Rifleslinger runs a blog over at Art of the Rifle.  The writing is clear, intelligent and original.  He was kind enough to allow us to run this essay on our blog with this personal disclaimer from him which I wish to honor: 
“While I do not consider myself anti-government or anarchistic, I respect the free exchange of ideas, and the civil manner in which ideas are expressed in the articles published here.  It is in that spirit that I humbly submit the following.”
I use the word “Rifleman” in the following text as a general term that could also be interpreted as “warrior”, “knight”, “patriot, “samurai”, “protector” or any number of other terms. At any rate, mere skill at rifle marksmanship is not what I’m talking about, and any number of other skill sets may fit the following description.

If you’re reading this for pleasure, you’re very likely a rifleman or an aspiring rifleman (I include women in the word “rifleman” because I remember what proper English is, even though I seldom speak it). If you’re a rifleman, you might have thought about what all your hard won skill might be useful for. So have I.

The rifleman in modern society is akin to a ham radio in a smart phone world. The smart phone is quick and chock full of capabilities that are a lot more interesting in terms of the phone’s screen than of the real, physical, and interactive world. It is new, and keeping up with the latest model is a sure way to engage in what sociologists would call “conspicuous consumption”, so you can let everyone in the checkout line at the supermarket know that you can afford the latest and greatest as you text away (or whatever you do with those damn things). Your smart phone can gather all the data you need to come up with a firing solution for your precision shot in just a minute or two. You can even buy a mount for your picatinny rail on which to plant the phone (never miss a call as you ‘send it’). You can use your phone to watch movies and listen to music. You always know that if there is an emergency, or your car breaks down you don’t have to worry. You can always be aware of what’s going on everywhere, except directly around you.

The ham radio is not new or sexy. The barista at Starbucks is not likely to be impressed by the skills of an amateur radio operator. It doesn’t do a plethora of cool things. It’s pretty much a communication tool.

In the extremely unlikely event that the thin veneer of our placid and peaceful society is somehow ripped away, the cell phone network is likely to be compromised. In the event the batteries cannot be charged, the phone’s life will be measured in hours. It will then be a useless piece of garbage. Millions of smart phone owners who are totally dependent will be left jonesing for their smart fix. They will be expecting that they can get bailed out with a quick call or text. The idea that they should have found some other way out would be unfathomable to them.

Ham radios are intended to be used as a backup to regular communication in the event of an emergency. Their users think ahead on how to keep power supplied and replenished. The technology is relatively simple and robust.So it is with the rifleman.

(more…)

“Under a Communist Party Government, South Africa will become a land of milk and honey.”        

                                                                      -Nelson Mandela

 Occupy Wall Street is providing a refreshing new insight into how the collectivist mind works (or does not).  Now that the global warming business is starting to fall on deaf ears, the hard left government supremacist hive mind is having to find new vehicles and venues to press their agenda for universal slavery.  The assault on the tattered remnants of private business is now the subject of much mewling and teeth-grinding by the usual suspects.  I did want to express my personal condolences to Hillary Clinton on the death of Kim Jong Il, her dreams of a happy marriage to a more straight-forward partisan of her most secret ambitions is now dashed on the rocky shoreline of history unfulfilled.  Bill’s trips to Moscow simply did not have the long-term effect desired.

Let’s get back to fundamentals.  What is a private business?  It is a method of trading products and services for wealth to generate profits to enrich the owners and workers in the enterprise and additionally seed the investment, growth and expansion of the business.

What is the business of government and politicians?  To earn wealth and establish punitive control over individual transactions with no merit whatsoever; in other words, to employ the monopoly powers of violence to enrich the few at the expense of the many.   Bastiat said it more eloquently but there it is.  Politicians love to project an image of stately dignity and honorifics for the terrific and self-sacrificing service they do.  The deception is blatant and they are no more than thieves wrapped in expensive state regalia with armed guards to protect them from their victims.  Those victims they have not mentally turned to eunuchs already through the insidious ministrations of television, government education and the soothing bastardization of the language to manipulate the sheeple, are waking up to the sheer audacity of the heist that has been called the state.  Turning the Bolshevik idyll on its head, it speaks to the true nature of government and governance.

