Memorial Day, a national holiday in the United States was originally known as Decoration Day and set aside to commemorate the Union and Confederate deaths from the U.S. Civil War. It evolved through the 20th century as a day to commemorate all of the War Dead of the United States.
For those who are reading and following here. I know I have left this site quite dormant. I have been writing like mad on Bubblews.com and on my other home site at The Heroic Stoic. In true “me” fashion, I overstretched my efforts and I made a decision to keep this site cool (translation: dormant).
If you had bought Bitcoins one month ago, and just done nothing with them, you would have more than doubled your investment. It still seems the trend is up. I wouldn’t dump my life savings there, but the concept is grand enough that I am willing to risk something. That’s what entrepreneurs do.
I was a career solider for the empire. I started this career before I learned. If I hadn’t been a state soldier, I may have never learned. I fear that I would have been one of those “flag-waving” chickenhawks who think that everything the U.S. Empire does is for our freedom (ha!) and for peace. Ironic how the loudest voices for violence are those walled up in the fortress.
Gassing up a death machine
Further, my status as a retired soldier rebuts the idiotic claim that you can’t fight for peace “if you’ve never served.” Think of that, just for a moment. Somebody [else] who discovers that war is nothing but organized mindless death before they ever even consider entering military service, thus they never become a trained killer for the State. Somebody who puts their action with their beliefs gets some knucklehead who tells them, “it’s a good thing there are those wiling to fight for your right to be a hippie/commie/coward” or just “you’ve never served.” …and yet, many lend credibility to those who have “served” (the State). It’s like saying how can you know rape [or insert any sin here] is wrong unless you’ve tried it. All the while, countless cowards sit in the fortress (see above) beating the war drums, calling for more cruelty.
While having committed a sin definitely is not a requirement to speak against it, those with a conscience that have recognized their wrongdoing do have a lesson to teach others. It is my hope that my experience can do this. As a teenager, I felt compelled to serve a higher calling. I thought the U.S. Air Force would allow me to serve, that is, to defend freedom. I entered the Academy already infected with the belief that I was protecting liberty, but I think the four years of indoctrination successfully planted the seed that would eventually lead me to the truth: that war as logical had to be forced on the mind. The military academy did everything it could to convince me that the State was the ultimate defender of freedom. That I was “better” because I would give up my life for its interests. This teaching was effective in suppressing the truth, but it did not brainwash me. In short, the “over the top” re-education provided by the military, starting with my Academy days, had the opposite effect of what was intended. It took me years to work this out, but war after war after war helped me see the ludicrosity (yes, I made that word up special, just for this moment) of the State.
Yes, I have “served” and I think of war not as a last resort, but as a tumor on human thought…it is no resort at all, and its root is the State. I am not so naive as to think war will be eradicated from our existence. Humans are masters at violence and power, and when these combine there will be the smell of death to innocents in the air. So what is one to do? How does one build speed bumps on the road to war? As alluded to, I am convinced it is to reduce (i.e. divide) the power first, rather than the violence, and the State is where the monopoly on power resides. My only route is to persuade, and to persuade, and to persuade that power concentrated over so many subjects is how tyranny prevails.
It is my hope that by thinking this through together, by continuing the dialogue about liberty, the individual will gain power at the expense of the State. Then, when there is a call to war, nobody will come. The effort of liberty-lovers will require persistence. The belief in true liberty has to be so strong and pervasive, that action (or rather inaction) will be required. It’s a grand goal, but certainly worth the effort. Eventually, we may hit a tipping point of thought, where liberty trumps nationalism…one can hope, no?
You see, I am “for the troops.” For their liberty, their sanity, and their safety. Bring them home.
“We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it. We are the light at the tip of the candle. It is really hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating. If we practice mindfulness, we will know how to look deeply into the nature of war and, with our insight, wake people up to that together we can avoid repeating the same horrors again and again”–Thich Nhat Hanh
Here is a quote, by John Stuart Mill, that I was required to memorize as an 18 year-old in basic cadet training:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. …A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
But here is the full quote, that was NOT shared with me (notice the part that was deleted…hmmm):
“But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminatedtheir ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”
My reflections after more than 20 years. This quote was pummeled into my brain, without the full context, to reinforce the fact that I am not to ask questions, but to accept that the State’s reasons for war are just. We need more people to ask, if “people are [being] used as mere human instruments…in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master?”
Essentially, this quote is useless in justifying war. It is an oblique statement that says, “I hate war, but you know, this war is OK because the reasons are right.” However, it is the reasons that are the hard part, and as long as the bar is kept low to justify war, as they are today (and drones count, by the way) then this Mill piece is nothing more than reaffirming evidence.
