Evangelical Anarchism…or, “Why my friends think I’m a radical”

I was talking to my husband about political philosophy the other day (as we often do…don’t judge!), and I recognized something in myself that troubled me a little: I felt certain that I was defending a truth, and was therefore drawing a hard line in the sand and unwilling to compromise my position. I don’t even recall which particular issue we were discussing, but the point remains the same: I was utterly convinced of the truth of what I was saying, and that allowed me to defend it radically and passionately. This realization of what I was doing was troubling to me because I almost felt like a fanatic, and it’s very important to me that I remain humble and always seek further knowledge and growth. So, to recognize this happening in real-time was pretty eye-opening for me…I likened it to evangelical Christianity, and that was a surprising parallel…since we were talking anarchy and stuff.

Here’s why that attitude could be a problem (aside from just making you a jackass): When you’re positive that you’re right, limits on behavior, options, and courses of action may drastically change. What I mean is this: there is a veritable Pandora’s box that opens when someone absolutely believes in the correctness of their position, belief, worldview, etc. Do you truly believe that ‘the West’ is waging war on your holy land and religion? You might strongly consider becoming a suicide bomber or otherwise contributing to jihad. Do you truly believe that homosexuality is an abomination worse than murder? You might support legislation that locks up or otherwise isolates your gay and lesbian peers and colleagues for consensual behavior. Do you truly believe “my country, right or wrong?” You might support the Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party, or the blockade against Gaza, or making the world “safe for democracy” by engaging in endless war, etc, etc…you get the point.

Do you notice something in common with all of these examples? All of these actions impact others, often negatively. When you’re absolutely sure that your position is right, this might invite a willingness to oppress or aggress against others…for their “own good” or for “absolute” good. This is why being so sure of your convictions can be a slippery slope. (As a side note, check out this wonderful Ted Talk by Lesley Hazleton called “Is Doubt Essential to Faith?” Her talk is incredibly relevant, especially for those with a curiosity in religion.)

Here is why it can be incredibly valuable to stand firmly for your convictions: On the other hand, there is the popular phrase that “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” While the phrase itself is a little bit trite, the sentiment is accurate. History is full of men and women (most of whom we’ve probably never heard of) who have stood on the strength of their convictions at great personal cost. Some of those known to the world for firmly adhering to a principle are Gandhi, Joan of Arc, and Martin Luther King. Lesser-known examples: Henry David Thoreau (who went to jail based on his refusal to pay taxes to support the American-Mexican war & a slave nation), Private Eddie Slovik (executed for desertion during World War II), and Irwin Schiff (an American tax protestor who refuses to pay income tax on grounds that it is illegal and immoral).

Whether you’ve heard of these people or not, and regardless of whether you agree with their firmly-held principles, one thing is clear: each has made a powerful, impactful stand that has undoubtedly influenced others…simply by setting an example in the way they live their lives. There is a wonderful quote that I love: “there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” By the same token, there is nothing so powerful as witnessing someone follow their conscience, even when it costs much.

And finally, here is why I think that my position on anarchy is still a good one: So, we’ve discussed some of the dangers of being absolutely sure of your position, and some of the positive aspects of being absolutely sure of your position, and I’m still 99% sure that my worldview is correct…which allows me to be a evangelist for what I believe to be true! I suppose I had better make a good argument for why I feel ok drawing a hard line. Here goes:

The foundation of my worldview is these two points: that each person owns himself (the concept of self-sovereignty), and that the only justified use of force is in defense (read about the non-aggression principle here).

 

Everything I think about the world is framed through this lens. These two precepts are applicable to any human, anywhere in the world, at any time in history. Any person can follow these two principles, and neither principle compels a person to action. Recognizing self-ownership simply means understanding that each person has complete authority over their body, life, and labor. Non-aggression simply requires that a person refrain from certain actions – namely, those that infringe on the person or justly-acquired property of another. I’ve yet to find a better philosophy to govern human interaction.

Anarchism (by which I mean the Merriam-Webster definition: a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups) fits perfectly with the concepts of self-sovereignty and non-aggression. The State as we know it is not a voluntary cooperation (forget to pay your taxes?…that will cause some trouble), and forced association is everywhere you look (rather than free association).

