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Liberty is lived and not elected.

For many inside the liberty movement the need to convert the devout statist is an instinct that burns with righteous conviction. It is with frustration that one can observe so many recent and distant examples of government horror and yet nothing ever changes for the positive. In sharing these horrors, it is then assumed that those believers in the State, those enforcers of its deeds and laws will somehow see the ‘light’ and suddenly convert to the message of liberty. It is assumed that in somehow using the process of democratic governance that one can convince enough of the voters to see the message, to embrace liberty so that government can then be saved from itself. It is why perhaps many libertarians, anarchists, minarchists, voluntarists, whatever sect of liberty one belongs are the most deluded.

Whether the empirical evidence happens to be economic, moral or warfare it never seems to have the punch that many assume that it should. Instead it is often met with slight concern but ultimately a dismissive ignorance that often only sees more of the same vulgar violence repeated. All done in the name of elusive abstracts, beliefs that society and culture needs such coercion, needs so many wars and needs the intrusions. Evidence be damned. The believers in the State and government shall go on worshipping.

For the devoted Christian, the bible is the sacred testimony of God’s greatness. For many Greatness is not a moral positive. Inside its ancient and edited over time pages are stories of the early genesis of humanity and its relationship with God. It has examples of genocide, sacrifice, rape and slavery. All in the name of God. Yet, this God, is loved and adored regardless of the crimes found inside his own book. For the non-believer, it does not make any sense, for the believer it needs not to. Genocide is justifiable if in the end, it is benevolent.

For the patriotic American the history books, those biased and those more polemic have stories inked in blood of the early to recent examples of American greatness, led by a government of such rhetorically limit in scale yet its reach is imperially immense. All nations have this nationalist perspective, whether it is marred in Juche like those in North Korea to a more confused quagmire of shame and pride as experienced in modern day Germany, the history is full of graphic examples of cruelty and savagery yet from the pulpit of State leaders and intellectuals along with sanctioned historians and academics, help to explain the contexts of so much violence. And the institutions of nation, the very government with so much blood on its many loyal hands continues to reside so powerfully in both mind and heart of the devout patriots.

Despite the real examples versus the romantic depictions, many still worship and believe absolutely in the divinity of the Nation State. Its virtues seldom realised and what ones are apparent are their despite it and not because of it. Just like the God fearing who have read the bible the examples of mass death and torment are somehow viewed as a positive, after all the Lord works in mysterious ways. In the end so too does the government apparently.

The God in the bible does not need whistle blowers to reveal his apparent crimes-deeds. Those of us in the real world however do, when it comes to the deeds of State. Tuskegee, MK Ultra, the My Lai massacre, the Pentagon papers, those revelations made by Chelsea Manning and so on all are more famous examples of the real workings of the American State. And yet, despite this and so much more evidence the devout go on believing and in some cases, they attack those that revealed such bloody moments, as though in doing so they have endangered the heroic killers, the patriotic torturers, the protectors of the American State.

This is not exceptional to the United States, it occurs everywhere. Whether it is related to corruption and criminal scandals as is often the case from Sweden to Iran, or the knowing destruction of legal evidence in a rape case as was the focus of the Heiner affair inside Australia to the revelations that are made once they become historical and not contemporary such as the many massacres by death squads supported by various ‘free’ nations. The public, if any are interested at all, simply shrugs and disregards the evidence forsakes the pain of the victims and the courage of those revealing the information. It never ever seems to matter.

Many celebrity atheists spend so much time standing on stages or by selling books picking on the believers of ludicrously irrational myths. Whether those myths are ancient or more recent, the celebrity atheists poke and tease enjoying fame and wealth at the expense of the ‘stupid’ believers. It is easy to do, to attack belief. Especially when that belief is illogical and filled with so many examples in its own texts of a mean and jealous God. The outcome, the atheists feel smart and smug. The believers all that bit more alienated. The positions however remain the same. Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins devout statists, making exceptions for a flawed and irrational entity filled with ritual, riled in violence and horribly jealously guarding its possessions.

For those of us who hold dear the ideal of liberty and individualism the battle of atheist vs believer is harder. The believers have a monopoly. Their religion is heavily armed and active in each of our lives. No longer is it dangerous to condemned the God of the land or the Church, at least not in most countries. But it is still very dangerous to defy the State, to say No in action, not mere words, to the religious mob of Governance. Political atheism is unpopular and for many, it is considered dangerous.

The Government we are all taught in school is supposed to be filled with checks and balances, it is meant to have its own self-policing mechanics. It is after all democratic (for some) and this in itself reveals a problem in itself, and democracy somehow works out in the end. Except if you are not a part of the mob. Royal Commissions are expensive exercises into mostly matters of state, the outcome is somehow to reveal and shame the elite rulers. Yet besides paying lawyers a lot of money the outcomes are theatrical. Oversight hearings in the US are much the same but what if the problem is not solved by the clergy investigating the clergy?

