Voluntaryist.com | To consent means to give permission. In other words, you are the one who grants authority. You are the one empowered. You are the one who gives the power. Are you with me so far? Good! What am I getting at? This: when Thomas Jefferson and others drafted the Declaration of Independence after stating our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it was recorded, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
“When you vote in an election, you delegate your authority.”
It’s the very same thing you do when you give someone “the power of attorney.” You give them consent to act on your behalf, as though they were you. In fact, if their acts are criminal, and you have knowledge of such, you can be held as an accomplice. It’s as though the person to whom you’ve granted authority, and who is acting on your behalf, becomes you. So you see, giving consent can be a very serious matter.
“Let’s turn this around.”
What if you discovered that your potential legal agent is a cheat, a liar, and an indiscriminate wastrel with other people’s money? Wouldn’t it be in your best interests to withhold consent? Certainly! You would have to withhold on numerous counts, not least being your reputation and integrity. So what if you, the individual, refuse to delegate your authority and give consent to the government?
In the late 1700s, William Godwin stated the legal outcome clearly:
“If government be founded in the consent of the people, it can have no power over any individual by whom that consent is refused.”
Herbert Spencer, in his book Social Statics, concurs with Godwin:
“If human beings are indeed ‘created equal’; if they all possess individual rights; if therefore they have sole authority over their own lives, and are in effect sovereigns, each one of them; and if government authority is derived from their consent, then plainly government has no authority over those who have not consented. Nothing could be plainer. Do you accept that?”
As beautiful as the concept of “inalienable rights” is, has government honored your wishes and held sacred the authority you’ve granted them? No! So take back your consent. Will they honor that? Of course not, because criminal organizations don’t obey agreements— they break them with impunity and threaten you with violence. Not a comfortable situation, is it? But for those of you to whom issues of conscience matter, then withhold consent.
“Well, doesn’t majority rule legally bind the individual?”
Not if the point I just made is reasonable and justified. Well, what about “we the people…”? “We the People” is a collection of individuals. There is no separate creature called “the People.” It is all about individuals. When we agree and work together for common goals, voluntarily we can call this a society, which is plural for many individuals.
“While our leaders in Washington are openly saying that the Constitution is flawed…”
…what has actually been flawed from the very beginning is the entire basis of an illegitimate government—that is, if we reject the premise that majority rule is legally binding on the individual (which therefore ignores inalienable rights). Let’s have a little history lesson: when the U.S. Constitution was up for electoral adoption, how large a percentage voted for it?
Women, of course, were excluded; no woman was allowed to vote until 1920. There’s half the population. No Native Americans were allowed to vote. No African slaves were allowed to vote. No one under 21 was allowed to vote. No one who didn’t own property was allowed to vote. Actually, 95% of the population was not allowed to vote! So we might guess that, among those eligible to vote, perhaps 2-3% voted. “We the People?” I don’t think so!
If you got the impression that most of our actual population is saying “hands off!” then you’ve got an accurate pulse on “We the People.” Your voice is not the voice we hear from Washington today. However, the voice that beats within your heart swears to you that you have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that no man can bestow or take away. This right is written on the tablet of your heart, and you must not allow anyone to erase it.
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
Therefore, I publicly declare the continued withdrawal of my consent from a monstrous parasite that lives by force and sucks the lifeblood of a nation dry.
“So what if you don’t consent?”
At the very least, you’ll live with a clean conscience, and someday the sun will shine much brighter than today! We were born free—isn’t it time we lived free? However, like seeds long dormant, awaiting the spring, liberty may suddenly bloom, surprising us all. The climate for freedom is cultivated and ripe!
Much love and success.
Of course, the question comes up: What and how to do it.
Here are some ideas put forth by John Pugsley in Issue 74 of The Voluntaryist. For the complete article see http://www.voluntaryist.com/backissues/074.pdf
Here are the excerpts from pages 6 and 7 of that issue:
1. Improve yourself. Perhaps the single most important thing a person can do (before he sets out to improve others) is to improve himself. Become a model citizen. Don’t use government to attack your neighbor, even if you don’t like his dog or the color of his house or the color of his skin. If you want to stop others from aggressing through the political process, start by excising from your own life all vestiges of comfort and support for political aggression.
2. Stop subsidizing your enemy. Stop loaning the government money. Stop thinking you’re profiting by getting a safer return. You wouldn’t loan money to your local car thief to see him through a dry spell. Why would you loan it to the thugs in Washington or Sacramento?
