Libertarian History/Philosophy

A Great Christmas Season Rant Against the Unfairness of the State. (Warning! NSFW!)


Clark Bianco at Popehat has a bracing holiday rant against the state with the NSFW title "Burn the Fucking System to the Ground."

It's interesting in how it brings white-hot heat against the practices of the state without coming from an explicitly libertarian perspective about things like when and where it is appropriate for the state to act. There's no big controversial political philosophical premises or reasoning involved.

It's just pointing out–in ways that people who think of themselves as "left" or "right" should be able to understand–that the state acts in many ways to perform utterly unconscionable acts that ruin people's lives for no good reason–and does so in a way that can seem more based on class divisions than any "state vs. people's rights" calculus that has anything to do with beliefs in the necessity or propriety of government.

Some excerpts:

The older I get, the more I see, the more I read, the more clear it becomes to me that the entire game is rigged. The leftists and the rightists each see half of the fraud. The lefties correctly note that a poor kid caught with cocaine goes to jail, while a Bush can write it off as a youthful mistake (they somehow overlook the fact that their man Barrack hasn't granted clemency to any one of the people doing federal time for the same felonies he committed). The righties note that government subsidized windmills kill protected eagles with impunity while Joe Sixpack would be deep in the crap if he even picked up a dead eagle from the side of the road. The lefties note that no one was prosecuted over the financial meltdown. The righties note that the Obama administration rewrote bankruptcy law on the fly to loot value from GM stockholders and hand it to the unions. The lefties note that Republicans tweak export rules to give big corporations subsidies. Every now and then both sides join together to note that, hey! the government is spying on every one of us…or that, hey! the government stole a bunch of people's houses and gave them to Pfizer, because a privately owned for-profit corporation is apparently what the Constitution means by "public use".

….the system is not reformable. There are multiple classes of people, but it boils down to the connected, and the not connected. Just as in pre-Revolutionary France, there is a very strict class hierarchy….

Jamal the $5 weed slinger, Shaneekwa the hair braider, and Loudmouth Bob in the 7-11 parking lot are at the bottom of the hierarchy. They can,literally, be killed with impunity … as long as the dash cam isn't running. And, hell, half the time they can be killed even if the dash cam is running….

Next up from Shaneekwa and Loudmouth Bob are us regular peons. We can have our balls squeezed at the airport, our rectums explored at the roadside, our cars searched because the cops got permission from a dog (I owe some Reason intern a drink for that one), our telephones tapped (because terrorism!), our bank accounts investigated (because FinCEN! and no expectation of privacy!). We don't own the house we live in, not if someone of a higher social class wants it….And if there's a "national security emergency" (defined as two idiots with a pressure cooker), then the constitution is suspended, martial law is declared, and people are hauled out of their homes.

Next up from the regular peons are the unionized, disciplined-voting-blocks. Not-much-brighter-than-a-box-of-crayolas teachers who work 180 days a year and get automatic raises. Firefighters who disproportionately retire on disability the very day they sub in for their bosses and get a paper cut.

A step up from the teachers and firefighters are the cops: all the same advantages of nobility of the previous group, but a few more in addition: the de facto power to murder someone as long as not too many cameras are rolling….

Above the cops, the prosecutors, and the judiciary we have the true ruling class: the cabal of (most) politicians and (some) CEOs, conspiring both against their own competitors and the public at large. If the public is burdened with a $100 million debt to pay off a money losing stadium, that's a small price to pay if a politician gets reelected (and gets to hobnob with entertainers and sports heroes via free tickets and backstage passes)….

It is corrupt, corrupt, corrupt….

The system is not fixable because it is not broken. It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives….

Burn it to the ground.

Burn it to the ground.

Again, a kind of anger that theoretically could fuel a genuinely "populist libertarianism" without explicitly libertarian roots. Interesting to think about.

[Hat tip: the Twitter feed of magazine editor and TV talk show host Matt Welch]

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  1. I’m all for burning it to the ground. Provided that “it” is the Capitol building, and it’s during the State of the Union address, and the doors are all barred and locked like the school in the movie Lean on Me.

    The state of the system, and the fixability of it, is what inches me from minarchy towards AnCap. Not there yet, but I fear the existence of any government would lead to the same bullshit we have now.

    1. I fear the existence of any government would lead to the same bullshit we have now.

      Of course it would…but on what time scale?

      I think 250 years between revolutions is probably too long, but 75 might be about right.

  2. The system is not fixable because it is not broken. It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives….

    Very well said. Hopefully more and more people will begin to understand that.

    Burn it to the ground.

    I can’t really agree here. Acts of violence will be met with disproportionate response from the state. You don’t burn down a castle wall, you undermine it by withdrawing its support.

