Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Sarah Palin's Waterboarding Statement

Recently, conservative Christian and former GOP presidential candidate Sarah Palin recently made a joke regarding waterboarding. She said to the National Rifle Association (NRA), "[W]aterboarding is how we [would] baptize terrorists.”

And not everyone greeted it kindly. Many of us in the libertarian blogosphere condemned it as blasphemous and immoral of her to make a horrendous joke. And others also joined us in the (deserved) condemnation party. However, her fans were trying to argue that such condemnation was resembling of political correctness, that her statement was really a joke, and that we condemners are all just stupid for saying such. The great William N. Grigg rightfully referred to her as "Nuremberg Barbie".

However, I believe that Sarah Palin's awful joke is not only representative of Palin herself, but her defenders are reflective of a pretty big chunk of the evangelical Christian population, most of whom believe that torture by the U.S. government against terrorist suspects is acceptable in some or all circumstances. It is representative of the hypocrisy of believing in limited government and limitation on power except with regard to those whom the government suspects as being enemies and terrorists. It is also representative of a seriously blasphemous joke in comparing water-torture used against suspects to the sign of regeneration that all Christians have participated in. In some ways, it represents the darker spirit of modern day conservatism and especially religious-right conservatism, the desire to use control for grand purposes. Such motive is bound to failure and often is rooted in selfish purposes and desires.

The Real Danger of the Statement

The statement itself, even if it were a joke, is very wrong, because it jokingly refers to what is essentially an act of torture (or "enhanced interrogation," for those desensitized enough to call it such) as a sign of regeneration that is only for Christians. It views torture as a sign of purification for the torture victim. And it represents a sign of gung-ho American nationalist statism which has pervaded much of modern conservatism—especially in some of the more grassroots elements of conservatism, especially in the Tea Party.

First, waterboarding itself is torture. Yes, it may be "helpful" in obtaining information, but it's still essentially torture. Laurence Vance says of torture:
Rather than saving American lives, the torture of Muslim prisoners serves as a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Yes, the crimes of terrorists are many. But why give them reasons to commit more of them? "If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy," says former commandant of the Marine Corps Charles C. Krulak.
Second, this statement reeks of a belief that torturing a terrorist suspect in order to get information is justified and moral. This view was held by a majority of conservative and neoconservative Christians (though some neocons did say that waterboarding was torture). Some would even say that it isn't "torture" because we are doing it for right reasons and right purposes. However, this was held as torture when other nation-states like imperial Japan and Soviet Russia exercised such actions. Why should it be different when Israel, U.S.A., or Great Britain does it?

Third, I believe that even if Sarah Palin was joking (as her defenders would argue) and that her detractors are all wooly-hearted pinkos, I still don't believe that that justifies her statement. It's still wrong, and it still reflects a darker trend in much of conservatism that has existed since the history of conservatism: the state, while imperfect, is the locus of social order, and thus almost any means are justified in keeping order. That includes waterboarding, torture, or any thing that is deemed "strong" enough for the state to exercise and assert its power. However, the danger of this is summed up in Lord Acton's statement: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If the State has the power to exercise torture against those deemed "bad," then it can be used to exercise it against those who are innocent but whom the state deems as enemies. Also, as Murray Rothbard argues in The Ethics of Liberty:
In every crime, in every invasion of rights, from the most negligible breach of contract up to murder, there are always two parties (or sets of parties) involved: the victim (the plaintiff) and the alleged criminal (the defendant). The purpose of every judicial proceeding is to find, as best we can, who the criminal is or is not in any given case. Generally, these judicial rules make for the most widely acceptable means of finding out who the criminals may be. But the libertarian has one overriding caveat on these procedures: no force may be used against non-criminals. For any physical force used against a non-criminal is an invasion of that innocent person’s rights, and is therefore itself criminal and impermissible. Take, for example, the police practice of beating and torturing suspects—or, at least, of tapping their wires. People who object to these practices are invariably accused by conservatives of “coddling criminals.” But the whole point is that we don’t know if these are criminals or not, and until convicted, they must be presumed not to be criminals and to enjoy all the rights of the innocent: in the words of the famous phrase, “they are innocent until proven guilty.” (The only exception would be a victim exerting self-defense on the spot against an aggressor, for he knows that the criminal is invading his home.) “Coddling criminals” then becomes, in actuality, making sure that police do not criminally invade the rights of self-ownership of presumptive innocents whom they suspect of crime. In that case, the “coddler,” and the restrainer of the police, proves to be far more of a genuine defender of property rights than is the conservative.
This means that preventing torture is not "coddling" the terrorist but rather being careful in the use of force and coercion. Opposing waterboarding and other state exercises of violence against terrorist suspects is not equivalent to coddling criminals or supporting terrorism, despite what some conservative extremists would have you believe. It is an upholding of the Bill of Rights, of libertarian rights, and of good morality and values. Terrorism, however heinous and politically motivated, can't be compared to the act of invasive warfare from another State or army. Terrorists usually act on grievances and are often individuals not connected with a State. They may be celebrated by a certain State, but that doesn't necessarily make them State-endorsed. They often act independently of any state apparatus. Thus, terrorism isn't an act of war and shouldn't be treated as such. And that includes wiretapping, which is a criminal invasion of property rights.

Sarah Palin's statement rejects this, and her bad joke is a reflection on it.

Feel free to leave your comments at the comment section. They are welcome.

