The Wolf Pack

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The other night I was watching a debate on TV about the federal budget debt. Each one of the panelists spoke in terms of “we.” We need to do this or that – and so on. This has become normal speech even though it betrays something very abnormal about our society. What I mean is, the causal acceptance of collectivism.

I’m in my mid-40s. I can remember a time when commentators spoke of the debt, the military – and so on.

Today, it is all our debt, our “troops” – and so on.

The individual no longer matters. It’s all we all the time – even though it’s (as always) a certain few such as Mitt Romney (or Newtie or Barack or your local would-be Barack or Newtie) who so naturally and casually presume to represent we. And for the most part, we let them get away with it. We do not challenge the premise. It is taken as a given that we need better schools. More police. Or “fiscal discipline” . . . to be provided for, of course, with your money and mine.

It is just a question of how we will achieve this.

Whatever happened to leaving you and me free to decide for ourselves (or in voluntary cooperation with one another)?

The answer, of course, is that the political-economic-social system you and I are living in forces us to war with him and her – and they and them with us. Because we’re all bound up into various groups vying against other groups for a slice of government power or boodle, or to forcibly control members of other groups. It is like a wolf pack dominance hierarchy – with each wolf snapping his jaws at the carcass as a claim and a threat to the other wolves. And it is all made possible because the government has become an omnipresence, intruding into every corner of our lives such that we are never free from its grasping coercion, even in the privacy of our own homes.

Like the wolves, we have become part of a collective whose operating principle is violence, with the goal being to inflict it onto others and avoid having it inflicted upon us.

Mitt Romney, presumptive Republican pack leader, speaks in we.

We needed health care reform in Massachusetts. It was the right thing for us to do, he says. Newtie and Barack and the rest of them say similarly plural things. Always we. With you and I ultimately facing the snapping jaws – and the barrel of a gun – if we happen to disagree with we.

The lone wolf – the individual – who might prefer simply to be left in peace – confronts the Hobson’s choice of being eaten by his fellow pack members … or joining them and using their collective power to feast upon others.

And so, we need “health care” reform. We need a “strong defense.” We need better schools for our kids. If you don’t have any kids, or any interest in sending armed men to kill people you’ve never even met who never bothered you in countries on the other side of the planet, or aren’t interested in anyone’s “health care” except your own … well, too bad.

What was it VI Lenin said about government? You may not be interested in it, but it is keenly interested in you.

Candidates for office easily accept the role as head wolf, doling out the slabs of meat to whichever of the pack makes its needs most urgently known, or which the head wolf favors. It is, quite literally, a feeding frenzy. There is no longer even a debate about whether and how far the government ought to transgress against the sovereignty of the individual. It is only a question of which individuals, as members of a collective, shall impose their will on members of some other collective. The rule of the stronger. This is what campaigns and elections are all about in a democracy. There is no fundamental disagreement about the essential nature of the thing. The wolf pack leader (that is, the office-seeker or lawmaker) stands at the podium describing how he will reward his pack and implicitly, how he will punish his enemies, or the enemies of his pack. He rails against his opponent pack leader, who meanwhile just as vehemently urges his pack to steer clear of your pack because he will do a better job of providing for their needs. And a better job of punishing the opposing pack.

The story goes that Ben Franklin objected to the adoption of the eagle – an opportunistic predator – as the symbol of the new republic. He preferred the turkey – a peaceable, industrious bird. He considered it the proper symbol of a government limited to protecting individuals against the violence of other individuals, including violence administered via The Vote.

Franklin, of course, was over-ruled. 

And of course, so were we.

 

 

 

 

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  49 comments for “The Wolf Pack

  1. Don
    December 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Good point Eric. I’ve been saying the same thing for years: you got a mouse in your pocket? What’s this we shit? I’ve also noticed how politicians like Obama and Newtie and Pelosi talk about how the gov’t isn’t doing its job; how it’s let the people down etc.
    A lot of criticizing of the gov’t when THEY are the gov’t. They talk about the gov’t in the third person. How is that any wierder than an individual talking about himself in the third person.

    Do people really buy that bullshit? As if those people had nothing to do with anything, and now they’re going to right the ship? Pft.

    And you are correct about the feeding frenzy. I worked for a short time as a gov’t contractor and the contracting house I worked for readily used the expression “get the gov’t to throw more money at us”. That’s literally what they do: throw taxpayer money at contractors.

  2. Patriot1776
    December 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Eric—Nailed it! Loved it!

    • December 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Patriot!

      I’ve come to the conclusion that the best and possibly only way to reach people is to make it clear what the system is all about – violence by proxy. We must not shy away from pointing out to people what, exactly, they are advocating when they say “we ought to…” do this or that.

      Maybe there is still time. I hope so!

      • Patriot1776
        December 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm

        Me too. Too many will refuse to see the truth even when presented with it so boldly and plainly. The hope I have is just like the Goldwater “republicans” who grew up, and finally influenced the popular mindset and led to the election of Reagan. (albeit he did the opposite of his rhetoric) People were still inspired by his talk of individual liberty, limited government, and elected him for it. Maybe what we are seeing something even greater today with the rise of Ron Paul as the beginnings of a revolutionary return to the principles of liberty. One can hope.

        • December 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

          Yes!

          The “mainstream” Republican field is so… vapid…compromised and fundamentally the same as BHO that there is little enthusiasm for any of these ass clowns. I include Herman Cain here, too. He’s another corporate stooge/front man, indistinguishable from Newtie or Romney on fundamentals. Throw them all down the well! If Paul would pair up with someone like Jesse Ventura, I think there would be a rising tsunami of interest – and a real shot at turning things around.

        • Boothe
          December 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

          Patriot1776, I have to agree with you on the Reagan phenomenon; many of us were fed up to the gills with the status quo and he talked a good line. I’ve heard many different excuses and derisive remarks theorizing why Reagan did “this” or didn’t do “that”. What it all boils down to in retrospect is Reagan was a liberal Demoplican turned neo-con Republicrat, and more importantly, he was an ACTOR. What Chris Manion points out bears repeating: ‘a neo-con is a socialist that has changed his uniform, but has not changed his mind.’ I would only differ with Mr. Manion in that one can substitute “statist”, “corporatist” or “fascist’ without changing the truth of that statement.

          That’s why Reagan put this country in so much debt funding the warfare state and didn’t really do any meaningful defunding of the welfare state. This is the same reason both McCain and Obama couldn’t get back to DC quick enough to vote for giving hundred’s of billions of dollars to the international banksters and corporate deadbeats at OUR expense. There was, and still is, no essential difference between the two of them. Ron Paul is getting traction because past experience is making it bloody difficult to keep selling the public this same old political snake-oil. The establishment is getting scared and sending shock troops out to threaten and beat the public back into silent submission with pepper spray and hair pulling. You know things are bad when the protestors still don’t budge. I’m afraid it’s gonna get worse before things gets better.

          Eric, this is what scares me about Jesse Ventura: he’s an ACTOR too. Although I have to agree with Jesse on many points, I also agree with the ACLU, and even the SPLC, on more than a few points as well. And as most of us here already know, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Dr. Paul has a consistent 3 decade history of telling the truth, let the chips fall where they may. Mr. Ventura has a consistent history of filling roles where he convinced large numbers of people he was someone he was not; and did so successfully and lucratively. I am automatically suspicious of actors along with other professions that are well paid to deceive, such as lawyers, undertakers and politicians

          • BrentP
            December 2, 2011 at 12:51 am

            Ventura may have been an actor but I see no other similarity to Reagan. I’ve been hearing Ventura talk freely over the internet for a few years now. It’s clear the man is learning.

            The empty suits the system puts forth for us never demonstrate any capacity to learn (except for maybe better ways to manipulate and con people). They never show this slow learning and changing towards liberty. Ever. Ventura has.

            It’s just not something I expect from a fake-out. Do I think Ventura should have political office? In many respects, no.
            Is he clearly worlds better than what we typically can choose from? Absolutely. If I was given the choice Obama, Romney, and Ventura I’d vote for Ventura and not even think about it. Ventura might not have the ability to make things better but they certainly wouldn’t get worse and the way things are going that would be a HUGE improvement.

          • Boothe
            December 2, 2011 at 8:08 am

            BrentP, what you say is indeed true: Jesse’s no Reagan. He’s no Clint Eastwood or Gubbernator either (neither of whom I’d vote for, but plenty of people did). I agree that between the three that you mentioned, the choice of Ventura is a no brainer because Jesse appears to actually be libertarian leaning. And all three of them are actors, but Jesse’s the only one that admits it.

            One thing bothers me about him is the sensationalistic, almost caricature-like, manner in which Ventura has presented some very serious subjects in his Conspiracy Theory series. Maybe it’s just a case of “you can take the boy out of pro-wrestling, but you can’t take the pro-wrestling out of the boy”; old habits die hard. But I can’t help but feel that he has helped perpetuate the perception that anyone who questions the “official position” on a number of very questionable incidents is a “tinfoil hat wackjob”.

            I’ve also heard Jesse on Sean Hannity’s radio show and they seem pretty tight, regardless of whether or not they disagree on some points. When Hannity the Hack doesn’t harbor the level of contempt for Ventura he reserves for Ron Paul, that alone is enough to raise my suspicions.

      • Don
        December 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        Even those that “feel” they are doing good for the world, helping people and making a difference are doing nothing but advocating violence by proxy.

        A friend of mine had this discussion with some young people handing out literature about their organization that was addressing climate change.

        My friend asked them if they advocated violence in obtaining their environmental goals. They said they absolutely did not.

        He then asked if their organization had lobbyists in Washington and of course they do. He then pointed out that the whole point of lobbyists is to encourage congress to create laws forcing people behave a certain way and if people refuse then they will be forced to do so or suffer severe penalties upto and including possible imprisonment. Schooled them good.

        I can only assume that it’s public schooling that keeps people from using both sides of their brains. They hear “gov’t” and all reason goes flying out the window. People advocate things that they would never advocate in any other aspect of their lives. Very wierd, almost mind control like. scary stuff.

      • Doug
        December 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm

        There is no time left. The United States is finished as far as Freedom, Personal Privacy and Liberty are concerned. Compared to many Countries (Particularly Germany and Mexico to where escaped), the US isn’t even on the same page

        • Patriot1776
          December 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

          History suggests you are right…..but Stranger things have happened. Even our founders exhausted all their efforts on turning back the clock on liberty and returning England to it’s constitutional principles…Declaring independence was the last resort, and was met with violent opposition. I think we may have reached the same point….Maybe it’s time to declare independence from DC. Uncreate the monster.

          • methylamine
            December 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm

            Patriot1776, I agree. I suspect the end game will be state (or regional) secession.

            In fact, I welcome it. It’s time to cut the chains; start with the big ones first, and whittle them away until government is so local that your “legislator” is a short walk away.

            When they no longer have layers of stasi insulating them from their subjects, they’ll be much more polite…and responsive.

  3. Gail
    December 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Eric: “If Paul would pair up with someone like Jesse Ventura, I think there would be a rising tsunami of interest – and a real shot at turning things around.”

    Gotta take exception to this, Eric. I don’t believe Ventura would be a good move for Paul. Paul’s already having trouble getting out front because of the public’s readiness to believe the establishment’s characterization of him as an outlier. They can’t hear what he’s saying over the shouting of the media on his unelectability. The last thing Paul needs is a VEEP pick who is also regarded by too many voters as a renegade — especially one like Ventura (can you say flamboyant?) That would just be doubling the trouble.

    What Paul needs is someone who is *more* moderate in appearance — even though libertarian and true to Paul’s platform and beliefs — not less. Someone about whom Paul can project the message to Mr. and Mrs. Corn-Fed, “See? I’m not so far out there as you think.”

    Besides, although I’m not closely familiar with Ventura’s positions on things, haven’t read his books and so on, I get the impression that he’s a one-trick pony. He does not appear to have the intellectual range, and certainly not what I will call the sophistication, that one would ideally want in a President — necessarily a consideration with a 75-year-old President. Can you picture him meeting with the Pope or sitting in on UN Security Council meetings? Nikita Khrushchev once made headlines by taking off his shoe and banging in on the table at a UN meeting; I would worry that Ventura would pick up a chair and bust it over somebody’s head.

    The likes of Jesse Ventura occupying the Oval Office is — though one would hardly credit it as possible — even more bizarre than George Bush. I’m fed up with saxophone-playing bimbo eruptors and/or mental midgets parading around in flight suits in the office. I’m tired of Presidents that are embarrassing. An ex-carnival wrestler is way too Welcome to the Monkey House for me.

    Not to mention the tremendous global challenges the US will face by then. I don’t think he’s got the chops for all that, do you?

    • December 2, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Could be!

      But I see Ventura as bringing two things to the table: He can’t be talked-down to on “defense” issues – and can stare down all the odious chickenhawk GOP “leaders,” including Newtie and Romney. (Remember how Jesse shut up “Dick” Cheney on the issue of waterboarding? What other Republican could do that – or is willing to do that?)

      Paul is very weak in this area, like it or not. The typical American baboon likes a “tough guy” and Ventura is the toughest dude on the stage. He is the only person I’m aware of on the national stage who opposes our warfare state – and is bulletproof on the issue.

      Related to this, he has personality. I admire Paul, but he doesn’t have the charisma that, like it or not, is critical to electoral success in this country at the national level at least.

      He’s no great intellectual, but he seems to be genuinely appalled by what is happening to our civil liberties, wants to see the truth discussed in public and, overall, seems to me to be on the right (liberty) side of most issues, including “terrorism” and the (cough) “war on drugs.”

      Just my 50….

      • Gail
        December 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        “I admire Paul, but he doesn’t have the charisma that, like it or not, is critical to electoral success in this country at the national level at least.”

        Yeah, he’s a shrimp … I agree on your point about charisma, but the greater problem for him IMO is that he’s a poor communicator — fatal when you’re trying to win over opinions from outside the ring. He’s a very bright guy, and like a lot of very bright people he adopts a kind of stone-skipping style of speech: The concepts he discusses are so familiar and so self-evident to him that he forgets that’s not the case with the average listener. No sooner does he get halfway through one sentence than his brain races him forward to the next without finishing the first. Even knowing his platform, I find I have to listen to him very closely to follow his train. Joe Sixpack, wanting to give this Ron Paul guy a chance and listening to his speeches, is likely to be totally lost.

        Harry Browne understood this perfectly. He was a delight to listen to because he never forgot that he needed to teach while he was stumping.

        Plus, Paul comes off as dogmatic. (This may be because he knows he won’t be given a lot of time, so he needs to get his main points in.) I don’t know how much local town-hall meeting stuff he does, but if I were advising him I’d have him do a LOT.

        “He can’t be talked-down to on “defense” issues – and can stare down all the chickenhawk GOP “leaders,” including Newtie and Romney. (Remember how he shut up “Dick” Cheney on the issue of waterboarding?)”

        All that makes him a good candidate; it wouldn’t be of much use after he’s in office, when he’d no longer have to win debate points.

        I don’t know that the average voter *does* prefer a tough guy. Maybe your fuuutball boobusses (boobii?), but I suspect — or maybe it’s just wishful thinking — that there are a lot of Americans who are weary of tough guys. And I’d bet a lot of countries are, too.

        • December 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

          Agree.

          Paul also lacks obvious passion, which I’d say is also very important as far as achieving electoral success.

          I should clarify what I meant by “tough guy” –

          Jesse is a real rough guy, which means he is not a bully. Notice this? He is not casually belligerent with other people’s lives, like virtually all the neo-con Republican chickenhawks. He is aware of what it means to kill, to destroy – and (to me) seems to be very reluctant to go that route unless absolutely necessary and absolutely justified. For this reason (among others) he has my respect.

          I’ve come across no reason to distrust him yet.

          • Don
            December 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

            If you watch earlier videos of Ron you’ll see his passion. I think that he’s tired. Tired of having to say the same thing, over and over and over again. Tired of proving his metal over and over and over again and idiot Americans just going: nah, I want to vote for the black guy, or the movie star, or the woman b/c it’s time we had a woman president.

            He’s passionate, his campaign just needs to remind him to show it more because when he does the crowd reacts.

            Did you see their reaction in S.C. when he talked about legalizing heroin? That conservative GOP crowd applauded and cheered.

            He’s got something special. Charisma, charm, honesty, moxy, something. He’s a good man. Better than me. Too good for Americans.

    • Boothe
      December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Gail, here are two points that are rather ironic:

      (1) You point out that Dr. Paul needs someone that appears more moderate. Based on what our illustrious media has done to Dr. Paul’s image Jesse may actually appear *more* moderate to Joe Sixpack (sigh). He did win Minnesota…..

      (2) As Eric brought up, our deer-huntin’-football-loving-hard-drinkin’-NASCAR-fans can probably relate to his hard-assed image toting a mini-gun around hunting Predators. How do you think Arnold took California? It doubt it had much to do with his deep understanding of Austrian economics.

      Most of us here appreciate intellect, moderation, diplomacy and critical thinking. I’m not sure what most Americans really favor deep down, but I heard a lot of women call into WRVA in Richmond, Virginia saying they were going to vote for Clinton because he was “cute”. Then after his little “spill” on Monica’s dress, a bunch more called in to defend the Philanderer in Chief saying his infidelity him “more real”. I would like to hope that Americans are more elightened now, but due to the media and public education……

      • December 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        “…Dr. Paul needs someone that appears more moderate”

        I think principled would be better! Jesse doesn’t hem and haw. Agree or disagree with him, he states his views clearly and his views have a coherent theme. Other than RP, none of the GOP candidates have that going for them. They’re all to a man (and woman) expedient-driven, lawyer-parsing/equivocating shysters.

