Refusing to be a Refusenik

Along the road to martyrdom,Claire Wolfe reaffirms an old lament in An American Refusenik, while at Strike the Root Per Byland lays out a better roadmap.

I live for myself first and foremost, and then come my family and friends. I do not care to save the world if I can find freedom for myself and the ones I love without doing it. Why should I? I’m nobody’s slave; I do as I please simply because I want to. It would be nice to live in a free world, but I don’t think it is worth the trouble. I’d rather be free now, on my own, than break free along with millions of strangers 40 or 50 years from now.

Isn’t this what individualism is all about? One has to make one’s own choices, for oneself and the ones willing to follow. If they do not want the freedom I want, then why the hell should I spend my time and money on making them share my ideals and go with me? I’m no selfless Samaritan or a slave of the peoples; I’m my own.

As libertarians, we need to break free from the collectivist worldview of this Savior Complex. There is no reason to work day and night to liberate people you don’t know, never will know, and who sincerely do not appreciate what you are trying to do for them.

Most NT worthy attitude.

21 thoughts on “Refusing to be a Refusenik”

  1. You have to be careful if you’re going to take on this credo. It’s easy to mistake passive collaboration for aloof disengagement when the state is as tangled up in our lives as it is today.

    It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, ‘I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico, ‘ see if I would go;’ and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment.

  2. Through no fault of your own, although you cannot be blamed, although you need not feel guilty for the fact, you must fight not for altruistic reasons or idealistic reasons but simply if you want to get yourself to the point where you can devote yourself to your own pursuits and contemplations while not pursuing them while sitting upon another man’s shoulders.

    It is hard to be actually ethically aloof from the government and its actions today. That’s not your fault, but it’s true. You shouldn’t have to fight to get to a point where you’re not feeding the machine that’s stomping on your neighbors, but you do have to fight if you want to stop feeding that machine.

    It would be nice if you could just turn your back on what is going on and declare your neutrality and say “only to the extent that the state allows me to live an ethical life, I will, and that’s good enough.” But if you actually want to live an ethical life beyond where the state allows, you have to fight for it.

  3. Nahh, why live for yourself when you can join-up with a lame Movement and march around with signs to protest the evil Imperialistexpoitationfascism of Amerrikkka and build fractions, factions, fronts and alliances with out-and-out commies? Disagree? Then drop dead neocons, we will have no apostates among us True Anarchos.

  4. My position is hardly one of neutrality.

    All that is necessary to live a moral life with respect to others is to not aggress. It is no crime against others to pay ransom to the state to go about your business. To starve yourself in order to starve the state is a terrible plan.

  5. It is no crime against others to pay ransom to the state to go about your business.

    I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

  6. “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

    I don’t live for the sake of another when I pay that ransom, and Rand’s life demonstrates that she agreed with me on that.

  7. So what about when the state requires that you pay for thugs it can use to aggress against others as part of its ransom?

    I’m afraid paying the State’s ransom IS aggressing against others. The resources you are paying into the system are used to enable further extortion against both yourself and others. You could choose to cease your contribution to such aggression by refusing to pay taxes. You would be crushed, of course. That’s why it’s called extortion.

    It’s like the scene in Se7en where John Doe puts a gun to Lust’s head and orders him to rape the prostitute to death. Lust has a choice: he can participate in John Doe’s mad scheme, or die.

    I would argue that having a gun to his head does not absolve Lust of the responsibility for the prostitute’s death. Likewise, I would claim that we have a positive duty to resist State extortion, since we know that giving in to such extortion will fuel the extortion machine.

    What we need is are ways to avoid paying the ransom without being crushed. This is much easier said than done, of course.

  8. Nope, it’s merely supporting the livelihood of a thief, thereby keeping him from starving long enough to find another victim.

    Or, put rather humorously by Sgt. Hartman:

    Private Pyle, if there is one thing in this world that I hate, it is an unlocked footlocker! You know that, don’t you?

    PYLE: Sir, yes, sir!

    HARTMAN: If it wasn’t for dickheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world, would there?

    The idea is that it’s YOUR property that’s somehow ending up in the hands of the government, which is using it to make more trouble. Therefore it is at least somewhat YOUR responsibility to put an end to such expropriation.

  9. Kennedy:

    I don’t live for the sake of another when I pay that ransom, and Rand’s life demonstrates that she agreed with me on that.

    Yes and yes. My point was that that quote, which is supposed to condense the essence of her philosophy, is a blunt repudiation of every collectivist enterprise including mass civil disobedience.

    They are the ones who are living (dying, really) for the sakes of others.

  10. Lopez,

    I thought that probably was your point.

    TJ,

    You’re not responsible for the crimes of others. To say so is destructive of the principle of individual responsibility. You have enough to worry about keeping yourself out of trouble.

  11. >>You’re not responsible for the crimes of others.

    I am responsible for the predictable consequences of my actions. It’s true that I’m not responsible when extortionists threaten me. But I AM responsible for how I react to extortionist threats.

    If I choose to give the extortionists my money (and it IS a choice), then a predictable consequence of that choice is that a known criminal organization will have more power. This will likely lead to more aggression against others.

    >>You have enough to worry about keeping yourself out of trouble.

    It would be foolish to get squashed like a bug through brazen (foolish) defiance. That’s not what I’m advocating. I’m saying that people have a moral duty to look for ways to reduce their personal contribution to the State’s evils. The smaller and less direct the contribution, of course, the less of a priority it should be. Indeed, there is an argument to be made that allowing oneself to be crushed under the wheels of the juggernaut helps the State intimidate others even more than paying the ransom. According to this argument, we have a moral duty not to allow ourselves to be crushed. I’m quite sympathetic to this line of reasoning. This is one of the big problems with Beck’s “set himself on fire” contingency.

    The BEST course of action is for someone to develop products and services which decrease people’s reliance on/vulnerability to the State, sell the products and services for tons of money, and then retire to the beach.

  12. I would argue that having a gun to his head does not absolve Lust of the responsibility for the prostitute’s death.

    It seems like you could use this type of argument to justify locking up the population of north american in jail. Which I suppose could be moral, except who would the jailers be if everyone is a criminal? o_o

  13. Nope, it’s merely supporting the livelihood of a thief, thereby keeping him from starving long enough to find another victim.

    So it’s unjust to run a liquor store in the neighborhood of a mafioso? Because you’ll definitely be selling to mafia thugs at some point, and as Austrians like to point out a trade is a mutual voluntary benefit.

  14. >>It seems like you could use this type of argument to justify locking up the population of north american in jail. Which I suppose could be moral, except who would the jailers be if everyone is a criminal? o_o

    I’m not even suggesting locking up Lust, much less anyone else. I’m suggesting that people who participate in a large scale criminal enterprise should try and stop, even (especially?) those who are participating under some kind of duress. Attempting to lock these people up would just make things worse. I’m in agreement with Swann here about the general uselessness of retributive justice, etc.

    >>So it’s unjust to run a liquor store in the neighborhood of a mafioso? Because you’ll definitely be selling to mafia thugs at some point, and as Austrians like to point out a trade is a mutual voluntary benefit.

    Let’s just say that I’d cheerfully refuse service to any Congresscritter who entered my shop and leave it at that.

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