(more…)

Publisher’s Note: Jeff is one of my favorite contemporary observers of  liberty and history.  He is a frequent contributor at Mises and his mellifluous voice informs many pod-casts and audio books on libertarian topics and books.  I have a tremendous interest in history and most of the library annex at my house is crowded with books on that very subject.  My essays tend to draw from the historical well frequently and try to tease out the hidden history one will not find in mainstream government media-education complex factories at the schools or the major media outlets.  Jeff offers a unique perspective that is far more informed and nuanced than the professional drones who claim the title of professional historian.  There are some surprises here and please enjoy the interview. -BB

Jeff Riggenbach

 

Good afternoon, Jeff.  Tell us how you view revisionist history and how it sharpens our perspective on how the world really works.

We should always remember that history is written by the victors.   Or, to put the same idea in a slightly different way, history is invariably written by people who have a dog in the fight – people who have a stake in how the events of the past (and their consequences in the present) are viewed.  These people will, naturally, put what they regard as the best possible face on their accounts of past events.  It is therefore extremely foolhardy to read a book on, say, World War I, by a celebrated, honored, thoroughly mainstream historian who teaches at Harvard or Princeton or Stanford or Berkeley and has served as president of the American Historical Association (AHA) or the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and then say to yourself, “Okay, now I know what happened during World War I and why.  Now I can move on to some other topic.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You have only begun your investigations.

 The next step is to ask yourself how a person becomes a celebrated, honored, thoroughly mainstream historian who teaches in the Ivy League or its equivalent and is elected to run the AHA or the OAH.  Isn’t it by telling readers what they want to hear?  Isn’t it by going along with the conventional wisdom – with whatever is almost universally “known” to be true – in order to get along?  Are there historians who take another tack?  Who either adduce different facts or who argue that the agreed upon facts should be understood in a different way, looked at from a different perspective, examined in a different light?  Who are these writers who care so little for their career advancement?  What do they have to say?

Now there can be many reasons why someone might accept the conventional wisdom on any particular subject.  Maybe the conventional wisdom is the truth.  More often, however, I’d say people buy into the conventional wisdom out of naïveté – it never occurs to them that what “everyone” knows and believes could possibly be wrong – or out of opportunistic careerism – you live more affluently and enjoy more influence if you go along to get along.  And, of course, there are many people outside the historical professions for whom the most compelling reason of all pertains – boredom.  History bores them and they really don’t care who’s right about a controversy they never knew existed to begin with.

On one level, you can’t really argue with that position.  The person who is bored by history knows far more about what genuinely interests him or her than I can ever know.  On the other hand, a part of me wants to cry out to such a person: Don’t you understand that you’re missing one of the great eye-opening experiences possible in this life?  You have a chance to read a conventional presentation of a historical topic or period and then read a revisionist discussion of that very same topic or period.  Point, counterpoint.  It makes you realize in a way I guarantee you never have before just how much more there is to say about any subject really worth talking about than initially meets the eye.

(more…)

“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Chattel slavery abolitionists stood in defiance of slavery. They argued that men do not have the moral right to own other men, and of course they were correct. The truth was on their side, and it was only a matter of time before the morality of the rest of the population caught up. Now, chattel slavery is seen as universally wrong, and the fact that this abhorrent institution existed for so long has left one hell of a scar on the moral history of mankind.

Despite all of the courageous efforts of the abolitionists, a particularly nasty form of slavery still blankets humanity. It is a dangerous form of slavery, because men have been tricked into thinking this form of slavery is the very pinnacle of freedom. The slavery that infects the world now is more of a free-range style of slavery; an evolutionary adaptation of human ownership. The ballot box is the master, but it is still the individual who is enslaved.  The tyrannous will of the majority has taken the place of the will of the single despotic master. The only civil recourse the individual has against this democratic offensive is to cast a vote himself in order to try and protect his life, liberty, and property. A feeble and incapable defense perhaps, but there are only two other avenues of recourse: peaceful secession, or violent revolution. One only happens when the other cannot peacefully be realized.