A Definition of Freedom

My newest FB post:
The definition of freedom is the absence of invasion against a man's person or property. This is the libertarian definition of freedom—not FDR's Second Bill of Rights, not a "right to healthcare," not fiscal conservatism/social liberalism (like some libertarians have mistakenly defined liberty, and not even lawlessness. 
The only limit on the liberty of mankind is that man doesn't initiate force/aggress against other person's life, liberty or property. 
Violence is only compatible with liberty in (1) self defense, (2) defense of other's person and property, (3) retribution proportionate to the crime committed (if someone stole something from you, you would have the right to forcibly take it back from them), and (4) resistance against entrenched aggression and exploitation. 
The libertarian definition of liberty is represented by the nonaggression principle/axiom (NAP), which means that no man has the right to commit aggression against the life, liberty and property of another person. 
The NAP is not so much a holistic guide on life (like Christianity, Epicureanism, Stoicism, etc.) as it is a political ethic dealing with the use of force in society. It is a basic human rule of which its violation would require special justification. 
As for "absolute" freedom, the libertarian definition doesn't necessarily allow for freedom from all rules; it argues for freedom from invasion and aggression. This negative freedom is and should be absolute.
I would also add that positive freedom—the right to something—doesn't count. Positive freedom usually includes a right to a job, a right not to be mocked, a right to healthcare, a right to a house, and such things. However, this would have to lead to the initiation of force through taxation and violence in order to grant these positive liberties. Negative liberty—libertarian freedom—avoids these problems. Negative liberty simply allows for the person to freely pursue whatever goals he desires provided that he doesn't initiate force and violate others' rights in the process of doing so. That doesn't mean his goals are entirely noble or worthy of emulation, but as long as those goals don't involve the initation of force/aggression, then the pursuit of such should not be punished with force.

This is not intended to be a scholarly post, but a little post describing the libertarian meaning of freedom in order to clarify why libertarians believe what they believe.

Feel free to leave your comments at the comment section. They are welcome.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Biblical Case for Libertarianism (Part 1) - Law, Ethics, Morality and the Bible

A word from C. Jay Engel, a good friend and a Christian anarcho-capitalist: Very good job Anand. [Y]ou are becoming more articulate and understanding the arguments much better. Overall, I think it is a fine piece. And you have done well in looking to define your terms. This is always beneficial. Not enough people, libertarians included, do this. Kinsella is very good at this too.

It has come upon me that I should write something to make the biblical case for libertarianism, arguing that (1) libertarianism is the most consistent with biblical Christianity, (2) other political philosophies contradict the Christian faith in many ways, (3) libertarianism isn't contradictory to a biblical understanding of human nature but can compliment it nicely and (4) non-coercive methods of social reform are more fruitful than legislative power "legislating morality."

I will deal with how libertarian law relates to the Bible, how libertarian foreign policy is compatible with the Bible, and how libertarianism is the most biblical political philosophy.

The first part will deal with law, morality and ethics, libertarianism and how the Scripture deals with such issues.

Libertarian Law

The first section will deal with what libertarian law is. And for that, we must define what libertarianism is.

Libertarianism is based off the nonaggression principle/axiom (NAP), the belief that no man has any right to commit aggression/initiate force against another man's life, liberty or property. Libertarianism applies this otherwise widely held belief consistently, meaning that no government has the right to do this, not even if it labels aggression by any other name. Basically, under this principle, aggression by any other name is still aggression.

Violence is prohibited by the NAP, except when it is exercised in defense of life, liberty or property. Defensive violence can be exercised through self-defense, retaliation against prior aggression, or responsive violence to entrenched aggressors. 

The libertarian law code upholds this non-aggression principle in its system. Vices that do not aggress against others are permitted under this system but crimes such as murder, rape, theft, fraud, and other aggression are condemned and prohibited. Vice, while immoral, doesn't violate the NAP, for most vices don't commit aggression against anyone. Crime, however, does this job, and thus there is a distinction between vice and crime in libertarian law code.

Libertarian lawyer and theorist Stephan Kinsella aptly says:
The libertarian says that each person is the full owner of his body: he has the right to control his body, to decide whether or not he ingests narcotics, joins an army, and so on. Those various nonlibertarians who endorse any such state prohibitions, however, necessarily maintain that the state, or society, is at least a partial owner of the body of those subject to such laws — or even a complete owner in the case of conscriptees or nonaggressor "criminals" incarcerated for life. Libertarians believe in self-ownership. Nonlibertarians — statists — of all stripes advocate some form of slave.
The great Murray Rothbard (one of the most important libertarian theorists and philosophers in history) also says of the central core of libertarianism (in his classic book For A New Liberty, p. 23):
The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the "nonaggression axiom." "Aggression" is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.
And libertarian philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, an ideological descendant of Murray Rothbard, says in his A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism:
If … an action is performed that uninvitedly invades or changes the physical integrity of another person's body and puts this body to a use that is not to this very person's own liking, this action … is called aggression … Next to the concept of action, property is the most basic category in the social sciences. As a matter of fact, all other concepts to be introduced in this chapter — aggression, contract, capitalism and socialism — are definable in terms of property: aggression being aggression against property, contract being a nonaggressive relationship between property owners, socialism being an institutionalized policy of aggression against property, and capitalism being an institutionalized policy of the recognition of property and contractualism.
These three statements define the central core of libertarianism. They don't mean "fiscal/economic conservatism and social liberalism," despite what some libertarians believe. It is the consistent application of the non-aggression principle dealing with the role of force in society.

And property is derived when one justly homesteads and transforms unowned land into one's use; this makes him the absolute owner of that parcel of property which he homesteads. This gives him the right to use it in any way he pleases so long as he doesn't aggress against anyone's property or rights in doing so. And he also has the right to exchange it and charge rent for it, as it is his just property.

