Libertarian History/Philosophy

That Great Threat to Civilization, the Petition-Signing Anarchist

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Or, petitioning the government for the redress of all grievances. Please see (and sign, if you care to) the "Petition to Abolish the Government of the USA."

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  1. I hereby pledge my support to Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico Joshua Norton.

  2. Funny and ironic thing, I am at a college and that site was blocked because it is an “advocacy organization”. I bet not ALL “advocacy organizations” are blocked.

  3. I signed…I hope this gets my phone bugged.

  4. So… you just sign it and then get put on a watch list?

  5. I signed it. So what. The more they retaliate, the more it proves the petitioner’s point. It’s basically just a vote of no confidence, anyway.

  6. Check out this. I wish our leaders were as cool as estonia’s.

  7. Very cool, Javier. I’m going to get my family, who live in Europe, to investigate buying land in Estonia. Looks like a country that will be heading towards prosperity very fast.

  8. Funny and ironic thing, I am at a college and that site was blocked because it is an “advocacy organization”. I bet not ALL “advocacy organizations” are blocked.

    Wha…?

    That’s worse than the UAE, which blocks YouTube (or at least did until recently).

  9. I could do that. Or I could avoid being put on every watch list imaginable.

  10. Just remember, folks: If they come for your guns, be sure to give them the ammo first.

  11. Wouldn’t abolishing the Government of the USA require a Constitutional Amendment?

  12. Fyodor, anarchists believe that a contract is only binding if you actually agree to it/sign it. Since most everyone living today didn’t proffer our John Hancock’s to the hallowed parchment, we’re not bound by it. So, no, no consitutional amendment required.

  13. So, no, no consitutional amendment required.

    Unless, of course, you want the government itself to recognize that it shouldn’t be bothering you.

    Which is kind of the point, isn’t it?

  14. jj,

    Okay fair enough, so no constitutional amendment is required from the anarchist’s POV. But from the government’s POV I would think it is. In other words, even if participants in U.S. government were to acknowledge abolishment as the proper route to take, how would they accomplish this? I guess anarchists think they should just walk off the job and not return? The utter unlikelihood of any of this makes discussion of it seem a bit silly, but I think pushing for a constitutional amendment would be a helluva lot more pragmatic. It would make the results “official” according to the government’s own procedures, effectively standing as the government’s signature to its side of the contract, regardless of whether anyone’s signing the other (which is merely assumed by the government, anyway). But then, at the risk of stating the obvious, anarchists and signers of such a petition probably aren’t especially concerned with what’s most pragmatic.

  15. Well, I signed because I like absurdity. I can’t speak for an other signers. Maybe they are pragmatic.

  16. Well, I signed because I like absurdity.

    Can’t argue with that!

  17. As one of the few bona fide anarchists that habituate H&R, I’d like to make a comment.

    My preferred method for dissolving the U.S. government is by a convention that amends the Constitution. The amendment would direct the President and officers of the government on how to sell off or dispose of government assets and the various pensions that the government pays out and set a deadline beyond which the government could not legally operate.

    The only way to move to an anarchic system that is pleasant is by convincing* the majority of people to support the dissolution of the government. If you have such popular support than a constitutional convention becomes quite feasible. Contrariwise, if you don’t have the support needed to amend the U.S. constitution, there is no way you will be able to get the Federal Govt to dissolve itself.

    Thus a convention is, in my mind, the goal we anarchists should be shooting for (unless like John Kennedy of no-treason.com you feel that seeking the dissolution of the state is a waste of time and not worth your time).

    *Most of the loudmouthed anarchists who have been debating people here in the 300+ post threads seem not to have figured this out.

  18. Thanks to tarran, we can now add “Constitutional anarchist” to the taxonomy of the species.

  19. While you are at it, this petition is for the complete ban of Dihydrogen monoxide.
    Dihydrogen monoxide

  20. I miss the good old-fashioned “just kill ’em if you get the chance, and if you don’t, fuck it” anarchists.

    Petitions? Convincing? “We” anarchists? Bwah!

    Utopianism is for fooling other people, not ourselves.

  21. tarran,

    Why a convention rather than a constitutional amendment? Sure, it creates a nice symmetry with the Constitution’s origin, but even the orginal Constitution required ratification from the states, likely the precedent for the amendment procedure. The reason the Constitutional Amendment was convened was that no body existed for the tasks it was handed at that time. But we do have a body for initiating change to the Constitution now, it’s called the Congress. My point is that abolishing the US government is nothing more than a particularly radical form of changing the constitution. (Whether this leaves open the question of what happens to state and local governments, I’m not sure; they may have to be dealt with similarly but separately.) Requiring the convening of a convention seems to make the process muddier than it need be.