To wield power over an individual’s ability to choose is the same as wielding power over his body. It is the power of choice that makes us who we are. The body is the vehicle for free choice, and when the individual’s ability to freely choose is coercively forced, then the individual has become nothing more than an organic robot. An individual’s individuality spawns from the choices he makes; it is what makes up his personality. To remove the decision making from a person because you think he is too stupid or too selfish to decide for himself is to remove the very thing that makes him human. There is no point of having the freedom of movement if the individual does not have freedom of choice. Self-ownership is so much more than just ownership of the body, it is also ownership of the choices we make, good or bad. It is also the ownership of the consequences of those choices, good or bad. An example that we are all too familiar with: how many of you feel charitable on April 15th? I’ll bet not too many. The choice to give money voluntarily to the needy has been almost wholly removed from us. We did not freely decide to give, so we do not feel the goodness that usually accompanies the act of being charitable. This is what collectivists fail to grasp, and what most social scientists fail to admit. Nothing will fix the problems that face humanity, except for letting humans be humans. I have trust in humanity because I have trust in myself.

(more…)

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”

– T. E. Lawrence, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”

Part One.

You’ve taken the first step and read Lawrence’s Twenty Seven Articles.  Some are germane to a fight on American soil and some not so much.  We are entering a phase in world affairs where the economic troubles and collapses that are occurring around the globe will come home to roost in America.  Like most governments, the US central authorities in DC will do everything in their power to retain the power and control they now practice over their tax jurisdiction. Like the other USSR in 1989, a fracture is in the future and one state declaring secession will start a stampede the likes of which this country has not seen for nearly a century and a half.  The 320 million subjects are critical components in the tax-eater system to continue feeding the Federal beast.  These cattle will not be permitted to go gently into the night.

Lawrence discovered that successful insurgencies must retain the initiative and establish solid support among the mass base for all actions.  Whether we examine his successes against the Turks, the Irish divorce from the United Kingdom in 1916-1922 or the Basque success against the Spanish government to carve out their semi-autonomous province in Northeastern Spain, the initiative must be seized and retained.

This initiative can be maintained on a shoestring.  The force calculus for insurgencies is a meager ratio compared to the forces Counterinsurgency (COIN) and conventional forces must maintain to defeat incipient and long term guerrilla forces.

The IRA in both its pre- and post-WWII configurations fielded less than a thousand active fighters at peak strength against tens of thousands of deployed British and Northern Irish contingents.  German Colonel Paul Emil von  Lettow-Vorbeck fought more than a half million deployed British and Allied forces to a standstill in German East Africa for nearly four years during WWI with a force that rarely numbered more than ten thousand and at one point had 1200 effectives left.  No less than 127 General officers failed to vanquish him and at the conclusion of the war, he remained the only German General (he was promoted in abstentia in 1917) to be undefeated on Earth in 1918.  He sought to be self-sufficient and managed to manhandle naval guns off the ill-fated Konigsberg in the Rufiji all the way up to the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

This illustrates that much like the irregular actions in both the First (18th century) and Second (19th century) American Revolutions, a tremendously small number of active fighters and triggermen can cause a disproportionate headache to large formations of conventional armed forces arrayed against them.  U.S. Grant had to take huge chunks of his fighting forces and devote them to protection of his lines of communication during his siege and investment of Vicksburg.  I would suggest that Napoleon was not necessarily wholly defeated by Wellington at Waterloo in 1815 so much as emasculated by French (southern) and Spanish guerrillas in his lines of communication after his atrocities and overreach enraged the local populations of these areas.  Before, 1850, France was not the monolithic nation state we are accustomed to today.  There were areas of it, like Germany, that did not even share dialects or language.

