what good is," or do you think, "At least he's not that other guy." When you necessarily have corrupt leaders, then your government is necessarily evil. Even nice leaders will pave the road to hell with their good intentions: welfare programs that strangle the private sector, foreign aid that eventually ends up in the hands of corrupt warlords, etc. Again, the remainder of the manifesto is clearly written and ethically correct, and if more people would adhere to it, maybe government wouldn't be such a bad thing...

Gunny Doug
Gunny Doug

Wesley,

1st, I understand that this is *your* manifesto. As such, reading it as a personal belief helps the individual undertstand that context.

I, too, had a small stutter step when it came to the paragraph on religion. Our *faith* is the lense through which we see the world and the compass by which we plot our course. One can be very religious on any number of beliefs or actions but have no faith. Ever had a "By the Book" leader that had no faith in his unit to accomplish any mission without his direct and overly involved participation?

I now see the benefit of drafting up my own manifesto. Perhaps longer, perhaps shorter, but a personal code that I adhere to and my true friends can hold me accountable to abide by.

Well done and thank you for giving us a very in depth view on who Wesley B is and strives to be.

Gunny Doug
Gunny Doug

Wesley, 1st, I understand that this is *your* manifesto. As such, reading it as a personal belief helps the individual undertstand that context. I, too, had a small stutter step when it came to the paragraph on religion. Our *faith* is the lense through which we see the world and the compass by which we plot our course. One can be very religious on any number of beliefs or actions but have no faith. Ever had a "By the Book" leader that had no faith in his unit to accomplish any mission without his direct and overly involved participation? I now see the benefit of drafting up my own manifesto. Perhaps longer, perhaps shorter, but a personal code that I adhere to and my true friends can hold me accountable to abide by. Well done and thank you for giving us a very in depth view on who Wesley B is and strives to be.

martino
martino

Wow. On the surface it sounds very.....motivational? Uplifting...? But when you start to mull it over, more carefully and research some of the meaning behind what you write it sounds very....I don't know what the right word is, like, self-pride almost...? Worldly...? I dunno...It's something different though...

But...Seriously? ...You wrote this? All of it?

What about the line from Invictus...? "I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul"...? OK, it wasn't a complete rip off but it leaves no doubt...

Anyway...You do realize a major portion of what you wrote here kinda goes directly against what Biblically founded Christianity teaches eh? That God is really the captain of your soul and reliance and trust in him not in yourself is kind of key huh? I'm not trying to "preach" to you, it just seems to be extremely hippocritical (and I'm not saying I am without flaws or anything like that, I'm just giving you feedback, hope you or anyone else reading this isn't offended but takes a deeper look at what you're saying about yourself here).

martino
martino

Wow. On the surface it sounds very.....motivational? Uplifting...? But when you start to mull it over, more carefully and research some of the meaning behind what you write it sounds very....I don't know what the right word is, like, self-pride almost...? Worldly...? I dunno...It's something different though... But...Seriously? ...You wrote this? All of it? What about the line from Invictus...? "I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul"...? OK, it wasn't a complete rip off but it leaves no doubt... Anyway...You do realize a major portion of what you wrote here kinda goes directly against what Biblically founded Christianity teaches eh? That God is really the captain of your soul and reliance and trust in him not in yourself is kind of key huh? I'm not trying to "preach" to you, it just seems to be extremely hippocritical (and I'm not saying I am without flaws or anything like that, I'm just giving you feedback, hope you or anyone else reading this isn't offended but takes a deeper look at what you're saying about yourself here).

spuppets4
spuppets4

@DavidGuenthner1  Leave out your own personal religion in commentary unless your in church or it's a private conversation lest you offend no one. Americans are Americans period, religion does not matter. Universal god just translates to Good Orderly Direction in everything we do. Period!

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Scotty,

I'm glad you enjoyed it, hopefully you saw something new or at least something that caused you to ponder and think over it.

I meant anarchy in the purest sense, simply a land without government ... as Orwell's 1984 so clearly shows, changing a language changes the way people think, so I make a point to speak as precisely and accurately as possible; my Dad also predestined me to be an English grammar and mechanics nazi, as he named me Wesley WEBSTER B ...

P.S. On that note, I apologize for the small typos and errors in my posts; I am typing all of this on a tablet, as I don't have a computer at the moment, and the software leaves something to be desired.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Scotty, I'm glad you enjoyed it, hopefully you saw something new or at least something that caused you to ponder and think over it. I meant anarchy in the purest sense, simply a land without government ... as Orwell's 1984 so clearly shows, changing a language changes the way people think, so I make a point to speak as precisely and accurately as possible; my Dad also predestined me to be an English grammar and mechanics nazi, as he named me Wesley WEBSTER B ... P.S. On that note, I apologize for the small typos and errors in my posts; I am typing all of this on a tablet, as I don't have a computer at the moment, and the software leaves something to be desired.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Ragnar,

Great name. And that would be a typo, thank you for pointing it out: that should have read "superlative quality."

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Ragnar, Great name. And that would be a typo, thank you for pointing it out: that should have read "superlative quality."

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

David,

I appreciate the time you put into your reply, and I'm happy to have a discussion on any topic you choose ... but I don't completely understand your points. Perhaps you would answer a couple questions of mine so I understand more thoroughly? Here they are:

1: The second clause of the first sentence in your revised paragraph seems to be missing some key words, would you please check it?