How can one have justice and self-correction if the church and the notion of God is the problem itself? How can the liberty minded achieve its own renaissance, its own enlightenment? None of the historical atheists ever achieved such measures by hoping to use the church to spread their message. Instead they went on despite the presence of the church. They wrote and read, lived and died regardless of another’s God and his commands.

This is how liberty is spread. It is lived. It is not a case of conversion and it most certainly is not voted in or sought via the mechanics of governance. One does not cure cancer with a tumor. One hopefully seeks to eradicate it. Not by feeding it however benevolent it claims to be at the time. The greatest conversions among the everyday person is inspired by fellow citizens doing good, living freely and doing their preaching with a message heavy in actions and slight in hypocritical exceptions.

Many inside the liberty movement still cling with a childlike love to the notion of a perfect government or a system of laws that will somehow ensure freedom and human rights. It is supposedly why the Western Civilization is great. That word Great, is meaningless in virtue. And yet for many it is assumed that such great things are the cornerstone to ensuring liberty.

The West is seen as being great because of its enlightenment, though pogroms and sectarian conflict continued on up until recent times on such large scales that it shames any of the words penned by David Hume. Magna Carta? when has this ever stopped an agent of the State from breaking into private property to search for contraband? The constitutions of various nations, what good are they other than to suffocate liberty? All are words inked by imperfect men only to be used by other imperfect men to justify force and violence under the guise of some powerful greater good.

The many works of good men and women who advocated liberty need to be read alongside those who wanted to spread socialism, fascism, slavery, communism and so on. It is Great in its ability to colonize, to wage war on such a grand scale, to create a system of debt so immense and to legitimize genocide with the prose of wise legalese. And yet somehow with devout convictions many inside the liberty movement see the World in one half, and hold dear the religious texts that in the end are meaningless, especially to the many dead that they failed. The hemisphere of Taoism is somehow inferior to the West that conceived variations of practiced Communism?

Pragmatic solutions are often conjured up for short term ‘wins’. A siding with a political candidate or party that seems to be a lesser evil than their rivals. Though once elected they always prove to be rhetorical champions and practical despots. The need for a savior is not limited to liberty it is often the cause for misery among all spectrums of religion and ideology. Recently inside the United States the ‘Libertarians for Trump’ again proved how dangerous such an alignment can be, harming the movement in such a way that the damage to credibility will be longer lasting than many realize.

Voting for propositions or legislations that may allow individuals to do what they were often doing on the black market or regardless so that they can be taxed and regulated on these actions, is somehow a positive for liberty? Asking permission from the State to be free. Yes, it may limit the armed goons kidnapping, murdering and stealing yet so long as there is a state this will go on, in other sectors of the market and for other deemed threats to public safety. One Million individuals smoking a joint in front of parliament would send a greater message of liberty than ten billion petitions or votes. One hundred thousand individuals refusing to pay income tax will be of greater importance to diminishing the state and taxation than simply tweeting #taxationistheft one trillion times ever will.

Living liberty is frightening. It is hard for the public university professor with his tenured status and secure income to be an actual anarchist, though he is paid a lot of money to preach anarchy. Though he never lives it. Whether left leaning anarchist or right leaning, it does not matter if the message comes from a tenured academic who has no idea how any market works in practice. Having public officials sympathetic to the notions of liberty is sweet and charming. So is a politician kissing a baby, yet how many of the same politicians have signed the paper that makes it legal for thousands of babies to be blown to pieces.

One cannot pray to be an atheist. You cannot seek it from the Church. It is an individual decision, a living. Liberty is not granted by the State. It cannot be found in legalese or decided in an election. It simply is lived. Having the holier than thou attitude over the ignorant statist or laughing at the antics of the political class is nothing more than entertaining, especially while one enjoys the perks of government grants or obediently pays the State its extortion money.

Ultimately as is always the case the future and our legacy lies in our children. The pollutions of schooling and the meandering influences of popular culture shall always interfere with a child’s upbringing. But with philosophy and a consistently positive parent and familiar role models, the child will mature as many of us did. They will see the State and its deceit, its violence for what it is. They will recall the lies and the heavy-handed nature it had in their child hood and find a guarded sense about it. “I cannot hear you over what you are doing” is the most apt advice one can ever hear in regard to children. Many will see the positive and negative for what it is, so long as they are inspired and motivated with love and stimulation. Perhaps the cure lay inside of the youth and the unborn, provided we are wise and strong enough to plant the real seeds of liberty inside their hearts and minds.

So, if liberty is something that is important to you, then so be blessed by its cold individualized uniqueness. Do not expect to convert scores by your essays into abstract logic or in your articles on war crimes and genocide. No amount of evidence will ever change the mind of a devout believer. If they are going to convert then so be it, the State and its miserable reality does a good enough job of changing minds itself. Without a true alternative however, a living one, not an imagined utopia, individuals will keep on allowing it to exist. The alternative is in all of us. It is in us being free and liberty despite the State, despite law and despite the call for debate. Be free.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan