10 votes

Larken Rose on "anarchy"

(originally launched into cyberspace on 08/20/2007)

Dear Subscriber,

It never ceases to amaze me how people change what I say in order
to be able to rebut it. Some people "advocate" anarchy, meaning
they suggest doing away with government altogether, abolishing it,
and forming a free society. That is NOT what I am suggesting, any
more than I am suggesting that Santa Claus be abolished. I am
arguing about what IS, not what SHOULD be. The only "should" I'm
suggesting is that people "should" accept open their eyes to
reality, accept the truth, and throw away the insane, self-
contradictory, horribly destructive superstition upon which ALL of
the political beliefs of 99.9% of the population rest. I don't want
to CHANGE reality; I merely want people to RECOGNIZE it, and then
deal with it as they see fit. When people tell me that they don't
think my idea will "work," or aren't "practical" or "realistic," it
tells me that those people aren't reading what I wrote. About 90%
of political discussions I have with people amount to this:

Me: "Santa Claus isn't real. He doesn't exist."

Other guy: "But Christmas would never work without Santa! We can't
do away with him! You're being too idealistic. The people would
never get Christmas to work without Santa! They're just not
charitable enough. Sure, there should be limits on what Santa is
allowed to do, but we can't have NO Santa. That would never work!
Your idea is too extreme. We need Santa to do SOME things!"

Let me break this down to something which is both amazingly simple,
and yet which hardly anyone ever thinks about (and which you will
NEVER hear discussed in any mainstream politic debate, or in any
"educational" institution):

Fred and Bob are hungry. There is one sandwich on the table in
front of them. They both want it. Who gets it? It depends upon who
"owns" it--who has a rightful claim to it? To whom does it belong?

The concept is pretty darn simple. Now try this: Who owns me? Do I
own myself, or does someone else (an individual or a group) own me?
At this point almost everyone responds by saying that I own me--but
almost NO ONE actually believes it.

What does it mean to own something? It mean to have the exclusive
right to use it as you see fit, to dispose of it if you wish, to
give it away, to sell it, whatever. For any given thing--including
me--SOMEONE has to have the "final say" on what is done with it. So
the question is, who has the ultimate say over what is done with

I do. And from that one simple statement, ALL of my political
beliefs can be inferred. Trouble is, most people never bother to
consider what all logically follows from that one simple statement.

There are four guys, including me, in a room. I want to play the
piano. They want to play doubles dominoes, which they can't without
four people. Now, they have the right to try to talk me into
playing, or pay me, but when it comes right down to it, who has the
RIGHT to decide whether I play the piano or play dominoes? Me.

There are 22 guys, including me. I want to draw dinosaurs, and they
all want to play official-rules football (which requires 22
people). NOW who has the ultimate right to decide which I do? They
can beg, persuade, try a guilt-trip, bribe, bargain, etc., but in
the end, I AND I ALONE have the right to decide what is done with
me. Why? Because I own me, and they don't.

If this seems so self-evident and so obvious that you're wondering
why I would bother explaining it, that's a good thing. Hold onto
your brains as we compare that painfully simple concept to the
authoritarian indoctrination we've all been exposed to.

If I own me, then I own what I produce. (The owner of the cow is
also the owner of the milk.) If I build a chair, with my own time
and effort, it belongs to me. And if I decide to trade my chair for
someone else's basket of apples, then the apples become mine. They
belong to me, every bit as much as I belong to me. If I instead
trade my chair for a few silver coins, the silver belongs to me. No
one else. Me. I own me, so I own it.

Okay, I think I've about beaten that point to death, and at this
point hardly anyone would disagree--at least, they don't THINK they
disagree. Do you think I own myself? If you say "yes," try this
little test: If I want to spend all the silver I got from selling a
bunch of chairs, to buy a boat from someone else, do I have that
right? If I own me, I certainly do.

Oh, but wait. Some guys decided they get a cut of what I earn,
which they call a "tax," in order to do stuff and buy stuff THEY
think is important. Is that okay? How about if it's only a 1%
"tax"? Then is it okay?

If you answer "Yes," you do NOT believe I own me; you believe that
"government," or the collective, or my neighbors, or something else
owns me, but that I don't own myself.