2: You say that "government is the greatest of all evils", and that you consider political service an "unnecessary evil". That logically leads to your belief that moral persons ought not to participate in politics, which leads to your assertion that we "necessarily have corrupt leaders", but at the end of your post, you say that if more people abided by the ethics laid forth in my manifesto (i.e. were moral people), that would help solve the problem of government. There is a disconnect here: if you believe that government is the greatest evil, then you are espousing anarchy (the result of no government); please explain to me how anarchy is superior to a well governed (heck, even a poorly governed) country?

3: Another question building off of query #2: if you believe that the way to heal an unhealthy government is by the actions of moral men (as I established above), and yet you believe that moral men have no place to participate in government because it is an "unnecessary evil", then how will government ever be healed? The classic examples of George Washington and Cincinnatus as models of moral men holding absolute (or nearly so) power and giving it up show that good men can assume the mantle of authority without dying to their moral code. As such, I'd like to know what you think: should moral men participate in the political process?

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

David, I appreciate the time you put into your reply, and I'm happy to have a discussion on any topic you choose ... but I don't completely understand your points. Perhaps you would answer a couple questions of mine so I understand more thoroughly? Here they are: 1: The second clause of the first sentence in your revised paragraph seems to be missing some key words, would you please check it? 2: You say that "government is the greatest of all evils", and that you consider political service an "unnecessary evil". That logically leads to your belief that moral persons ought not to participate in politics, which leads to your assertion that we "necessarily have corrupt leaders", but at the end of your post, you say that if more people abided by the ethics laid forth in my manifesto (i.e. were moral people), that would help solve the problem of government. There is a disconnect here: if you believe that government is the greatest evil, then you are espousing anarchy (the result of no government); please explain to me how anarchy is superior to a well governed (heck, even a poorly governed) country? 3: Another question building off of query #2: if you believe that the way to heal an unhealthy government is by the actions of moral men (as I established above), and yet you believe that moral men have no place to participate in government because it is an "unnecessary evil", then how will government ever be healed? The classic examples of George Washington and Cincinnatus as models of moral men holding absolute (or nearly so) power and giving it up show that good men can assume the mantle of authority without dying to their moral code. As such, I'd like to know what you think: should moral men participate in the political process?

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Gunny Doug,

I agree, faith is the compass that directs our path. But it is just that, it should only direct OUR path. We can attempt to show others the attraction and benefit of our chosen path, but legislating (forcing) our way to conformity with our particular set of ideals is at best a false victory and immoral. I believe I have rather thoroughly stated my views on the subject in my above comments, so I won't reiterate them. But if you (or anyone else) still takes issue with them, please do chime in and I'll try to elucidate further.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Gunny Doug, I agree, faith is the compass that directs our path. But it is just that, it should only direct OUR path. We can attempt to show others the attraction and benefit of our chosen path, but legislating (forcing) our way to conformity with our particular set of ideals is at best a false victory and immoral. I believe I have rather thoroughly stated my views on the subject in my above comments, so I won't reiterate them. But if you (or anyone else) still takes issue with them, please do chime in and I'll try to elucidate further.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Martino,

First of all, I am not offended by anything you said: how could I ask for thoughtful criticism and then get aggravated when you give me some? That wouldn't make sense, haha ... that really would make me a hypocrite. Anyway, on to your post ...

In a way, my manifesto is prideful: shouldn't I strive to act in such a way that I am proud of myself and my accomplishments? We're told as children to "take pride in our work", and isn't our greatest work our lives themselves? Even though I wrote this manifesto, I do not yet live all of its precepts as thoroughly as I desire; I to am not perfect. But as Todd Louis Green's (Todd is the guy from pistol-training.com) dad said "if it isn't perfect, make it better." That's all I'm trying to do: make myself and hopefully America a little bit better.

I did indeed write all of this; but you are correct in that I was influenced by many sources, Invictus being one of them. I consider that particular quote c

ommon knowledge (which it is, as evidenced by your recognition of it), and I therefore did not cite it per the following guideline (scroll down to the last section):

http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page342055

I disagree with your final point, that my manifesto is diametrically opposed to my Christian faith; here's why: as the captain of my soul, I have the supreme authority to do what I please with my soul. In my case, I have chosen to subject it (and therefore myself) to God as my Lord and Savior ... but that was my choice to make. Just as a man decides to subordinate himself to his government by enlisting in the military is under the authority and control of said government until it releases him, so also am I under the authority and control of the Lord.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Martino, First of all, I am not offended by anything you said: how could I ask for thoughtful criticism and then get aggravated when you give me some? That wouldn't make sense, haha ... that really would make me a hypocrite. Anyway, on to your post ... In a way, my manifesto is prideful: shouldn't I strive to act in such a way that I am proud of myself and my accomplishments? We're told as children to "take pride in our work", and isn't our greatest work our lives themselves? Even though I wrote this manifesto, I do not yet live all of its precepts as thoroughly as I desire; I to am not perfect. But as Todd Louis Green's (Todd is the guy from pistol-training.com) dad said "if it isn't perfect, make it better." That's all I'm trying to do: make myself and hopefully America a little bit better. I did indeed write all of this; but you are correct in that I was influenced by many sources, Invictus being one of them. I consider that particular quote c ommon knowledge (which it is, as evidenced by your recognition of it), and I therefore did not cite it per the following guideline (scroll down to the last section): http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page342055 I disagree with your final point, that my manifesto is diametrically opposed to my Christian faith; here's why: as the captain of my soul, I have the supreme authority to do what I please with my soul. In my case, I have chosen to subject it (and therefore myself) to God as my Lord and Savior ... but that was my choice to make. Just as a man decides to subordinate himself to his government by enlisting in the military is under the authority and control of said government until it releases him, so also am I under the authority and control of the Lord.