  22. A pathetic case of third-rate buffoonery by those who apparently believe it takes “courage” to pose as an anarchist or support a utopia-promising third party. This laughable bunch deserves just as much attention as those that are up for a(nother) third party push in case a pro-choice or pro-gay rights candidate is nominated.

  23. fyodor,

    Acctually I am guilty of using imprecise language (in other words, what I wrote and what I think are not the same (in other words, I fucked up ) )

    There are two ways to commence an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that are constitutional:

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

    Since the Congress is not likely to vote itself out of a job, I think we would have to go the state-legislature path. That was what I was referring to when I said Constitutional conventions.

    Of course, I would prefer conventions to ratify rather than state legislatures since I think career politicians will be lukewarm to the idea of dissolving a government.

    My broader point is that if we are to achieve my dream of living in a nice anarchy, we must wind down the U.S. government as peacefully as possible. Taking the ‘legal’ route is far less likely to backfire and cause societal collapse than the more traditional route of armed rebellion followed by the toppling of the government. Such extra-legal overthrows tend to be replaced by stuff that is far worse. I am thinking of the rise of Castro in Cuba and the overthrows of the Russian Tsar and the Shah of Iran as examples of this.

  24. Gosh, tarran, first following Constitutional procedure, now claiming that Castro and the mullahs are worse than their predecessors.

    More anarchists like this, please!

  25. Such extra-legal overthrows tend to be replaced by stuff that is far worse. I am thinking of the rise of Castro in Cuba and the overthrows of the Russian Tsar and the Shah of Iran as examples of this.

    A better example might be Somalia, which because its governmental overthrow has not resulted in a stable replacement government (the object of both your examples and mine), has in fact resulted in what many actually do call anarchy, but a form of it that likely doesn’t recommend it.

    Anyway, RC Dean’s ridicule notwithstanding, I applaud your support of a legal route to no law. And I fully admit that I’d forgotten that conventions were another possibility provided for by the Constitution as a legitimate means of amendment. Regarding: “I think career politicians will be lukewarm to the idea of dissolving a government,” you’ve obviously learned the art of understatement!

  26. Fyodor, anarchists believe that a contract is only binding if you actually agree to it/sign it. Since most everyone living today didn’t proffer our John Hancock’s to the hallowed parchment, we’re not bound by it. So, no, no consitutional amendment required.

    jj, do you know why they believe this?

    I’m just curious because it goes against the common law (by the 1600’s), statutory law, and even civil law (to the extent it’s relevant).

  27. RC Dean,

    Lest you find yourself later regretting swooning over me, I should qualify my views a little more.

    I hold these views because of a cold-blooded analysis of how we could bring about a pleasant and stable anarchic society.

    If I thought that shooting politicians would accomplish my goals, I would be advocating that, since to me the difference between the president of the United States and Paul Castellano is that George Bush has a far better PR machine. Oh and George Bush and his minions have robbed me of far more money than the mob has. Just as I think a shopkeeper is perfectly within his rights to kill a guy who collects protection money for the mob, I think the guys who shoot policemen breaking into their homes to be morally within their rights. I just think their actions are counter-productive.

    I merely recognize that the shooting politicians route has been tried, and failed miserably. In fact, it backfired spectacularly in the U.S.; An anarchist kills the relatively sane McKinley, and we get the batshit insane Teddy Roosevelt sitting in the oval office. Talk about an own goal!

  28. fyodor,

    Actually, Somalia improved dramatically after the U.S. pulled out. See Better of Stateless for an analysis. Essentially the government had so wrecked the economy and society that they really had no way to go but up once they got rid of it.

    Many of Somalia’s problems can be traced to the insistence by the UN and the U.S. that a state be installed there. Of course (cue the earnest looks Marxists get when repudiating the Soviet Union), Somalia was not a real anarchy; the northern half had a government, albeit one that no other government recognized, and the tribal law governing the southern half, while following some anarchocapilatist principles on interclan disputes, allows clan leaders to exercise despotic control over the people in their clan. So pretty much everybody in Somali lives under the thumb of a government. These governments are, or were, very weak, allowing market forces wider latitude there than elsewhere.

  29. highnumber,

    I guess I was a tad too petulant in my last post, but let me still say I have zero respect for these self-righteous moralists who blather on about the suck-o-meter of our government when people in many other parts of the world can’t even voice an objection to their own government without fear of state-sanctioned reprisal.

  30. NP

    Let me get this straight, until the rest of the world is less opressed than we are we should STFU? So, Radley Balko shouldn’t publish his articles about SWAT overuse since Kim il Jung is executing people for trading in food?

    Am I understanding you right?

  31. “Of course (cue the earnest looks Marxists get when repudiating the Soviet Union), Somalia was not a real anarchy; the northern half had a government, albeit one that no other government recognized, and the tribal law governing the southern half, while following some anarchocapilatist principles on interclan disputes, allows clan leaders to exercise despotic control over the people in their clan.”

