Love It or Leave It?
Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff: 'Central
Banks' Are Not Banks
who criticize the United States government are sometimes told "If
you don’t like it here, leave." Sir Walter Scott’s lines are
a poetic reply:
there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand?"
Even the patriotic
song "This Is My Country" at least begins well with
is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!"
before it veers
off into a pledge of allegiance, which is, however, to America,
and not to the United States of America, which is America’s federal
land and country are not the government. America is not the United
States of America, which is a government. One’s land and country
are not the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service,
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Transportation
Security Administration. Emotion felt toward one’s country is different
than emotion felt toward the government of one’s country.
one’s consent or non-consent to government (one’s loving it or not)
to staying in the country or leaving it? Why connect consent to
location? If one does not consent to a government, why is exit from
the country thought to be a necessary implication? Why not simply
end one’s relations with that government and remain in the country?
won’t let you. That’s why.
A little background
stand for freedom and against undesirable government coercion, which
is coercion that is aggressive in nature and not defensive; or coercion
that attacks freedom rather than protects it.
are not necessarily anarchists. Anarchists either prefer no government
at all for themselves or else are comfortable with a voluntary form
of self-government. Some libertarians are anarchists, while others
desire various forms of government. Both libertarians and anarchists
do not want others to impose their governments on them. Panarchists
are persons who desire that all persons, right down to the individual,
have the freedom to choose their own governments within one’s
native land and country. This means that one country could contain
many possible governments. As this freedom increases, it means that
territoriality of government diminishes or even ceases.
anarchists and panarchists, whatever may be these shades of difference,
all would be happy if other people would leave them to their own
devices and not coerce them via governments.
Fred Reed recently
expressed a degree of panarchist
belief when he separated living in a country from consent to
field of disengagement might be called domestic expatriation –
the recognition that living in a country makes you a resident,
not a subscriber. It is one thing to be loyal to a government
that is loyal to you, another thing entirely to continue that
loyalty when the Brown Shirts march and the government rejects
everything that you believe in. While the phrase has become unbearably
pretentious, it is possible to regard oneself as a citizen of
the world rather than of the Reich."
refers to a given person residing in a country without consenting
(subscribing) to a government. This statement is consistent
with panarchism. It contrasts sharply with the exercise of the right
of revolution of an entire people that Jefferson proposes in the
Declaration of Independence:
whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends,
it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new government..."
a right of revolution to an entire people. Panarchism
does not preclude this possibility, but this is really not how revolutions
proceed. Usually they are led by small groups that manage to install
new and coercive governments. By contrast, panarchism is brought
into being by any size group, from one person on up, that is able
to release itself from coercive government restrictions to any degree.
the right to alter government is not a right only of "the people"
as a whole but of every single person. Freedom is at the level of
each person. It is not necessarily an idea belonging to an aggregate
called "the people". However, whatever person or group
or people can gain a freedom-expanding concession from government
by removing some coercion, even if others do not, is altering its
relation to government. A partial abolition of some facet of government
there are 564 Indian
tribes (nations) in America that currently have their
own relations, as peoples, with the U.S. government. This number
is not fixed. The Amish do not have a separate nation within a nation
but their church officials led a campaign that ended in 1965 with
the Old Order Amish not
having to pay social security taxes. On the other hand, the
government (through the Food and Drug Administration) is enforcing
restrictions on Amish sales of unpasteurized milk to willing
criticized the Constitution as not being a contract among known
individuals who agreed to it and signed it. Spooner’s
analysis of consent reaches the point where he writes
question, then, returns, what is implied in a government's resting
this one thing (to say nothing of the others) is necessarily implied
in the idea of a government's resting on consent, viz: the separate,
individual consent of every man who is required to contribute,
either by taxation or personal service, to the support of the
individual consent of every man" is the key conclusion
of any logical analysis of consent such as Spooner’s. This is the
panarchist view. Panarchists are aiming for each and every person
to get out from under a government that is not of their choice.
to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
take this seriously. Consent of the governed does not mean consent
of an arbitrary group that someone designates as "a people"
or as "the people". It means individual consent.
It is the case
that some persons wish to be coerced by a government in certain
matters. They accept that government willingly and allow such coercion.
In this choice there is no diminishment of their freedom. But when
that government coerces other persons who do not accept that government’s
rule, then those involuntarily-coerced persons suffer a loss of
who want their governments to coerce them in certain activities
or want their goverments to have certain powers over them have a
right to erect such governments; but they do not have a right to
erect their coercive governments over other people who do not want
them or choose them.
freedom to others when one denies them their right to consent to
coercive governments for themselves. Libertarians and anarchists
cannot make others free by abolishing their governments – not if
those people want them. Efforts to persuade others of the virtues
of life without government should not be misconstrued as attempts
to infringe upon the right to choose one’s government – even a coercive
government at that.
the most extensive freedom of every person cannot favor governments
that coerce people who do not wish to be coerced, but they can tolerate
governments whose subjects consent to them, as long as they keep
their coercion limited to those who consent.
The loss of
freedom today is very large because today’s governments exercise
extensive powers upon non-consenting persons as a routine matter.
Since these powers touch so very many aspects of people’s lives,
freedom of the person is vastly diminished. This would not be the
case if governments allowed exit or personal secession within
the country; but, to the contrary, they nearly always exclude
the freedom of each person to exit from a government’s rule while
remaining in the country. Governments punish attempts to exit. Governments
punish attempts to live under alternative rules and laws.
to exit the oppressions of unwanted government is a long-sought
centuries-old goal, often accomplished through migration or physical
exit from a country. This goal is far from being a reality. Present-day
governments with constitutions would have us believe that all of
us are free because of various voting procedures or some semblance
of rule of law, but of course all of us are not free. Most of us
can find many denials of freedom in our lives.
calls for greater freedom and libertarian statements that many people
in this and other "free" countries lack freedom often
meet with denial, resentment and anger. Libertarians are sometimes
told to pack up and leave if they don’t like it. This suggestion
only proves that the freedom to exit is exactly that freedom which
people do not currently possess, for freedom to exit from a government
means freedom to choose one’s government where one lives.