DavidGuenthner1
DavidGuenthner1

You ask me to leave out my opinion, but then throw in your own. Ha!

Devin
Devin

Wesley,

First, great write up. It expresses ideals I learned in the Boy Scouts as well as formative learning of philosophy concepts while in college. By the way, I appreciate the play on the quote from DesCartes' Method of Doubt.

Second, and to the purpose of the comment, as for your tablet problems I would recommend one of the many Bluetooth and wired keyboards available from online retailers. I have seen soke that work with many models of tablet. I cannot recommend one specifically as I do not know the device your are using. If it runs Android,you could also try the Swype keyboard application.

Devin
Devin

Wesley, First, great write up. It expresses ideals I learned in the Boy Scouts as well as formative learning of philosophy concepts while in college. By the way, I appreciate the play on the quote from DesCartes' Method of Doubt. Second, and to the purpose of the comment, as for your tablet problems I would recommend one of the many Bluetooth and wired keyboards available from online retailers. I have seen soke that work with many models of tablet. I cannot recommend one specifically as I do not know the device your are using. If it runs Android,you could also try the Swype keyboard application.

David
David

Wesley,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will try to clarify my points.

1: I see how that is unclear. That is what I get for having no editing process. It should read that I believe that any government works only through coercion and accomplishes nothing good enough to make up for their coercive means.

2: First, I think I should support my statements in question a little. Governments all over the world are responsible for unnecessary wars, economic sanctions that starve innocent civilians, genocide, political murder, forced relocation, an so much more. I think we are talking about the U.S. government (since no one here would condone surrendering a portion of their own self-ownership to the Taliban Emirate, or Assad's government...).

The U.S. government is involved in several unnecessary wars (no WMDs were in Iraq, 'bin Laden is dead and they're still in Afghanistan and doing drone strikes in Pakistan), economic sanctions (Iran), political murder (16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and his 17-year-old U.S. citizen cousin). That is not to mention past crimes: unnecessarily nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using economic sanctions on Japan before WW2 even started, intentionally destroying the American Bison population to starve the natives, starting the war of Northern Aggression because several states had chosen to secede...

Even aside from the various forms of murder listed above, any government requires obedience to it's codes (no matter how absurd) and payment into it's coffers. Don't obey or don't pay, and you will suffer their violence. This holds true even for non-crimes like operating a motor vehicle or a firearm without the state's permission. In your manifesto, you note that "I neither impose my will upon others, nor do I forcefully oppose their will," and, "I refuse to coerce or be coerced." Why does the same not apply to the government? What about using the government's monopoly on force to impose on others?

I consider the idea of a government who's only capability is to arbitrate contract disputes and try real crimes (involving an injured party and someone who actually caused the injury) to be mostly legitimate. That is called minarchism. There is not a huge difference between that and anarcho-capitalism (as Scotty noted).

Now, finally, to your questions: "That logically leads to your belief that moral persons ought not participate in politics, ... [but] you say that if more people abode by the ethics laid forth in my manifesto, that would help solve the problem of government." So let's assume we're all on the same page here and we all agree that the government is evil and that political service (which I read as serving the government) is evil. There is definitely a way for people to participate in politics without serving the government, and there are certainly people who hold political office who do not render a service to the government. So, a moral person may participate in politics, just not coercion.

"please explain to me how anarchy is superior to a well governed country." A well-governed country rests on the coercive nature of the government. Even my minarchist example above requires the assumption of jurisdiction of the government over the individual, and probably kidnapping (arrest) or forced relocation (exile or deportation) in the event that someone does not obey. Anarchy is the state of being free of institutionalized coercion, or, more simply, the free market. The will of the members of the market is expressed through their production and consumption, rather than through edicts and riot gear. People hear anarchy and think of Somalia or the wild west. I like to remind people that Somalia has several governments (each warlord, and each member state of the UN), and that the wild west was not so wild (Terry Anderson's "Not So Wild, Wild West"). To me, theoretically, anarchy is better than "archy". I am not aware of any truly anarchic large society (so that's why this is theoretical), but think about a group of men (and maybe women) going hunting. They all go to their hunting lodge, far from the rest of civilization. They are all armed, and they all have individual conflicting interests (the best deer stand). Somehow they all make it back in one piece even though no one was there to police them. This story is true for many people, world-wide, constantly. Maybe for a large society this just doesn't work. I can't provide data, since I am not aware of a large anarchic society. But I believe that people are capable enough to conduct themselves through contract between equals rather than edict from master to slave.

3: There's the tough part. There will always be corrupt coercive people seeking positions of power over others. What is a moral man to do? I believe a moral person should flesh out exactly what it means to be moral, as you have done. I believe that person should always act in accordance with morality (subjective), and ethics (objective). Ethics is easy: don't initiate violence or threat. If you can become a prominent politician without violence or threat, reduce the destructive burden of taxation, regulation, and war on your countrymen without violence or threat, not be eventually corrupted by the political power, and all of what you do is in line with your personal moral system, then I say, "go for it." Working in government to reduce government is a reasonable thing to do. Voting for someone who will work to reduce government and is not willing to use violence or threat while doing so is also reasonable.

Based on my idea of morality, there are many other ways to participate or not. You could continue to be as productive as possible (part of your manifesto). You could try to educate others about morality and ethics (what you and I are doing). You could refuse to deal with government at all (this is impractical due to the violent nature of government - don't believe me? stop paying property tax, and see what happens to your home.) You could relocate to a place that will limit your exposure to government (Pilgrims, Quakers, pioneers, etc.).