Moreover, point out to others that buying T-bills is supporting the muggers and mass murderers in Washington. Pull the drapes back and expose these criminals to the light of day.
3. Stop doing business with your enemy. Don’t provide products to the government. Don’t accept government contracts. Don’t do business with government employees. Don’t cash government checks—with the possible exception of tax refunds. If you’re in business, don’t cash them for your customers. Don’t take government money. Don’t take government subsidies. Don’t be a willing, eager beneficiary of political theft.
4. Stop doing business with people who support your enemy. Boycott businesses that live on government contracts. Boycott those who lobby for protective legislation. Tell them you don’t approve of them stealing from you through the state.
5. Support private alternatives to government services. Wherever you can use a private service instead of a government service, use it. Use faxes instead of the Post Office. Use private libraries instead of public ones. Use private schools instead of public schools.
6. Create parallel mechanisms to replace government functions. A positive step for society is to show that private enterprise is the correct alternative to government monopolies. By creating Federal Express, Fred Smith did more to reveal the insanity of a government mail monopoly than all of the free market politicians who have ever argued for private mail service on the floors of congress. Most individuals will never understand that all services are best provided by the free market. They do not need to understand the philosophical or intellectual basis for this truth. All they need to do is be given the opportunity to use one or the other. Most of the people who use Federal Express don’t understand that it is superior to the government service because it is operated for a profit and not by coercion. They just know it works. Spend your creative energies developing products that compete with government. Put it out of business by offering consumers a better product. Think of all of the things we are told government must do. Develop better home, neighborhood and personal defense services, better consumer protection ideas, safer money, more secure retirement plans, better educational opportunities. With the government absorbing more and more of the private sector, the opportunities for successful private competition are exploding.
7. Expose the enemy among us. Instead of talking your neighbors into voting, spend your energy explaining why the political process is their enemy. Talk to centers of influence. Identify the real culprit as the individual who promotes bigger government by secretly lobbying for subsidy or privilege. Expose the businessman who is lobbying for a protective tariff, the defense contractor lobbying for tax dollars, the individual seeking government handouts. Call them what they are, mooches and thieves. Embarrass them. Shame them.
8. Master the issues. Libertarians should master the issues and learn to communicate so they can explain and persuade others. You, Harry, are the acknowledged master. You have developed simplicity of example and persuasion to an art form. Teach others how to confront the irrational arguments of government advocates.
9. Have the moral courage to confront others. When somebody makes a statement like, “I’m not in favor of government medicine, but we do have to do something to help the poor,” or “even if there are abuses, legalizing drugs is not a serious alternative—we have to enforce the drug laws,” libertarians should never sanction such statist propaganda by silence.
10. Get involved in campaigns designed to enlighten and enrage the public. Speak out against victimless crimes. Support organizations such as The National Taxpayers’ Union, Amnesty International, the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). Work with groups that are working against regulations. Put pressure on those who are supporting government intrusion. But don’t get involved in electoral politics. Don’t fight crime by becoming a criminal.
11. Engage in civil disobedience if you are prepared for the consequences. Henry David Thoreau went to jail for refusing to pay a small poll tax. He believed that civil disobedience was a moral obligation. His view of political action as a means of changing government was succinctly stated in his tract, ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”
12. Find ways to avoid taxes. Cut every corner. Make life miserable for a tax collector. Consider using trusts, foundations, tax deferred investments and offshore charities. Your success will be emulated by others, and every dollar denied a thief makes him that much more likely to find another line of work.
13. Pamphleteer. Follow the noble lead of Thomas Paine and Lysander Spooner. Tell it like it is. Inundate the talk shows, newspapers and magazines with rational arguments against government. Let other people who are fed up with Big Brother know they are not alone. But show them there is another way than voting.
14. Write free-market novels and produce free-market movies. Support companies and individuals that bring a positive message to the audience. ATLAS SHRUGGED may have had more influence on the direction of freedom today than all the libertarian political activity since it was written.
15. Consider becoming an expatriate. Stop falling for the ridiculous cultural blather that says, “my country, right or wrong.” Just because you’re born at a place controlled by a particular group of politicians doesn’t mean they are right. There may be places in the world where you can live in greater freedom than in the U.S. Find them. Vote with your feet. Basically, look for solutions that don’t violate your principles.