It is undeniably
true that one may expatriate or emigrate as a means of seeking greater
freedom, but why should a person have to move? Being forced to move
in order to exit a government means that one is subject to a government’s
coercion. Moving should be voluntary. One’s country and one’s land
are not the same as the government that claims to rule that country
and the persons living in that land. Leaving the country, leaving
one’s land, and leaving one’s relations and relationships behind
in order to exit a government is not a solution consistent with
full freedom. That action is chosen by some only because the government
coercively claims jurisdiction over territory and all persons within
that territory. Those who leave their country are being involuntarily
coerced into a second-best solution.
point out that territory is the heart of the matter. Territory is
the device by means of which governments inflict uniformity of law
when what is required for full freedom is non-uniformity of law
within a given land. One person’s government may wish to forbid
drugs for its subscribers, but another person’s government may not.
One person’s government may wish to coerce everyone into a health
insurance policy while another person’s may not. One person’s government
may wish to tax its subjects, arm some of them and attack Libya
while another person’s government may not. A high degree of freedom
in a land or country cannot occur when government is government
by territory and when that government possesses power over many
facets of life and living.
All of Spooner’s
No Treason is worth reading carefully. Spooner wrote of the
principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply
this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support,
a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their
part, makes them traitors and criminals.
principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently
false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political
doesn’t determine right. Freely-given consent is the support of
a government of free persons:
and minorities cannot rightfully be taken at all into account
in deciding questions of justice. And all talk about them, in
matters of government, is mere absurdity. Men are dunces for uniting
to sustain any government, or any laws, except those in which
they are all agreed. And nothing but force and fraud compel men
to sustain any other. To say that majorities, as such, have a
right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities
have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities
please to allow them."
The only way
that persons can all agree to a set of laws and a government within
what we call a country like America is to abandon the idea that
a government must be territorial. A government of free people is
not marked by borders and territory imposed by government or arrived
at by wile, treachery, seizure, and warfare, but by people who freely
consent or subscribe to it. Instead of the territorial notion of
government, or the notion that majority rules in a given territory,
government is properly thought of as something to which a group
of persons willingly subscribe, while leaving other groups to subscribe
to their preferred governments or none at all.
If some persons
form a government, what right do they have to govern, make laws
and tax everyone within a territory that their government claims,
even those who do not consent? None. Governments routinely rule
out secession by their claims to territory and their claims to rule
over everyone within that territory. They back up these claims by
force, not right.
It is when
governments peacefully allow exceptions to their coercive laws for
some persons or groups, or recognize different laws for different
groups within their borders, or allow some lands to escape their
jurisdiction, or allow peoples to secede and form their own governments
that we get movement in the direction of greater freedom.
There are many
separatist movements throughout the world. They struggle. This
is because governments and majorities refuse freedom to minorities.
It is quite often the case that groups seeking to end the domination
of one government behave no differently from the government they
seek to replace or secede from. They often believe in coercing those
who may fall into its newly-won domain as defined by a new set of
borders. Even secessionists fail to recognize that the principle
of secession as a bulwark of freedom of the person can only be applied
consistently right down to the personal level.
The right or
freedom personally and individually to choose one’s government goes
largely unrecognized, unacknowledged and unsupported. It is not
only not taken seriously in today’s world by almost everyone, it
is a freedom that is denied by governments worldwide and denied
with force of arms and bloodshed.
the governed should be a matter of clear, open and free choice of
each person. Consent of the governed cannot be inferred from a situation
in which government has the guns and individual persons obey, or
in which citizens must follow a set of highly complex voting procedures,
determined by governments and parties, within and bounded by bordered
territories in which governments reign without competition.
The usual ways
to alter this situation are unusual. They involve revolutions,
rebellions, and bloody secessionist movements; and they often lead
right back to governments that are territorial. The alternative
is to recognize the right to choose one’s government and that government
need not necessarily be territorial.
world, people are automatically placed beneath and under governments
by virtue of where they happen to live. The spot of territory where
one happens to be born or where one spends one’s life is the criterion
that governments use in order to identify, tag, monitor and coerce
people. The territorial principle that governments invoke is, with
few exceptions, that all those people within its borders are its
subjects or citizens, regardless of whether or not they willingly
accept the coercions that such a government entails. Governments
at all levels do not allow people under them to opt out. They do
not allow secession down to the personal level, which is what freedom
to choose one’s government actually means.
fight tooth and nail against secession. The very existence of these
governments as territorially-coercive entities is why they fight
secession, and this resistance to secession is clear proof that
today’s governments are coercing people who do not want to be coerced.
by territory and by coercion within territory cannot be reconciled
with full freedom of the person and consent of the governed. At
the extremes, it is one or the other. In between the extremes, which
is life as we know it, there is a constant struggle that moves us
toward greater coercion or toward fuller freedom of the person.
Who has the
gall to tell the Amish that if they do not like the government’s
milk regulations that they can jolly well pack up and leave the
country? The FDA does. The government does. This is the government’s
policy and if you live in this country, you shall obey.
American today is the Amish. Everyone must obey all sorts of objectionable
uniform laws and regulations, without exception. Love it here or
leave. The reason for this connection is force, not justice. This
is coercive government by territory. It is not government by consent.
S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book
The U.S. Constitution
and Money: Corruption and Decline.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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