“Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service” or “thanks for protecting our freedom.”

What!  I hear this familiar refrain again and again every November.  I am appalled whenever this unthinking salutation is proffered.

I am a retired career Army officer and like USMC General Smedley Butler before me, I find these sentiments to be hogwash.

The only service rendered was to the American political power structure in the dishonorable hands of the Democrats or Republicans; the former, despite their protestations to peace, have gotten America involved in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Starting with the shameful expropriation of the Mexican territory from 1846-48 to the War of Northern Aggression from 1860-65; the United States went into hyper-colonial overdrive in 1893 in the Hawaiian Islands and has not stopped since. The entire history of American arms on Earth has been a shameful and expansionist enterprise culminating in the first ever post-WWII (the Japanese attack on American territories in the Aleutians during the War to Save Josef Stalin and the minor coastal skirmishes in Oregon) attack on American state soil in 2001 .  I am frankly astonished at the length of time it took for a substantive attack of any kind to be initiated on American soil with the breadth, ferocity and long sordid history of American mischief and mayhem abroad.

The sheer number of military expeditions the US has embarked on over time is breathtaking.  One worthy notes there have been 234 military expeditions from 1798-1993.  Another posits 159 instances of the use of United States armed forces abroad from October 1945 through December 2006. “This list does not include covert actions and numerous instances of US forces stationed abroad since World War II, in occupation forces, or for participation in mutual security organizations, base agreements, and routine military assistance or training operations.”

Good God, if I were a Martian who landed on Earth ten years ago and found myself attending government schools, to include college, and watching television for any additional cultural education,  I would not be aware of any of this.  The constant drumbeat emanating from the State is the Orwellian chorus about America making the world safe for freedom and liberty and never using force abroad except in self-defense.  The history proves otherwise.

America, next to Rome in the Western world, ranks as one of the world’s most aggressive nation states when one examines the evidence.  A country sheltered from the tempestuous and constant warring on the European continent by one ocean and the turbulence in Asia by another ocean yet it simply cannot mind its own business nor resist the temptation to maim and murder abroad for expansion of political power and control whether for mercantilist or colonial aspirations.

One can even see that the brutality practiced by American soldiers abroad is not recent but a long-standing tradition.

Afghanistan, now:

All told, five soldiers were charged with killing civilians in three separate episodes early last year. Soldiers repeatedly described Sergeant Gibbs as devising “scenarios” in which the unit would fake combat situations by detonating grenades or planting weapons near their victims. They said he even supplied “drop weapons” and grenades to make the victims appear armed. Some soldiers took pictures posing with the dead and took body parts as trophies. Sergeant Gibbs is accused of snipping fingers from victims and later using them to intimidate another soldier.

He also pulled a tooth from one man, saying in court that he had “disassociated” the bodies from being human, that taking the fingers and tooth was like removing antlers from a deer.

Sergeant Gibbs said he that was ashamed of taking the body parts, that he was “trying to be hard, a hard individual.” But he insisted that the people he took them from had posed genuine threats to him and his unit.”

Philippines, then:

“Like many of their officers, American troops also showed incredible callousness toward the Philippine civilian population.  A man named Clarence Clowe described the situation as follows in a letter he wrote to Senator Hoar.  The methods employed by American troops against civilians in an effort to find insurgent “arms and ammunition” include torture, beating, and outright killing.

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The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms willfully delivered firearms into the waiting hands of the Mexican drug cartels. You may speculate as to their reasons for doing so, but these activities were certainly illegal and immoral. Knowledge of this operation, called “Fast and Furious,” reaches at least as high as the United States Attorney General’s office, and therefore the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, should be made to answer for his wrongdoing.

Holder is a Democrat, as could be expected in a Democrat’s administration. This leads some Republicans to blame “the Democrats” for BATFE’s wrongdoing.

Arizona’s SB1070 is perhaps the most racist piece of legislation authored so far in the 21st century. This bill allows unreasonable search and seizure without basis at the discretion of police officers. Arizona State Senate President Russel Pearce, recently removed from office in a recall election, was a lead sponsor of this bill.