I personally wish to limit my exposure to government. As soon as you are dealing with the bureaucracy, you are in damage control mode, since they are already wasting your productive time. I would do this by living outside an incorporated city, so I don't have to worry about ordinances and am farther away from people looking for planning or code violations. My house would not visible from the street or my neighbors, so no one reports suspicious behavior when I make diesel from recycled plastic. I would live in one of the states that taxes less and respects liberty more.

David
David

Wesley, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will try to clarify my points. 1: I see how that is unclear. That is what I get for having no editing process. It should read that I believe that any government works only through coercion and accomplishes nothing good enough to make up for their coercive means. 2: First, I think I should support my statements in question a little. Governments all over the world are responsible for unnecessary wars, economic sanctions that starve innocent civilians, genocide, political murder, forced relocation, an so much more. I think we are talking about the U.S. government (since no one here would condone surrendering a portion of their own self-ownership to the Taliban Emirate, or Assad's government...). The U.S. government is involved in several unnecessary wars (no WMDs were in Iraq, 'bin Laden is dead and they're still in Afghanistan and doing drone strikes in Pakistan), economic sanctions (Iran), political murder (16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and his 17-year-old U.S. citizen cousin). That is not to mention past crimes: unnecessarily nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using economic sanctions on Japan before WW2 even started, intentionally destroying the American Bison population to starve the natives, starting the war of Northern Aggression because several states had chosen to secede... Even aside from the various forms of murder listed above, any government requires obedience to it's codes (no matter how absurd) and payment into it's coffers. Don't obey or don't pay, and you will suffer their violence. This holds true even for non-crimes like operating a motor vehicle or a firearm without the state's permission. In your manifesto, you note that "I neither impose my will upon others, nor do I forcefully oppose their will," and, "I refuse to coerce or be coerced." Why does the same not apply to the government? What about using the government's monopoly on force to impose on others? I consider the idea of a government who's only capability is to arbitrate contract disputes and try real crimes (involving an injured party and someone who actually caused the injury) to be mostly legitimate. That is called minarchism. There is not a huge difference between that and anarcho-capitalism (as Scotty noted). Now, finally, to your questions: "That logically leads to your belief that moral persons ought not participate in politics, ... [but] you say that if more people abode by the ethics laid forth in my manifesto, that would help solve the problem of government." So let's assume we're all on the same page here and we all agree that the government is evil and that political service (which I read as serving the government) is evil. There is definitely a way for people to participate in politics without serving the government, and there are certainly people who hold political office who do not render a service to the government. So, a moral person may participate in politics, just not coercion. "please explain to me how anarchy is superior to a well governed country." A well-governed country rests on the coercive nature of the government. Even my minarchist example above requires the assumption of jurisdiction of the government over the individual, and probably kidnapping (arrest) or forced relocation (exile or deportation) in the event that someone does not obey. Anarchy is the state of being free of institutionalized coercion, or, more simply, the free market. The will of the members of the market is expressed through their production and consumption, rather than through edicts and riot gear. People hear anarchy and think of Somalia or the wild west. I like to remind people that Somalia has several governments (each warlord, and each member state of the UN), and that the wild west was not so wild (Terry Anderson's "Not So Wild, Wild West"). To me, theoretically, anarchy is better than "archy". I am not aware of any truly anarchic large society (so that's why this is theoretical), but think about a group of men (and maybe women) going hunting. They all go to their hunting lodge, far from the rest of civilization. They are all armed, and they all have individual conflicting interests (the best deer stand). Somehow they all make it back in one piece even though no one was there to police them. This story is true for many people, world-wide, constantly. Maybe for a large society this just doesn't work. I can't provide data, since I am not aware of a large anarchic society. But I believe that people are capable enough to conduct themselves through contract between equals rather than edict from master to slave. 3: There's the tough part. There will always be corrupt coercive people seeking positions of power over others. What is a moral man to do? I believe a moral person should flesh out exactly what it means to be moral, as you have done. I believe that person should always act in accordance with morality (subjective), and ethics (objective). Ethics is easy: don't initiate violence or threat. If you can become a prominent politician without violence or threat, reduce the destructive burden of taxation, regulation, and war on your countrymen without violence or threat, not be eventually corrupted by the political power, and all of what you do is in line with your personal moral system, then I say, "go for it." Working in government to reduce government is a reasonable thing to do. Voting for someone who will work to reduce government and is not willing to use violence or threat while doing so is also reasonable. Based on my idea of morality, there are many other ways to participate or not. You could continue to be as productive as possible (part of your manifesto). You could try to educate others about morality and ethics (what you and I are doing). You could refuse to deal with government at all (this is impractical due to the violent nature of government - don't believe me? stop paying property tax, and see what happens to your home.) You could relocate to a place that will limit your exposure to government (Pilgrims, Quakers, pioneers, etc.). I personally wish to limit my exposure to government. As soon as you are dealing with the bureaucracy, you are in damage control mode, since they are already wasting your productive time. I would do this by living outside an incorporated city, so I don't have to worry about ordinances and am farther away from people looking for planning or code violations. My house would not visible from the street or my neighbors, so no one reports suspicious behavior when I make diesel from recycled plastic. I would live in one of the states that taxes less and respects liberty more.

martino
martino

Wow, the attitude here is astounding! No flames or anything like that and a very understanding series of threads. This is unheard of on the internet, LOL.

(perhaps that's thanks to the moderator screening them out!)