        Jesse comes across as honest, real and believable – as well as passionate about liberty. He could be full of it, I know. But so far, I really like what I have seen.

        • methylamine
          December 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm

          I’ve heard Ventura interviewed on Alex Jones several times–and Alex has appeared on Conspiracy Theory.

          From those interviews, and from reading his positions elsewhere, I think he’s 90% of the way “there” as a libertarian.

          His flamboyancy has been tempered by age. He still talks in a growl, but he’s patient and as soft-spoken as a guy that looks like that can be.

          Ron Paul has the intellectual liberty-minded crowd won; now he needs to get the rest of the disaffected and disenfranchised producer class. Jesse might be that guy.

          • dom
            December 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm

            How about a Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura team for President and Vice President!

          • mithrandir
            December 3, 2011 at 12:23 am

            @dom 02dec2011 9:38pm

            A Celebrity Deathmatch with Paul/Ventura vs. any other P/VP contenders would be nice to see.

            In a more serious tone, I want to see Ron Paul get the nomination. After that happens then I’ll concern myself about the running mate.

    • Don
      December 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      I hear you Gail but at the same time people have voted for people in congress and the white house that were zero-trick ponies: movie stars, athletes, old women, old men. Shit, it’s all about image for the boobus-americanus. And Jesse is electable as he’s shown.

      I’m surprised everytime I listen to him talk how informed and intelligent he is. His opinions are actually very similar Ron’s.

      You talk about his sophistication and him meeting with foreign dignitaries. You think Hillary Clinton’s sophisticated? George Bush was sophisticated? Arlen Specter? Barney Frank? Nancy Pelosi? John “don’t make me cry” Bohner? ( I love that name. I bet he got the shit teased out of him in school )

      You have to keep in mind what gov’t we’re talking about here. The U.S. gov’t. The one filled with freaks, and frauds. Ventura would harldy be noticed.

  4. Gail
    December 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “As Eric brought up, our deer-huntin’-football-loving-hard-drinkin’-NASCAR-fans can probably relate to his hard-assed image toting a mini-gun around hunting Predators. How do you think Arnold took California? It doubt it had much to do with his deep understanding of Austrian economics.”

    And him an Austrian!

    Okay, yeah … maybe you and Eric are right. Maybe I’m overestimating the IQ out there. To paraphrase HL Mencken, nobody ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the American public. Maybe.

    By far the most startling discovery I made as an Internetter is that the human race is neither as good nor as bright as I had always assumed it to be. It took years for me to believe it, and maybe I’m still having trouble accepting it. God knows there’s enough evidence of it.

    Yep, there are plenty of female boobusses, too.

    • Boothe
      December 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Gail I believe one of the most dangerous human failings is to impute our own values, principles, experiences and conclusions to those around us. Years ago, I went to the IRS to ask specific questions about the tax laws and regulations. They couldn’t answer my questions and basically stone-walled me, of course. I couldn’t figure out how my fellow Americans could simply follow along and even profit from such an onerous system. I wouldn’t do such a thing, why would they? The answer was; they aren’t me.

      Then I had an epiphany: These people don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but themselves. They lack sufficient self motivation and intelligence to compete in the private sector for a similar wage. And government sanction justifies their actions for them in their own minds, no matter how morally wrong what they do may seem to the rest of us.

      As we get older we *should* get wiser. But you have to be willing to learn from your life experiences and “To thine own self be true” to gain wisdom. Most Americans hit a sticking point on that introspection thingy. Combine that with lame-stream media and publik skool indoctrination and you have what you see around us now. And I can assure you Gail, most of these zombies are as much like us as they are like Christ.

  5. richard
    December 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Well, heck. I’m interested in who’s ‘running’ our system too, but the phrase, ” Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” keeps looping thru my head. Obama ring any bells? Hope you guys are thinking the same. Regards to all.

  6. babydriver
    December 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Anyone here read the Bible all the way through?

    Doesn’t it seem that everything is illegal? Delve deep and it can be seen, nearly everything is illegal.

    How can this be stopped?

    It is great fun to discouse, but while we pinpoint this issue or that issue, 100 other issues are decided against us (me). Look how fast it has gone down in the last 50 years?

  7. Doug
    December 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I have liked Jesse Ventura since I watched the Debate between him and the other two Candidates for Governor of Minnisota however I wouldn’t count on him to run for anymore Political Offices in the United States. According to news reports, he is applying for Mexican Citizenship.

  8. fenimore neon
    December 6, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Your views here would be recognized even better if it wasn’t already known that you are married and I am sure refer to you all as “we” when referencing something to friends or family. The obvious when it comes to amerika’s totalitarian mass man point of view is easily pointed out, yet what exactly is it you are trying to do…Let people know that you recognize that the individual is no longer recognized? Or are you realizing that you have never been an individual in your life, and that psychologically you are really wishing you were strong enough to have been alone, a strong lone wolf, able to stand up and be your SELF, without worrying about what anyone else thought?
    You have always done this with your writing, whether on driving, law, and now with the individual, Eric: You never are able to take it far enough….Your writing is limited, as well as your scope….

    • December 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Oh please, dude…. no more of the “if you’re married you’re a mass man or slave” stuff… Ok?

      Being liberty minded doesn’t require one to be incapable of (or uninterested in) personal commitment. Voluntary, mutually agreeable partnerships.

      Yeah, I refer to my wife and I as “we” in certain contexts, such as we are going to see a movie or we are interested in cats. So? Is there coercion implied? An assault on liberty? Independence? How? It’s a grammatical construct, not a prison.

      Where’s the beef?

      I don’t get it. I know I’m strange, but this fixation of yours on shunning marriage/personal commitment – else you’re a “mass man” – is really strange!

  9. fenimore neon
    December 7, 2011 at 5:16 am

    You obviously are incapable of understanding what the word Individual actually defines. It defines a single person. One. I.
    The reason why collectivity has come around, and why it can be accepted in the mass man’s mind, is he was taught to think in terms of the “we,” as in, we (my family and I) are going to church. And then he was taught to think in terms of “we,” as in, we (my classmates and I) are going on a field trip. Why does this affect his mind, because he is taught to learn to share his decisions. He must compromise for the decision of the “we.” Him and his workers CHOOSE cooperation for the betterment of the TEAM. You compromise with your wife and daughters, so the “we” can be more happy!
    Liberty minded? Whose liberty? Yours? Or yours and your wife’s and daughter’s freedom? Sounds like a “we” to me, and that you have grown accustomed to speaking for them….
    Just holding your definitions accountable. If you want to show your audience that collectivity is sprouting everywhere, and there is no room for the individual, it may be best to look in the mirror, and see how many faces are looking back at you…

    • December 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

      “We” is a political construct as used and the element of coercion is what’s particularly relevant. Your notion that one becomes a coercive collectivist by dint of voluntary, personal non-coercive, private relationships is just silly.

      Yes, I choose to cooperate with others. And they with me. For mutually beneficial purposes.

      This makes me a Mass Man? A compromised collectivist herd animal?

    • Boothe
      December 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Neon; let us hearken back to our days of infancy. Without “we”, as in our relationship with our mother or some other willing guardian, any of us would have died wheresoever we happened to plop down on the dirt. Marriage is, or at least should be if it is to work, a voluntary and cooperative arrangement between two individuals for their mutual benefit and happiness. This does not in any way negate the individuality of the parties involved. Nor does the state’s forced insinuation into the institution of marriage somehow diminish its importance to a stable social order. Our quality of life improves through mutually beneficial arrangements of many different sorts, marriage being only one of them.

      If you want absolute and pure “individualism”, then you seek what never was and never can be, because you had to have the sustenance provided by your mother in her womb to merely begin to reach the point where we can have this discourse. She instinctively cooperated with you for your survival before you were even born; so your “individualism” is shot in the head right out of the gate!

      But for the sake of argument, let’s say you are the hypothetical “self made man”. You turn the magic age of 18, complete with all the knowledge contained in the Boy Scout handbook and now you’re on your own; plop…on the ground naked, a pure individual. Without fangs, spines, claws, an exoskeleton or even fur, how long do you think you will last without the mutual cooperation of your fellow humans? Clothing, clean water, housing, automobiles, arms, tools and especially collected knowledge, all of the conveniences you enjoy in this culture ad infinitum, are the results of the division of labor.

      The division of labor is born of cooperation among individuals for their mutual benefit. This cooperative effort amongst individuals starts at the family level. The family starts with the archetypical married couple. Married couples are comprised of individuals that came into this world dependent on other individuals. You may see me refer to being “self sufficient” on this forum; but that is figurative. I am merely able to provide goods and services desirable to others who, in exchange, provide me with the goods and services I want. These skills and knowledge I have acquired came through my mutual cooperation with others; thereby I am not a burden to my fellow countrymen. I fully understand that I must regularly trade off a portion of my individual independence to meet my immediate needs and desires through the assistance of others; my wife included. But that in no wise compromises my individuality.