Again Kinsella says:
As in the case with bodies, humans need to be able to use external objects as means to achieve various ends. Because these things are scarce, there is also the potential for conflict. And, as in the case with bodies, libertarians favor assigning property rights so as to permit the peaceful, conflict-free, productive use of such resources. Thus, as in the case with bodies, property is assigned to the person with the best claim or link to a given scarce resource — with the "best claim" standard based on the goals of permitting peaceful, conflict-free human interaction and use of resources.  
Unlike human bodies, however, external objects are not parts of one's identity, are not directly controlled by one's will, and — significantly — they are initially unownedHere, the libertarian realizes that the relevant objective link is appropriation — the transformation or embordering of a previously unowned resource, Lockean homesteading, the first use or possession of the thing. Under this approach, the first (prior) user of a previously unowned thing has a prima facie better claim than a second (later) claimant, solely by virtue of his being earlier
The libertarian applies this rule consistently; it doesn't depend on a might-makes-right principle, nor does it depend on what government declares is just or unjust. It depends on whether someone appropriated unowned land for his own use and made it an extension of his own self, which makes it his property. And also, if anyone enslaves a person on his property, than that property goes to the slave, for since the slave homesteaded the land and was forcefully held against his will, it is only just that the land revert back to the slave, the person who used the land and mixed his labor with it.

Libertarian Law and Morality

Now that we have discussed libertarian law and the non-aggression principle, let us deal with how libertarian law will deal with issues of vice and crime.

Vice can be defined as that which is immoral and harmful not only to oneself but also to all the parties involved. A biblical and Christian definition of this could fall under the term sin, which means "missing the mark." The Christian believes that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that man is marked with a sinful nature that prevents him from fellowshipping with God. And thus, the unsaved would often depend on other means to find fulfillment, and vices are one of those means. These would include acts like the use of narcotics, sexual promiscuity, prostitution, alcohol abuse, lying and overall being negligent of one's duties to God and to man. However, the majority of these vices don't commit aggression against anyone. It is true that they can be harmful, but they are not aggressive. Thus, the libertarian law code won't prescribe any forceful action against such actions.

Crime, on the other hand, is duly condemned and forbidden in libertarian law. It can be called by any other names—aggressioncoercioninitiation of force—but the term crime is more generally suitable. It can be defined as breaking the law, or more correctly violating other's rights, specifically their right to life, liberty and property. Actions under this category include rape (a forceful use of a woman's body against her will), murder (killing another man against his will), theft (taking of another man's property against his will), fraud (implied theft), kidnapping (holding a person against his will), and involuntary servitude (forcing a man to serve against his will). Crime is not crime because the State declares in a piece of paper that it is crime. It is so because it violates the God-given natural rights of man.

Thus, it is not only individuals that can be guilty of crime, but the State can also be guilty of it. It often has been too—the Holocaust, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massacres of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet dictators are several examples. They were done with musings and pretentious pleas, but ultimately they can be considered crimes, for they committed aggression against non-aggressive civilians and persons. Crime by another name is still crime. It doesn't matter if the state exercises it—it is still crime.

Vices, on the other hand, don't fit the requirements for forceful action against the actor, for the sinner often doesn't commit aggression in his sin. Yes, his actions may be hurtful, but they are not aggressive. Stephan Kinsella argues:
Libertarians often condemn “harming” others, and this is fine so far as it goes, if it is kept in mind that “harm” here is loosely meant as a synonym for aggression. But “harm” is really a broader category. Libertarianism says that only aggression may be countered with force, that aggression is the only way to violate rights so that a forceful response is justified. Other rightful behavior, even if it is immoral or “bad,” is rightful so long as it is not aggression. (See my What Libertarianism Is, esp. notes 9-11 and accompanying text.)“Committing harm” can also be rightful. Think of harm as a broader category that includes both harm-by-aggression, and other types of harm. This latter category is not an empty set. There are all sorts of ways you can “harm” someone that do not violate their rights. Competing with someone and “taking” his business, “stealing” his girl, beating him in a race–all may be viewed as harming him. But it’s permissible to do this as it does not invade the physical integrity of his property–it does not commit aggression. It does not violate his rights. As can be seen in the blackmail debate above, by resorting to sloppy, fuzzy terms like “harm” all sorts of non-aggressive actions could be prohibited (such as blackmail, defamation, etc.). It thus leads to advocacy of unlibertarian laws.
This means that even the most "harmful" vice doesn't fit the requirement to be a crime. Thus, these "harmful" vices should not be interfered with by the State, nor should those who practice such be locked in jail. For example, the seller of harmful narcotics shouldn't be put behind bars, as long as he didn't use fraud in his sales. And the seller of pornographic images shouldn't be put behind bars, for the buyer and seller of pornographic images entered into a mutual and voluntary exchange; cracking down on such an exchange, however moral it may seem, would be a violation of the principles of free markets and voluntary exchange. It is true that such exchanges may be "harmful" but they aren't in any way rights-violating. It can be corrected through persuasion and other voluntary means, but coercive force is not one of them.

Thus, when one argues against "legislating morality," he is not saying that laws have no moral basis, but rather he is arguing that force should not be used when dealing with vice, for not only is force disproportionate with regards to vices, but force is often ineffective in solving social and moral problems. And often, freedom is essential in choosing moral choices. If that is denied and violated, then man has no freedom to choose morals and thus morality is no longer truly moral.

Why Libertarian Law Is Not Incompatible with the Bible

Now that I have discussed libertarian law and how it deals with moral issues, I will address this crucial question: is libertarian law incompatible with the Bible?

I believe this question should be addressed, as this is very troubling to many Christians of the libertarian and/or anarcho-capitalist persuasion. Their intellectual opponents argue that libertarianism is an unbiblical political ethic, since libertarianism rejects the use of force with regard to moral issues, while they believe the Bible precisely advocates force in such moral areas. After all, does not Romans 13 and all those passages in Scripture mandate that the government enforce moral codes, thus logically leading to regulating personal behaviors, however uncomfortable it may be?