I guess I saw the line from Invictus and other parts that sounded kind of "full of myself" while reading it the first and only time and they jumped out at me and screamed "my-way theology - me, me, me, I, I, I" but after re-reading it more carefully and scanning through some of the comments I think I get it (but only sort-of kind-of). You're just laying out your values and ethics and putting some nice words around it. It reads nice, I will agree and does encourage for sure. But every time I start to think that way I feel like I'm swelling my head up (hence the fear of being too prideful).

I wish I had more time to go through this more thoroughly but I think you are well meaning and good intentioned here with what you've explained however I'm thinking you haven't fully given control to God of your soul because you still see yourself as the captain ;o)

Back to pride though...Right. Not that pride, the other pride. The one that is bad (with a green shirt and white sneakers over there in the corner - yea, him!). Know what I mean? Too much pride...Y'know.

martino
martino

Wow, the attitude here is astounding! No flames or anything like that and a very understanding series of threads. This is unheard of on the internet, LOL. (perhaps that's thanks to the moderator screening them out!) I guess I saw the line from Invictus and other parts that sounded kind of "full of myself" while reading it the first and only time and they jumped out at me and screamed "my-way theology - me, me, me, I, I, I" but after re-reading it more carefully and scanning through some of the comments I think I get it (but only sort-of kind-of). You're just laying out your values and ethics and putting some nice words around it. It reads nice, I will agree and does encourage for sure. But every time I start to think that way I feel like I'm swelling my head up (hence the fear of being too prideful). I wish I had more time to go through this more thoroughly but I think you are well meaning and good intentioned here with what you've explained however I'm thinking you haven't fully given control to God of your soul because you still see yourself as the captain ;o) Back to pride though...Right. Not that pride, the other pride. The one that is bad (with a green shirt and white sneakers over there in the corner - yea, him!). Know what I mean? Too much pride...Y'know.

Devin
Devin

Sorry for the typo. Meant "..some that work.." and "..you are using.." I appear to be having tablet woes myself.

David
David

Excellent response! Yes, it was definitely clear enough to follow. Now, I'll get right to it.

Your second paragraph, on up until the end of the batman story are illustrating the difference between violence or threat, and coercion (aggression, initiation of violence or threat, abrogation of rights...). I believe we are completely in agreement. Threat of violence in response to aggression is morally and ethically defensible, and down-right appropriate.

You have established that the proper role of government is to combat people who initiate violence (hard or soft), and to arbitrate disputes. While these are both noble professions, they are not exclusively the role of government. Anyone can arbitrate a dispute, and anyone can combat coercion. As I am a capitalist, I believe that competition and market-based pricing are always better than forced monopoly and price controls. In this case, forced monopoly is referring to the idea that there is only one set of laws, that they necessarily apply to everybody (even absurd laws necessarily apply to sovereigns such as yourself or myself), and that any laws are only created, enforced, and judged by one group of people - government. Price controls refers to that one group determining how much you MUST pay for certain "services", such as going to court, violating a law (different from committing a crime), "owning property" (if you have to pay to keep it, is it really yours to begin with? See wikipedia: allodial title). Don't get me wrong. If government were suddenly limited to non-aggressive military, defense of natural rights, and arbitrating disputes, I would be a very happy camper. I might actually stop using the word "evil" at that point. I'm just saying there are other options, and that they are probably better.

You mentioned the sheep, sheepdog, wolf argument, and linked to artofmanliness.

I agree that "wolves" do exist, and that "sheep" are not aware of the danger. The herding dogs (government) "bark at, nip, and stare down animals to keep them together and moving in a certain way" - moving the way that suits the herding dog, without much consideration for what the free, sovereign sheep want to do. The livestock guard dog is a member of the flock that just happens to eat wolves for breakfast. Certainly some roles that are considered exclusively government: cops and military, will attract the LGD type rather than the shepherd type, but I guarantee that I could train a great Pyrenees to perform herding tasks. Just the same, after years of enforcing petty laws that shouldn't exist, someone who was originally in it to promote peace and stop violence is no longer part of the flock, but instead just barking and nipping at the flock members. He's still capable of taking down the wolves, but he has become an annoyance to the sheep and the other sheepdogs.

Moving along... we had conflicting definitions of political service. I now understand your view of serving the people through the government. I was thinking serving the government in more of a, "we should regulate that, and we should tax this to increase revenue" type of sense. I agree that volunteering your productive time to unselfishly enrich the community is a good thing for the community and the individual. I believe that the market provides the best venues for this voluntary service, not the government. I agree that bureaucrats and military members do not have much say in what they do. For me, that's enough reason to avoid those professions. I can certainly take up arms if my land is under threat or being attacked, but I do not care to be used as a tool to enact some corrupt politician's pet policy. I agree that when a seat of power exists, and moral people do not vie for it, it will be taken by an immoral person. There are two ways to take care of the problem. Get more moral people interested, or remove the seat of power. If there is not power in politics, it doesn't attract the corrupt; it only attracts those who wish to actually serve.

But what about the case of two people vying for the same seat: one corrupt, one moral. The moral one is limited to fair tactics, but the corrupt one may use any mixture of fair and unfair tactics. I think this gives an advantage to the corrupt person, since the "sheep" do not scrutinize the "herding dog" candidates, even when one of them is a "wolf"! Certainly some moral people can win an unfair fight and take power, but I expect them to be in the minority (and voting records from congress prove my expectations right).

But let's further assume that only moral people take office. They don't all have the same value structure, and they each still have their pet group. Everyone is still trying to use their political power to fund their project. This turns into (new metaphor) two wolves and a sheep arguing over what's for dinner. Even when those in office are doing what they believe is right, they don't have all the information or wisdom to do what is objectively right.

