These past two weeks have seen two very important and deeply disturbing revelations: first, the White House leak of the white papers on Obama’s kill list; and also the first (open) use of a drone to track a fugitive, Chris Dorner.
I don’t know about you guys, but about the only time I see any of the mainstream media is when it is on one of those TVs in a public space that is either too high or in one of those plastic cages so you can’t change the channel. That place for me is my gym. There I am, pedaling away, and I have to, excuse me, get to watch the luminaries of enlightened thought discuss the latest distraction, sorry I meant u2018development'. At first it might sound good that they are actually discussing something that has very real consequences, but I already noticed that the debate was over. It ended when the same loaded question kept popping up on each network: "Should we worry that the US is killing American citizens without trial?"
If you are like me and visit LewRockwell.com daily we already know what is wrong with this statement, but do other people? Probably not. So let's humor the media and the State and look into what an "American citizen" is.
The first and most obvious question is, if someone is born in the US are they an American citizen? But first we must inquire as to what the US is. Is it the land that makes up the 50 states? Is the soil magical? Well no, there isn’t some sort of American citizen pixie dust in the soil, because one can become a citizen if they're born in an American military base or embassy. Well then the only logical conclusion is that when the glorious American military conquers a piece of land they sprinkle that same citizenship pixie dust around, and then all those born on that land magically become a citizen.
Unfortunately the idea of citizenship pixie dust and magic runs into several barriers: for one, if the military actually did this, then — to our great chagrin as libertarians — every child in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Bolivia, Cambodia etc., would become an American citizen. But they aren’t, which, for their sake, is a good thing.
So if it's not some sort of random collection of imperially acquired land in conjunction with the original Thirteen Colonies that grants American citizenship, then what does? Well according to the official statement from the US government: anyone may become an American citizen through naturalization. What a lovely and humanitarian bargain that is! I have never heard of anyone’s papers getting lost or anyone having a long and arduous process of getting citizenship through "legal" means! (Consequently, this isn’t a horrible way of controlling the human capital market?)
In case you missed my sarcasm, just wait a few months for the new immigration reform legislation to make its way to the forefront. I’m sure the luminaries of enlightened thought at the MSM will have plenty of ways of informing you on what to think about naturalization.
Finally, and maybe most disturbingly, someone can have American citizenship if one of their parents is an American citizen. From this, the only logical conclusion is that we all have some sort of American-Citizenship-Blood-Virus that can be passed to our offspring and it infects them with our American-ism! On a more serious note, this is quite disturbing because it does treat citizenship like some sort of contagion, one that especially now I would not like to pass on to my future offspring.
So what now for the American citizen-to-be? If not through citizenship pixie dusted land or naturalization or the American-blood-virus then what makes someone an American citizen?
This is actually easily answered: If the State views you as American citizen then you are one. If the State deems you a host for the parasitism that is the tax system, then you are one. On the flipside, if the State does not view you as an American citizen, you are not one.
As the debate on the kill list rolls on, it brings to the forefront a very important and deeply disturbing part of democracies and republics: nationalism. This is possibly the most dangerous idea that is cultivated into the masses by the State. This idea creates an inconsistent view of a person taking personal offense to the massacre of a child (who happens to be an American citizen) at Sandy Hook, but they turn a blind eye to the 178 (and counting) dead children in other countries. But more importantly, it creates the idea of the "out-group".
The "out-group" is the best and easiest way to "justify" the killing or disenfranchisement of entire groups of people (after all, those in the "out-group" are not us!). It is used by many to group people they haven’t met and then rob them of their rights because they are not part of their particular "in-group".
Some use the myth of “western values” to create the idea of the "out-group". Some use the dividing lines of religion to create the "out-group". While others use the hazy lines of citizenship to create the "out-group".
What is most important to understand here is that the State uses these all the time to get away with literal murder. Be it the bombing of innocent people in another country or the installation of a puppet government, the State can use all of the above and many more concepts of the "out-group" to reassure and assuage their citizens that it isn't doing harm them because the people affected don’t have rights (again, those in the "out-group" are not us!).
This brings us back to the fundamental question of "What is the State?" Of course no one can take away the rights of others, they can only infringe them. Maybe instead of using the idea of an "out-group" to infringe on other’s natural rights one should take away the extraneous "rights" of the individuals involved with the State. The State is simply a group of individuals who, for some unexplained reason, are supposedly endowed with more rights than others because they are part of the State apparatus. The State uses these mythical rights to "justify" their attack on other’s property rights. Murder for you and me is simply foreign policy for the State. Kidnapping for us becomes the draft for them, and so on. Instead, if one views the State apparatus as the true "out-group" and strips them down to only the rights of the individuals involved, one can start to dismantle the idea of the State outright.
I think that these recent developments with the white papers and the search for Chris Dorner are the perfect stage to fully unmask the wizard of nationalism for what it really is: a morally unjust and ethically indefensible way of subversively getting "justification" for the terror of the State.
If the idea of nationalism can be broken, perhaps the terrifying idea of the "out-group" can be dismantled too. Once people start to see themselves as an individual with inalienable natural rights and then carries that idea out to everyone who has ever or will ever be born then maybe yet another crack in the myth of the State, nationalism, citizenship, and most importantly the idea of the "out-group" will be chiseled.
What can one do? At the risk of sounding pedantic to others, one must challenge themselves on what makes someone an American citizen and how troubling this series of consequences becomes after, oh say, five seconds. One of the reasons that I was so attracted to Anarcho-Capitalism is the simple way of combating the State: withdraw your consent; don’t take part in the sacrament of voting; and inform yourself and others. Oh and also have a good laugh at the State as often as you can.
Nationalism can first be killed by correcting your own speech. Always refer to things as "I think the US government will" or "The US government won’t" (rather than using "We"). This is not only a very important vocal protest but it also reaffirms in yours and others' minds the idea that the State is the only "out-group." It is a group that has a monopoly of force. It is a gang, a gang of thieves writ large.
Lloyd Bourne [send him mail] is a biologist working in New York City and a part-time musician operating under "Huunter."