My argument is that libertarian law is not only not incompatible with the Bible, but it is the most compatible with the Scriptures. It most closely reflects the non-forceful and persuasive nature of the Christian faith with regards to the political ethic—the Golden Rule applied in the negative sense ("don't molest other's life, liberty, or property").

1. Christianity rejects coercion and force unto salvation and true morality. One of the major characteristics of the Christian faith is that it doesn't depend on the use of force in order to bring one to salvation, unlike some other faiths. It depends on the power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14, Acts 2:38, Epehsians 1:13), the power of evangelism, and the power of God's saving grace. None of these involve the use of force against those who reject the Gospel; all of them rely on God's grace and persuasion. Simiarly, it would be consistent if Christians rejected the use of force against sinners when dealing with problems like sexual immorality, drug abuse, alcoholism, and other sins. After all, did not Jesus and the apostles reject the use of force in dealing with these deep problems, especially those regarding the soul? In fact, in the famous instance of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), Jesus refused to stone the adulteress. Tom Mullen comments on this in an article of his: 
It is important to recognize that Jesus does not condone the sin that the anonymous woman has committed. When he has shamed away the mob who would have stoned her, Jesus commands her to sin no more. Neither does he insinuate that her behavior might not have consequences for her soul. With flawless libertarian reasoning, Jesus teaches us the true meaning of freedom: that God grants us the liberty to do as we wish, even to reject him and his laws, but that we also bear the full consequences of our actions. If we harm another person, then we are subject to the laws of men. However, it is for each individual to determine the will of God according to his conscience and to choose whether to act accordingly or not. There never has been nor can there ever be any body of corruptible men who can save an individual’s soul.
This is by no means the only place in the gospels that Jesus teaches us this lesson. His entire public ministry was one admonishment of the hypocritical, socially conservative theocracy after another. Indeed, it is the Jewish state that is Jesus’ chief antagonist throughout the gospels. He is noticeably disinterested in the more secular Roman government, despite its tyranny over his people. While he certainly doesn’t approve of the Romans, he has no interest in political revolution. As Jesus tells Pilate, “my kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). However, his own government does not merely commit secular, political oppression against its people. It usurps the authority of God and attempts to judge in his place. For this, Jesus constantly lets loose his most venomous admonishments.
So this would mean that Jesus' way is not the use of force unto morals but the spreading of the Gospel here. 

Later on, Mullen argues:
Jesus was very clear about his views on what would lead to salvation and what would not. Jesus condemned many behaviors, like adultery, that social conservatives likewise condemn. He also said that “no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) However, he does not go on to say, “Therefore, if your brother does not come to me willingly, then draw your sword and force him.” Salvation must be chosen; God did not create a race of slaves. 
2. Laws against themselves can be called unethical and aggressive. Another factor that should be considered when analyzing "moral laws" or "victimless crime laws" is how they are enforced. These laws in effect interfere with the property rights and individual freedoms of people, as cracking down on a certain vice would require the violation of one's property rights in order to enforce the law. For example, if a police officer wanted to crack down on promiscuous sexual activity, it would often break into someone's house and property and may sometimes use wiretapping or other forms of invasive activity to punish the activity. This would require an invasion of property rights and freedom, thus making "legislating morality" unethical and a violation of property rights.

Murray Rothbard said of the troubling issue of pornography and the law that can be applied to all laws "legislating morality":
To the libertarian, the arguments between conservatives and liberals over laws prohibiting pornography are distressingly beside the point. The conservative position tends to hold that pornography is debasing and immoral and therefore should be outlawed. Liberals tend to counter that sex is good and healthy and that therefore pornography will only have good effects, and that depictions of violence — say on television, in movies, or in comic books — should be outlawed instead. Neither side deals with the crucial point: that the good, bad, or indifferent consequences [p. 104] of pornography, while perhaps an interesting problem in its own right, is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not it should be outlawed. The libertarian holds that it is not the business of the law — the use of retaliatory violence — to enforce anyone's conception of morality. It is not the business of the law — even if this were practically possible, which is, of course, most unlikely — to make anyone good or reverent or moral or clean or upright. This is for each individual to decide for himself. It is only the business of legal violence to defend people against the use of violence, to defend them from violent invasions of their person or property. But if the government presumes to outlaw pornography, it itself becomes the genuine outlaw — for it is invading the property rights of people to produce, sell, buy, or possess pornographic material.
Another reason why such laws can be called unethical is that it fails to recognize that true morality has the essential component of the free choice of man. Without such free choice, no true morality can exist; only artificial morality can exist. Which is better: true morality chosen by freedom of choice, or artificial morality coerced through interference with non-criminal immorality? The answer seems to be clear here.

3. The Old Testament's covenant was fulfilled, leading to the New Covenant; this means that the era of freedom and grace are now in. My final point in this post regards the issue of the Old Covenant and its transition to the New Covenant, which I believe will fulfill a very important case for libertarianism from a biblical standpoint. My perspective, based on my view of the Bible, is that once Christ died and rose from the dead, the Old Covenant was fulfilled and the New Covenant has come in. Thus, the civil, legal, and ceremonial codes were done away with and were not necessary anymore. They were a sign to the Jewish race, but God works through the New Covenant of grace, now that Christ has already finished His work on the cross.

The new covenant is spoken of many times in the Scriptures, both in Old and New Testaments. Jeremiah 31:31-33 is the major OT passage describing the new covenant. It says (in the KJV):
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The New Testament also teaches likewise. Now that we are no longer under the dispensation/period of the law, we are under the period/dispensation of grace, which we can receive freely through Jesus Christ our Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9). Hebrews 9:15 states wonderfully
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
This means that while we still are under moral law, we are not under the civil, ceremonial, and legal boundaries that the ancient Hebrews lived under in the Old Covenant.

But how does this relate to libertarianism? First, it shows that as the law was once there to convict us, now the grace of God forgives and restores. Second, the grace of God freed us from the bondage of sin and the law. And finally, the freedom we now have in Christ is best reflected in a libertarian political order, where no one's person or property is invaded by aggression. 

In such an order, the property rights of every man is respected, no one is placed in jail if he does something immoral (provided that he hasn't committed aggression), and social cooperation exists among different groups without the state's interference. Violence isn't institutionalized in the form of the State, removing one major group of institutionalized aggression from society. In the libertarian society, every man has the freedom of association and discrimination, meaning he has the right to associate with whomever he pleases, and he also has the right to discriminate and disassociate with those he doesn't like. Also, he has the right to defend his person and property against aggressors, and he has the right to hire another person to defend him. He would have the right to defend others as well from his own free will, and he would have the right to form companies and institutions dedicating to providing defense and security services for not only himself but for others who participate in the services. No one would be taxed against his will to support something, but everyone would surely provide of their own will. Justice would be provided more efficiently, peacefully, and without monopoly. And trade flourishes peacefully without the use of monopolies, tariffs, and economic regulations. 

Sin is dealt with through the use of persuasion and other voluntary methods rather than the use of coercion and aggression against the sinner, allowing for not only a better solution to the problem but also for a more peaceful solution that doesn't end up hurting one in the long run.

Who wouldn't want to support a society like that?

Feel free to leave your comments at the comment section. They are welcome.

Christian: Guns Scare Me

After all, gun rights advocates are being too harsh on the feels of the victims' families, and with an armed America, hurting feelings will become even more prevalent and we will have chaos and deaths and whatnot if we have guns, or so the writer wants us to believe.

I am of the honest belief that those Christians who support gun control have (1) a deep misunderstanding of the role of government and force, (2) the meaning of self-defense and why gun rights are important, and (3) the rightness of allowing people to defend themselves with whatever means they choose.

The author (and other gun-control supporters) probably should read John Lott, Stephen Halbrook, and other great authors on gun control and gun rights. Also, Tom Woods interviewed John Lott refuting some of the gun-control nonsense out there.

I would also argue that my basis for gun rights is that (1) people have the natural and God-given right to defend themselves against aggression, which is codified by the Second Amendment and (2) owning weapons doesn't constitute an act of aggression, and thus the ownership of any weapon, even a fully automatic rifle, should be legal and not interfered with.

The reason I believe that more guns equals less crime is that when the noncriminal has a gun to defend himself and others, the criminal is deterred from initiating force against innocent civilians. And also, the ability of the people to bear arms can serve as a deterrent to tyrannical government, in part the reason why many of the early Americans adopted a Second Amendment in the first place.

I don't care to especially refute this article, as many others have ably refuted much of the mythology present in the gun-control debate. However, I would like to comment what I personally feel about Christians who support gun control. Gun control is essentially the prevention of peaceful exchange, of self-defense, of private property rights, and is itself an act of aggression against noncriminals. I believe that Christians—even pacifists who find all forms of violence immoral (of which I am not)—should oppose gun control.

Some may argue that guns might make it easier for certain crimes to be committed, but even so, the vast majority of persons are noncriminals who are very careful with weapons, and so the overall effect of guns can't be judged on the negative effect it has on the few (same goes with video games and other scapegoats of the right-wing and left-wing statists).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stefan Molyneux's New Video About Elliot Rodger

I have heard about the tragedy of the Santa Barbara shootings, of the deaths of 13 people (boys and girls), caused by Elliot Rodger.

The media has focused extensively on this, and in his "Retribution" video, Elliot Rodger complains about hot ladies rejecting him and going for other guys. So he decides to kill many of these girls as well as the boys that these girls dated. Some may call this an "entitlement" mentality, and this is a plausible cause for Rodger's actions.

Stefan Molyneux's new video on the whole situation, however, looks at other factors as well, including his disturbed persona, his broken home and all the other things based on Rodger's lengthy manifesto. It's worth a watch, and like most of his videos, Molyneux gets it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens NSA spied on

It turns out that award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald—one of the best out there today—is going to publish the list of those on whom the NSA spied on.

The Washington TImes reports:

Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters who chronicled the document dump by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden via the U.K. press, now said he’s set to publish his most dramatic piece yet: The names of those in the United States targeted by the NSA 
“One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists? What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer,”Mr. Greenwald told The Sunday Times of London.
Be on the lookout for this. I certainly will. And let's hope the list gets out—I'm looking forward to it personally (if only to know who the NSA spied on).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Some Thoughts for Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, where everyone commemorates our "heroes" who "died for us" to "protect our liberty and freedom." Many believe that celebrating and commemorating the troops is a legitimate way of expressing thankfulness.

However, for many libertarians and freedom lovers out there, Memorial Day is a sad day that celebrates not only militarism, the police state and everything wrong with America's system, but also celebrates the wars that have hurt us in the long run. It is also a sad remembrance of the lives that were needlessly lost, of the lives who died for lies, and for the lives who are forever damaged for no good reason (think of the PTSD many soldiers suffer today as a result of their fighting in unjust wars).

Here are some thoughts that I have collected with regard to why Memorial Day shouldn't be celebrated conventionally.