If a supremely moral, wise, and knowledgeable person can take office, then great! Unfortunately, Jesus isn't on the ballot, so we are left with flawed goods. Certainly there are degrees of flaw, and less flawed is better. And if the goal is a healthy government, then yes, the most moral, informed, wise people available should take office. But if your goal is healthy, free society, then there is no need for political power - since political power attracts the immoral, and all that is required for them to prevail is that good men do nothing.

I know that it is impractical to remove power from the government, but (to me) it is only because the government amasses and hoards power. Compare the government described by the constitution to what you have today... I know that it doesn't tend to shrink. When I consider this reality, I concede, political service (as you define it) performed by moral, informed, wise people is relatively good. And if those people could manage use their power to chip away at the government's excessive authority, then so much the better!

I think some summary is in order.

We agree that it is the initiation of violence or threat that is bad. Violent defense is good.

We agree that smaller government is better, but you define a too small, whereas I do not.

We agree that moral people have at least an interest, and probably and obligation, to keep positions of power from corrupt people, but your preferred method is to put moral people in power, whereas mine is to remove power.

I have conceded that power removal is unlikely, but more likely in the event that moral people are in power.

I see a whole lot of common ground that I didn't notice before. I attribute much of that to your clear and thorough argumentation. Thanks for this.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Haha! Now this is what I call a discussion! Thank you David :) Now prepare yourself for The Great Wall of Text, because this one is a doozie.

I agree, a government only achieves its ends through the use of force (hard or soft: hard being physical force [i.e. arrest, imprisonment, etc]; soft meaning administrative/economic force (i.e. tax breaks or hikes, fines, forms in triplicate, etc]). However, I don't think that government is inherently evil; force itself is not immoral, it is the application of that force that determines its morality. Here is an example to illustrate my point: Bruce Wayne and his parents go see a late night theater production in the city. They decide to leave early, and when they exit into the side alley, a man confronts them with a gun and demands their money. Mr. Wayne complies under the obvious threat of force, but after he has turned over all his money, the crook shoots him and his wife. All of this in front of young, impressionable Bruce.

So? What does the Batman origin story have to do with the proper role of government? Quite a lot, actually. First, I'll use it to illustrate my point about how force itself is not immoral: the crook's actions were wrong because he used force and the threat of it to compel someone into doing something they would not have done otherwise. But let's change the story a tad, what if Mr. Wayne was carrying a G19 strong side, underneath his dress coat (let's assume for the sake of argument that he was proficient in the use and employment of his handgun, and that he trained regularly)? Then instead of losing both his money and his life (and his wife's), he would have been able to match force with force; indeed, he quite possibly may have ended up killing the crook in defense of himself and his loved ones. If Mr. Wayne had done so, would that have immoral? He used force, lethal force, against a man, resulting in the man's death ... but it was not immoral or unethical, because he only resorted to force to prevent/stop the illicit use of force. That's the first part of my argument: force is immoral if it is used to coerce a person (or group of people) into a course of action they would not have chosen otherwise; i.e. if said force is used to abrogate a person's inalienable right to do whatever they please with their property or themselves, whenever they decide to do it. However, if force is used to prevent or stop the violation of a person's rights, it is moral and correct.

Now we'll go back to the original story: Mr. and Mrs. Wayne get killed, the killer gets away. Here we find the proper role of government: to supply the force against the criminal when the victims cannot (in this case, because they are either dead or are a child). The government now ought to find the crook, and hold him accountable for the debt he has incurred to society (society deciding the proper payment of that debt through the formal process of a trial). This is my second point: the government's proper role in society is to combat all those who would violate the one cardinal right of man; that means foreign nations, petty pickpockets, serial killers, patent violators, rapists, and professional con men alike. Now, some of these crimes are "white collar crimes" where no one is physically injured, but that doesn't mean force wasn't immorally used. Perhaps force has not yet been used,: two sovereign citizens have a disagreement that they cannot resolve on their own, and before resorting to taking the matter into their own hands (that's my tree / NO, that's MY tree! / *first man charges second with a running chainsaw*), they go to a neutral party to arbitrate their dispute. That's why we have criminal and civil courts and a political organization and a military. All different forms of preventing or combating illicit coercion (at least when they are properly used).

Now, I've established what I think a proper government's job is, but I have yet to wax prolix on why I think government should exist in the first place: as you brought up in your most recent comment, most people are inherently good (the hunters didn't kill each other vying for the best deer hide). But, unfortunately, there are people who are not good ... are you familiar with Col Grossman's sheep-wolf-sheepdog metaphor? (If not, here is a link to a good description of it: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/05/14/are-you-a-sheep-or-sheepdog/ ). All those hunters were either sheep or sheepdogs, none were wolves; but the wolves do exist, and they are why we need a (small) government. Allow me to elaborate on my personal opinion of the spheres man is influenced in: there are three overlapping spheres of persuasion, which are moral, societal, and economic. These three correspond to Aristotle's pathos, ethos, and logos, respectively. There exist two more forms of influence: political and military; these are both forms of force, but that in and of itself does not mean they are immoral. Now I'll tie all this together to answer your points ...

You state that "political service (which I read as serving the government) is evil." First of all, I believe political service is service to the people by participating in government; serving the government would be anyone in the military or the political bureaucracy (my logic is the people in those fields carry out the choices of the politicians, without having much/any say in the matter). Politicians,on the other hand, are supposed to serve the people; corrupt people who take these positions attempt to serve themselves and their cliques, not the government. Government is merely their chosen vehicle for exploitation. Secondly, I do not believe such service is evil (nor is service to one's government, provided one serves a moral organization); in my opinion, political service is the highest duty and service to one's country and one's countrymen in particular.