There is a real problem with plural personal pronouns. It is embedded in our culture and our language, and it slips by the common observer without so much as a pause. These are words like we, they, our, us, them, and their. Today, I want to discuss the words “we” and “they.” These words need to be discussed in depth because they matter in the deepest sense of how each of us frames our life. In short, I think “we” and “they” have been a source of great and pernicious evil in society, and most importantly in breaking down the mind of the individual.
Whenever someone says something like, “We just need a sensible policy on this,” or “We all just need to stick together,” or “They’ve decided that some racial slurs are OK, but others aren’t” I shudder to think what this person means by “we” and “they.”
Let’s take my first example. What if someone were to say, “We need to have a sensible drug policy.” Well, this may be a cliche, but “what do you mean by WE?” Do I have a say in the matter? Is someone going to ask me to sit down and offer my ideas on a drug policy? Do you mean the State of Texas, the elementary school down the road, the U.S government, the UN? It is a very dangerous game to use the word “we.” What really should have been said, and what is going to happen is “Somebody with power should force a drug policy down our throats, and I hope it will be reasonable because frankly, you and I will have no say.” Government officials use the word “we” on purpose to imply their legitimacy…to enforce that they speak for you, and make decisions for you, but most of us just let that “we” slip by. This is dangerous. You give your tacit approval when you let others say “we” without asking why they want to include you in their logic, and in what groupyou are included.
We can do this together!
One of the most tyrannical uses of the plural personal pronoun is when someone wants to speak for over 300 million people living in the geographic borders of the United States. This implies that everyone must submit to whatever a small group decides…even if it is the majority of voters (which in fact represent a non-majority of the population):
We need tighter gun control
We need safer food
We owe our freedom to them (that’s 3 plural pronouns..woohoo!)
We need to lose weight in America
We all need health care
we, we, we…
A related aside: it is a geographical accident that you or I were born anywhere. Even though there is a need to belong, you were not born an American, a German, a Russian or whatever. From my perspective, belonging to any group is voluntary. You should not be forced into this group, and if you have to play along to get by, then so be it.
Now, on to “they.” I have a specific example for this one. A twitter friend was recently upset at how the slur of “cracker” was used on MSNBC (which they have done more than once: here and here) seems to go unpunished, while other slurs get the hammer (I think THE example of this is when a non-black person uses the word “nigger,” in any context…I’m bracing for the hate mail). Anyway, in her dissatisfaction she mentioned that “they” don’t allow some slurs to be said, while others were just fine. I was confused by her term “they.” Because I am so used to this word being said to refer to those who make the regulations, I thought that is what she meant. Note: Mentally, I usually make no distinction between the mainstream media and government; they are essentially 2 branches on the same tree. It got my feathers ruffled, because I thought she was calling for more regulation on the words that are said in public. Of course, I will have none of that. It is a slippery slope when those who are outraged by some or another behavior complain that “they” are not policing this enough.
Be careful what you say. (Photo by (C) STROINSKI.PL)
In the end, I think she simply meant all of those of the “politically correct” nature, rather than those in power who create tyranny (although these are often the same people, unfortunately). However, it scared me. It scared me because enough people might get outraged that they think “they” should do something (for all of “us,” of course). It scared me that a government crony might take advantage of this outrage and issue more of “their” control. It is for this reason that plural personal pronouns should be used precisely, and those who do not wish to be included in the collective should speak out, when these pronouns are bandied about.
It is my opinion, that the “they” in the media can say whatever they darn well please. In fact, anybody can say just about anything they want to, legally. That is what freedom of speech is. It is up to the listener to exert his or her influence through their own choice. This could be simply not listening/watching, sending the corporation responsible a communication of disapproval, or it could be exposing them to the public via their own communication. Of course, I am speaking of how things SHOULD be rather than how they are.
The non-aggression axiom is the fundamental tenet of libertarian and anarchist thought. I will define it here in my own words:
No person has the right to forcefully take the life or property of another unless in self-defense.
In case my definition is not clear, here are some other great words on the matter:
Walter Block: “It shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another.”
Murray Rothbard: “No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.”
Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816: “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
According to this link, voter turnout was down in 2012 Election (article is a few months old, but I needed it for my math below). A quote from the article:
“University’s Michael McDonald put the 2012 turnout rate at 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure was expected to be revised as more precincts reported and absentee votes were counted.”