Pearce is a Republican, as might be expected in a state full of Republican voters. This leads some Democrats to blame “the Republicans” for Pearce’s wrongdoing.

George W. Bush was president during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the first part of the latest market downturn, so these things are his fault, and by extension the fault of the Republican party. Barack Obama was president during the implementation of the latest bailouts, the NATO invasion of Libya, and the economically ridiculous “Cash for Clunkers” program, and so of course everyone who carries a (D) ought to be burned at the stake for those crimes.

“The Republicans” want to ban gay marriage, boo and hiss. “The Democrats” want to increase taxes and redistribute wealth, for shame. And if only we’d all see the evil of one party or the other, then the right people would gain power, and we’d see real change and Utopia, right?

The Occupy movement, much like the Tea Party before it, has been co-opted and turned into a partisan distraction. Popular anger is inappropriately redirected against the other half of the population, rather than against the ideas of government which have brought us to this state. By continuing to blame figureheads and people instead of institutions and ideas, we guarantee that the future will be as bleak as the present. I weep for future generations.

I just got finished reading two books on the emergence of American empire in the Pacific.  The War Lovers by Evan Thomas and The Imperial Cruise by James Brady both treat the influence of Theodore Roosevelt as the sin qua non of America’s imperial ambitions come to fruition at the end of the nineteenth century.  In 1898, we defeated the Spanish in their colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines after the imaginary pretenses for the war were arranged.  We occupied and colonized these island nations and the barbarity visited on the Philippine peoples during these long conflicts was brutal and horrifying.

Here are some letter excerpts from 1899 and the war only got worse over time.

Private Fred B. Hinchman, Company A. United States Engineers, writes from Manila, February 22d:

“At 1:30 o’clock the general gave me a memorandum with regard to sending out a Tennessee battalion to the line. He tersely put it that “they were looking for a fight.” At the Puente Colgante [suspension bridge] I met one of our company, who told me that the Fourteenth and Washingtons were driving all before them, and taking no prisoners. This is now our rule of procedure for cause. After delivering my message I had not walked a block when I heard shots down the street. Hurrying forward, I found a group of our men taking pot-shots across the river, into a bamboo thicket, at about 1,200 yards. I longed to join them, but had my reply to take back, and that, of course, was the first thing to attend to I reached the office at 3 P.M., just in time to see a platoon of the Washingtons, with about fifty prisoners, who had been taken before they learned how not to take them.”

Fred D. Sweet, of the Utah Light Battery:

“The scene reminded me of the shooting of jack-rabbits in Utah, only the rabbits sometimes got away, but the insurgents did not.”

Ellis G. Davis, Company A, 20th Kansas:

“They will never surrender until their whole race is exterminated. They are fighting for a good cause, and the Americans should be the last of all nations to transgress upon such rights. Their independence is dearer to them than life, as ours was in years gone by, and is today. They should have their independence, and would have had it if those who make the laws in America had not been so slow in deciding the Philippine question Of course, we have to fight now to protect the honor of our country but there is not a man who enlisted to fight these people, and should the United States annex these islands, none but the most bloodthirsty will claim himself a hero. This is not a lack of patriotism, but my honest belief.”

Burr Ellis, of Frazier Valley, California:

“They did not commence fighting over here (Cavite) for several days after the war commenced. Dewey gave them till nine o’clock one day to surrender, and that night they all left but a few out to their trenches, and those that they left burned up the town, and when the town commenced burning the troops were ordered in as far as possible and said, Kill all we could find. I ran off from the hospital and went ahead with the scouts. And bet, I did not cross the ocean for the fun there was in it, so the first one I found, he was in a house, down on his knees fanning a fire, trying to burn the house, and I pulled my old Long Tom to my shoulder and left him to burn with the fire, which he did. I got his knife, and another jumped out of the window and ran, and I brought him to the ground like a jack-rabbit. I killed seven that I know of, and one more I am almost sure of: I shot ten shots at him running and knocked him down, and that evening the boys out in front of our trenches now found one with his arm shot off at shoulder and dead as h___ ; I had lots of fun that morning. There were five jumped out of the brush and cut one of the Iowa band boys, and we killed every one of them, and I was sent back to quarters in the hurry. Came very near getting a court-martial, but the colonel said he had heard that I had done excellent work and he laughed and said: “There’s good stuff in that man,” and told me not to leave any more without orders. Well, John, there will always be trouble here with the natives unless they annihilate all of them as fast as they come to them.”