Basically, the crux of the argument for a Stateless society, where any authority and government are voluntarily funded entities, boils down to this meme:libertarian anarchist The point is this: when you discover a truth, you feel compelled to live it, breathe it, share it, etc. Thus far, I believe I’ve found some truths in those two foundational principles, and therefore I’m a shameless evangelical anarchist. I forget who said it, but in the pursuit of justice or freedom, moderation is no virtue. So, yes, I may be ‘radical’ in my beliefs, and I may relentlessly cling to the concepts of self-ownership and non-aggression, but they are good ideas…and good ideas don’t require force. I aim simply to persuade.

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10 thoughts on “Evangelical Anarchism…or, “Why my friends think I’m a radical”

  1. Somewhere along the way, being “Evangelical” has become a sales pitch, a persuasive debate tactic, a police state on others. We’ve become so convinced in our version of the truth–standing on that truth–and bashing others with it till they either conform to our view or go away disgruntled by it. It’s a line in the sand that doesn’t allow doubt or conversation or relationships. It’s only clones of the “truth” are allowed inside the line.

    I’m with you. But, I’ll take my anarchy without the Evangelicalism at all anymore.

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    • Kim, I like your sentiment. I can’t remember the last time I was convinced of an argument by someone lording it over me (pun intended!). I also think there is a lot of value to be had in living your life in accordance with your philosophy – that is a far more compelling position than any argument.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what brought you to an anarchist worldview?

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  2. The quote you struggled to call up is Barry Goldwater’s, who said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

    By the way, I’m a pilot too–an ancient pelican, battle-scarred, eyebrows singed, veteran of the airline wars, with five bankrupt airlines on my resume, and >25,500 hours… now a UAL 767 Captain, by way of Continental Airlines, People Express Airlines, Ocean Airways, and Florida Airlines. Plus CFI in Germany for a US Army aero club, and a year in Saudi Arabia flying Learjets for Redec all around the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. What an eye-opening insight into the boiling cauldron of ancient, tribal hatreds of all those mad, warring sects of Islam!

    As a lower-case “objectivist” I was shattered, 30 years ago, when I first read the Tannehill’s book on libertarian anarchy, but I can’t quite cross the threshold to a full belief in it, even though I remain convinced, as I put it recently in one of my blog posts, that the prospects for properly limiting a government to the protection of the individual rights to life, liberty, and property is about as likely as converting a hyena to vegetarianism…

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  3. i was pleased that someone finally wrote about a nagging irritation i have about my similar feelings of being a strict adherent to the NAP and wanting to ‘share’ this moral way of life with others and how ‘close’ this comes to religious zealotry. the only ‘saving grace’ is that it not only does not harm innocent people but it advocates that others not harm innocent people.

    as a libertarian/voluntary’ist/an-archon’ist/home-schooling/non-schooling advocate, i was interested in your caption “constitution” and went to the page but did not really find anything having to do with the constitution itself. [i don’t consider duncan hunter’s support of the drafting of women to be a ‘constitutional’ issue. i consider any draft to be an issue of pure-unadulterated slavery.]

    so, let me be the first to open this can-of-worms [if it has never been brought up before]..?
    “what evidence is there that 4 unsigned pages, written 230 some years ago, are applicable to anyone but a person who chooses to take an oath to abide by those ‘rules’ “? how is it applicable to me? and if there is no evidence that it is applicable to me then what evidence is there that any codes, rules or regulations are applicable to me? [yes, other than the ‘gun-under-the-table’ [aka: FORCE] of which i am very aware!]

    suggested reading: Kenneth Royce, “Hologram of Liberty, the Constitution’s Shocking Alliance with Big Government”, and then to top it off: Marc Stevens, “Government Indicted”, to answer this most important question:

    “what evidence is there that the constitution and codes are applicable just because you are standing on a piece of ground called [the name of your state]”? [no an-archon’ist should be afraid of this question.]

    and my best well wishes to the libertarian home-schooler, justin and jessica, and others who are trying to live the non-aggression principled life!

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    • Dann, I’m with you on basically all of your points! As for the Constitution, here are my two thoughts:
      1) (borrowing from Lysander Spooner): that the Constitution has resulted in the government we have today, or failed to prevent it, shows that it is an unfit document
      2) that being said, following the ideals codified in the Constitution would be a great place to start!

