Galt Or Roark?

Browsing the virtual stacks of Billy Beck’s library today, I came across this:

Atlas Shrugged, 1957, Ayn Rand — “The most subversive political implication of ‘Atlas Shrugged’, is that individual freedom is possible only to those who are strong enough, psychologically and morally, to withdraw their sanction from any system that coercively thrives off their productive energies.” (Sciabarra — “The Russian Radical”, pp. 301-302) Say no more.

Anyone who knows Beck a bit knows why he appreciates that quote. There’s no doubt in my mind that Beck is strong enough, psychologically and morally, to withdraw his production from a system that coercively feeds off of it. He’s demonstrated that. But the fact remains that the system thrives without his productive energies.

Does the withholding of his production make him free? It is certainly a demonstration of his metaphysical freedom to choose. But I also know from talking with him that there are many things he’d like to do, things that he is very well prepared to do, which he cannot do without making his production available to those he does not sanction. If he were happy with the result of this choice then I could call it an exercise of freedom. But he’s not happy with the result.

Rand used her literary creation John Galt to systematically lay out her philosophy. I don’t think his program for stopping the motor of the world ought to be entertained as a serious practical proposal. Galt’s program overlooks the Prisoners Dilemma. The world can do without the individual’s production and that is all the the individual has power over. Galt’s program relies on a wishful collectivism, he wishes a lot of other individuals will shrug with him. It works in the novel.

I met Beck a while back and he told me the thought that 250,000 conscientious objectors to taxation could turn the tide in America. I had two objections to this vision: 1) The 250,000 weren’t coming, and 2) Even if they did show up they would be of little consequence. Our America is quite capable of swallowing that many conscientious objectors whole.

I recommend Roark’s more natural individualism over Galt’s wishful collective program. Roark always pursued his goals by doing the business he wanted to do. His progress and his happiness did not depend on the enlightenment of an arbitrary number on men – one individual would suffice.

44 thoughts on “Galt Or Roark?”

  1. JTK>You could get 12,000 people to show up for an anti-government demonstration, but it wouldn’t be the kind of principle anarchists you want, it would mostly be an attack on the party in power…

    Granted (and entirely expected): Look, if they sign on to not paying taxes and flouting the drug laws, and *get away with it*, they’ll accomplish more in one day than all the worthless asshole libertarians have in thirty years.

    JTK>There are plenty of Americans who don’t want to give the IRS any more money but there is nothing like 2.5 million who think the IRS shouldn’t be taking from others on their behalf.

    Hypocrisy is also granted, but so is envy: After all, if 12,000 can get away with not paying, then why should *they*? (The reason most moral fencesitters want their share of the loot is because they see taxation as inevitable, and they want “their share” back.) The greatest sense of desperation in this whole rotten government revolves around managing public-opinion of its “success” in collecting taxes, when then the reality is they’re wobbling on a rotten stool with nowhere near a smidgeon of manpower to do *jack shit* about any non-landowner who just ups and “Fuck You!”s the whole thing.

    It’s their greatest fear, and they’re *helpless* to do anything about it. They can seize a guy’s house — after a seige during which he decides not to shoot anyone or burn the place down. They have no power whatsoever over a renter who works for cash and keeps no records.

    >Why isn’t the solution a business solution?

    You cannot purchase your own stolen goods at market-prices, John, especially if the thief isn’t interested in selling.

    ALL that this requires is *initiative*. If East Berliners had sat around waiting for a “business model”, the wall would still be up.

    “Business model”? It’s called profiting friom being FREE afterward.

  2. Why don’t people recognize that as a business GM embodies the most appropriate model of collective action for libertarians or ancaps? Why do you advocate means which require voluntary donations of virtue from large numbers of people when you have a model for harnessing the same virtues through trade? Why isn’t the solution a business solution?

    If change is to come, this is the way to bring it. But until we figure out how to do so ourselves, we might as well spend our time spreading ideas and hope to reach that elusive Roark with our message. Think of it as pre-emptive consumer feedback for potential entrepeneurs.

  3. Mike,
    In my estimation, it would take less than a twentieth of Billy’s forecast number, rallying at the Washington Mall to pledge never to vote, never to pay taxes, smoke these little rolled-up things as they damn well pleased, and resist arrest (by a limited number of DC fuzz who’ll more than likely stay prudently away, not that they’d have the jail cells to hold ’em, and *we all know it*, which is *why* it’d WORK) — to tip over the whole rotten scheme, because it would represent the *critical mass* to impel 2.5 *million* people to blow the IRS a lovely, parting kiss.