    1. I’m pretty sure Clark meant “Burn it to the ground” as a metaphor. Unlike me. Though I’m an angry person.

    2. Burn it to the ground and then piss on the ashes…metaphorically speaking.

    3. Just get down on your knees and pray for an asteroid strike. Not a big one. 25kT yield should do the trick…

  3. “…the state acts in many ways to perform utterly unconscionable acts that ruin people’s lives for no good reason”


    Which is why we need to get all the Rethuglicans out of office and let the Right-Thinking People take over! Then we can ruin people’s lives FOR THE GREATER GOOD!@
    / progtard

    1. Exactly. The problem with the Weimar Republic is that it is not sufficiently Marxist-Leninist in its principles.

  4. For a “libertarian blog” Popehat sure has a shitload of bootlicking progtards in the comments.Hit&Run; should aspire to such.

    1. The commenters at Popehat are just awful, most of the time. I love reading Clark’s rants, but it’s guaranteed to bring out the standard progressive ad hominem nastiness in response.

      The most popular comment the day this rant came out was of the “Yeah but what would you replace it with, smart gai?” variety. I haven’t bothered going back since then.

      1. The worst to me are all the ones defending the judge’s right to be free from sanction for her drug use so she can get back to the business of punishing drug users.

  5. Channel Cathy Young here:

    On the one hand, yes, what he says. On the other hand, anyone who has more Stephenson than Heinlen or Clarke on his favorite books list has no credibility.

    1. Too much Niven/Pournelle

      1. Too much Niven/Pournelle

        You shut your whore mouth.

        1. Brothers, sisters, can’t we all just agree that Kevin J. Anderson is the destroyer of worlds and march together into a Sci-Fi future free of his horrid taint?

      2. Impossible, there is no such thing as too much Niven/Pournelle

    2. Clarke? He had some interesting ideas but he writing was dreadfully boring.

      1. Shut your whore mouth and make me a sammich, I’m busy with Childhood’s End.

        1. I hate that book. It’s a very engaging story but it’s essentially a big propaganda screed for the Borg.

          1. And the problem with that is…?

            The greatly overrated one is Asimov- snaky socialism, WAY too much talking.

            1. It just creeped me way out when I first read it 20 years ago and I haven’t been able to go back to it again.

              1. I read it in the past few years.

                Don’t go back to it! I am positive it is still as creepy as when you read it.

                1. I reread it about a month ago, and it was just as great as I remembered.

  6. Keep in mind that the system in its entirety is designed, as far as the proles are concerned, for their comfort. Everything is supposed to bring about a stable society with well-paved roads and state so large, so all encompassing, that it can grant them, very nearly, their every whim.

    And if not, to punish their political enemies who seek to withhold it from them.

    The last thing we want, as a people it seems, is to have to ponder over whether the exact number of calories in a Big Mac are worth the extra state power, whether or not that business owners can decide whether to allow smoking in their business, whether a person is free to sell raw milk to someone who freely chooses to buy it, knowing the risks, whether someone should be able to put a substance into their body that isn’t on the approved list. ALL of it is expressly designed to prevent ‘anarchy,’ or otherwise known as mutually agreed upon transactions and interactions between consenting adults.

    So, at the end of the day, the only question that needs to be asked of the supporters of the status quo, those that would seek to build it up further than to burn it down is this:

    How many people are you willing to have the state jail and kill, so that you can enjoy your way of life, so that you don’t have to dirty your hands with the hard daily decisions in life?

    1. How many people are you willing to have the state jail and kill, so that you can enjoy your way of life, so that you don’t have to dirty your hands with the hard daily decisions in life?

      I believe given the present lack of resistance to the current status quo, that you already have your answer.

      A lot more than we do now.

  7. I really have no use for rants without a solution. No fucking shit the system favors those in control. So now what?

    (That’s rhetorical, BTW, except for the Popehat whiner.)

    1. No fucking shit the system favors those in control.

      Wow, another guy ranting without proposing a solution…

      1. Oh piss off. If I really wanted to rant, then yes, I’d also include a “What Comes Next” component.

        1. And then people would be arguing about your proposed solution rather than questioning whether the current system meets their needs.

          Honestly, I think you’re being a bigger whiner than clark is FWW.

        2. Put some effort into it, then. I want to see solutions too, but every time I suggest a libertarian study group to write the next Constitution so it doesn’t fail (I think we will see a Constitutional Convention within our lifetimes, 20-30 years out tops), everyone just keeps talking about fantasy football or whatever.

          That bothers me, but I realize that until more people read rants and rant themselves, they won’t start even thinking about solutions.

          The utility of the “solutionless rant” is to get people who don’t see the problem yet to recognize it, and hopefully start thinking about solutions, or at least be open to people who do propose them. There are millions, tens of millions in this country who don’t really see a problem. That needs to change before anyone would even start thinking about meaningful change.

          1. The problem is there is no solution.

            A Constitutional Convention won’t help, do you honestly think that there are enough libertarians in positions of power to even be able to influence it? We are much more likely to get constitutional guarantees of health care, living wages, housing, and food security than anything even remotely libertarian.

            You want a real libertarian solution? Well the only choice is something like the free state project only with the goal of setting up a heavily armed libertarian state immediately in the collapse of the federal leviathan so as to ensure that somewhere there will be a home for liberty.