      Pure individualism is “every man for himself” taking whatever he needs to survive in whatever manner he can. It is lawlessness and coercion. This is what government ultimately organizes and dresses up in suits, robes and uniforms to parade about to hide its true nature. Which invariably ends up being “official” sanction of theft, assault, murder, and involuntary servitude for the benefit of those governing and their accomplices. Even at that, it is a collective effort because evil men who are strictly “in it for themselves” realize they can accomplish far more through group efforts.

      There can be no such thing as this ethereal “true” individualism you seem to favor. In this state our species would face almost immediate extinction; even the “dark side” recognizes this. The mutually cooperative arrangement we call marriage is a time proven cornerstone for our peaceful and happy survival. To propose otherwise is disingenuous at best.

      • December 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

        Neon hasn’t parsed the difference between coercive “we” – which by definition violates human rights – and mutually agreeable, voluntary association/free exchange, which are essential to the maintenance of human rights. Indeed, essential to human existence (as you explain so well).

        I’m not sure what the source of his animosity toward non-coercive “we” relationships is but I suspect he went through a bad divorce or something along those lines.

      • fenimore neon
        December 8, 2011 at 4:47 am

        I appreciate your well-thought response Booth. Really I do. You give way more thought to your responses than Eric does. He over-analyzes me, when it is his SELF he should be looking at in the mirror. BUT…You still either are just as incapable as Eric of introspection, or it is the lens you all choose to view through which disallows your being able to see it is really your education which is what filled your early empty head with ideas not of your own which has given you this outlook.
        You all make up definitions for words, or turn their definitions in Your favor, just the same as other politicians do. Libertarians CHOOSE to define liberty and freedom to mean such and such, just the same as Politicians choose liberty to mean the freedom to pay taxes and wars and the suppression of others. Just as you Booth choose to think there are several DIFFERENT meanings to individualism. What? SO there is libertarian’s definition…And then there is the TRUE version? If I am not mistaken Orwell calls this Doublespeak, and he says the State uses this to confuse its populace. Yet if the people who are against it are just as fluent in this doublespeak, then how does this make your movement any different? Freedom means free, from everything. Look it up. No boundaries, no denials, no chains, nothing. If Libertarians mean kind of free…well then say it. Individuality means true individuality. It doesn’t mean kid of true individuality, one that is able to be a good citizen?
        I fully understand how the division of labor is set up. The division of labor is founded upon the MYTH of cooperation of individuals for their mutual benefit. Mostly though, the division of labor is set up so that people have something to do, to make money, and not let their minds think for about 8 hours a day.
        Marriage is a construct, a goal to be achieved that has to do with another Myth you all buy into…The Myth of Happiness. And yes, according to the rules of individuality, which Eric write his article upon which says the State now assumes collectivity, marriage also follows into such realm. Marriage is sold to the public. Is taught to them to be a goal from a very young age. Is something they see on television, something they get to play in games as “house,” and something which is a small form of collectivity.
        It does not matter if you “choose” it your self, or whether you are forced into marriage. It is actually worse if You “choose” it of your own free will, because it then means that you are insufficient by your SELF, as an individual, that you are only complete w=through the union of another.
        But the “choice” is not really of your own, because you did not have your mind filled with individual thoughts from the time you were young, but rather thoughts of society, and yes, this is a means of propagandizing the young to grow up and fulfill the state’s vision. You learned a government education, and just because you have CHOSEN to think somewhat MORE about having more “freedoms” than what the STATE ALLOWS you to have at the moment, does not mean that you still do not use the other tools your governmental education has equipped you with, which is to think in terms of “Allowing, and Disallowing” others of certain behaviors, and to think in terms that the human species must continue through marriage, even though there are over 7 billion people already on the planet.
        Booth, Eric, and others…Henry Hazlitt teaches that the way of the mind is through not only being able to look at the small picture, but simultaneously being able to see the big picture as well. It means being able to use your mind, free of any constraints, chosen or non-chosen.
        So yes Eric, I’m very well versed in the difference between definitions between various terms, as well as the difference of coercive and non-coercive…It just so happens that you have no idea that you make up definitions for words to fit your agenda, just the same as the government you denounce.
        Bravo for enlightening people to the fact that the government is into collectivity….You just happen to be one of their best customers.

        • December 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

          Booth has more patience than I!

          Words are shorthand for concepts and concepts have objective meaning – else human language is meaningless. Coercion is the key concept in politics. Liberty means the absence of coercion. Libertarians oppose coercion and favor voluntarism.

          You’ve got some weird issue with marriage and equate it with compromised “individuality” as you define it – but that’s your personal issue. Being married in no way compromises liberty or individuality. Individuality is just that – our individual choices, freely made. You choose to not be married. It does not make you less an individual, or less capable of comprehending the concept of liberty, than being married does. And it is enormously presumptive of you to imply that people who choose to get married do so because they’re “programmed” to do so, not because they make a conscious choice. That line can be turned right around on you, too. And it would be just as arrogant of me – and just as stupid, since I don’t know you, don’t know your mind and have no clue what motivates your personal choices in this life. Just as you have no clue what motivates mine. We each choose, as human individuals, to pursue happiness as we see it. Not as you see it. Or I define it. Liberty means I respect your choices and you respect mine and we each agree to leave one another alone.

          That is the essential thing. What matters. If people can agree on this principle – on this concept – then all else follows. We are free to be individuals as we define our individuality. No one else imposing his will on others.

          I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because it’s a retarded discussion. You’ve got some personal issue with marriage, for whatever reason. That’s your business. But please, spare us your unsupported opinions that being married delegitimizes one’s individuality and makes one a Mass Man (or woman).

    • Boothe
      December 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Where to begin, Neon, where to begin? You appear by your writing to be intelligent and well read, so I’m probably not about to tell you anything you don’t already know, but humor me please. Let’s start with what you wrote about words. You claim that Eric and I redefine words for our own purposes. I can’t speak for Eric, although I’ve seen no evidence of this on his part. You write that I “choose to think” that “individualism” has more than one meaning. And I would agree with that statement; according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary “individualism” does have more than one meaning my friend:

      Definition of INDIVIDUALISM
      1
      a (1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
      b : a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests; also : conduct or practice guided by such a theory
      2
      a : individuality
      b : an individual peculiarity : idiosyncrasy

      Explain how choosing to consult the dictionary and therefore to “believe” that individualism has plural meanings diminishes my individuality.

      Words are merely tools that allow us to convey thoughts to one another; nothing more, nothing less. Words like hand tools often have multiple uses which we refer to as definitions. No one definition is necessarily correct, therefore some confusion about the thought I wish to convey to you may arise if I misuse a word, if my statement is taken out of context or is devoid of the emotional cues conveyed by body language. Without certain standards imposed by general consent as to the meanings assigned to each word, we would be incapable of complex communication. Our current interchange would have never occurred and both of us would be the poorer for it.

      So it is understandable that you may misconstrue what I write as the legalistic “custom definition” of specific words or statements. I can assure you that is not my intent. I merely take collected knowledge passed down to me through words and apply it to my own life experiences. I then relate said information to the knowledge and life experience of others, such as you, Eric, Clover, James Madison, Aesop, et al. I then form my conclusions or hypotheses and attempt to convey these ideas accurately to others. Since physical cues are part of our communication toolbox, it can be difficult to convey my ideas as well I could if we were face to face. I liken it to trying to rebuild an automatic transmission without the manufacturer’s proprietary tools or even a set of snap ring pliers; it can be done, but the results may be less than desirable.

      So the more tools of different types one has in their toolbox, the more varied the tasks they can successfully perform. It is the same with words; the more words you have in your vocabulary and know how to employ effectively, the better able you are to convey thoughts to your fellow beings. So where do we get these words? We could make them up as we go; that would be truly individualistic. But then no one but the inventor would understand them. We don’t come into this world with a Thesaurus and Dictionary already uploaded in our head by Nature either. No, we become part of the collective to communicate, because the very words we use must be handed down to us from our ancestors. A particular group of people at a particular point in time within specific geographic confines assign particular, and often varied, meanings to these words.

      Our words are necessarily the product of conventions that our predecessors agreed upon without our consent. We may modify our language due to style preferences, technological advancement and even misuse; but this is merely building on or tearing down that which we were given by others. This often leads to misunderstandings when one attempts to interpret thoughts conveyed by others in writing. This distortion is exacerbated when communication occurs across electronic media such as this and is even worse across generations or millennia. But the fact remains that merely communicating with words technically makes us all part of a literary collective. Does that demolish our individuality? I think not, because we are still free, individually, to arrange our words however we see fit.