1. The troops do not defend our freedoms. Rather, they work for the State to fight in unjust and often unconstitutional wars that result in the deaths of innocent civilians, chaos, and terror. The Iraq War resulted in al-Qaeda entering the area and chaos reigning. The Afghanistan War resulted in more deaths of non-combatants and civilians. The Vietnam War allowed for massacres from the troops and was unjust from the start. And almost none of the wars the American government has fought were just. That includes WWII, where the abominable bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and other areas by the Allies abounded. The lesson here is that contrary to what we are told, the troops don't defend our freedoms. Some in the military have that intention indeed, but by and large this is not the case with what actually happens.

2. War is the health of the state, and that's a bad thing. As the great anti-war activist Randolph Bourne once wisely stated, "War is the health of the state." it is, indeed. Without war, the state can't exactly survive and grow. It is often in war situations that the state would use propaganda and force to increase its own size, largess and power. And after the war is over, there is little to no return to the pre-war conditions in the sense that the state has already increased. Robert Higgs calls this the "ratchet effect." This was the case with WWI and WWII. With WWI, the government increased in size and stayed that way, even during the post-WWI period. And with WWII, the national-security state and the military-industrial complex were both cemented and our wars have become more and more unconstitutional since that point.

3. All American wars can thus be considered unjust themselves. Considering that most of these wars I mentioned consisted of the initiation of force—aggression—against civilians, most of these wars would thus be considered unjust. For an illustration, let's turn to Murray Rothbard's essay "War, Peace and the State":
Let us set aside the more complex problem of the State for awhile and consider simply relations between "private" individuals. Jones finds that he or his property is being invaded, aggressed against, by Smith. It is legitimate for Jones, as we have seen, to repel this invasion by defensive violence of his own. But now we come to a more knotty question: is it within the right of Jones to commit violence against innocent third parties as a corollary to his legitimate defense against Smith? To the libertarian, the answer must be clearly, no. Remember that the rule prohibiting violence against the persons or property of innocent men is absolute: it holds regardless of the subjective motives for the aggression. It is wrong and criminal to violate the property or person of another, even if one is a Robin Hood, or starving, or is doing it to save one's relatives, or is defending oneself against a third man's attack. We may understand and sympathize with the motives in many of these cases and extreme situations. We may later mitigate the guilt if the criminal comes to trial for punishment, but we cannot evade the judgment that this aggression is still a criminal act, and one which the victim has every right to repel, by violence if necessary. In short, A aggresses against B because C is threatening, or aggressing against, A. We may understand C's "higher" culpability in this whole procedure; but we must still label this aggression as a criminal act which B has the right to repel by violence. 
To be more concrete, if Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, he has the right to repel him and try to catch him; but he has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd. If he does this, he is as much (or more of) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.
Most wars, especially American wars, have violated this rule not to harm innocents, either through deliberate intention or carelessness on the part of those who took part in the war (either could be true). Notice I am not talking about the unintentional and inevitable deaths of some civilians, as sometimes that may happen accidentally. What I am talking about is the deliberate or careless bombings of areas which innocent civilians populate, involving the use of disproportionate force. This was the case with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bombings of Dresden, and the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan in our era. The soldiers who participated in these wars, in their attempt to "get the bad guys," often used disproportionate force that killed non-aggressive innocents. If it's not justified for civilians to practice self-defense in such a manner, neither is it appropriate for the State to do such.

4. Sometimes even leftists can be right about war. Conservatives who read this post may assume that I am taking sides with the leftists in my condemnation of warfare statism. I will respond by conceding that sometimes leftists may be right about war. Yes, I don't agree with them when it comes to political correctness and the state, but even they can be right about the warfare state. Just because they are wrong on other areas doesn't discount when they are right, even when it is uncomfortable to admit such. In fact, some of the best anti-war work out there is done by leftists with whom I would depart company with on most other issues. Now, the leftist and the libertarian oppose war from differing vantage points, the leftist from the anti-corporate viewpoint and the libertarian from a anti-statist (or limited-government) viewpoint. And leftists can sometimes be inconsistent as to how anti-war they are; for example, many leftists who rightly opposed GWB's warfare statism either ignored or gleefully cheered on the actions of Obama that bear striking resemblance to Bush's actions. Libertarians are generally far more consistent and clear in their opposition to the anti-war views, but I find nothing bad about agreeing with the left at times.


This Memorial Day I am of the belief that the troops are not defending our freedoms, our freedom doesn't come because of the government and the military, statism is not the answer to anything, it's OK to agree with leftists on anti-war stuff, and that in the end, the warfare state is only hurting us, not helping us. If one is to celebrate Memorial Day, one should celebrate it as a call for non-interventionism, peace, and a rejection of militarism and statism in all its forms.

N.B.: The only just wars in American history were the American Revolution and the Southern secession in 1861, the former because it was a libertarian revolution against British imperialism and statism and the latter because it was a separation from a pro-tariff Northern region. Yes, there were impure motives in both "wars," and the Southern Confederacy did have slavery as a main reason for their secession. Murray Rothbard, in his speech "Just War," says of the American Revolution:
In making their revolution, then, the Americans cast their lot, permanently, with a contractual theory or justification for government. Government is not something imposed from above, by some divine act of conferring sovereignty; but contractual, from below, by "consent of the governed." That means that American polities inevitably become republics, not monarchies. What happened, in fact, is that the American Revolution resulted in something new on earth. The people of each of the 13 colonies formed new, separate, contractual, republican governments. Based on libertarian doctrines and on republican models, the people of the 13 colonies each set up independent sovereign states: with powers of each government strictly limited, with most rights and powers reserved to the people, and with checks, balances, and written constitutions severely limiting state power.