As such, I believe it is the duty of moral men to be involved in politics; it's not optional. When moral men forget or dismiss this obligation, then politics becomes a viable means of garnering quick positional power for oneself (i.e. immoral men gravitate to it). The only way to have a small, moral government is by the actions and active participation of a moral constituency and political body. As has been said by many people, in many different ways, all that is required for evil to triumph is for good man to do nothing: that doesn't just apply to genocides and dictatorships, it applies here at home, too.

In the first paragraph of your third point, you state that if someone can become a politician after the pattern of Benjamin Franklin (I'm paraphrasing), then you say"go for it". That's the crux of the difference between our stances: you think such service is optional, I do not (at least, it's not optional if we want a healthy and robust government).

As I said, that was one heck of a wall of text! Hopefully it is still clear enough to follow.

David
David

Excellent response! Yes, it was definitely clear enough to follow. Now, I'll get right to it. Your second paragraph, on up until the end of the batman story are illustrating the difference between violence or threat, and coercion (aggression, initiation of violence or threat, abrogation of rights...). I believe we are completely in agreement. Threat of violence in response to aggression is morally and ethically defensible, and down-right appropriate. You have established that the proper role of government is to combat people who initiate violence (hard or soft), and to arbitrate disputes. While these are both noble professions, they are not exclusively the role of government. Anyone can arbitrate a dispute, and anyone can combat coercion. As I am a capitalist, I believe that competition and market-based pricing are always better than forced monopoly and price controls. In this case, forced monopoly is referring to the idea that there is only one set of laws, that they necessarily apply to everybody (even absurd laws necessarily apply to sovereigns such as yourself or myself), and that any laws are only created, enforced, and judged by one group of people - government. Price controls refers to that one group determining how much you MUST pay for certain "services", such as going to court, violating a law (different from committing a crime), "owning property" (if you have to pay to keep it, is it really yours to begin with? See wikipedia: allodial title). Don't get me wrong. If government were suddenly limited to non-aggressive military, defense of natural rights, and arbitrating disputes, I would be a very happy camper. I might actually stop using the word "evil" at that point. I'm just saying there are other options, and that they are probably better. You mentioned the sheep, sheepdog, wolf argument, and linked to artofmanliness. I agree that "wolves" do exist, and that "sheep" are not aware of the danger. The herding dogs (government) "bark at, nip, and stare down animals to keep them together and moving in a certain way" - moving the way that suits the herding dog, without much consideration for what the free, sovereign sheep want to do. The livestock guard dog is a member of the flock that just happens to eat wolves for breakfast. Certainly some roles that are considered exclusively government: cops and military, will attract the LGD type rather than the shepherd type, but I guarantee that I could train a great Pyrenees to perform herding tasks. Just the same, after years of enforcing petty laws that shouldn't exist, someone who was originally in it to promote peace and stop violence is no longer part of the flock, but instead just barking and nipping at the flock members. He's still capable of taking down the wolves, but he has become an annoyance to the sheep and the other sheepdogs. Moving along... we had conflicting definitions of political service. I now understand your view of serving the people through the government. I was thinking serving the government in more of a, "we should regulate that, and we should tax this to increase revenue" type of sense. I agree that volunteering your productive time to unselfishly enrich the community is a good thing for the community and the individual. I believe that the market provides the best venues for this voluntary service, not the government. I agree that bureaucrats and military members do not have much say in what they do. For me, that's enough reason to avoid those professions. I can certainly take up arms if my land is under threat or being attacked, but I do not care to be used as a tool to enact some corrupt politician's pet policy. I agree that when a seat of power exists, and moral people do not vie for it, it will be taken by an immoral person. There are two ways to take care of the problem. Get more moral people interested, or remove the seat of power. If there is not power in politics, it doesn't attract the corrupt; it only attracts those who wish to actually serve. But what about the case of two people vying for the same seat: one corrupt, one moral. The moral one is limited to fair tactics, but the corrupt one may use any mixture of fair and unfair tactics. I think this gives an advantage to the corrupt person, since the "sheep" do not scrutinize the "herding dog" candidates, even when one of them is a "wolf"! Certainly some moral people can win an unfair fight and take power, but I expect them to be in the minority (and voting records from congress prove my expectations right). But let's further assume that only moral people take office. They don't all have the same value structure, and they each still have their pet group. Everyone is still trying to use their political power to fund their project. This turns into (new metaphor) two wolves and a sheep arguing over what's for dinner. Even when those in office are doing what they believe is right, they don't have all the information or wisdom to do what is objectively right. If a supremely moral, wise, and knowledgeable person can take office, then great! Unfortunately, Jesus isn't on the ballot, so we are left with flawed goods. Certainly there are degrees of flaw, and less flawed is better. And if the goal is a healthy government, then yes, the most moral, informed, wise people available should take office. But if your goal is healthy, free society, then there is no need for political power - since political power attracts the immoral, and all that is required for them to prevail is that good men do nothing. I know that it is impractical to remove power from the government, but (to me) it is only because the government amasses and hoards power. Compare the government described by the constitution to what you have today... I know that it doesn't tend to shrink. When I consider this reality, I concede, political service (as you define it) performed by moral, informed, wise people is relatively good. And if those people could manage use their power to chip away at the government's excessive authority, then so much the better! I think some summary is in order. We agree that it is the initiation of violence or threat that is bad. Violent defense is good. We agree that smaller government is better, but you define a too small, whereas I do not. We agree that moral people have at least an interest, and probably and obligation, to keep positions of power from corrupt people, but your preferred method is to put moral people in power, whereas mine is to remove power. I have conceded that power removal is unlikely, but more likely in the event that moral people are in power. I see a whole lot of common ground that I didn't notice before. I attribute much of that to your clear and thorough argumentation. Thanks for this.