      Sometimes, as is the case with sophists (particularly those of the legal and legislative camps) definitions designed to obfuscate and mislead are done intentionally. But I attempt to make my points clearly and unambiguously because I really do want you to understand what I mean. If I cannot sway you with the truth (at least what I believe to be true) and logic, then my reasoning is flawed and I must go back and reevaluate my position. I have to do this often, as I am inquisitive by nature and frequently uncover new facts disproving my previous beliefs. So I must disagree with you on your assertion that I lack introspection. You write about me without really knowing me by any other means than what I’ve written. That leaves your view of me severely limited; even merely two dimensional.

      With respect to my education; outside of high school and technical training I have no formal education. My “empty head” is “filled”, as you put it, with many differing opinions, ideas, experiences, memories and works of art I have assimilated over my short 52 years. Some of which was indeed instilled in me through rudimentary formal schooling to be sure (some of it even turned out to be correct!). It is the sum of my life experience that shapes my views. It informs me that if I wish to enjoy the relative comforts to which I have grown accustomed, then I must cooperate with others for heat, light, bedding, clean water, a house, cars, this computer, my clothing, roads, the intimacy of my partner and so on.

      The purely individualistic alternative, in the sense that I take you to mean it, would be to wander alone in the wilderness in whatever animal hides and plant fibers I could cover myself in, eat what I could trap or forage and live a short and difficult life devoid of much beyond simple animalistic survival. I find that prospect rather unappealing. So, based on the facts that (a) I am not a Solipsist and therefore believe you do actually exist, and (b) you are writing to me in an electronic forum and thereby avail yourself the use of a computer, you apparently don’t lead a savage existence either. So does partaking of the fruits of organized society and its technology diminish or eliminate your individualism? Please explain.

      Here again, I don’t understand how prospering through the organization of capital and the division of labor diminishes my individuality. Yes, I have to follow certain rules to participate. But I can choose not to participate. Yes, I have to meet certain standards, but I do so on my own terms more often than not. I have the free will and ability to choose other avenues in life, but find many of them undesirable. Here in physical reality there are always constraints. Some are manmade, others are Natural; but constraints are everpresent. Break into my home in the middle of the night because you think you are free to harm me or my wife and you will discover a very unpleasant constraint administered at the individual level. Jump off a building and you will discover another one. If you were truly free you could fly without the aid of machines. If you were truly free you could reshape physical reality around you with a mere thought. In true freedom there would be no gravitational, temporal or mortal constraints. Thus freedom, true freedom, can and does only exist in your mind.

      Liberty on the other hand, can exist and has existed right here in these United States in the past. Those of us who identify with libertarianism (vs. the tripe pedaled by beltway Libertarian establishment boot-licks) realize there must be certain minimal constraints in place to enforce contracts and dissuade the violently recalcitrant among us and that’s about all. Those minimal constraints should exist at the individual and local levels as much as possible. Liberty, like comfort is a relative thing and requires certain trade offs due to human nature, our idyllic desires notwithstanding. So either insurance companies, arbitrators and security firms will fill that need privately or the vacuum will pull us into a state system which will ultimately become totalitarian. That’s the harsh reality of it.

      Perhaps happiness is a myth; for you. Perhaps mutual cooperation is a myth; for you. But this discourse, this exercise in thought and writing makes me happy. For me, that is reality not myth. So too with watching my dog fetch a Frisbee, seeing the moon rise over the horizon at the lake, hiking to the top of a butte in Arizona and examining petroglyphs or spending time talking with my wife. All these things make me happy. You have my deepest sympathy if things like that are mythical for you. As to your “myth” of mutual cooperation; you are using the very complex product of that particular “myth”, the personal computer, to communicate with me. I don’t think any further debunking of that particular fallacy is necessary.

      For precision’s sake my name is Boothe, not “Booth” and I am not part of a movement or any other group. There are certain ideas that I favor at this time, so I may identify with the purposes a particular group of individuals to achieve a mutually benefical outcome. But that still doesn’t diminish my individuality. In conclusion, since you cited Henry Hazlitt’s writings above, I must point out that your thoughts are no more solely your own than mine are. Your move.

      • December 9, 2011 at 12:40 am

        Wow, Boothe – you are patient!

        I tried to give Neon the Cliff’s Notes version; that individualism is up to each of us to define and fundamentally unknowable by others. But more to the point, as far as what concerns us here, is whether our interactions with others are based on mutual consent and voluntarism – or coercion. It is a simple line in the sand. How each of us chooses to live our lives, to pursue that which makes us happy – is or ought to be irrelevant as regards the proper role of government (if any). Only when our personal choices impose costs or harm on others do they become a legitimate issue for others to involve themselves in. Neon seems to be overly concerned with irrelevancies. I have articulated (or tried to) a political-moral philosophy whose most basic premise is, leave others alone and expect them to leave you alone in return. Never be the one to initiate the use of force. Live – and let live. In my ideal world, Neon, like everyone else, would be free to live his life as he (and only he) saw fit, to the extent that his actions don’t harm others. If he elected to live in the woods, wearing animal skins and interacting with no one, ever – well, that would be his free choice and (provided he was living on his own land, or at least, not land owned by someone else, or on land owned by someone who had given him permission to live there) well, good for him. Why he even cares what someone else does – whether they’re married or not – is beyond me.

        The funny thing, which perhaps he hasn’t noticed, is that he criticizes others for not practicing individualism as he arbitrarily defines it. In other words, to be a “true” individual, you must do exactly as Neon does and have precisely the same notion of what it means to be an individual as Neon does. Otherwise, you are not a “true” individual…

        … insert sound of grinding gears here….

  10. fenimore neon
    December 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Wow. I must say I am touched Boothe. You both are extremely eager to point out my errors, yet what I have said all along to Eric is that he lacks proper Introspection. He can look at the world around him and see what is wrong, but not once has he proffered an example of how he behaves contributes to same sort of problems/solutions the government offers. Boothe, I read all you wrote, and I do appreciate the fact that you want to show me you have taken the time to explain your self and your position, which you have, except, I do not see any introspection from you either. “High school, and technical training?” What other schooling is going to form your mind other than k-12? That is exactly the key education that forms your outlook in life. Yet it is not just the schooling, but it is your life experiences while you are in school, and how your education explains those life experiences which makes you who you are. I will even go ahead and tell you that I have several college degrees, from very liberal colleges, one in business, the other in linguistics, so I too have been programmed in all aspects of society. BUT, I did the only thing that must be done in order to no longer be programmed. I unlearned all that I ever learned. I debriefed my SELF of society’s definitions. I looked at every system that I used, and took the time to learn about that system. Economic. Governmental. Human Action. Physics. And dug deeper into language, because by nature it is what controls one, because it gives rise to form thoughts. I took 3 years and cleansed my SELF of all the systems that I depended upon. I rebuilt my own foundation. I quit all alcohol, cigarettes, and devoted myself to understanding sociology and mass psychology.
    Yes, others formed my habits and behaviors, because OBVIOUSLY Boothe, I did not choose to be born, I could not argue with my parents about what they taught me to do before I knew what teaching really meant. I could not say No, I am not going to kindergarten. But I have since reformed all my own habits and behaviors, changed my entire life. If you had known me four years ago, and you saw me now, you would not recognize my behavior.
    ” So I must disagree with you on your assertion that I lack introspection.” Really? You must? How I wonder have you sought your introspection? Have you spent months, one day at a time, recording in a journal your every movement throughout the day, recording your thoughts and behaviors, so that you may identify your routines, thus making sure that your behavior and “individuality,” is not merely a logo you find yourself identifying with in order to present to the world your rebellion to the state? What change have you made in order to make yourself an individual? Or do you merely think you are an individual because your wife reminds you how unique you are, and that surely no one in the whole world makes her feel the way you do?
    If you are going to throw up Meriam-Webster references to words in order to show there are multiple definitions of words, please hope that one of those definitions is the one you would have referenced earlier when replying to what I said: In your first reply, you stated: “Pure individualism is “every man for himself” taking whatever he needs to survive in whatever manner he can. It is lawlessness and coercion.” Yet, when looking at Merriam’s definitions, I fail to see that definition listed? Which is exactly what I meant when I said, “You all make up definitions for words, or turn their definitions in Your favor, just the same as other politicians do.” But the words within definitions are what must be defined as well. When you offer Merriam’s many definitions for individualism…you should have also included Merriam’s definitions for Individual as well….”noun
    1.
    a single human being, as distinguished from a group.
    2.
    a person: a strange individual.
    3.
    a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.
    4.
    a group considered as a unit.
    5.
    Biology .
    a.
    a single organism capable of independent existence.
    b.
    a member of a compound organism or colony.”
    Based upon those definitions, I do not see anything in there that allows the use of the word “we,” to be used in a singular sense, or where “we,” is allowed for Individuals to use. If your response would be to say, “Wait, what about the definition that says, “a group considered as a unit?” Well that would actually be referred to as, “That individual unit (battalion 451) acted on its own, without orders.”
    Individual means one thing, one person. If one IS in fact an individual, it means he makes up his mind on his own. And how does he perform such action? He makes sure no one else is influencing his behavior, mind, or is coloring his decision. Does he have any dependents, loved ones, or anything else which would weigh into his decision? If so, then he is not 100 percent making an individual choice. Why is that so difficult for you all to see and understand? Eric cannot grasp this one fundamental concept at all. Boothe? You talk about logic? I just broke it down for you logically.
    As for your comment that my conception of individualism,, “would be to wander alone in the wilderness in whatever animal hides and plant fibers I could cover myself in, eat what I could trap or forage and live a short and difficult life devoid of much beyond simple animalistic survival.” No, that is not a conception of Individualism, that is a conception of how individuals back in the cave-men days survived. Individualism is a philosophy, or to use your definitions earlier: “a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.”
    An INDIVIDUAL, just because he believes all power resides in himself, may still USE any resource at his disposal, be it electricity, the grocery, the Gap, and believe it or not, even follow the laws of gravity.
    Your mocking of my use of the word freedom, takes away from the sincerity I thought you had by writing a long response, but I may still be able to take what you have written, and put a positive spin upon it. In order to find out how free an individual may be, one must look at all systems one is dependent upon, and which he may or may not eliminate, most of which I have already gone over with Eric. At the base, Man is dependent upon gravity. Man must also need oxygen. He cannot free himself from gravity or oxygen, nor must he free himself, if he chooses to survive, the necessity of water, and at base some type of sustenance, in the form of energy, such as food. Warmth and clothing and shelter are next. He does not need human interaction, in the sense that he will die if he does not have it. Nor does he NEED a wife. And if the man is a true individual, he does not need, nor does he care if the human race continues. He is not concerned with the propagation of the species. But what does concern the Individual, is precisely what concerns his Freedom, HIS liberty. He is not concerned with your liberty, or the overall liberty of all men, he is concerned with what limits him, because individualism is HIS philosophy. It is THE philosophy that concerns ONLY the individual. Can someone else’s philosophy, which is concerned with placing the individual in the foremost, be used by another individual? Of course. Because the new individual comes to see that he is the most important, just as the other individual found. It is once one man becomes concerned with the affairs of others that he loses a little bit of the concern for his self.
    And what does the individual do once he has found his basic needs? He looks at what other forces try to make him have other needs. And I have already gone over this with Eric, when I said that money is one of those things that has been forced upon people as a NEED. I need money to buy stuff, the same as I would need oxygen to breathe. But because of this money, that I now need, I now have another need. I need something that produces money. A job becomes another need. I need a job in order to produce the money, which then allows me to address my other needs. But since I now spend 8 hours a day at a job I need to have to produce the money I need, I now need a job that makes the most money in the 8 hour time, thus maximizing my efficiency. But that job may be far from where I live, which would mean I would need transportation to my job, etc, etc, etc….I am sure you gather my meaning. Yet, I am in no way making a statement upon my life, what I do or do not do.
    I am merely stating the amount of thought that goes into making such a simple statement, such as…”The individual no longer matters.” And why it is a very delicate matter one must take when writing these statements to make sure he defines what he is saying correctly, or his readers, and himself may end up one day, associating Individualism, and the life of the Individual, very closely with collectivism, which may be a good reason why the state has been able to make such a simple leap in their language.
    “We,” no matter in what context it is used, is a plural form, and is no where close to being associated with “I,” or “me.” Once any association becomes a part in your decision making, your independence loses what it is “in,” and simply has become a dependence, which is totally against Individualism. I did not make up any definition herein. Nor have I said, Eric must live it or get a divorce? But if one is going to speak of liberty, and speak of individuals, then I hope he knows what he is talking about, and does not end up a mere politician, espousing words that merely fit his agenda.
    I favor ideas of individuals, one of which happened to be Henry Hazlitt, in every sense of the word….And he stated, which I believe in the fullest that: “Man must not be afraid of ‘not doing what everybody else does’ or of ‘doing what nobody else does.’ It means that he must not be a mere mimic or sheep. He must think for HIMSELF. He must examine for HIMSELF the grounds of right and wrong, and not let the principles upon which his life is conducted be laid down for him merely by other people’s opinions. He must not be afraid of criticism if he feels in his onw heart, that he is right. This is an EXACTING ideal. It requires the HIGHEST moral courage.”

    • December 9, 2011 at 6:35 am

      Neon, what makes you the arbiter of introspection? The “decider” of who is an individual? Exactly how does my behavior contribute to the existence of tyranny in this country? In this world? Is it because I (like Boothe) choose to operate within the system by (for example) paying taxes, even though I oppose them in principle? Because I (like Boothe) don’t pack my proverbial bags and move to some other country, as you apparently have? That makes me a compromised moral hack? An enabler?

      You remind me of early Randian Robots (as we called them) who engaged themselves in a never-ending quest to conform to Their Master’s Voice (Rand’s) while vehemently defending themselves as the purest of individuals.

      There is no “agenda” here (or rather, espoused be me) other than advocacy of a social-political system based on voluntarism and mutually-agreed cooperative effort between individuals. Period. Doing so within the context of “the system” doesn’t negate the validity of the effort. Men such as Jefferson did not pack up their ‘ol kit bag and head off into the woods. The worked with what they inherited. And they worked together. I am trying to do the same.

      I don’t have much interest in parsing your personal psychological quirks or motives. You define your individualism as you like; you feel free to “de-program” yourself to the extent you believe necessary. Read, educate yourself, think, learn. I’ll do the same – and let’s agree to leave each other in peace and not presume to know whether the other has achieved whatever level of enlightenment you or I personally believe to be the ideal. So long as we can agree on the essential thing – that using violence to obtain material benefit or to exert control over another human being is always morally wrong and thus politically unacceptable – then we’ve allied ourselves together in a just cause; a cause that all humanity could rally ’round. A cause that is equally valid everywhere, at all times. Based on a simple “golden rule’ that even a child can easily understand.

      That, my friend, is a proper start. The necessary prerequisite to a new world based on the individual, not the “mass man” you and I both loathe.

  11. fenimore neon
    December 9, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I am not the arbiter of “introspection,” nor the arbiter of Individualism, or Freedom. I merely use the terms how they are meant to be used. If I am going to be an introspective person, and take the time to reflect upon My Self, then I am not going to half-ass look into my self, and believe that to be good enough? I am not going to write in a very public forum about how I am a fan of Liberty, when the term is Mis-Used by those who preach Libertarianism. Libertarians need a new name for themsleves…How about the Freer Money Party. Because it is not about Liberty, when they condemn some acts of human choice. And for the millionth time, Freedom means unrestricted, which means without restrictions.
    The problem with your thinking is that even within the movement Libertarianism, not everyone can agree. Why? Because they cannot figure out HOW MUCH liberty they think they should promise. They cannot figure out how they should define Liberty.
    Which is why Individualism is so important. Because in a party, even one which on the outside seems to believe in your same values, will eventually grow farther from what you stand for. If you follow what you believe, and stand up for it, and do not back down, then you are living your own life, and letting the rest of the people who care about the MASSES, POLITICS, and such, expend their energies as such.
    I know you are more of an individual than most, Eric. You have written some really amazing stuff, like I have said. You just do not go far enough.
    The key is what are YOUR principles? What makes YOU you? Neither answer could be a woman, your kids, your mom, dad, love, happiness. I just do not, nor have I ever, understand why you would not dive as deep as you possibly could….you only have one chance.

    • Boothe
      December 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Neon, I’ll respond to your earlier post as time permits. But I want to point something out to you; libertarians vs. the Libertarian party. The LP appears to have been coopted by political hacks and from what I can tell, pretty much lives off grant money and donations doing very little in the actual pursuit of individual liberty. When I write about identifying with libertarian principles, as in the classic liberal sense, I mean that unless one is doing something that infringes the rights of others it’s none of my business! It becomes my business if one is infriging someone else’s rights other than my own, because I can reasonably assume that if that situation is left unchecked, I will be next. Once again, your and my perception of each other is necessarily two dimensional, but I think overall (based on what you’ve written), we agree on most points. Just please don’t lump me in with the beltway, capital ell, Libertarian Party, because I’ll have no parts of them any more than the Demoplicans or Republicrats.

  12. fenimore neon
    December 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    If you advocate for Ron Paul, then you are associated with the libertarian party. I didn’t say you were associated with Tea Partiers.

    • BrentP
      December 11, 2011 at 12:55 am

      Neon, Ron Paul and those who advocate for the same things are not liked by the beltway “Libertarians”, which for the most part seem to have control of the libertarian party these days. From my reading I get the impression that beltway libertarians don’t mind the state so much so long as they get invited to the parties and can get a few goodies for themselves. This is why they often write in favor of the state, of war, and so forth. Combined all of that would explain their choice of presidential candidate last time around.

      In any case there is divide between at least two or three factions of libertarians and Ron Paul and those who see things the same way don’t seem to be particularly welcome on the other side of that line. The other side doesn’t have a big problem with war, those on the Ron Paul side do.

      So no, advocating for Ron Paul does not make one associated with the Libertarian Party.

    • December 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Well, Ron Paul isn’t currently the Libertarian Party candidate. And as Brent notes, he’s certainly not in bed with the Beltway establishment. He has a 30-year track record of voting (and more important, not voting) in line with the ideals of individual rights, liberty and small government. Is he perfect? Of course not. Is anyone? But if Ron Paul were president and we had a Congress composed of people like him, the assaults on our liberties would be blunted and things would begin to turn around. I won’t vote for anyone except Ron Paul, at this point.

  13. Boothe
    December 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Neon: In what follows, I have tried to address the key points you brought up in your previous post responding to me. If I missed something you considered to be an important concept or argument, feel free to isolate it and point it out. I will address it individually when I have time. So here we go. Round three:

    “You both are extremely eager to point out my errors”

    No, I’m not eager to point out your errors (I can’t speak for Eric). I am actually “eager” to engage in discourse and debate with people who are at least my equal, if not cognitively superior to me. Why? Aside from being fun, just like a chess player challenging opponents that are his superiors, I find philosophical wrestling matches are excellent avenues to further develop as an individual.

    “What other schooling is going to form your mind other than k-12? That is exactly the key education that forms your outlook in life.”

    To answer your lead-in question, the schooling that forms our mind is life itself. Formal schooling is an insignificant portion of our overall education. I fully expect to die still pursuing my education although I probably won’t be “in school”. I am doing so now and you are, in a way, one of my instructors. It is my understanding that most of our core values are formed by age 10. This is why it is essential for the state to institutionalize children at the very earliest age possible and inculcate collectivist values before their parents “ruin” them. However, significant emotional events can still change that early conditioning at any point in life. In my case, most of the values I acquired as a child were brainwashed out of me in military basic training. By the time I got out of the military, old friends and family barely knew me. My current beliefs and values have been shaped in adulthood.

    “I unlearned all that I ever learned. I debriefed my SELF of society’s definitions.”

    Perhaps you did, but that doesn’t fit with my experience. I see life as a long white wall upon which we paint a mural that runs from birth to death. Once the images are in place we can never go back and erase them or paint them over. So unless you suffered a severe head trauma I can’t conceive of you unlearning all that you ever learned. I can believe you learned new things that modified and even demolished your old beliefs. If you did indeed “debrief” yourself of society’s definitions (I take it by context you custom define “debrief” as “purge”), you have abandoned conventional standards. How then are we able to understand and communicate with each other?

    “I quit all alcohol, cigarettes, and devoted myself to understanding sociology and mass psychology.”

    Congratulations on quitting cigarettes. That’s very hard to do; I know because I’ve done it. I would point out that red wine is good for you (unless you’re an alcoholic). But to *devote* yourself to understanding sociology and mass psychology puts you squarely back in the group-think camp. The irony of this is there can be no society or mass-mind without…wait for it…the *individuals* that make it up. Sorry, I couldn’t resist (never take me, or yourself for that matter, too seriously or life ceases to be fun).

    “because OBVIOUSLY Boothe, I did not choose to be born”

    In all seriousness, how do you know? I have no memory of *before*, but I have a sense that there is considerably more going on than just this limited experience we call physical reality. No more than I can prove to you that the spiritual realm is just as real, if not more so than physical reality, can you prove to me that it isn’t. You merely *believe* you didn’t choose to be born because you presumably don’t remember it here and now. It is very possible that you did choose to be here now and even that you agreed to this with your parents beforehand. I can no longer place any conceptual limits on the universe, energy, experience, spirituality or knowledge, because through introspection I have come to realize how little I actually do know. Introspection has revealed to me that Creation is infinite and I am insignificant. So who am I or who are you to state something so assuredly that neither of us can be completely sure of?

    “How I wonder have you sought your introspection? Have you spent months, one day at a time, recording in a journal your every movement throughout the day, recording your thoughts and behaviors……Or do you merely think you are an individual because your wife reminds you how unique you are”

    Introspection is not something one engages in for days or even months, completes and then says “Okay, I’m done; on to the next project.” Introspection should be an ongoing daily process for the rest of our lives. I examine my own thoughts and actions as they occur (I think about things before I do them) and then review those recent events (hourly, daily and even after years and years) to see if I missed anything, during my routine self check or periodic follow ups, that I can learn and grow from. For me introspection is continuous self evaluation so that I may improve as a person. I often find faults within myself and at least attempt to correct them as well as cultivating virtues, such as patience and honesty. I also find things in myself others perceive to be faults; I disagree and have no intention of changing them. What makes me an individualist is that I frequently disagree with the people and systems that I interact with and I know why I do this. Just because I am pragmatic enough to compromise, in some cases, to achieve a particular goal does not diminish my individuality.

    FYI, my wife and I often clash over philosophical, religious and political issues. I do not rely on her, you, Eric, or any other human for the self assurance that I am an individual. It is not uncommon for her to be the one to point out characteristics that she perceives as faults in me and opinions and methodologies she disagrees with…. and I have no intention of changing them because in my mind I know I’m right. I’m not sure what could me more individualistic than that.

    “If you are going to throw up Meriam-Webster references to words in order to show there are multiple definitions of words, please hope that one of those definitions is the one you would have referenced earlier ……Which is exactly what I meant when I said, “You all make up definitions for words, or turn their definitions in Your favor, just the same as other politicians do.”

    I took statements in your original post to mean something you apparently did not mean. This is why I raised the issue of distortion and filtering that can occur with the written word. My perception of your interpretation of individualism was based on what I took away from your writing. I merely used dictionary definitions to show that there were indeed multiple meanings available and none of them seemed to fit what I inferred from what you’d written. I’m not sure how that was turning words in my favor. It allowed you to explain yourself and expand on what you’d written to prove that my perception was incorrect.

    “Individual means one thing, one person. If one IS in fact an individual, it means he makes up his mind on his own. And how does he perform such action? He makes sure no one else is influencing his behavior, mind, or is coloring his decision. Does he have any dependents, loved ones, or anything else which would weigh into his decision? If so, then he is not 100 percent making an individual choice. Why is that so difficult for you all to see and understand?”

    It’s not difficult for me to see or understand. But to me it is an ideal which is virtually impossible to achieve without total isolation from our fellow humans. No matter how hard you try, you will interact with and consequently have your decisions colored by other people unless you are completely alone. The very fact that you have written in response to me shows that, in a small way, I have influenced your thoughts and decision making process, just as you have influenced mine. I, as an individual, did indeed make up my own mind to write to you. But you influenced what I am writing about. That does not diminish my individuality because it was my decision to access Eric’s site, read what you wrote and to respond in the way I see fit. That was my individual choice. Just like true freedom, absolute or pure individualism is an abstract concept, an ideal that can for all practical purposes only exist in our minds.

    In the same way your strict and absolute definition of individualism doesn’t necessarily make it right for the rest of us; it just makes you right in your own mind. Essentially the problem you seem to be having with the rest of us is that as individuals we may not accept what you have come to believe; because the very concept of individualism opens infinite opportunities and possibilities for individuality which are neither right nor wrong in the logical sense, merely different.

    “No, that is not a conception of Individualism, that is a conception of how individuals back in the cave-men days survived. Individualism is a philosophy, or to use your definitions earlier: “a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.”

    Actually, “cave-men” or primitive man survived through mutual cooperation. The harsh nature of Paleolithic survival required group cooperation for an individual to enjoy any measure of longevity. Hunting and gathering are considerably more productive as a group; the same with primitive agriculture, animal husbandry and self defense. My point is the pure form of individualism you seem to espouse could only exist in an isolated individual survival situation (and you personally would still have the memories of others “coloring” your thoughts). I simply cannot see how you can avoid “contamination” of your individual ideas and decisions if you have any interaction with other humans at all.

    That doesn’t change the fact that I agree with the definition of individualism you cite above. Just as the forest cannot exist without individual trees, the village, the city, the corporation or society at large cannot exist without the individual. But participation in a group or partnership does not necessarily make me or anyone else a “mass man”. What makes me an individual is the awareness that I may be influenced by others and then exercising my free will with that in mind.

    “An INDIVIDUAL, just because he believes all power resides in himself, may still USE any resource at his disposal, be it electricity, the grocery, the Gap, and believe it or not, even follow the laws of gravity.”

    Using the resources created by others imprints their thoughts and creativity on you. Wearing a shirt from the Gap, of which there will be several thousand more on other people’s torsos is hardly individualistic. You can fail to heed the “mass mind’s” collected knowledge of electrical safety and quickly make an individual ash of yourself. The idea that all power resides in the individual is at least existentialistic or actually more solipsistic rather than individualistic, in my understanding.

