| The initiation of violence is a symptom of something not being right in the head of the aggressor. And it is absolutely true that the root CAUSE of the aggression cannot be fixed via more violence. However, the EFFECT (or symptom) of that problem CAN be. As a very simple example, if someone breaks into my house at night, my 12-gauge is not going to repair whatever mental damage led the guy to want to do such a thing. However, it has a good chance of stopping the EFFECT of his psychosis. In such an instance, my goal would not be to “fix” what is wrong with the invader, but to prevent the potential SYMPTOMS of his psychological problems.

Likewise, the irrational belief in the myth of “authority” is the direct cause of the vast majority of theft, assault and murder in the world. The people at the IRS, for example, routinely commit harassment, terrorism, extortion and robbery, because they truly believe that when something evil is “legalized,” it ceases to be evil. They (and their victims) have been indoctrinated to believe that theft is bad, UNLESS “authority” does it, in which case theft (“tax collection” / “law enforcement”) is GOOD, and RESISTING it is bad.

So the root cause of the problem is their indoctrination into the cult of authoritarianism, and all the propaganda and rhetoric they were fed about “law,” “taxation,” “government,” and all the other bunk which is designed to paint theft as a GOOD thing when the slave-masters do it, and only bad when us peasants do it. And the SOLUTION to that problem is, quite literally, “deprogramming” people out of the most dangerous superstition: the belief in “authority” (the notion that some people have the right to rule others). So no, cursing at, punching, shooting, or blowing up IRS employees cannot fix that underlying problem.

HOWEVER–and this is a big however–while delusions remain, violence can sometimes deter the EFFECTS of those delusions. No matter how much an IRS employee has bought into the state propaganda, if he thinks he might die if he keeps on robbing people (“collecting taxes,” as he would call it), he might choose a new career. The underlying problem would remain, but the symptom, in that case, would disappear, as would some of the potential resulting damage.

In general, it’s a bad idea to focus on treating the SYMPTOMS of a problem, instead of treating the problem itself. This is true in medicine, economics, philosophy, and just about everything else. However, if the symptom of ONE person’s problem is the SUFFERING of another, then treating the symptom is a worthwhile goal, for the sake of the innocent victim.

Suppose someone came up with a way to convince all 100,000 or so employees of the IRS that if they showed up for work the next day–or ever again– they would all die horrible deaths. And suppose they could be made to believe that without any of them actually being harmed. Frankly, I would be thrilled. Though it would do nothing to address the underlying problem–that the state’s hired thieves believe “legal theft” to be morally righteous–it would, on a practical level, deter them from victimizing others as a result of their delusions.

So the question is, when do we focus our efforts on trying to enlighten the deluded, and when do we do whatever it takes to stop the deluded from hurting people? My answer is, we should continually focus on both. Those of us who know that we own ourselves have the absolute right to do whatever it takes to stop others from initiating violence against us, whether they fully understand what they’re doing or not. At the same time, it sure would be nice if we could make it so they didn’t WANT to initiate violence against us. But if fear of harm is all that will keep thieves from stealing, it’s better than letting them rob people.

This brings to mind a related topic–which I’ll rant about more in some later message–having to do with condemning the state’s mercenaries (“police”), calling them names (“fascists”), insulting them (“Nazi swine”), etc. Believe it or not, I don’t just do that to be nasty. I believe it serves a useful, worthwhile purpose to identify evil as evil, and I believe it can be very destructive NOT to do so. I know some people prefer to always be polite and civil, in an effort to “win over” the statists to the idea of self-ownership, but I think in a way that is often inappropriate. The thugs with badges get paid to harass, terrorize, assault, extort, control, and otherwise oppress people who haven’t hurt anyone. I don’t believe sane people should talk as if it’s up for polite discussion whether that’s okay or not.

In the ever-popular example of the Nazis, which of the following would have been more appropriate or more effective?: 1) lots of Germans politely trying to point out the philosophical inconsistencies in Hitler’s agenda, or 2) lots of Germans constantly and viciously condemning the Nazis in the most hostile, insulting, caustic terms imaginable, as soon as that party came into being? If people can be shamed or brow-beaten into not acting like thugs, I’m all for it. Of course, it would be a lot better if they could instead be ENLIGHTENED into choosing the philosophy of self-ownership. And in the long run, that is absolutely what our goal should be. But history has shown all too well, all too often, that in the short term, it’s a lot easier to shoot an aggressor than it is to reform him.

I spent years trying to make various IRS employees (and other state mercenaries) consider the possibility that maybe “doing their job” is immoral. Joe Stack spent a day showing them that “doing their job” might be hazardous to their health. Which of us did the IRS folk learn anything from? Sorry to say, I don’t think it was me.

Larken Rose

P.S. I have to take this opportunity to throw in a disturbingly appropriate excerpt from my second book, “Kicking the Dragon: Confessions of a Tax Heretic,” most of which was written in 2006, during my time as a political prisoner:

“Then along comes this ‘861’ thing, and suddenly I saw, not just a really nasty fraud that needed exposing and resisting, but potentially a means of achieving real positive change (not the fictional kind that politicians endlessly yammer about), WITHOUT violence … Imagine that: a nonviolent way to rein in some of the government’s gargantuan power. Sounds good to me. To be blunt, I still see exposing the income tax deception as the only way to avoid an eventual (but not too distant) large-scale violent conflict between the U.S. government and the citizenry. … To put it another way, I did what I did in part because I saw this endeavor as the best hope for avoiding large-scale violence AGAINST THOSE IN GOVERNMENT. No, that wasn’t a typo. I believe that ending this fraud is the best way for those in government (as well as others) to escape a very nasty end, by allowing for a ‘revolution’ that requires no bullets and no blood. … I really wish I had some compelling argument left supporting some hope of success via nonviolence, but I don’t. To be blunt, if you read in the news that some IRS paper-pusher or collection thug, or some pseudo-judge, got his or her ‘determination’ overruled with a baseball bat or a pipe bomb, I won’t be very surprised. … [JFK] said that when you make nonviolent change impossible, you make violent change inevitable. I really do hope, even as I sit here in prison for a crime that the prosecutors and the judge know I didn’t commit, that a bunch of IRS headstones don’t start to appear as a confirmation of JFK’s words.”