Wesley B.
Wesley B.

Haha! Now this is what I call a discussion! Thank you David :) Now prepare yourself for The Great Wall of Text, because this one is a doozie. I agree, a government only achieves its ends through the use of force (hard or soft: hard being physical force [i.e. arrest, imprisonment, etc]; soft meaning administrative/economic force (i.e. tax breaks or hikes, fines, forms in triplicate, etc]). However, I don't think that government is inherently evil; force itself is not immoral, it is the application of that force that determines its morality. Here is an example to illustrate my point: Bruce Wayne and his parents go see a late night theater production in the city. They decide to leave early, and when they exit into the side alley, a man confronts them with a gun and demands their money. Mr. Wayne complies under the obvious threat of force, but after he has turned over all his money, the crook shoots him and his wife. All of this in front of young, impressionable Bruce. So? What does the Batman origin story have to do with the proper role of government? Quite a lot, actually. First, I'll use it to illustrate my point about how force itself is not immoral: the crook's actions were wrong because he used force and the threat of it to compel someone into doing something they would not have done otherwise. But let's change the story a tad, what if Mr. Wayne was carrying a G19 strong side, underneath his dress coat (let's assume for the sake of argument that he was proficient in the use and employment of his handgun, and that he trained regularly)? Then instead of losing both his money and his life (and his wife's), he would have been able to match force with force; indeed, he quite possibly may have ended up killing the crook in defense of himself and his loved ones. If Mr. Wayne had done so, would that have immoral? He used force, lethal force, against a man, resulting in the man's death ... but it was not immoral or unethical, because he only resorted to force to prevent/stop the illicit use of force. That's the first part of my argument: force is immoral if it is used to coerce a person (or group of people) into a course of action they would not have chosen otherwise; i.e. if said force is used to abrogate a person's inalienable right to do whatever they please with their property or themselves, whenever they decide to do it. However, if force is used to prevent or stop the violation of a person's rights, it is moral and correct. Now we'll go back to the original story: Mr. and Mrs. Wayne get killed, the killer gets away. Here we find the proper role of government: to supply the force against the criminal when the victims cannot (in this case, because they are either dead or are a child). The government now ought to find the crook, and hold him accountable for the debt he has incurred to society (society deciding the proper payment of that debt through the formal process of a trial). This is my second point: the government's proper role in society is to combat all those who would violate the one cardinal right of man; that means foreign nations, petty pickpockets, serial killers, patent violators, rapists, and professional con men alike. Now, some of these crimes are "white collar crimes" where no one is physically injured, but that doesn't mean force wasn't immorally used. Perhaps force has not yet been used,: two sovereign citizens have a disagreement that they cannot resolve on their own, and before resorting to taking the matter into their own hands (that's my tree / NO, that's MY tree! / *first man charges second with a running chainsaw*), they go to a neutral party to arbitrate their dispute. That's why we have criminal and civil courts and a political organization and a military. All different forms of preventing or combating illicit coercion (at least when they are properly used). Now, I've established what I think a proper government's job is, but I have yet to wax prolix on why I think government should exist in the first place: as you brought up in your most recent comment, most people are inherently good (the hunters didn't kill each other vying for the best deer hide). But, unfortunately, there are people who are not good ... are you familiar with Col Grossman's sheep-wolf-sheepdog metaphor? (If not, here is a link to a good description of it: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/05/14/are-you-a-sheep-or-sheepdog/ ). All those hunters were either sheep or sheepdogs, none were wolves; but the wolves do exist, and they are why we need a (small) government. Allow me to elaborate on my personal opinion of the spheres man is influenced in: there are three overlapping spheres of persuasion, which are moral, societal, and economic. These three correspond to Aristotle's pathos, ethos, and logos, respectively. There exist two more forms of influence: political and military; these are both forms of force, but that in and of itself does not mean they are immoral. Now I'll tie all this together to answer your points ... You state that "political service (which I read as serving the government) is evil." First of all, I believe political service is service to the people by participating in government; serving the government would be anyone in the military or the political bureaucracy (my logic is the people in those fields carry out the choices of the politicians, without having much/any say in the matter). Politicians,on the other hand, are supposed to serve the people; corrupt people who take these positions attempt to serve themselves and their cliques, not the government. Government is merely their chosen vehicle for exploitation. Secondly, I do not believe such service is evil (nor is service to one's government, provided one serves a moral organization); in my opinion, political service is the highest duty and service to one's country and one's countrymen in particular. As such, I believe it is the duty of moral men to be involved in politics; it's not optional. When moral men forget or dismiss this obligation, then politics becomes a viable means of garnering quick positional power for oneself (i.e. immoral men gravitate to it). The only way to have a small, moral government is by the actions and active participation of a moral constituency and political body. As has been said by many people, in many different ways, all that is required for evil to triumph is for good man to do nothing: that doesn't just apply to genocides and dictatorships, it applies here at home, too. In the first paragraph of your third point, you state that if someone can become a politician after the pattern of Benjamin Franklin (I'm paraphrasing), then you say"go for it". That's the crux of the difference between our stances: you think such service is optional, I do not (at least, it's not optional if we want a healthy and robust government). As I said, that was one heck of a wall of text! Hopefully it is still clear enough to follow.

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