    “Your mocking of my use of the word freedom, takes away from the sincerity I thought you had by writing a long response,”

    You are mistaken, I was not mocking you. But if you’re into that sort of thing, I’ll be happy to. ;) Seriously, my perception of absolute freedom is an abstract concept. Liberty is the physical application of that concept. I was sincerely trying to illustrate that absolute freedom, like perpetual motion, is a physical impossibility.

    “And if the man is a true individual, he does not need, nor does he care if the human race continues. He is not concerned with the propagation of the species. But what does concern the Individual, is precisely what concerns his Freedom, HIS liberty. He is not concerned with your liberty, or the overall liberty of all men, he is concerned with what limits him, because individualism is HIS philosophy……It is once one man becomes concerned with the affairs of others that he loses a little bit of the concern for his self.”

    What you describe is sociopathy or worse, the condition of sociopathic narcissism. A man devoid of all compassion or lacking even the most rudimentary concern for his fellow humans is not an individualist, he is an empty shell at best and a selfish brute at worst. It is our concern for others’ wellbeing, the desire to teach, help and protect those around us that makes us human. Our love for our species and a desire for its continuation in peaceful and prosperous liberty is the most important part of living. There is a simple word for men who are devoid of love and place themselves above all else: evil. This is why government does the horrible things it does; people who believe themselves to be above everyone else infiltrate and then use government to achieve their own self centered and often perverted ends. This is the very thing I fight with ideas and words.

    “when I said that money is one of those things that has been forced upon people as a NEED”

    Money (i.e. real money, specie) was adopted as a system of exchange for convenience. Direct barter is much more cumbersome. People mistake money as a “NEED”, when in fact it, like electricity, the automobile and the personal computer, is a convenience. And I would go so far as to argue that these things and many others we take for granted are more accurately described as luxuries. Fiat paper money is a fraud designed to steal real wealth and labor. No one forces us to use money; we do so out of convenience. No one forces me to get a job or start a business either. It’s just a lot more desirable to me than digging for roots and grubs or foraging through dumpsters for my next meal.

    ”But if one is going to speak of liberty, and speak of individuals, then I hope he knows what he is talking about, and does not end up a mere politician, espousing words that merely fit his agenda……He must not be afraid of criticism if he feels in his onw heart, that he is right. This is an EXACTING ideal. It requires the HIGHEST moral courage.”

    Here again, I cannot speak for Eric (although we seem to share many of the same views), but I take the concept of individual liberty very seriously and have spent a good portion of my life questioning, embarrassing and even shaming the politicians I encounter. That includes politicians in corporations, government, church (which is why I’m not welcome at most churches) and even my own family (and why I have family members that won’t speak to me). After you’ve been fired from your job for writing the truth to upper management and you’ve stared down the IRS in their own office, you get back to me on moral courage.

  14. fenimore neon
    December 13, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I have never been one to dress up my motives, nor have I ever thought it useful to pretend I use this language in any manner close to a game. This world of language is dangerous, as there are now so many images that can confuse as symbols of what the word is supposed to refer, and throw in a confident speaker who cloaks his words with an air of credibility, and the populace will believe anything.
    Boothe, i believe that you believe you know what you are talking about. I believe that Eric believes he knows what he is talking about, because he has plenty of readers who respond to what he writes, and he even has gained the popularity on lewrockwell. But in order to gain a following, in order to have a people agree with what you are saying, then they must speak your language, as well as you must speak theirs.
    But what I speak about is the individual. He is an individual. “He does not need, nor does he care if the human race continues. He is not concerned with the propagation of the species. But what does concern the Individual, is precisely what concerns his Freedom, HIS liberty. He is not concerned with your liberty, or the overall liberty of all men, he is concerned with what limits him, because individualism is HIS philosophy……It is once one man becomes concerned with the affairs of others that he loses a little bit of the concern for his self.” He is precisely sociopathic. Why? Because he is AGAINST society. Sociopathic is the precise definition of against society. He is also anti-social. Society never works. It always leads to precisely the problems we face now, one class wanting to leach off of another class…the not-working, off of those that do work. But, and I said this my first post on Eric’s site…the precise reason it is more obvious now, is because there ARE TOO MANY fucking people on this planet. Not one billion too many, not too billion too many, not five billion too many, but 7 billion too many. Everyone wants to have a child on this planet, yet they all want to SAVE the Earth? Hello? One does not cool the air in a room by adding more people to it do they?
    So of course, a true individual who really respects himself, and where he lives, will want to live the libertarian IDEAL, which is to respect my property, you respect yours, UNTIL it infringes upon mine. BUT, there are already 7 billion people infringing upon the individual’s ideal!
    Maybe if one “pretends” that he loves and is peaceful, the problem will go away. Ask Martin Luther King Jr. how much non-violence helped him?
    Wearing clothing from a mass-marketed store has no bearing upon what is inside the individual’s mind, and how he chooses to live his life. As long as he lives it for him self and no one else, he can wear Wal mart clothing. Boothe, you sound like a high school kid who says someone cannot be cool if he listens to madonna? What does one have to do with the mind?
    Society already exists without the individual. It uses mass education to breed robots that use their minds to produce, dump waste, reproduce, pay their masters, and die. Their may be singular parts that do make up a crowd, but it is what they do with their minds that make one a he or a she, instead of a we and a they.
    Moral courage has nothing to do with standing up to your captors, quitting a job, listening to NWA albums really loud. Moral courage means standing up to your self, and letting your self know you are the most important person, thing, idea in the world, and that you will do anything to learn all about your self, and that you will be your best friend. Moral courage is about not letting another infringe upon your freedom, NO MATTER WHAT.
    No, introspection is not something you do for days or weeks, or months, but you must first learn how the machine works before operating it, and it is precisely those continuous first days and weeks and months and years that requires the deepest non-stop digging.
    You all want to keep certain things of society, but get rid of other bad parts….When will you realize that in order to destroy the monster, the “WE”, it must all be destroyed, and rebuilt again one day.

  15. Boothe
    December 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Neon: Alrighty then. I appreciate the fact that you claim quintessential sociopathic status (anything worth doing is worth doing well I suppose). You must realize that in our society (which of course you won’t acknowledge as valid because it’s part of “WE”) that sociopathy is indeed considered a mental illness. In fact it is a recognized form of psychopathy. It is also true that you are a unique individual…..just like everybody else. So you’ve taken individuality to the penultimate level where destruction of the entire human race (except you?) is the “final solution”? Interesting.

    The fact remains that there *are* seven billion other people here, they form families, cliques and even societies. Some of them are evil and then they try to use these systems to run rough-shod over some of the rest of us (or at least herd us like sheep). I (and presumably Eric, BrentP, Dom, et al, here at this site) see things from a more pragmatic perspective than you apparently do. If we can change the hearts and minds of some of our peers and change the direction of society and government for the better in some small way, then everyone will benefit. Thus, so will we as individuals. Will we achieve perfect liberty and harmony? Certainly not.

    This process is much like shooting a coat of paint on a custom car; it may be beautiful on first glance, but no matter how hard you try there will be a small spot, some orange peel or dead bug in it somewhere. Nothing’s perfect here on the third rock and if you refuse to accept that fact, you will indeed drive yourself insane. You may not care about me FN, but I care about you. My recommendation to you is: Lighten up. Take a break from hard core introspection and work on your compassion and sense of humor. Then you may begin to find true happiness (it’s mythical for you because you believe it to be).

    In sociopathy and individual isolation you will find only loneliness and sorrow. Sure, if you open up to others you run the risk of getting hurt. But then again you may experience the joy of sharing in someone else’s life and experiences as well as viewing the world from their perspective, just as I’m doing with you right now. That doesn’t make me less of an individual; it merely broadens the scope of my knowledge and understanding.

    I recognize certain ideals and have certain moral principles I will not deviate from. But I also recognize that other people will not necessarily agree with me and that I will have to work around that stumbling block to accomplish my goals. More often than not, that involves consideration of those around me. And it also involves approaching life as school, with tests. Yes, I do see life as an educational game, but that doesn’t mean I take life any less seriously; just that I have fun developing strategies and tactics along this perpetual path of learning.

    Although I see myself in the individual sense, I also recognize that Creation is infinitely bigger than I am and that should and does humble me. I’m sorry you’ve missed that. You apparently see value only in yourself, you believe in your own supremacy and claim that you would have no problem destroying everyone else. So my final questions to you are based on your last paragraph:

    Do you also believe that “to destroy the monster, the “WE”, you must also destroy yourself (since whether you like it or not you are part of the “WE”)?

    If and when the “WE” monster is completely destroyed, *who* then will rebuild again one day?

  16. fenimore neon
    December 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I never said that if all seven billion were to go, I wouldn’t be included in that number.

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