As with the sandwich, SOMEONE has the ultimate right to say what is
done with it. If anyone, or any group of people--whether wearing
the label of "authority" or not--has the RIGHT to take what I
earned--essentially, the right to take a piece of me--and I do not
have the right to overrule them, then THEY OWN ME. It's no more
complicated than that.

Ownership is digital: either I own me, or someone else does. It
can't be both. When there is a conflict of ideas about what should
be done with me, ONE side--the side which OWNS me--has the final
say. If we disagree, whoever has the moral RIGHT to enforce his
decision is the rightful OWNER of me. If you believe in "taxation"
at all, in any form and to any degree, you believe that someone
ELSE has the final say, which means THEY own me, and I don't.

As you ponder that thought, don't be tempted to rant about what we
"need," or what "works," or what is "practical" or "realistic."
There are two options here, and ONLY two options: 1) I own me, or
2) someone else owns me. So which is it? Don't tell me what you
think is "necessary" for civilization, or how society has to be
arranged, or whether my philosophy would "work." Don't bother
fishing for excuses for your answer, and don't try muddling the
waters with rhetoric about "consent of the governed," or "giving up
some of our rights," or what will happen to society if people don't
accept your answer, or any other evasions. (In other words, don't
parrot the obfuscations and bunk that has been force-fed to all of
us in order to obscure and mangle what should be a painfully simple
concept.) Just tell me, WHO OWNS ME? (At the same time, you will be
answering another question: "Who owns YOU?")


Larken Rose

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Would you be surprised to learn

we are related? LOL!
Never met him, but we sure think a lot alike.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

And so we come to the

And so we come to the sovereign individual and that "people" in many of our early documents meant the collection of individual persons, not some collective "people" that has no individual mind or speaking head, and doesn't really exist other than an abstract idea.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


I mentioned Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel's book Justice some time ago. It can be called many things. I think I might have mentioned it as an organized effort to undermine philosophy. It could also be viewed as an effort to answer Larkin's question with the assertion that somebody (anybody) else besides him owns him.

Unfortunately, it is people like Sandel who are taking charge of the minds of the vast majority of children and youth in this country for about 16 to 20 years.

Yoo hoo, minarchists

I'd really like to hear some folks who believe in "limited government" respond to this essay.

Larken has a gift for explaining things using plain language and common sense -- and cutting through crap. If this essay impresses you, try his wonderful book, The Most Dangerous Superstition for more of the same.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

This essay doesn't change my

This essay doesn't change my views at all. I believe in sovereign individuals and voluntary government.

Most people will choose a limited government where they mutually protect each other. No one is required to belong, and there may be different communities of like minded people.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

"Voluntary government" is an oxymoron.

If it's voluntary, it ain't government. Larken Rose had some good points to make about the "consent of the governed" too.

People mutually protecting one another from aggressors is a good thing. Some people trying to make rules about what other peaceful folk can do with their lives and property -- that's institutionalizing aggression.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Geeze,that's how it's written in the Declaration of Independence

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"

You can't force people not to associate and form groups with each other just because you don't want them to. You've never gotten over the fact you're trying to force how other people deal with their lives, and that they have to have your philosophical view and your system. Tyranny!

While my view is everyone is free to form their own system and they don't need to ask *you*. And you don't need to ask them. Real liberty.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

So those who associate automatically deserve power?

"Governments are instituted among men" meaning white adult males who owned land.
The founders got a lot right, but they got a lot wrong, too.
NO ONE has the right to rule over me, even if ALL of you vote and decide someone does.
My CREATOR did that creative thing and CREATED ME SOVEREIGN. Then a bunch of yayhoos immediately surrendered their sovereignty, and convinced everyone else they had to, too. Some millenia later, I inherited their nonsense, but I don't consent. I reject their authority to pick who gets to rule over me, whether they do it in 2 weeks, or whether they did it in 1776.
When the need arises, the group of individuals who feel need to cooperate will join together and cooperate. When their use is served, they will disband - UNLESS someone gave them a badge and told them to keep doing it.
Badges are fun. Can I have a paycheck, too? I'll NEVER quit ruling over you if you make the deal sweet enough.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Your both arguing against sovereign individuals choosing groups

So you reject it. Your rejecting it doesn't mean others can't accept it. And that seems to be the argument you are making - People can't self organize!