(more…)

“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.”
– T. E. Lawrence

Vietnamese General Giap (who vanquished both the French and the Americans) was asked who his greatest influence was in conducting guerrilla campaigns in Vietnam in an interview with (soon to be infamous) French General Salan in 1946: “My fighting gospel is TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of WisdomI am never without it.”  Nor am I and I keep a copy both at home and my office.  My copy at home is my dog-eared and duct taped copy from my former days in the Army.  I adore the book and have read it three times but it can be a hard slog for readers unfamiliar with the British idiom and not well acquainted with the history that led to the Arab Revolt.  For the best introduction I have found to the mess that is now the modern Middle East, read David Fromkin’s brilliant book:  A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

General Giap

For those who won’t take the time to read it, the distillate of his teaching can be found in his 27 Articles.  Some are totally irrelevant to any fight we may concerned with in North America such as 10 but some, such as 12 and 22, are timeless and effective combat multipliers.  Lawrence, of course, was Arab-centric in his nostrums but many of these can be universally applied with a little intellectual effort.

Whether the central bankers like it or not, the EU fiat currency will collapse in the next six to twelve months and take the dollar with it.  This will lead to the hardest times America has known since the War of Northern Aggression tore the continent asunder in the nineteenth century.  Hard times will be a subtle way to describe it.  The US government will react in the same barbaric fashion it does in every crisis:  it will wage war abroad and on its own citizens and systematically strangle every notion of freedom and liberty remaining across the fruited plain.  It will clothe all of these noxious behaviors in the most patriotic tones and cries of threats to national security will scare the woolen-clad subjects into paroxysms of bleating and begging for coddling and protection from their masters.  There will be conflict on American soil again and the guerrilla style of conflict will soon be the only means of opposition for the few who fight for the right to be left alone.  However one anticipates your personal involvement in the emerging crisis, Lawrence provides the basic building blocks for seeing how that fight may be conducted.

I am a guest lecturer in Irregular Warfare and a number of readers have requested that I addressed this subject so I am finally getting around to it.  I will address the top ten tactical/operational/campaign books and manuals one should have in your library to illuminate the best and worst practices in insurgency and guerrilla warfare in Part II of this essay.

Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals.
– T. E. Lawrence

 

The following notes have been expressed in commandment form for greater clarity and to save words. They are, however, only my personal conclusions, arrived at gradually while I worked in the Hejaz and now put on paper as stalking horses for beginners in the Arab armies. They are meant to apply only to Bedu; townspeople or Syrians require totally different treatment. They are of course not suitable to any other person’s need, or applicable unchanged in any particular situation. Handling Hejaz Arabs is an art, not a science, with exceptions and no obvious rules. At the same time we have a great chance there; the Sherif trusts us, and has given us the position (towards his Government) which the Germans wanted to win in Turkey. If we are tactful, we can at once retain his goodwill and carry out our job, but to succeed we have got to put into it all the interest and skill we possess.

1. Go easy for the first few weeks. A bad start is difficult to atone for, and the Arabs form their judgments on externals that we ignore. When you have reached the inner circle in a tribe, you can do as you please with yourself and them.

(more…)

 

 “That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which we will have.”

Henry David Thoreau

How a driver parks demonstrates the character of the individual.

Parking is the clearest form of self-government, anarchy, and voluntarism, because rooted within the individual, are Immanuel Kant’s work on Deontological Ethics, known as Kantianism, which seeks to set the moral example for others out of obligation and duty, however, not through force.

In anticipation of the counter-argument, the parking lines are not government, they represent social cooperation. Reserved parking for special interest groups and parking meters on “public” land are an extension of the state, but it is the collection and violent propensity to enforce malum prohibitum law that is the state, it is coercion and force.

Now go out and look at the parking situation in your neighborhood.  If you double-park in a crowded parking lot because you believe you are entitled, you are the reason people believe government is necessary.  You ARE the problem! The same goes for drivers who park over the line. Inconsiderate equals non-cooperative.  If we want to see voluntarism, we must first learn how to park.

Despite the economic collapse, with the holidays in full swing, and businesses and shopping plazas at their busiest, observe people’s parking habits… it’s an indication of whether they are ready for Voluntaryism.