He also says on the Southern War for Independence (also called the War of Northern Aggression):

One of the central grievances of the South, too, was the tariff that Northerners imposed on Southerners whose major income came from exporting cotton abroad. The tariff at one and the same time drove up prices of manufactured goods, forced Southerners and other Americans to pay more for such goods, and threatened to cut down Southern exports. The first great constitutional crisis with the South came when South Carolina battled against the well named Tariff of Abomination of 1828. As a result of South Carolina's resistance, the North was forced to reduce the tariff, and finally, the Polk administration adopted a two-decade long policy of virtual free trade.
In both cases, the respective states that the Southern seceders and the American revolutionaries opposed were on the side of injustice here, and in the Southern case, it was the United States government that was on the unjust side (though the Confederate government did have its share of injustices). So it's fair to say that in these two "just wars," the American government didn't fight them but rather those who rebelled agianst the State. With the American revolutionaries, it was a national-liberation movement agianst British imperialism—in essence, it was a "people's war." And with the Southern secession, it was a separation from Northern/Union statism. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Abortion and the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to A Pro-Life Libertarian

By Jeff Godley

Brandon Craig is the creator of a Facebook page entitled “Non-Aggression Principle Against Abortion” (NAPAA). The page is intended to persuade that abortion is an act of aggression against an unborn human being, and therefore is not permissible according to libertarianism.

I think this is an admirable effort; as libertarians, our opinion on all issues must be informed by the non-aggression principle (hereafter "NAP") - or else we are not really libertarians. And Mr. Craig’s claim, if true, is certainly a slam-dunk case against abortion. If abortion ipso facto violates the NAP, than no further discussion of the legitimacy of abortion is needed among libertarian circles. 

However, in a recent post at the NAPAA page, Mr. Craig made his argument against a competing attempt to reconcile the NAP and abortion - evictionism (view the whole post here). Mr. Craig objections to evictionism and positive case for his own views reveal what I believe to be several flaws in his reasoning, which I would like to address over the course of several posts.

In this first entry, I want to show that Mr. Craig is not being consistent in his appeal to the NAP when he argues against eviction. He states his thesis on evictionism as follows: “I do not even think eviction is morally permissible.” This subtle change in criteria casts some doubt on his argument. His initial claim is that abortion violates the non-aggression principle, yet he is now seeking to prove that eviction immoral. These two claims are vastly different in scope.

The NAP is but a small subset of morality. It is one thing to say "abortion is immoral". But if abortion is immoral, that does not in any way imply that it violates the NAP. It is possible even to be a wretched, immoral monster and NOT violate the NAP. 

People have the legal right (i.e. a negative right derived from the NAP) to shoot up with heroin and pay other people for sex. That does not mean that these actions are moral, or that anyone should condone them. It does however, means that our response to them cannot be one of force. That is all the NAP ever implies. 

The NAP does not address whether you should or should not shoot someone who breaks into your home. It only tells you that you have a legal right to do so - or, more to the point, that no one ought to force you NOT to shoot the intruder. Similarly, the NAP does not address whether you should or should not get an abortion. It only specifies what the legal ramifications ought to be if you make the decision to abort. 

This is not a semantic difference. It is fundamental to libertarian philosophy that we keep crystal-clear the distinction between the strict negative legal rights implied by the NAP, and all other positive obligations which may be placed on us by other aspects of moral theory. 

Yet Mr. Craig cannot seem to maintain this fundamental distinction in his argument. To respond to the common evictionist analogy of trespassing, he offers this counter-analogy: “Imagine it is winter time and it is 0 degrees outside. Now lets say I am paralyzed from the waste down and you invite me over to your house. You wheel me in and then once I am there you tell me to leave. Since I am not able to leave, I do not move. You tell me I am trespassing and I still do not move because I am not capable of it….For the eviction argument all you do is wheel me out into the 0 degree weather and I freeze to death. That would be what eviction is like.”

As an evictionist, I do not quibble with this analogy. I do not need to, because in the analogy the person wheeling the cripple into the cold has not violated the NAP!  Trespass has nothing to do with the intent of the trespasser, nor with their ability to leave. It has to do with the will of the person who owns the property. If a person is not welcome, they are by definition a trespasser. Their reason for being there is irrelevant; the owner’s reason for wanting them gone is also irrelevant. Most of all, the trespasser’s ability to leave or the difficulties they may have once they do are not relevant as far the NAP is concerned. 

In this analogy, Mr. Craig is not appealing to the NAP at all - he is simply appealing to our moral outrage at the monster who would cast a person into certain death. Monster though they may be, according to the NAP this person is not a criminal; they have committed no aggression, they have merely revoked permission for another person’s use of their property, as is their right. There is nothing invalid about the analogy; it simply does not imply was Mr. Craig believes it does. 

In abandoning his thesis that “abortion violates the NAP” in favour of the argument that “abortion is immoral”, Mr. Craig has ceased to argue as a libertarian and instead argued as an ethicist. In that regard, I support his efforts. I too have ethical problems with abortion; I too believe life begins at conception, and that every life, no matter how small, ought to be preserved.

But as a libertarian, I cannot condone the confusion of making an immoral choice, even one that harms another, with violating the NAP. The first in no way implies the second. Mr. Craig does a disservice both to liberty and to his own pro-life views by his imprecision. I urge him to do better. 

[Note from Anand: I think Jeff Godley has made an interesting and well-written case for the "evictionist" position, which means evicting the pre-birth fetus without killing it. While I am personally more inclined to the pro-life position, I believe Jeff thoughtfully reconciled the argument that abortion is morally impermissible and that it doesn't violate the non-aggression principle. I believe that one can hold the "evictionist" position without believing that abortion is moral, for evictionism makes no moral statement about the abortion itself; it only argues that abortion doesn't violate rights and thus shouldn't be criminalized).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Follow Me On

Now, your host, Anand Venigalla, is now posting on as well as his very own blog.