    Not to get off topic here, but this seems to be the problem with anarchy in practice. There will always be some people who are able to exert control over others, whether through social norms, laws, family, etc. That will then result in some sort of state-like apparatus as those people are able to consolidate that power. How does an anarchist society prevent that from happening?

  32. Adam,

    That’s a very good question. The answer is that it can not be prevented, any more than we can prevent a government from being overthrown or radically overstepping its bounds.

    The closest thing to an anarchy in human history was the “anarchic” period in medieval Iceland. That period lasted about 300 years and ended with a massive upsurge of violence between chieftains.

    Here is a great article on the subject:
    Privatization: Viking style by Roderick Long

    To keep Icelandic feud in perspective, one may contrast it with continental Europe, whose princes, blessed with “mutually exclusive territories,” launched massive wars. As Solvason points out, Icelandic society was “more peaceful and cooperative than its contemporaries”; in England and Norway, by contrast, “the period from about 800 to 1200 is a period of continuous struggle; high in both violence and killings.” Byock contrasts the prolonged and violent civil strife which attended Christianization in Norway with its relatively swift and peaceful Icelandic analogue. Icelanders treated the conflict between pagans and Christians as a feud, to be resolved like any other feud – by arbitration. The arbitrator decided in favor of Christianity, and that was that. (So imbued were the Icelanders with the norms of conflict resolution through arbitration that they dealt with haunted houses in the same way – trying the ghosts for trespassing, in the confident expectation that, if found guilty, a good Icelandic ghost would respect the verdict of the court and peacefully depart!) Even at the Free State’s worst, during the system’s catastrophic breakdown into intestine warfare in the 1200s, the body count was fairly low; as Friedman writes:

    “During more than fifty years of what the Icelanders themselves perceived as intolerably violent civil war, leading to the collapse of the traditional system, the average number of people killed or executed each year appears, on a per capita basis, to be roughly equal to the current rate of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter in the United States.”

    Anarchy is a cultural thing. So long as the preponderance of the population eschews the use of violence against their neighbors, the system flourishes. But when such support drops below some threshhold then the system collapses.

    Of course, this happens in places with states too. For all its claims of loving freedom, the U.S. Government started passing unconstitutional laws within its first few months of operations. By the reign of the second president, the U.S. government was enforcing the Alien and Sedition laws.

    Just as with a stateless society, when the portion of the population willing to live at peace with their neighbors drops below some threshhold, you get the rise of some class that is looting the rest.

    In fact, one can argue that the threshold for seizing unreasonable power is much lower in a society with a state. Al l you have to do is gain control of some portion of the government and you’re in business. Establishing such control is harder in a stateless society since you have to create the apparatus of oppression instead of appropriating something that already exists.

    One can hardly condemn anarchies from suffering the same sort of power-grabbing that is the norm in societies with states.

  33. tarran,

    I didn’t say such a thing. Of course we should be vigilant against government abuses of any kind, especially when they take a form as egregious as SWAT overuse. What I do object to is the belief on the part of the extreme fringes of politics that they are on a higher moral ground than the rest of us when they push for anarchy or third-party triumphalism. (And no, I’m not directly accusing you of this belief.)

    Politics is a continuum, and if anyone holds the dualist view that anarchy is the opposite of government and ergo a prerequisite of freedom, then he or she is just as delusional as Marxists, who tragically could not overcome the self-contradictions of their ideology, and as Rothbardians, who fail to examine those of their own.

  34. Anyway, RC Dean’s ridicule notwithstanding, I applaud your support of a legal route to no law.

    I was not ridiculing tarran in the slightest. Most anarchists, sure, but tarran is at least talking sense.

    I merely recognize that the shooting politicians route has been tried, and failed miserably.

    Most anarchists seem completely ignorant of history. tarran at least learns from it.

    Anarchy is a cultural thing. So long as the preponderance of the population eschews the use of violence against their neighbors, the system flourishes. But when such support drops below some threshhold then the system collapses.

    See? Miles ahead of the usual claptrap.

  35. For anarchists who wish to pursue the Constitutional Amendment route, I have the wording already (from a discussion in 1972):

    “Nothing in this document shall be so construed as to assert or imply the existence of the United States Government.”

  36. “More anarchists like this, please!”

    You mean real anarchists instead of whiny white suburbanite kiddies who think anarchy means socialistic bullshit? Yeah, I concur. If you’re gonna be an anarchist, be an anarchist. If you’re going to be an anarcho-syndicalist (an oxymoronic term) then call yourself a commie, because that’s what you really are.

  37. Tarran —

    Excellent points, well made.

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