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Publisher’s Note:  I spent my entire adult life until 2003 in the military.  The last half of my career was saturated by doubt and philosophical dissonance mixed with the moral cowardice of failing to simply resign.  Soldiering was what I knew.  The incomparable Fred Reed writes in a few words what many feel but cannot articulate.  Much like cops are the enabling arm of the state, the military is the muse through which politicians can mouth platitudes while having murderous works conducted in their name.  When folks discover I am a veteran, they rarely hesitate to thank me for their freedom to which I have to laugh and heap scorn on their misdirected goodwill.  You would be hard-pressed to find any conflict America has participated in that did not make the world safer for bigger government…anywhere or anytime. -BB

I read frequently among the lesserly neuronal of the supposed honor of soldiers, of the military virtues of courage, loyalty, and uprightness–that in an age of moral decomposition only the military adhere to principles, and that our troops in places like Afghanistan nobly make sacrifices to preserve our freedoms and democracy. Is not all of this nonsense?

Honor? A soldier is just a nationally certified hit-man, perfectly amoral. When he joins the military he agrees to kill anyone he is told to kill, regardless of whether he has previously heard of the country in which he will kill them or whether the residents pose any threat to him or his. How is this honorable? It is cause for lifelong shame.

It is curious that so many soldiers think that they are Christians. Christianity is incompatible with military service, if any Christianity is meant that Christ would have regarded with other than repugnance.

The explanation of course lies in the soldier’s moral compartmentation. Within his own tribe or pack, these usually being denominated “countries,” he is the soul of moral propriety—doesn’t knock over convenience stores, kick his dog, or beat his children; speaks courteously, observes personal hygiene, and works tirelessly for the public good in the event of natural disasters. A steely gaze with little behind it and a firm handshake amplify the appearance of probity.

In conflict with foreigners, he will burn, bomb, rape and torture indiscriminately. His is the behavior of feral dogs, which humans closely resemble.

Sacrifice? GIs do not make sacrifices. They are sacrificed, sacrificed for big egos, big contracts, for the shareholders of military industries, for pasty patriots in salons who never wore boots. They fight not for love of country but to stay alive, and from fear of the punishments meted out to deserters. If you doubt this, tell the men in Afghanistan that they may come home on the next plane without penalty, and see how many stay. Troops are as manipulated as roosters in a cock fight, forced to choose between combat and the pot.

See the rest: https://www.fredoneverything.net/Oo-rah.shtml

“Now something must be done about vengeance, a badge, and a gun”
-Zack de la Rocha

The picture above is probably the most powerful picture I have seen in a long time. As my mind dissected this picture, I had a thousand thoughts, and not one word. I had read the caption under the picture so I knew this young man’s name was Scott Olsen. I know he is a 24 year old Marine Veteran, and he had served two tours in Iraq.

This man is laying bleeding from his head in the arms of people he has probably never met. He has part of his military uniform on, perhaps a uniform he was issued. It looks like he has some kind of military pack on. The pack is splattered with blood, and his hair is matted into the blood on his forehead. This Marine is badly in need of medical attention. As this young man lay horizontally in the arms of strangers, his unbuttoned camouflage blouse had draped to either side of him. Under that blouse was a black undershirt with a white dove pictured on it. I stopped and focused on that dove for a minute. The photographer had managed to place it almost directly in the middle of the picture. My eyes were stuck on that dove as I wondered what events had taken place in his life that drove him to be an advocate for peace. Words can not accurately describe the power of this picture, so I won’t even try. If it was up to me, one of these pictures would be handed out to every returning soldier with these two words, “welcome home.”

