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...

"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.
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 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.

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...

  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: -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.

"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...

"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.
"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine
To perversely paraphrase Bastiat:  “The state is the great fiction within whose tax jurisdiction it deems itself free to fine, kidnap, cage, maim and kill its taxpayers and tax clients.”  It tends to be more gentle with the latter than the former. High Tax Commissioner Obama recently ordered the robot murder of two acknowledged American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, in yet another undeclared hostility zone in the Middle East in Yemen.  No trial and no appeal, simply the remote control killing of two Americans in a foreign country.  No empire in history has ever isolated its more obnoxious and deadly behavior in foreign lands simply to the latest imperial conquest, all the countries have eventually brought it all back to their homelands like disease vectors.  Wait for it because all the bloodshed and dismemberment we have visited on the rest of humanity will be brought home and used with vigor and no restraint whatsoever as the powers that be emanating from Mordor on the Potomac become more and more desperate as their economic ignorance and chicanery force their hand at increased savagery to preserve their way of life. The United Kingdom shows what will happen to a nation that seeks to rule the world, is reduced to colonial rock formations dotted around the globe and starts to practice empire on its own citizens. We are all used to news coming over the transom everyday of yet more innocent women and children maimed and killed by our troops or their proxies in the multitude of statist squabbles around the globe.  We are bludgeoned day after day with the news of cops misbehaving violently across the fruited plain.  The prisons are bloated with the largest per capita population on Earth in the land of the free. Millions of tax dollars are spent in a death penalty system that morbidly worships a premeditated killing of a human being accused of a capital crime.
“While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire, And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and signs out, and the mass hardens, I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth. Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.   You making haste, haste on decay; not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly A mortal splendor; meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic. But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.   And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master. There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught--they say--God, when he walked on earth.” - Robinson Jeffers,  Shine, Perishing Republic
  Jeffers, the lyrical and unsung poet of the American West had his finger on the pulse of the war machine in Mordor on the Potomac.  He was an opponent of the American entry into WWII (The War to Save Josef Stalin) and this put him on the path to poverty and obscurity.  His poetry is among the best America produced in the 20th century but he remains in obscurity because he dared to question the war machine. There is talk now of entering into a more active conflict with Pakistan.  The millions of maimed and murdered bodies that have already been the American offertory for world peace are simply not enough and the US death machine marches onward.  This war will come home and not only in the broken minds and bodies of the veterans but in the machinations of our rulers who will find all kinds of new stratagems and toys to better control their cattle here at home.  Combine this with the many opportunities afforded by the economic calamities the government has authored and you have a recipe for even worse times ahead. On reflection, I cannot support a single conflict America has engaged in since 1898 but I do know the only legitimate conflict is fought on one's own soil to defend your kith and kin from barbarism and enslavement.  I am opposed to all initiated aggression on principle but I am no pacifist.  I believe in a robust and compelling response to initiated aggression. We are a people born in conflict and steeped in a culture of self-defense despite the disregard with which our most holy and vaunted Founding Rulers viewed such a culture. It was on this day, September 30 in 1776 that George Washington wrote a despairing letter to his nephew complaining of the poor performance of his militia. "I am wearied to death all day with a variety of perplexing circumstances, disturbed at the conduct of the militia, whose behavior and want of discipline has done great injury to the other troops, who never had officers, except in a few instances, worth the bread they eat." Washington added, "In confidence I tell you that I never was in such an unhappy, divided state since I was born." Mighty strong elixir from one of history’s least deserving Battle Captains whose talents for warfare were among the poorest of any field commander.  The man who won three of the nine major battles he fought against a foe that was engaged in a global conflict with great powers on the European continent. If it weren’t for the “sideshow” aspect of the North American conflict to the British, military defeat would not have been visited upon them except at the hands of guerrillas.  As we see from the letter referenced above, Washington did not think very highly of his most pure volunteers, the militia.  No, Washington needed dragooned and conscripted fodder that would better enable his military ambitions.
"The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I have been working on a contract that will come to bind you, dear reader. This contract will give myself, and those I employ, the power to seize your property whenever we deem it to be necessary and proper. This contract can be amended at anytime and can only be interpreted by myself, and those I employ. You say you would never sign such a contract? No worries, your signature is not needed. I have, in good faith, taken the time to have many of my Friends and Neighbors sign it. Those who have signed it, have, with their signatures, legally bound you to this contract. I know, I know, it seems unfair and perhaps somewhat unjust. That is why I will provide you with arbitration, and I promise I will see to it that this method of arbitration will be as objective as possible. This Arbitrator will be paid by me through funds I have stolen...errr...extracted from you through the barrel of m....errr...through taxation. You see, I only sign the paychecks, the money comes from you; it's more than fair this way. You couldn't possibly be competent enough to use your own money to buy your own arbitration, so I must force it upon you. This Arbitrator, this Judge, will be addressed as "The Honorable", or, "Your Honor" and he will have almost unlimited powers within his court. If you choose to disrespect or disrupt "the Court" you will be caged for an indeterminate amount of time. However, before you are thrown into a cage, you will have a chance to grovel at the feet of the Court. Maybe this most Honorable Man will show mercy on you, or perhaps not. Even though your money and property is extracted to pay for this Public Servant, it is not your place to question him in his court. All dissenters must be punished, this is the only way to maintain the absolute authority of "the Court". You say this contract would never be upheld in a court of law?