I’ve a lot of time for the Freemen, and increasingly less and less time for Libertarians. This post was brought to you in part, by the letter A, the number 42, the very public spat between the commentariat at the Libertarian Alliance blog and Captain Ranty (found here at their place and here at his place) and this thread at Samizdata. Actually it was the thread at Samidata that riled me the most.
I shouldn’t have a dog in this fight, I’m not a freeman, or in lawful rebellion and I am also not a libertarian (big OR little l), I am an Anarcho-Capitalist and very comfortable there. Really, however, all the four (five?) things I just mentioned should have more in common than we have different, and we all should be facing the same arguments with the people we meet in our daily lives. It’s just that for some reason the libertarian backwaters of the internet just lately seem to be full of snide remark and barely-concealed contempt for the freemen, who after all are walking their talk and putting themselves in jeopardy for their rights which is something that really should garner a fair deal of respect, not sideways-glancing remarks about ‘showing us up’ and alluding to their mental health with mealy mouthed quotes from Greek myth.
We are governed supposedly by consent, whether this is given implicitly or explicitly. This is supposedly the justification for everything our government does for (to) us, all the money it taxes (steals) from us to pay for it all, and so on. But what happens if you don’t consent? Do you just have to put up with it because everybody else consents? The libertarian commenters I have been reading would seem to say so, which is surprising given that it comes from the sort of people who sometimes append ‘individualist’ to their self-descriptions. Furthermore, even if a minority don’t consent, then claims to government by consent can only be mostly true, by definition. What happens when one withdraws or, more accurately, states that they have never given their consent and furthermore refuses to pay for it all at all is the experiment that the Freemen and Lawful Rebels are carrying out. They are choosing to use ancient laws and treaties and constitutional arguments to do it, but basically that is what they are doing, snide comments about using legal mumbo-jumbo to get out of paying their council tax nonwithstanding. They are giving voice to their non-consent and refusing to play the game any longer. Bravo.
And it is a game, a game of charades. If you cannot withdraw your consent then you cannot really be said to have given your consent at all. If you do not consent but keep quiet and pay up because you are afraid of the consequences then you are cowed into submission, not consenting. In reality, there IS no government by consent, and therefore in reality we are living in a dictatorship, regardless of the existence or not of concentration camps, secret policemen, political prisoners or any of the other trappings of state power- it is a question of magnitude.
The libertarians, especially those commenters at the LA thread, seem to think that this is just fine, or perhaps get too carried away with whether Magna Carta is repealed or not, or whether the version ratified by parliament is the definitive version or whether the version signed in 1215 counts forever, or other endless circles of argument and counter-argument to actually consider this reality. This is perhaps because, as statists (a question of magnitude again) libertarians believe that such a thing should exist and therefore by extension that it should have the ability to fund itself by confiscation of wealth from those people unfortunate to live under it and so on and so forth. All arguments I have seen from libertarians against Freemen accept this premise and argue whether Freemen are legally or lawfully correct in what they are doing (i.e. staying within the state’s frame) without considering whether one group of people (the state) have the right to demand that another group of people (everybody else) give them money, allow them onto their land and so on. It should be patently obvious to everyone, but especially to libertarians, that one group of people absolutely does NOT have the right to demand these things from another group of people regardless of what the two groups call themselves. If someone comes onto your land without your permission then he is a trespasser whether another man in a wig has said he can or not, and if a man in an office rifles through your wage packet then he is a simple thief.
People choosing to stand up to trespassers and thieves earn my respect, whichever means they choose to use to do so.