Let’s see, time for “back of the napkin” math:
50% of 60% = 30% for Obama and his ilk
48% of 60% = 29% voted for Mittand his cronies
1% for Gary Johnson
So, 30% Democrats, 29% Republicans 41% None of the Above/Libertarian
That is of ELIGIBLE voters (not even registered eligible voters), which my source says (good enough) is about 207 million (of which, according to this only 150 mil are registered). There are over 300 million in the United states. I’m just saying.
Hmmm…so who has legitimacy? I’m going with you…only you can govern yourself.
I was recently challenged via Twitter on the limits of weapons freedom. Let me set the stage. As I see it, there are two major reasons an individual has the natural right to bear weapons: 1)To hunt for animals which provide sustenance and 2) to defend against threats to one’s rightful life and property. Within the the second reason is the right to defend against the tyranny of an organized gang who says they have the right to your property. You are likely to lose this battle, but you still have the right. A predominant reason for the 2nd amendment’s declaration of an already inalienable right to bear arms, is for an individual to defend himself against the organized gang of government, so that people, not government have the final veto. This veto power could be a real one, but practically speaking it is an essential SYMBOLIC one.
The statist’s challenge to this position, that private weapons are a symbolic veto of government tyranny, is that by this logic an individual should have the right to have any weapon to counteract government tyranny, up to and including nuclear weapons.
Said the tweet in the conversation, “…by that logic I should be allowed nukes…”
Before I get too far down this road, I will first state a few opinions on the matter that I hold. First, there is nothing simple when you start to discuss nuclear weapons. Next, nuclear weapons are a product of the State. No other entity has the perfect combination of will, resources, and motive to concoct such an abominable device. So, as so many of these discussions go, even though the State has created this problem, the statist claims that only the State can fix it. How convenient.
I actually found quite a few ideas about nuclear weapons among some libertarian bloggers, like here, here, here and here. Several pointed me to Walter and Matthew Block’s “Toward a Universal Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control.” Read it in its entirety, for a good background. Their main premise is that a nuclear weapon is a defacto illegal weapon because of it’s indiscriminate nature, and imprecision. This would be true of any weapon of mass death (WMD), such as biological or chemical weapons as well. From this premise, I have formulated my most forceful rebuttal to the statist’s challenge.
Which is this: A WMD is an immoral and illegal weapon per natural law to be possessed by anyone. It is not a weapon of defense, but rather a weapon of murder and random carnage. The fact that anyone illegimately claims to have the right to possess one, does not change this fact. As a result, I suggest you call for the government to immediately disarm itself of such an illegal weapon. You see, by accusing me of wanting a WMD because of my wish to defend myself from government tyranny, you have assumed that the State has the legitimacy to possess such a weapon…it does not.
Simply put, the statist assumes the State has the right to possess nuclear weapons. The premise is incorrect.
That is my theoretical reply.
Here is my practical one (I’ve already shown my hand on this one earlier).
Only the State has the perfect combination of resources, means and motive to build and possess such a weapon. The resources of the state are unlimited. It can tax (steal), print (steal), and redistribute (steal) money as it sees fit. Likewise, in its unceasing effort to legitimize its authority over those in its geographical dominance, it creates both the fear in the population of possible attack, and an enemy willing to use such a weapon against these same people. Simply put, States create the conflict through artificial means, that justify weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Ask yourself this, statist. What reason would someone have to attack a geographical area en masse that was merely a collection of communities that kept to themselves. As a mild example, could you picture Canada, Mexico, Luxemburg, or Switzerland being a prime target of catastrophic terrorist attack? Why is that? Because relative to the United States, these geographical areas do not attempt to exert their influence where it is not welcome.
For the sake of argument, what if the United States was a loose conglomeration 50 localized states that minded their own business? None of these states had overseas bases, there was no international Navy patrolling the seas, and no missiles within the continental US pointed at any “enemy”? Think about 50 little Switzerlands (or Luxemburgs); even better, think about 5,000 little Hootervilles, with basic public services (like maybe some constables and courts to settle disputes). Who would be their enemy? What purpose, would any of these 50 states (or 5000 Hootervilles) have for WMD? Who would be their target? Essentially, nobody. Nobody would care to attack such a country, as virtually nobody is targeting Luxembourg, Switzerland, or Nunatsiavut today.
Inhabitants of Nunatsiavut
In short, my practical position is this. Once enough individuals “break the spell” from their minds that the State is good, then the State will lose its power. As a result, the reason for wars will end, and the means, will and motive for nuclear weapons becomes quite small.
Change begins from within your mind, not externally from the State. For calls to disarm the people, the answer should be, “you first, State.”