    A rally of 12,000 anarchists would accomplish that? My reservations remain intact: 1) I don’t think there are even 12,000 Americans who will sign up for your program. What I see online tells me they don’t exist. You could get 12,000 people to show up for an anti-government demonstration, but it wouldn’t be the kind of principle anarchists you want, it would mostly be an attack on the party in power. 2) The jails can’t handle them? Forget about it. The state would wait for them to go home and take them down one at a time as seemed useful. There are plenty of Americans who don’t want to give the IRS any more money but there is nothing like 2.5 million who think the IRS shouldn’t be taking from others on their behalf.

    Lastly: This is NOT an appeal to “collectivist action”; it’s merely an observation of the reality that the project is too large for a single individual to successfully tackle all by himself. A single individual cannot build a whole car; neither can he independently mount a successful overthrow of a predatory state. This isn’t a “collectivist” endeavor any more than General Motors is.

    Why don’t people recognize that as a business GM embodies the most appropriate model of collective action for libertarians or ancaps? Why do you advocate means which require voluntary donations of virtue from large numbers of people when you have a model for harnessing the same virtues through trade? Why isn’t the solution a business solution?

    <hard stare> You want to avoid *slavery* or *civil war*? Then you had better get about something like this SOON, or your choices will be down to just two pretty quick here.

    Seems to me my prospects for avoiding civil war are nearly identical to your own regardless of what we each get about as individuals.

  4. As I see it, the primary reason why Galt & Co. had an effect on the country was because they represented the last remaining productive businessmen; people who had great products and great intellect behind them. The context of their withdrawal is what made their withdrawal have such an impact. The world might have not needed Rearden Metal, but it did need honest and hardworking metal fabrication plants and it seemed to me that those kinds of businesses were in increasingly short supply as the novel went on.

    But the United States of today isn’t like that. Yet.

    I’m not sure Galt really wanted others to join him en masse as a movement. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I thought he was more concerned with the integrity his own principles rather than starting political momentum towards large-scale change. Along the way, he met others who thought along the same lines or who were missing the crucial idea integration that he laid out for them.

    Withdrawing from collectivist society and starting a new life elsewhere to start an individualist society vs. having individualistic goals and pursuing them up and over the objections of collectivist society. I’ve preferred Roark’s style because it’s honest and upfront.

  5. JTK>I met Beck a while back and he told me the thought that 250,000 conscientious objectors to taxation could turn the tide in America. I had two objections to this vision: 1) The 250,000 weren’t coming, and 2) Even if they did show up they would be of little consequence. Our America is quite capable of swallowing that many conscientious objectors whole.

    — You’re wrong on both counts, John. The number, as the so-called “Free State Project” demonstrates, is there. (The FSP will fail because its methods embrace rather than thwart the immorality of democracy; neither can Galt’s tactic overturn the state, since it counsels retreat rather than confrontation).

    How many East Germans did it take to finally tear down the wall? (Answer: Enough to *start*, without getting shot, for the REST to show up and help.) In my estimation, it would take less than a twentieth of Billy’s forecast number, rallying at the Washington Mall to pledge never to vote, never to pay taxes, smoke these little rolled-up things as they damn well pleased, and resist arrest (by a limited number of DC fuzz who’ll more than likely stay prudently away, not that they’d have the jail cells to hold ’em, and *we all know it*, which is *why* it’d WORK) — to tip over the whole rotten scheme, because it would represent the *critical mass* to impel 2.5 *million* people to blow the IRS a lovely, parting kiss.

    THIS is how alleged libertarians should be wielding their “pledge”, rather than *negating* it by wallowing in the authorized violence of politics.

    Lastly: This is NOT an appeal to “collectivist action”; it’s merely an observation of the reality that the project is too large for a single individual to successfully tackle all by himself. A single individual cannot build a whole car; neither can he independently mount a successful overthrow of a predatory state. This isn’t a “collectivist” endeavor any more than General Motors is.

    <hard stare> You want to avoid *slavery* or *civil war*? Then you had better get about something like this SOON, or your choices will be down to just two pretty quick here.