All of these thoughts quickly disappeared when I thought to myself, why is this man not on a stretcher? Why is this man being cared for in this manner? Why is he being carried around like this?

 Then I watched the video….
That is a War Zone.

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Editor’s note: Chris has a sense of serendipity, and has supplied another insightful essay while Bill and I are occupied at Libertopia. If you’d like to contribute an essay, please email them to kaiserleib@gmail.com. We may edit your essay for mechanics, but never for content. -KL

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
~Frederick Douglass

This essay is a follow-up to my last essay that was posted here at ZeroGov. I don’t think I properly got my point across, and I do not want to appear as a man who does not take freedom seriously enough to take the time to explain how it would work. Please allow me this opportunity to explain myself a little further.

I have read many books, essays, and such explaining how the people will have to be shown concrete alternatives to the state apparatus before they have the courage to abandon it. They will have to be shown how they would travel, and not just traveling by automobile, an explanation has to be given for air travel and air traffic control also. They need to be explained how they would receive justice in a free society, or shown examples of how justice has been handled in the past and present absent the state. Certainly the problem of pollution cannot be left up in the air when trying to explain why a free society would be better. These are only a few problems that exist now, and will undoubtedly exist in a voluntary society. Somehow we will have to show working alternatives to every one of these problems before the people throw off the shackles they have placed upon themselves. And this is the reason why we will fail at this monumental task of trying to explain freedom, although our minds are free, our bodies are not. We can build in our heads, but we lack the right to build with our hands.

The abolitionists of the past did not know of companies like, John Deere, Kubota, or International Harvester. They would never witness the invention of the tractor and all of the wonderful implements that can be attached to them that make life on a farm so much easier. They would never witness the fabulous invention known as the internal combustion engine, or the introduction of hydraulic systems that make all of this technology possible. They were not concerned with any of this, they did not care about what would replace the slave; they only fought to end the horrible institution of chattel slavery. This is the root I was trying to strike with my last essay. I only wish to abolish slavery. I see something as wrong, I should not have to devise a working model as an alternative to this wretched practice. Is it not enough to expose the slavery in the system to get my fellow humans to throw off their shackles? Do I have to tempt them with new systems? Chattel slavery, although practiced for many, many centuries, is now seen as a horribly immoral institution. Slave owners of the past were not presented with cost benefit analysis, or return on investment sheets. The moral argument was presented, and it was supported with the fact that man is a self-owner, no matter the color of his skin.

When comparing slavery and the state, some may think it’s a bit over the top, or is meant to invoke emotion. I assure you that the comparison is accurate and correct. To be a self-owner, one needs to believe in self-ownership. If one believes in ownership, then one also believes in possession. Let me give you an example: let’s say you find someone’s keys in a parking lot, and you pick them up. At this time, you are in possession of the keys, but they are not yours. The owner comes along and makes a claim on his property; he can stake an ownership claim. You being the good and helpful person you are gladly hand this man his keys, because he is the true and rightful owner. Let’s turn the tables, you have lost your keys, and you find a man in possession of them in a parking lot. As you approach this man you give him your gratitude for finding the lost set of keys, but instead the man runs away. He runs because he understands that you are the rightful owner, and he is merely in possession of the keys. It is not his property and he knows it. He is the wrongful owner.

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Yet, clever people fall for far more dangerous ideas of the exact same form. In Philadelphia, a group of remarkably intelligent men came together to form a government. These men had seen full-grown governments before, had in fact just freed themselves from one. Yet here they were, feeding and nourishing a small baby government, playing with it, considering it so cute and adorable that they just had to have one.

-Joshua Katz, “Don’t Buy a Tiger

My previous piece was an attempt at a polite hatchet job on the OWS movement. That was hypocritical and wrong. I apologize, more to my friends who read it and agreed than to the OWS types who (like the rest of the world) remain largely unaware of the existence of ZeroGov.

I stand by my criticism of the unfocused nature of the protests. I agree with the sentiment of frequent ZeroGov commenter mot, who wrote:

“They ask evil to protect them from evil….” That’s the old Biblical example of trying to cast out Beelzebub in the name of Beelzebub. It simply doesn’t happen.”

And I still oppose the sentiment of this young man and those like him who, rather than being upset that the fruits of their labor has been wrongly appropriated by those in power, instead demand a share of the spoils.

But these protests are, so far, spontaneous order without coercion or force (although there are some disturbing omens that the will of the many might soon be imposed on the few). Until force is used, until laws are imposed and enforced, these protesters are absolutely doing the right thing. The protesters are respectfully using and maintaining the “occupied” property. This is anarchism in action by any reasonable definition: that no person or group imposes its will on another.

I am still worried that OWS, like the Tea Party before it, will be co-opted by new or existing powers. I do not like the rumblings of a coherent demand for increased regulation instead of the removal of existing Protectionist, Corporatist and Crony Capitalist government policies. I do not like the near-complete absence of anti-war sentiment among the protesters on the Youtube videos and articles I’ve seen.

But popular anger at a system of power that has done harm, I like. Spontaneous order and cooperation without coercion, I like. And so I hope and pray that this movement does not coalesce into Soviet communism, Nazi fascism, or American imperialism. I hope that anger at the powers that be, anger at the tax collectors and Apparatchiks and banksters does not devolve into a cult of personality around the elites who make false promises.

I hope, that is, that my last essay was wrong.

 

Publisher’s Note:  It is now less than a week to Libertopia in San Diego, Kalifornia.  I will be speaking on FRI and SAT and I will be on a panel on SUN.  It would be wonderful if some of my readers showed up.  You can register here: https://libertopia.org/ -BB

“The clock of communism has stopped striking. But its concrete building has not yet come crashing down. For that reason, instead of freeing ourselves, we must try to save ourselves from being crushed by its rubble.”
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Occupy Wall Street is about conformity and compliance.  The males (not men) and women that people the protests are consistently collectivists and apologists for state violence with heads expensively filled by overpriced universities with the most economically illiterate and toxic nonsense a state-dominated college education system could produce.  Just as fashion is not about individual tastes but mass appeal, the protests are about the Free Stuff Army much as the antiwar protests dwindled to near zero with the end of the draft, the same applies here.  As soon as these scholars-in-hock get loan forgiveness for their easily earned degrees, the cries for social justice will diminish except for the professional protestors and the true believers of collectivism whose life mission is to enslave humanity in an even more effective slave state than we have built so far in America. Where did these protestors come from?

The New left was at an intellectual crossroads in the 1960s.  The fork in the road would either embrace totalitarian collectivism or anarchistic individualism and they chose the former in droves.  In a world dominated by bipolar military industrial complexes in both the US and the other USSR at the time, communism was still seen by the chattering intellectual classes in the West as the only just and righteous organizing principle for societies except for the lone voices like Koestler and Conquest.  Up until 1989, the leading introductory textbook on economics penned and edited by Paul Samuelson was still trumpeting the superior efficacy of Communist delivery of goods and services over the free market.

“By the thirteenth edition (1989), Samuelson and Nordhaus declared, “the Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed; a socialist command economy can function and even thrive” (13:837). Samuelson and Nordhaus were not alone in their optimistic views about Soviet central planning; other popular textbooks were also generous in their descriptions of economic life under communism prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Today, the third generation of this totalitarian temptation has taken the form of fashionable collectivists shambling about their camp-hives on Wall Street and the satellite protests scattered across the nation.  Adam Kokesh has provided a brilliant snapshot video record of the sheer inanity and clouded thinking of the moron-a-thon known as Occupy Wall Street but strip it of all the florid protestations and mewling about “fair share” and “distribution” and it comes down to one single operative principle:  a monopoly on the threat and use of force must be employed to bring order and justice to human conclaves.

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“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

-H. L. Mencken

In the etymological sense, all societies are democracies. No government could remain in power, even with the support of the police and the military, if every citizen were simply to pick up a rock and throw it. Therefore, any government which remains in power has the tacit consent of the people, or at least a plurality of motivated people.

It seems that the American government is losing this tacit consent. The Occupy Wall Street protests and the copycat movements across the country are evidence of that. These protesters are not a majority of the people. They are not a plurality of the people. They do, however, represent one majority opinion: that the nature of the present relationship between government and high finance is intolerable, and must be changed.

The rest of the protesters’ message is unclear, because it is unfocused. Polling would indicate that the protesters want more government regulation, but determining the nature of that regulation would be left to existing powers – leaving us exactly where we are now, albeit with shiny new lipstick on our pig of a financial system. And what of the wars, against “terrorism” and “drugs?” Have those been forgotten, or are the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes simply a smaller threat to our well being than the undefined greed of the “1%”?

The Occupy Wall Street movement is composed of people who have every reason to be angry. Their property has been appropriated, their opportunities are repeatedly limited by government interference. They’ve been sold a package of unjust wars, useless education, and dubious protection from threats less real than the Bogeyman. To be sure, crony corporatists and congressman have colluded to commandeer the future of this country, and of the entire world. But OWS doesn’t seem to be about that. OWS asks for more regulation, more government meddling in our affairs. They ask evil to protect them from evil, and don’t understand the similarity between the 1% of high finance and the 1% of government.

Mencken’s snide dismissal of democracy is too kind. These common people, these “99%,” don’t really know exactly what they want. Unfortunately, the getting will be just as “good and hard” regardless.

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

Whenever speaking of free and voluntary societies I’m often asked, “What would we do about this”, or, “who would take care of that.”  I used to rattle off answers to these questions that were supplied by minds sharper than mine without even examining the questions. Then I realized I was focusing on the wrong part of the question. I was simply explaining how a different system would work, and hoping the ones asking the question would be won over with the clever and well thought out answers I had either memorized, or thought of myself. I have been trying to persuade people away from their system using the promise of a new and improved system. I realized I was no different than any other philosophical political peddler, and I would no longer tempt people with “our system.”

The truth is no one knows what “we” will do in a completely voluntary society, there is just no way of knowing. Any answer that is given to questions pertaining to the problems that individuals would face in such a society are purely speculation. I cannot tell you what we would do, I can only tell you what I would do. I would honor my contracts; I would defend myself; I would choose to help others in need; I would expect no one to support me; and I would plan accordingly. I want to be very clear here, I do not disagree with the theory that is being presented on how the logistics of society would be handled. There is no doubt that these organizations and such would arise and be needed in a voluntary society. I disagree with the fact that these theories are being pushed as answers before addressing the only real and true problem; collectivist thought. When those who are curious about voluntarism ask the “we” questions, the underlying collectivist philosophy is still there, and this is what needs to be addressed first before any practical questions can or should be answered. Otherwise, you are just trying to get them to abandon their system for your system.

I’ll admit that getting people to see the gun in the room is a very important and crucial step when trying to win them over, but that is not enough. In my experience, after I have been successful at pointing out the systematized coercion, and institutionalized violence in the current system, the conversation always turns to how we would deal with the practical issues. This is where I would start to explain how we would handle these things, but lately I have been pointing out the “we” in the room. In a revolution of the individual, “we” questions should not be answered. Put the ball back in their court. Ask them what they would do. When human interaction is purely voluntary, there can be no system.  It is important to let the ones asking the questions find their own solutions, or what they think might be solutions. I have at 32 years old, accepted that I am probably as free now as I will ever be. I know there is one crucial step that has to be taken before humans are physically free, and that step is to be mentally free. If it will be their decision in a voluntary society, it must be their decision now. I must say, watching my fellow humans squirm when asked to think like a free people is a little disheartening. There is a long road ahead, my only hope is that my children will  be the pioneers of this new society.

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