            1. Constitutional Convention? No no no no no. There’s nothing wrong with the one we got.

              We need one of the parties to get powerful enough to jail the criminals in the other, and then the reverse.

              Or nerve gas at the SOTU address.

    2. I really have no use for rants without a solution

      I’m pretty sure that ‘burn it to the ground’ is the solution.

      1. Only if you are advocating Anarchy. Even Anarcho Capitalism has some structure.

        Otherwise, it’s not a solution. It’s simply a transition step.

        1. Only if you are advocating Anarchy.

          Yes, and?

          1. And Popehat isn’t advocating that. They aren’t advocating anything. They are just being babies.

            1. So, basically, unless someone can propose an alternative, they should STFU when it comes to pointing out problems?

              The Korean Airlines Pilot shouting “Sink Rate! Sink Rate!” was being a whiner because he didn’t append “Increase Power!” to his warning?

              And what’s your proposed solution to the problem of people calling out problems without pointing out solutions? Should they be forced to shut up? Should they be required to submit their essays to you, the Federal Rant Inspector, for a publishing permit, which will only be issued once you are satisfied that the proposed solution is appropriately serious(tm)?

              1. No, I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Pointing out discrete problems is a healthy part of the learning process. Most of H&R is about pointing out discrete problems without delving much, if at all, into a full fledged analysis about how to solve it.

                But this is not about pointing out and discussing discrete problems. This is about selectively pointing out various things that bother you, simplifying it to an absurd degree, and then kicking the ball out of the playground and shouting “I’m going home!” because you’re a whiner who can’t get your way.

                And BTW, do I need your permission to call someone out for a shit pointless essay? Do I need to have my feedback screened by the official H&R commentariat screening review board under risk of exile?

                Or did you feel the need to bitch about my bitching because you’re a bitch?

                What is it? Tell me! I’m dying to know.

                1. No, I am just mocking you for vapidly whining.

                  1. “No, I am just mocking you for vapidly whining.”

                    So you busting my balls for busting Brian’s balls about posting some pointless vapid whining?

                    That’s a lot of ball busting.

                    The primary reason I bitch about certain posts is certainly self-serving. I prefer to see an H&R that’s caters to my tastes, which includes less vapid whining posts.

                    And I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’m surprised at how many people do take issue when I’m critical of H&R posts.

            2. This is probably the funniest thing I’ve read today.

      2. There’s no such thing as anarchy. Paying Fat Tony for protection from other gangs is no different than paying Uncle Sam for protection from other gangs. Maybe Tony will be more efficient in providing that protection, but you will pay someone.

        Let’s face it. You want anarchotopia? This is anarchotopia. 200-odd very powerful gangs run it.

    3. That’s nice, Orange Tony.

    4. I prefer to read books over watching movies – because I prefer to let my own imagination supply the visuals. . . I also prefer rants which don’t offer solutions – I’d rather use the data available and make my own decision.

      If you’d rather watch a movie – let someone else’s imagination supply the visuals – enjoy. If you’d rather let someone else provide a solution for your issues – well, Duh Gutterment is as good a place as any to start.

    5. The solution already exists. Assassination Politics is live over on TOR. Submit your “little list” and an appropriate number of BitCoins per entry. There might be even more than you expect as your list is crowdfunded.

  8. If you agree that the system is not reformable (and I’m pretty close), then you have two options:

    (1) Join it. Become a soulless apparatchik or a bought-and-paid-for crony.

    (2) Burn it to the ground. And by that I mean, support a revolution.

    That’s what “not reformable” means. There is no third option, as in “ignore it” or “withdraw”, because what is not reformable is a Total State that has in recent years developed all the tools of a no-fooling totalitarian state.

  9. I blame the Supreme Court. For almost 250 years, the branch designed to be the ultimate gate keepers of liberty has slowly eroded the rights of all Americans. For it is the Supreme Court that has allowed the virtually unchecked powers to continue today. I mean, what part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” or “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” is so fucking difficult to understand?

    1. See, you missed it right from the start. The Supreme Court wasn’t designed to be the ultimate gatekeepers of constitutionality. They gave that power to themselves in Marbury v Madison.

  10. I’m curious to see if Ken writes a response to Clark. There have been other similar arguments before over there. It does seem less and less possible over time to reform the system from within.

  11. Damn, I do love a good rant. Thanks for the post, Mr. Doherty.

  12. Again, a kind of anger that theoretically could fuel a genuinely “populist libertarianism” without explicitly libertarian roots. Interesting to think about.

    “Libertarian” has come to be an umbrella term for any number of anti-status quo political movements, not all of them compatible. Something tells me you might find “populist libertarianism” rather appalling should it ever actually materialize in the flesh. Were you contemplating a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism or a neoreactionary monarchy as the successor to the current can of worms?

  13. This rant can be described in one word: Outfuckingstanding.

  14. I dont think Jack Daddy Frapp is gonna like that.

  15. Eh, he’s no Mustapha Gormsby.

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