  6. I hate to show my ignorance, but may I interject a basic question? You went over my head with the comment “as a business GM embodies the most appropriate model of collective action for libertarians or ancaps”. I guess I see your point, that the best (perhaps ONLY) way to organize a political movement from a group of individualists is to make it profitable after some initial, reasonable investment, but how does a political movement generate monetary profit in a non-corrupt way? Or is that an unsolved question?
    Thanks for your patience, and congratulations on your fine blog.
    Daniel Day

  7. Daniel,

    I hate to show my ignorance, but may I interject a basic question? You went over my head with the comment “as a business GM embodies the most appropriate model of collective action for libertarians or ancaps”. I guess I see your point, that the best (perhaps ONLY) way to organize a political movement from a group of individualists is to make it profitable after some initial, reasonable investment, but how does a political movement generate monetary profit in a non-corrupt way? Or is that an unsolved question?

    I’m not talking about a political movement in business clothes, I’m talking about the abandonment of political movements altogether because they are not a form of collective action appropriate to sovereign individuals.

    If there is a value you pursue that is a value to others then you should be able to produce it profitably.

    The way to start is to produce protection for individuals and their property from government. I’m not talking about one firm producing a comprehensive solution, but rather a few firms leading the way and others following profitably in their wake.

  8. I hate to show my ignorance, but may I interject a basic question? You went over my head with the comment “as a business GM embodies the most appropriate model of collective action for libertarians or ancaps”. I guess I see your point, that the best (perhaps ONLY) way to organize a political movement from a group of individualists is to make it profitable after some initial, reasonable investment, but how does a political movement generate monetary profit in a non-corrupt way? Or is that an unsolved question?

      Seems to me like a real dilemma — how to escape the State without using it to do so. I’ve been told it is now literally impossible. WeThePeople say: “Born in a State-funded hospital were ya? Breathed any clean air lately? Drank any potable water? Got educated in a “public” school have ya? Not driving on public roads are you?” Etc. etc.. All brought to you by your benevolent neighborhood State, they say. So pay up, they insist, pay up.

      Some days I wish I had been born of my mother, tabula rasa on a previously unowned deserted island, so I could look WeThePeople in the face and say, honestly, “I don’t owe you jack shit mo fo.”

      But alas, that ain’t reality. Tho I sure as hell don’t understand why WeThePeople can’t simply send me a bill for what they think I owe, so I could from here forward pay for what I value, and not for what I disvalue, and in every other way see my way through the rest of my life by my own light.

  9. I am beginning to think that neither one of you ever read the two books that you’re talking about.

    Let me point out a fact to you: Howard Roark never solved the problem. He just kept working in the culture that John Galt had to destroy, later.

    You’re not paying attention.

  10. Micha,

    If change is to come, this is the way to bring it. But until we figure out how to do so ourselves, we might as well spend our time spreading ideas and hope to reach that elusive Roark with our message. Think of it as pre-emptive consumer feedback for potential entrepeneurs.

    When was the last time you wrote a piece saying the answer lay in business rather than persuasion? How are you ging to find him if you’re not even talking about the right solution?

  11. To wit: “The Fountainhead”‘s culture was pantsloads *freer* than today’s. Sure, some fella could cash out and hire the best architect in the world to build the biggest building ever — and run smack into about fifteen years’ worth of legal/zoning/union BULLSHIT before a shovel could encounter dirt.

    Anyone else remember Donald Trump attempting to turn twelve miles of rusting New Jersey dumpland into Shangra La about 15-20 ago? Every chigger and parasite east of the Mississippie dug in for a sip, and he junked it in short-order.

    150-story skyscaper in the US today? Fat chance. *Only* if the *government* built it with loot, would you ever see it….and that’s how the WTCs were built thirty years ago.

  12. I’m angry that there is no cure for cancer, John.

    That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be, or that there never will be.

    You have never come to terms with the Is/Ought Dichotomy.

    It’s okay: I don’t need to you argue for resistence, John. I could use you, but I don’t need you.

  13. Billy,

    …is flatly idiotic. You’re not grasping the action of the thing. Let me tell you something, mate: when I say that I’m not going to pay for this government anymore, I fuckin’-aye mean it.

    I know that. And there is nothing like 250,000 or even 12,000 of you in existence.

    It would just fine for them to send me home, but they’re going to have to finance their destruction of America without my help.

    Yes, and they’re doing just that just fine.

    Let ’em try it when enough people are kicking their asses through the checkbook like that.

    When is this happening? When do you figure enough Americans will be like you?

    Because I figure that’s happening roughly never.

    You only get to decide for you. If that decision makes you happy, great. Does it?