That's the point. Both of you are arguing against other people belonging to organizations they choose. Voluntary. And fyi they have a right to exclude you too. It's not enough to say I want to join.

Not sure what brainwashing the first poster has subjected himself to, but the word "government" is used in private organizations as well, as in charters that have sections about "our government structure", and "our governing principles". It's a sure sign you've subjected yourself to something if you start re-defining words in a non-standard way. Why do you need to?

Voluntary government - it just works.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Well Said!

Unfortunately very few people respond to reason and logic. They just run their programming and think it was their own original thoughts...

What part of; "taking the fruits of ones labors against their will is theft" do you not understand?

End The Fat
70 pounds lost and counting! Get in shape for the revolution!

Get Prepared!

did he mean to say, ownership

did he mean to say, ownership is 'binary'? instead of digital

Southern Agrarian

yes, i think so. I've

yes, i think so. I've always read it as "binary" as well.

Or maybe "digital" can technically also be used there, but most people use "binary" so it just comes off as strange. Kinda how if you use "momentum" instead of "inertia" when referring to the difficulty in starting a new procedure at work, it's still correct, just not the idiom most people are familar with.


He doesn't really mean "binary" either here (and certainly not "digital") or at least he doesn't reason with it that way. Binary would mean yes-or-no. Whatever we want to call it, he *seems* to be assuming that everything (including people) has exactly one owner. SomeONE owns the sandwich. "Either I own me, or someone else does."

But that's a false premise. Ownership doesn't work that way. Not everything has an owner, and things can have multiple owners. The house I'm in isn't owned by any one person, my wife and I own it jointly. An asset owned by a corporation has shared ownership. The two guys in the story might have pooled their money to buy the sandwich, or one might have brought the bread and the other the meat.

And his argument hinges on the "either I own me, or someone else does" point. He also takes a lot for granted in the notion of "ownership" applied to persons. When you play fast and loose with the argument it's not really very persuasive.

Who owns your life?

If not "you and only you," then who has a claim of ownership over your life, how did they acquire it, and by what principle is said claim established?

What's REALLY not very persuasive is your suggestion that since property can be owned by more than one owner, human lives can be rightfully owned by someone other than each individual himself. You want to make the case for slavery on this forum? Knock yourself out.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Not what I said

All I was pointing out is that an argument that has as a premise the assertion that everything is owned by exactly one owner, is an argument based on a false premise. An argument based on a false premise is called an unsound argument.

FWIW my view would be that nobody owns me because persons are not "ownable" things. Slavery isn't really ownership, it's merely coercion under the guise of ownership. We don't have to define who "owns" infants, etc., because "ownership" isn't a relevant concept there. Trying to frame the question the author there seems to want to talk about (taxation, in part) as one of ownership gets the whole thing off to a bad start, with the logical fallacy known as a category error. IMO.

Slavery is not merely coercion.

Not in all cases, at any rate. In the time before the War of Northern Aggression, many slaves truly regarded themselves as rightful property of their owners. Feudal serfs regarded themselves -- proudly -- as vassels of their feudal lords. That's something even more horrible than coerced labor would be, isn't it? Not merely to enslave a man's body, but his mind as well.

And that latter kind of enslavement is precisely what "government" tries to do to us. That is what our 12 years of "public education" is designed to inculcate. On our very first day of school we learn to "pledge allegiance" to the government. We learn that it is our moral duty to obey the orders of our master ("government") -- which are called "laws" and to pay over whatever portion of our earnings the master demands ("taxes"). Be PROUD to be "an American!" Like a cow should be PROUD of the brand on its butt, a brand which identifies the rancher who has the right to control, milk and slaughter the beast.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

I can see why he used "digital"

"Bi" means "two" -- for people who don't have a totally clear understanding of what "binary" means, that could be very confusing in this context. "Digital" means about the same thing, but without the potential for confusion. Yes, it does sound a bit weird -- I would have used "mutually exclusive" or some such, myself.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Love it!

He has that certain way of explaining things...