The true anarchist is the model for others not the exception; for it’s the exception in society that people believe they need government in the first place.

(more…)

Publisher’s Note:  Russell is one of my favorite freedom voices in the blogosphere.  His perspective is well-informed and incisive.  He and I have unknowingly been charting parallel courses in advocacy of secession as the only means to achieve true freedom.  He was gracious enough to provide the following interview. Be sure to visit his always scintillating blog at DumpDC.  Enjoy. -BB

  Russell, tell us about the journey.  Are you a native-born libertarian or is there a road you took to get there?  How far did you go?  Have you arrived at the logical conclusion of ethical anarchism?

I grew up in a Christian Republican home in West Michigan, son of a building contractor. Being Republican was like being Christian…I didn’t know anything else. But by late teen years (’69-’71) I was questioning everything. That didn’t endear me to my father. But despite the doubts, I stayed Republican until about 1996, and Christian until about 2009. I am now a Deist Anarchist Secessionist.

I moved from West Michigan to the Atlanta area in 1992. We luckily landed in Cobb County, the most Republican county in the state. Soon thereafter, I began attending the every-other-Saturday Cobb County Republican breakfasts. Every statewide or national candidate for anything had to pay obeisance to the Cobb group. I got to meet lots of interesting people. But then, in 1994, my 6th District Congressman, Newt Gingrich, leapt from back-bencher to the Speaker of the House. We were all giddy. In the months after that, I got to see first-hand that all it was about was who got to hold the Federal checkbook.

During this time, I was reading voraciously.  Bastiat, Mises, Tom Payne,  Rothbard, Hazlitt, Lysander Spooner…and the list goes on. The more I read, the more disillusioned I became with politics. But the hungrier I became for real liberty.  I left the Republican Party.

I found the Libertarian Party.  They said all the right things, wrote the right things…but didn’t DO all the right things. It was like herding cats. The Libertarians didn’t seem capable of agreeing on anything. And the more I became familiar with the National Libertarian leadership, the more I felt like they simply looked at politics as the answer, not liberty. I left the Libertarians too.

In the ensuing years, I read more and more. In May of 2009, I started a blog simply to vent my own spleen about my thoughts about liberty. I had come to the irrevocable conclusion that the only way to solve the problems in the United States of America was secession. But I was not resigned to secession as merely one tool among many. I was convinced that it was…and is…the ONLY possible solution to restore individual liberty and property rights on North American soil.

You and I have both written on secession and I am so grateful for the voice you give to it.  Tell us why secession is the only virtuous form of voting.

You’re welcome, Bill. First let’s define secession. It is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity.  The very act of secession demonstrates individual liberty, since it is a physical manifestation of the Unalienable Rights of Free Speech, Ownership of one’s Labor, Property Rights, Right to Contract and Free Association.  If a person or group of persons cannot freely secede, then they are slaves. There is no middle ground. We must acknowledge that there will be consequences from the withdrawal. But the act of secession is sacrosanct. It refuses to keep participating in the membership of the entity from which it seeks to withdraw. So its virtue is found in its act of withdrawal…the final vote, so to speak. And the post-secession liberty is instant. Whatever burdens, whatever court decisions, whatever taxation, whatever regulation that exists in the old organization no longer hold sway or jurisdiction over the secessor. You. Are. FREE.

What is your response to those who claim that a fractured united states will quickly become a satrap or wholly owned subsidiary of larger foreign powers.

How often do you get to use the word “satrap” in a sentence? Good show! My opinion is that it’s entirely possible that some states or regions could align with a seemingly benevolent master…theoretically. Those who would do so would likely be of the socialist world view, so for them, the politics wouldn’t change much, only the flag on the podium of their church. (Did I say that?)

(more…)

I’ve written before on the meaning of Romans 13, that chapter of the Bible which includes the admonition to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” That chapter does not mean that Christians are to be ultimately beholden to their governments. In context, it is an indictment against violence, and a statement about the duties of government.

