Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Voting: the "patriotic duty" of exerting implied violence over your neighbors

There were some major state elections today, and also for Westchester's county executive position. I did not do what's often called "patriotic duty" -- and this is why I didn't vote.

As the song begins, "It's been a long road, getting from there to here." Only in the last couple of years have I begun to understand certain things, the implications of the poppycock fed to us in public school history and civics classes. I have gotten from there to here: from dismay over losing my "right to vote" to understanding that it's falsely called a "right."

Lysander Spooner addressed the dismay I felt, and much more, in "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority":
Yet the act of voting cannot properly be called a voluntary one on the part of any very large number of those who do vote. It is rather a measure of necessity imposed upon them by others, than one of their own choice.
So although some of us don't want to vote, we feel pushed into each new political Rube Goldberg to discover "the best candidate" and support him in the futile effort to cancel out others' votes against our persons and property. Little advance seems to come from the "democratic process," and Don Boudreaux explained why four years ago,
The right to vote. The right to yank a lever in a booth on intermittent occasions, along with thousands or millions of other people, the collective outcome of which is the election of a handful of power-mad, glib dissemblers who specialize in picking each of our pockets, transferring the booty to special-interest groups, and persuading us that we are strengthened, enriched, and raised to glory by it all.
Both are true observations, but I've come to realize that it's worse. I understood enough last year to write,
If you think "voting" is a peaceful thing, think again. Are generals "peaceful" because they merely make decisions about who wields weapons and how?
Voting is not peaceful in any wise. While not directly violent, it implies violence. A mugger may not have physically harmed you, but the threat was there if you did not comply. In this absurd idea of "the democratic process," the winning faction gets its turn to form a government with the implicit authority to use any means at its disposal -- tax gatherers, police, even formal military -- to coerce everyone else into following along. Into obeying, eventually upon pain of death.

What else but violence enforces the election result, or that the elected government can stay in power?

This is a subject for a future post, but the very basis of "the state," in fact the only reason, is because some people employ this contraption called "government" to legitimize the forcing of others who would otherwise not want to give up their freedoms over their persons and property. Any government enforces this authority by pure violence, whether it's threatened or actually inflicted. James Madison was correct to say, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary," but in fact for the wrong reason. Men don't need government to restrain bad people; quite the contrary. It's bad people who need government to legitimize control of others.

Remember what Walter Williams wrote as part of the foreword to Sheldon Richman's "Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax":
Some might consider Richman's title to be hyperbole, but it accurately describes what is at stake. We can readily see this by asking, What is the endgame of the following scenario? Suppose an American told the U.S. Congress, 'I am an emancipated adult. I wish to be left alone to tend to my own retirement needs. If I fail to do so adequately, let me either depend on charity or suffer the consequences; however, I refuse to pay into the government's Social Security retirement program.' If that person refused to fork over part of his earnings as Social Security 'contributions,' the IRS would fine him. If that person rightfully concluded that he has not harmed or initiated violence against another and therefore refused to pay an unjust fine, he would be threatened with property confiscation or imprisonment. Suppose he then decided to use his natural or God-given rights to defend both his physical property against confiscation and his person against aggression? More than likely, he would suffer death at the hands of the U.S. government. The moral question Americans ought to ask is whether they can produce a moral argument that justifies a citizen's being subject to death by his government when that citizen has initiated violence against no one and simply wants to privately care for his own retirement needs? I know of no standard of morality that yields an affirmative answer.
But on what grounds do "democratic" governments claim the authority to seize some people's property and give it to others? Simply that people voted for the candidates who pass the laws to "tax and spend." Note that that's a euphemism: to tax is to force someone to give up his property, or else. Ask yourself if, were there no taxes, you would write a check to the government anyway. If you were not, then you're being forced.

And to vote is to assert that you have the potential authority to band with some of your neighbors to tell the rest what to do with their property, despite their God-given rights to their persons and property. Remember my parable that illustrates the nature of the state, when people band together because someone won't hand over his property, calling themselves "a government" to legitimize what they're doing:
Give us what we demand, cried out the multitude, lest we seize it by force.

And the merchant replied, Depart in peace while ye yet can, for ye have no right to my possessions save with my consent, and as I have done no wrong to any man, none of ye have any authority to seize any of my possessions.

Behold, cried out his neighbors with one voice, that we have declared ourselves a government, and as such we have given ourselves the authority.

The merchant replied, Ye have no authority, for one cannot give authority unto oneself.

That matters not, they replied and began to grumble, for we are a greater number than thee and thy family, and because of our greater numbers, we have decided that thou shalt pay us tribute.

Then did his neighbors, armed with swords and staves, seize a goodly portion of the merchant's possessions. The merchant did not consent in his heart, but for the sake of his wife and children, he did not resist in his actions.
Would it have been any different if the neighbors had set up formal elections or a referendum, complete with fancy printed ballots and powerful speakers behind plenty of bunting with patriotic colors, then "outvoted" the merchant? Or if they had held a constitutional convention to claim their new political creation as "the supreme law of the land" and force it upon others again through majority vote? Spooner wrote at the start of part VI of No Treason, "It is no exaggeration, but a literal truth, to say that, by the Constitution — NOT AS I INTERPRET IT, BUT AS IT IS INTERPRETED BY THOSE WHO PRETEND TO ADMINISTER IT — the properties, liberties, and lives of the entire people of the United States are surrendered unreservedly into the hands of men who, it is provided by the Constitution itself, shall never be "questioned" as to any disposal they make of them."

Thank heavens that when I was a big Bush supporter, my voter registration was mucked up. The only times I actually voted for a presidential candidate was to cast a ballot for Harry Browne in 1996, and for Ron Paul last year (as a write-in). Those were paradoxical acts of participating in the machine, not to assert the mythical "authority" I described above, but to support a candidate who would not use the power available to him. Even so, I now cannot do that again. The morality is that you cannot truly defeat evil by using evil, and it's demonstrated empirically by the failure to advance real liberty through "voting" and other democratic nonsense.

I leave you with some of the best, most profound strips of "9 Chickweed Lane" (if they're too large for your display, click them to open in a new window):


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