Here is my profile on that page:

Also, check out one of my favorite authors, Dan Sanchez, on as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Christian Post Report: "Massachusetts High Court Upholds 'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance as Constitutional" (Including My Own Thoughts on the Pledge)

Christian Post reporter Anugrah Kumar reports that the Massachusetts High Court upholds the constitutionality of the "under God" clause in the Pledge of Allegiance:
Atheist parents and students wanted the Pledge of Allegiance banned in schools in Massachusetts because it contains the phrase "under God," but the state's highest court has ruled that reciting it does not violate the commonwealth's constitution or laws. 
"We hold that the recitation of the pledge, which is entirely voluntary, violates neither the Constitution nor the statute [which prohibits discrimination in Massachusetts public school education] ...," the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said Friday in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District. 
"Simply being offended by something does not make it a violation of the Massachusetts Constitution," said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom. "As we argued in our brief and as the Supreme Judicial Court found, the recitation is completely voluntary, and listening to the words 'under God' does not violate anyone's constitutional freedoms."
I agree that the term "under God" may not be unconstitutional per se, and neither does a mere inclusion of the phrase into the pledge violate any First Amendment restrictions on the government. However, I am of the personal conviction that the Pledge of Allegiance should not be recited and should be scrapped as a whole, as it is a statist pledge that argues for pledging allegiance to a flag that represents a bloated State, and the "under God" phrase doesn't help that much either. Laurence Vance says of that phrase:
...just because the phrase “under God” in the Pledge doesn’t violate the Constitution doesn’t mean that it belongs in the Pledge or, more importantly, that Christians should recite the Pledge. 
One reason why Christians should not recite the Pledge is a simple one, and one that has nothing to do with patriotism or religion. 
The United States is not a nation “under God.”
Later on, Vance argues against those who would say that "it is not worshipping anything other than God." He argues?
Only a madman would say that the United States is a nation “under God.” 
Oh, but the Pledge is just some words, some say, the reciting of which doesn’t really mean anything. 
Then why say it? If the Pledge is just some words that don’t really mean anything, then it makes more sense not to say it than to say it. 
The Pledge doesn’t say that the United States used to be one nation under God. It doesn’t say that the United States should be one nation under God. It says that the United States is one nation under God. 
That is a lie.
Christians are not supposed to lie: 
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9) 
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25) 
Thou shalt not bear false witness (Romans 13:9) 
Is it unpatriotic to not say the Pledge? It may be. But it is certainly right, Christian, and biblical not to.
And not only that, the Pledge can be said to be un-American as well. As Benedict D. LaRosa points out:
To Americans of the late 19th century, “allegiance” was a feudal concept denoting subservience to a master. Americans considered themselves sovereigns, not subjects. They feared that the natural supremacy of the individual over his government, as reflected by the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the constitutions of the United States and of the several states, might eventually be overturned by the ideas expressed in the Pledge. They, unlike so many Americans today, understood that those who exercise the instruments of government – public servants – feel more comfortable ruling than serving. 
The Pledge’s words also smacked of nationalism, which Americans of that period considered, well, un-American. Their objection to nationalism seems strange today, but to Americans of 1892 it was a dangerous concept.
And not only that:
Although [the Americans] saw themselves as separate and distinct from foreign peoples and powers, internally they considered themselves a collection of independent states united by a compact called the Constitution of the United States. “One nation” implied that the states were merely subdivisions of a national government, which Americans of that era knew was not the case. Pledging allegiance to one nation, they knew, would undermine the concept of federalism and threaten constitutional government. 
Their suspicions were justified, for the intent of the Pledge’s author, a socialist named Francis Bellamy, was to support the secular education of the public-school system and efforts by the National Education Association (NEA) to counter the growing influence – especially among immigrants – of the Catholic Church’s parochial schools. Bellamy and the NEA felt that inculcating a sense of nationalism into America’s children would serve their purposes.
And last, I would also add that the decision of whether to recite the pledge or not is not always voluntary.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is that I oppose the Pledge and feel it not only lies about America and glorifies the State but that it isn't even truly American (but then again, sometimes what is "American" can be interpreted subjectively). Thus, I honestly don't care that much regarding the phrase "under God," nor do I support the recitation of it. Despite what some proponents would argue, the Pledge doesn't describe an ideal world but presents itself as a telling of what is. And America's government isn't exactly a promoter of liberty and justice, despite what the Pledge implies. It constantly erodes these two through wiretapping, warrantless spying, police statism, economic regulation, national-security statism, warmongering, and all these.

New Comments

I just received several new comments on this blog, and I want to post about it, notifying everyone.

1. Marc Clair's comment on In Defense of Lew Rockwell, Part 1:

Great perspective here and keep up the great work!

 : Another sound defense of Mr. Rockwell, Anand. The main group of people he (and many other LRC and Mises associates) seems to have a grudge against are beltway "libertarians" who are generally weak on the anti-war issue (and plenty of other key issues) and all too willing to compromise with politicians on this or that. These same "libertarians" have no problem attacking "purists," but when they are on the receiving end of criticism, you'll hear plenty of whining.
3. Aaron Catlin Styles on the same article:
 : The "adding to libertarianism" crowd is making a fatal mistake. They are under the delusion that this tactic will draw in "new blood" to the liberty movement. In reality they will push more away since the ideas/philosophies they wish to add are the same flawed ideas and philosophies that drove most of us to libertarianism in the first place. Libertarianism finds it strength in its very basic, widely acceptable, core principles. Lew Rockwell knows this is the case and that is why he is such a integral part of our community. You have defended him wonderfully. Keep up the great work, Anand!
There are many more comments here on the site, including on "Explaining Anarcho-Capitalism," and I will regularly post when I get new comments.