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      • thank you for your kind reply! may i ask for a more precise answer to your ‘second thought’, that is, what are “the ideals codified in the Constitution” to which you refer? and, if they are different from the NAP, how so; in what way?

        essentially, the main body of the constitution is a set of rules for the men-and-women-who-call-themselves-the-[federal]government; the bor, which is an infinitesimal list of, essentially, eight personal rights, was tacked onto the end of the document.

        what is sad to me is that there are so many people who have gone through the ‘government indoctrination camps’ who think that we have ‘ten’ rights given to us by government – if the ‘men-and-women-who-call-themselves-the-[federal]government’ really “gave” them to us then they are just ‘ten privileges’ that they can take back! [the ninth and tenth amendments ARE, essentially, privileges given by government.] many have no conception that our rights are so many as to be as innumerable as the stars. many of us have the belief that if the 2nd amendment is ‘ratified away’, that there will no longer be a “right” to defend oneself with a “gun”..! part of this is because the right, as codified in the constitution, is poorly phrased; my opinion is that it should have been along the lines of, ‘it is the right of every person to defend themselves, their family, loved ones and neighbors, or strangers in trouble, with whatever means there could possibly be’. rights are akin to “matter” – they can never be created or destroyed – all that there are, have existed since the dawn of mankind.

        to give an example: some would create a right such as, it is their right to a k-12th grade ‘education’; did that “right” exist for cavemen who had no books, no pencils, no school buses? it did not. there is a right to seek to be educated by asking someone to teach them what they know; how to flint rock, make arrow and spear points, track game, make fire, make clay pots, etc. but no one has a right to force someone to be a slave and teach them ‘things’. everyone has a right to contract with another to do something in exchange for something of equal value – or they may just be given something out of caring.

        there is another group that goes so far as to believe we have rights that never existed before; they have no concept that the rights of one person may not infringe on the rights of another. there are folks who believe they have a right ‘NOT-to-be-offended’; that their rights supersede the property-rights of another.

        the constitution and the ‘government’s indoctrination camps’ [gic] have been poor on educating us about these things. albeit, some of “these things” are not of interest to all of us – but they affect all of us and the more we know the better off we, individually, will be.

        so, i asked what i take to be, an intriguing question:
        “what evidence is there that the constitution and codes are applicable to you just
        because you are standing on a piece of ground called [the name of your state]”?

        i mentioned the term “contract” in a sentence above; what do we know about ‘contracts’, and, what does that word have to do with the constitution? how are we ‘tied’ to the constitution? these questions are all intertwined with the “intriguing question” asked above. how so?

        what do we know about “contracts”; what were we taught in the ‘gic’s about contracts? i, personally, don’t remember ever discussing that subject..?!

        basically, a “contract” is an agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do, or, not to do, a particular thing. a contract is a promise, or a set of promises, for the breach of which the law gives a ‘remedy’, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as ‘a duty.’

        it is a legal relationship consisting of the RIGHTS and DUTIES of [both of] the contracting parties; a promise or set of promises constituting an agreement between [both of] the parties that gives each:
        ▪ a legal duty to the other, and also, importantly,
        ▪ THE RIGHT TO SEEK A REMEDY FOR THE BREACH OF THOSE DUTIES.

        NOTE: – IMPORTANT! – a contract is considered null-and-void if FORCE or FRAUD is involved in its creation!

        we now know what a “contract” is; how does – or what does – that have to do with the constitution? this goes back to the question of “how are we ‘tied’ to the constitution?”

        the constitution ‘created’ the “legislative” branch, the “executive” branch, and, the “judicial” branch of the fedgov. – it did not ‘create’ us; in fact, supposedly, “We the People” created the constitution. the constitution, through the legislative branch created rules, regulations, codes and laws – and we are expected to ‘follow’ them; they are administered by the executive branch, and, we are punished by the judicial branch. but why are we all ‘interacting’ around the constitution?

        it has to do with a “contract”! or, rather, with what ‘the men-and-women-who-call-themselves-the-[federal]government’ would let us keep on believing.

        let me use an example of the constitution of a legal fiction called a “state”:

        Article 1. Part the First [Name of Body Politic.]
        The people inhabiting the territory formerly called the province of New
        Hampshire, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other, to
        form themselves into a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or
        state, by the name of THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. June 2, 1784

        a word [compound] that may not be familiar to all of us is “body-politic” – this is sometimes also referred to as a “social contract” or a “social compact”. Article I, above, points out how “people” and the “state” became to ‘appear-to-be-married’ [‘marriage’, another “contract”] what is/was it that was “mutually” agreed upon?

        basically, that “the people” would owe a ‘duty of allegiance’ to “the state” and in exchange, ‘the state’ would ‘owe a duty of protection’ to each of the ‘people’. this exchange of promises constitutes a “contract” – tit for tat/this for that.

        some may ask why, in the question that was proffered above, proof was being asked about why codes were applicable to a person because of their position on the earth? it is because of the “contract” – or, what is thought to be a “contract”. i shall attempt to lay grounds for doubt…

        back in 1856 – 160 years ago – the judicial branch, the ‘highest-law-in-the-land’, broke the “contract” with an ‘opinion’ they gave in: South v. Maryland, 59 U.S. (How.) 396, 15 L.Ed.433 (1856). They opined that:
        local law-enforcement had NO “affirmative duty to protect” individuals,
        but only a general duty to ‘enforce the laws’.

        Remember about “contracts”… if one of a party to a contract breaks their promise, or does not do all they promised, the ‘injured party’ has redress for the ‘breach-of-promise’? But what if the party who ‘breached their promise’ will not ‘allow’ the injured party to seek redress? If the ‘breacher’ is a big bully, can the injured party just get up from the table and walk away and say that they don’t want to have anything to do with the bully? In a perfect world the answer would be ‘yes’ – but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we?

        The bully would not ‘allow’ the southern states to peacefully ‘leave-the-table’, and the bully is doing the same with us; it is using FORCE to keep us from seeing the FRAUD it has perpetrated on all.

        even aside from the breaching of the contract…
        …if your great-grandfather planted an orchard – or even if your grandfather, or your father did, would you HAVE TO nurture and care for that orchard? of course, you would if you have contracted with your father to do so in return for eating the products of the orchard. have any of you signed a contract – even if it had not been breached by the state – to be a part of the body-politic? what is causing us to comply with the legislators the constitution created, and the police that were created by the legislators [who were created by the constitution]? the answer – that most people don’t want to acknowledge – is… FEAR! The null and void social contract is being enFORCEd with too frequent use of, tasers, and blunt force trauma objects such as clubs, boots, fists; stabbing weapons such as knives; using debilitating irritants to the sensitive membranes of eyes, nose, and mouth and lungs, being thrown into cages: and, as has been shown to be the common case lately, guns, to commit murder! – with impunity!

        is anyone who is not a ‘man-or-woman-who-took-an-oath-or-affirmation-to-adhere-to-the-constitution’, tied to that document? yet all of us are being husbanded, without a ‘marriage contract’, by “the state”, as if we were tied to it
        .
        look at the third Article of the legal fiction known as new hampshire…

        [Art.] 3. Part the First [Society, its Organization and Purposes.]
        When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural
        rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and,
        without such an equivalent, the surrender is void. June 2, 1784

        again, the question:
        “what evidence is there that the constitution and codes are applicable just
        because one is standing on a piece of ground called [the name of the state]”?

        here is what the same constitution from the same legal fiction says:

        [Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.]
        Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, THE PEOPLE MAY, and of right ought to reform the old, or ESTABLISH A NEW GOVERNMENT. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. June 2, 1784

        to learn more about how the constitution came about, i still recommend the book i mentioned in my first comment, by Kenneth Royce, “Hologram of Liberty, the Constitution’s Shocking Alliance with Big Government”, and then to answer the question about the, supposed, contract: Marc Stevens’, “Government Indicted”.

        fight the next parking ticket you get; when you go in front of the judge ask them if the prosecutor has given them the evidence that the court has jurisdiction over you just because you were standing on the piece of ground called [the state you are in’]? remember, you want facts, evidence, proof, not opinions like, ‘well, everyone knows that’ , or, ‘i assure you i do’ – if ‘everyone knows that’ and if they can ‘assure you they do’ then ask them to show you the proof.

        or, if someone wants to convince me where i have erred, i am willing to listen.

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