    I’ve looked carefully at how many people there are like you. I’ve looked carefully at how people change. The numbers aren’t there. One of the reasons you’re angry is because you know as well as I do that it’s not going to happen.

  14. “A rally of 12,000 anarchists would accomplish that? My reservations remain intact: 1) I don’t think there are even 12,000 Americans who will sign up for your program.”

    That’s just fucking outrageous, Kennedy. You’re not even keeping your mind on the subject. Those two sentences are a crashing non sequitur, beneath you, and certainly beneath my serious attention. You’re arguing like any dumb-ass conservative who comes on from habit, and it’s just disgusting.

    This —

    “The jails can’t handle them? Forget about it. The state would wait for them to go home and take them down one at a time as seemed useful.”

    …is flatly idiotic. You’re not grasping the action of the thing. Let me tell you something, mate: when I say that I’m not going to pay for this government anymore, I fuckin’-aye mean it. It would just fine for them to send me home, but they’re going to have to finance their destruction of America without my help. Let ’em try it when enough people are kicking their asses through the checkbook like that.

    “Why isn’t the solution a business solution?”

    I’ll tell you why: it’s because of the prevailing belief in America that the government can rightly claim enough of that productivity to stay alive, which it does. It is this ethical premise that requires direct confrontation. Nothing is going to “change” until this is clarified and resolved.

    You and Ghertner simply are not facing facts.

  15. John to Billy> One of the reasons you’re angry is because you know as well as I do that it’s not going to happen.

    It’s happening…*quietly* and inexorably: The recent tilts against “tax havens” only scratch the tip of the iceberg of capital and productivity fleeing the country, and more and more just plain working “off the books”.

    Fifty years ago, this government could pull out a TVA, conquer Europe, and pave the country just by snapping its fingers with a fraction of produce-class loot. Today, it’s juggling fifty plates in the air, and each incoming politician is mainly concerned with not being the turkey left in charge when the music stops.

    IMO, Iraq is going to be about the last big overseas military venture, with nothing but retreats and set-backs into impotent decadence for a decade or two. Pay for soldiers and cops and teachers and beaurobots and prison guards will decline, and people will get away with flouting the law more and more, until one day it just flops over dead at the instance of a highly symbolic act. For East Berlin, it was some guys with sledgehammers smacking the wall for an hour and getting away with it — and suddenly the whole city showed up to help. Here, it’ll be some guys not paying taxes, and getting away with it — and suddenly the whole country will decide not to pay too.

    “Prevailing perceptions”, when they turn, are an *avalanche*.

  16. I’m angry that there is no cure for cancer, John.

    That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be, or that there never will be.

    And I’m not arguing this land shouldn’t be freer, or that it never will be.

    I’m just pointing out that it’s not going to become freer by the means you’ve spoken of.

  17. Mike,

    It’s happening…*quietly* and inexorably: The recent tilts against “tax havens” only scratch the tip of the iceberg of capital and productivity fleeing the country, and more and more just plain working “off the books”.

    That’s Billy’s plan? Because that’s not 250,000 Conscientious Objectors to taxes, and it’s not your 12,000 demonstrating in Washington.

    What you’re talking about now doesn’t require Conscientious Objectors or principled libertarians, just folks acting in simple self interest. You switched contexts.

  18. Mike,

    Was Tom Paine acting in self-interest when set out to get the biggest bounty on his head that he possibly could?

    I dunno Mike, people often claim things are in their self interest that seem very counter-intuitive to me.

    But what does that have to do with the price of tax havens? If you produce the means for people to shield their property from government then everyone will use it – weasels and enlightened sovereign individuals alike. And that will make me more free. No general moral reformation necessary.

  19. Look, John: I would bloody appreciate it if you would stop talking about “Billy’s plan”, because there is no such thing, and there never has been.

    And I’ve told you this countless times.

    Stop it.

  20. When was the last time you wrote a piece saying the answer lay in business rather than persuasion? How are you ging to find him if you’re not even talking about the right solution?

    It’s not like I spend my time writing about political solutions, either. Our blog does occasionally focus on issues like encryption, space frontierism, and market alternatives to existing state functions.

    I write about what interests me and what I think may interest other people. I write because I enjoy writing, thinking, and arguing. And yes, I write on the off chance that I will help spread ideas and maybe make the world a freer place by doing so.

    I’m not totally convinced the answer lies in business. I think it is the most likely possibility, but I could also see freedom coming about in other ways.

  21. John, you won’t like hearing this, but this is what you do:

    Buy a weapon, and tuck it away. Come the civil-war, you shoot every damn one of those *Nazis* happy with the results of their ’32 election.

    That’s it.

  22. John,

    Most people exist at a level of instumental rationality 99% of the time. They deal with the apparent obstacles immediately before them in a rational manner. They work out what they need to do to get through the day or the week or the month.

    A very small number of people demonstrate a high degree of epistemic rationality. They are not satisfied to identify the apparent as the real, they are driven to understand how things really work because better understanding can produce higher quality decisions.

    The structure of democracy tends to destroy incentives for epistemic rationality. No amount of careful study is going to much improve the quality of one’s choice between Bush and Kerry. People know this in their gut which makes it instrumentally rational to be ignorant in their political decisions.

    You and I end up the same rulers as they do, so what have we really gained seeking dilligently to understand what’s really going on? Well I’ve gained many things, but they’re not the kind of things that can be explained to the instrumentally rational.

    This is highly relevant to this post. I’d say that the idea of a libertarian movement is to convert intrumentally rational individuals to epistemically rational individuals by way of rational argument. My conclusion is that this can’t work because the targets are not competent to evaluate the argument and sufficient incentives for them to achieve such competence don’t exist in this environment.

  23. Jesus. So to speak. I was just contemplating writing something called “Why Anarcho Capitalism has Wrecked My Life” and now this.

    Billy’s been living in the “It Ain’t No Disco” longer than I have, but the creeping implications are less and less lost on me with every minute that ticks by.

    There are already several quarter millions, or at least I imagine there are, not complying with the state’s dues-dunning dictats, though perhaps not within the strict parameters that Billy has set for himself, and, yet, as John says, the state rolls merrily on.

    Atlas-wise, none of the characters can be strictly emulated. Literarily, Galt, Roark, Danneskjold, and Dagny Taggart, are but separate aspects of a single character, and the best any of us can do is to adopt what we can from each as best fits our own personalities and dispositions. In so doing, most of us will never have the single chance to sway public opinion at the hour of our need, and will end up either martyrs to a dimly understood (by the non-participant eloi) cause, or lost forever in the kindness of anonymity.

  24. You just watch: The tax revolt, when it occurs, will be ten-thousand hypocritical commie-slumming college students protesting a war. It’ll snowball, and the “professional” rubber-chicken speaking-circuit libertarians will be left scrambling to catch up and take credit…just like the lousy second-handers that they are and always were.

  25. Micha,

    It’s not like I spend my time writing about political solutions, either. Our blog does occasionally focus on issues like encryption, space frontierism, and market alternatives to existing state functions.

    I write about what interests me and what I think may interest other people. I write because I enjoy writing, thinking, and arguing. And yes, I write on the off chance that I will help spread ideas and maybe make the world a freer place by doing so.

    So why all the advice on persuasion? You address us here as if persuasion of the largest number of people possible ought to be a high priority, but you don’t appear to make it a high priority of your own.

    It has never been my purpose with No Treason to persuade any large number of people of anything and I think I’ve been pretty clear on that point.

  26. ” There are already several quarter millions, or at least I imagine there are, not complying with the state’s dues-dunning dictats, though perhaps not within the strict parameters that Billy has set for himself, and, yet, as John says, the state rolls merrily on.”

    This goes to a very important point. I do not at all maintain that the revenue loss of “a quarter million” people who sock their money away beyond the state’s grasp is anywhere nearly sufficient to choke the state. I’m no math whiz, but even I know that’s a ridiculous idea, even if you scale it up by many orders of magnitude.

    What I think is possible is that the broad-daylight statement of refusal by numbers on that order would be an ethical challlenge — on a foundation that is indisputably and uniquely American — that could not possibly be ignored. I think it is possible that millions more would wake up to something that they’ve never thought about before.

    We’re actually talking about a dramatic attempt at reason. I’ve said it before: I think it’s quite possible that there is enough of the concept of liberty latent in the nation’s conscience (a linguistic turn that I despise for its epistemic fantsy, but I trust that I am among those who understand) that it might awaken to the arguments.

    And I could very well be wrong.

    But if I am, then we’re all just marking time until the whistle blows, anyway. That’s because there really is no alternative to reason. Sooner of later, this fact is going to emerge in action, whether any of us likes it or not.

  27. A comment on achieving the numbers required.

    Last weekend, just prior to the local “bond” elections here, I was sitting around enjoying a few drinks with a group of about 15 individuals, who I know fairly well. The topic of “how should I vote,” came up, and when I was queried, I responded with “You shouldn’t,” and stated my reasons why. After I had my say, a comment was made, which I find disturbing, not only because of the attitude presented in the comment, but because every individual present, excepting myself, agreed. The comment.

    “I’ll be voting for the bond issue, because somebody has to pay for the schools. And I don’t really care what the government does, beyond the money I pay in taxes, because I do pretty much what I want to do regardless.”

    When I asked, “What about those, such as myself, who do not want to “pay” for the government to do what private enterprise can do better?” The response.

    “Well, it was voted on, and you choose not to vote, so there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    There wasn’t any dissent from the others, regarding that comment, unfortunately. An attitude I find more prevalent than the calls for freedom from taxation or from the state itself.

    I think a large percentage of people do not want individual freedom, but would rather pen up with the sheep, to be shorn at the government’s leisure, time and time again.

  28. >>If a fail safe mechanism for shielding personal wealth could be put into place, there would be no need, whatsoever, to rely on the flock to morally get it right.

    Precisely. Now, let us build it!

  29. John,

    ” Is it only the fear of government reprisal, or are there additional concerns/guilt if they do not participate in the vote? Or am I being naive?”

    The fuzzy nonsense of it is inexhaustable. A huge number of them have bought the idea that democratic rule is a positive good, it’s what they’ve been told since birth there’s always a flock to warmly approve when they repeat it.

  30. Lynette makes an excellent point when she states,

    “And yet, every last one of your State wielding compadres, if given a button to push which would activate an income cloaking device – some means of making all or part of their money undetectable and inaccessible to government – would choose to push it. For all their talk about the need for public education, they would, if they could without fear of governmental reprisal, shield themselves from being forced to pay. Of course, I’m not saying that such a device exists, but is there any doubt they would use it, if it did exist?”

    because each individual, that I sat with last weekend, would do exactly that. Why can’t they see the connection between their desire to utilize such a device, and the foolishness of casting their benevolent vote to be shorn? Is it only the fear of government reprisal, or are there additional concerns/guilt if they do not participate in the vote? Or am I being naive?

  31. John Venlet wrote:
    I think a large percentage of people do not want individual freedom, but would rather pen up with the sheep, to be shorn at the government’s leisure, time and time again.

    And yet, every last one of your State wielding compadres, if given a button to push which would activate an income cloaking device – some means of making all or part of their money undetectable and inaccessible to government – would choose to push it. For all their talk about the need for public education, they would, if they could without fear of governmental reprisal, shield themselves from being forced to pay. Of course, I’m not saying that such a device exists, but is there any doubt they would use it, if it did exist?

    If a fail safe mechanism for shielding personal wealth could be put into place, there would be no need, whatsoever, to rely on the flock to morally get it right. That’s the business aspect of it. You don’t need to appeal to their sense of morality or individualism to get them to stop feeding the beast, you would only need them to act in their own immediate self-interest.

  32. dont worry.

    in 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 AD things will be better.

    future lung
    (sometimes called “princess posterity.” mccloskey is here too! yay!)

  33. > Right about then I usually get accused of being a cold-hearted Libertarian….

    …who pays full, premium evening ticket rates to “The Chronicles of Riddick”, no less.

  34.   My experience with the kind of people that John (V) mentioned (I know a lot of them, too) is that they simply cannot imagine how modernity could have come to exist without it having been coordinated by GovCo in all its multifarious forms. Police, courts, hospitals, highways, schools, social welfare, Yellowstone — even technology. I think by and large people are terrified of unbridled self-interest, including their own. These people think “Robber Barons,” and they stop — thinking that is.

      My favorite is coercive taxation and social welfare. I never tire of spinning a little Socrates on WeThePeople: “If y’all really want to help all these people social programs ostensibly benefit, then philanthropy and charity ought to do, right? No need to take it from WeThePeople by force. After all, there would be no limits in a Libertarian world on how much you may give to others. Better yet, you’d enjoy more discretion on how your money got spent. Think United Way.”

      Nine out of ten times I get back this hardened stare because WeThePeople realizes right then and there that the whole premise of their argument has been blown to smithereens.

      And that premise is this: “Nonsense, I don’t think of it as money being stolen from me, I’d give freely in any case because I want these people to be helped.”

      Of course you do, I say, but why should I be forced to underwrite what you value? Right about then I usually get accused of being a cold-hearted Libertarian, and/or un-American.

      Whatever.

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