But today’s church ignores this. Today’s church is often a cheerleading platform for the state and the military as much as for God and for charity. The clearest examples of this are the flags which often stand behind the pulpit: the stars and stripes of the united states, and the Christian flag developed in the late 19th century. This represents a dangerous conflict of interest: are we to regard our allegiance to God as equal with our allegiance to the government?

The traditional separation of the church from the state in this country serves not only to keep religious law from interfering with the laws of the land, but also to protect religions from the state. Remember, the early Puritans, the ‘Pilgrims’ of the Thanksgiving story, fled England to escape the British crown’s oppression of their faith. While kings and governments are ordained and permitted by God, our universal submission to them is not; witness the children of Israel, resisting Pharaoh, and King Herod’s fear and persecution of Jesus.

When we stand the battle flag of our country in a church, we endorse an unholy union between the church and the state. No longer can we say “Go ye therefore unto all the world;” no, we say “Worship the government of this country.” We endorse all the wars and taxes and evils committed in the name of the state, claiming that they are done in the name of God as well.

The Bible tells us that we are in the world, but not of the world (John 17), and that man cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). When we place the flag of any nation in our churches, we make a statement that we are of the world, and that we choose that state as a master, not only for ourselves but for our entire church.

So fly the flag, if you wish, in your home. Place a flag bumper sticker on your car. But by flying the flag in church, you set up another master as equal or superior to God, and you must be wary of that.

“The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel.”

~ H.L. Mencken

A friend of mine walked up to me one morning looking very upset. He was looking like he needed to get something off of his mind. I asked him what was wrong, and he said in a half joking, half serious tone, “well apparently I’m not a citizen of this country!”

Before I continue with the story I have to tell you the amazing tale of this man’s father. He was a soldier in WWII, and he fought at the battle of the bulge. In a German artillery bombardment, he had one of his legs blown off. As he lay there severely wounded, German soldiers approached him. Seeing this man was still alive, they raked him with automatic machine gun fire at point blank range. I’m not too sure how this man got out of there alive, his son told me that he didn’t remember much after he was shot up by the Germans, only that he remembered waking up in an American field hospital and thankful to be alive. He served with the 101st Airborne Division. Years later he was a foreign correspondent for the Voice of America. While covering the Vietnam conflict, his son, my friend, was born in Thailand. After he came back from Vietnam, he went to work for a newspaper out of Colorado.
My friend came into work one morning to find that a confidential letter had been slipped into his toolbox. It was a letter from the records department informing him that his social security card copy they had on file for him was illegible. This department was in the middle of an internal audit, and they needed him to provide a copy of his social security card that was readable. Returning home that night he retrieved his card and found that his copy had become worn over the years, and concluded it needed to be replaced. He ventured down to the local social security office to see about getting his battered card replaced, and that’s when the fun began. It seems the local bureaucratic tyrant takes his job a bit too seriously. My friend instructed the socialist security bureaucrat that he needed to replace his card. He explained that the card that was on file for him at his employer was illegible, and his current card was unable to be recopied. He said the bureaucrat became very upset about this and he said, “you tell your employer that they are breaking the law by copying social security cards, you tell them I said so! You tell them the Federal Government says so!”

After the bureaucrat was done ranting and needlessly flexing his petty power, he asked for my friends name and social security number. After he punched in his name and socialist tracking number, he looked up at my friend with a shocked look on his face. At this time the bureaucrat motioned to another bureaucrat to come over and observe his computer screen. They both looked at each other and then they went back to looking at the screen. The bureaucrat that was “serving” my friend looked up at him and asked him if he was born in this country, and he responded with a no. The bureaucrat then preceded to tell him he is not a “legal citizen”, and that in fact he is an “illegal alien”. My friend explained that he was born in a military hospital, and that his father was a government employee when he was born. The bureaucrat said he didn’t care about any of that, and he would not help him anymore until he produced a specific piece of paper that was given to his parents in Thailand over forty years ago. He explained to me that he has no idea where this paper is, and he has no idea what to do.

(more…)