• It's Time for Libertarian Tolerance

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    The religious/spiritual
    conscience is the strict, private domain of the individual. The
    contents of that domain are off limits and irrelevant to other individuals.
    Some will claim those contents are sometimes inconsistent with self-government.
    To me, that is the height of arrogance and ignorance.

    Certainly,
    the mind, spirit, and conscience is one piece of our lives off limits
    and inaccessible to an oppressive, totalitarian state. Throughout
    history individuals have managed to survive and even outlive tyrannical
    state regimes by relying on a strong, principled, spiritual conscience
    that is untouchable by even the most onerous of despots.

    What inspires
    and privately defines your self-government is is your own concern.

    Recently, US
    expatriate Jeff Knaebel (a
    contributor to LRC
    ) renounced
    his US citizenship
    at the Mahatma Gandhi national monument in
    India. Mr. Knaebel shredded
    his US passport
    and "placing the pieces upon the monument,
    Knaebel declared his independence from not only the American government,
    but all governments renouncing his birth certificate as well, stating
    that citizenship must either be voluntary, or be considered forced
    slavery." Mr. Knaebel then read aloud his Declaration
    of Renunciation and Severance of U.S. Citizenship
    which is a
    marvelous, inspiring statement.

    As this news
    spread throughout the blogosphere I noticed some of the usual gnashing
    of teeth among atheist fundamentalists impressed with Mr. Knaebel's
    declaration but upset with his motivation. It seems that Mr. Knaebel
    is a Buddhist and the precepts of that belief were, at least in
    part, the source of his declaration of individual sovereignty.

    It's no secret
    that a large percentage of anarchists are atheists. Included among
    this group are agnostics, who will respectfully claim disbelief
    until empirical evidence proves otherwise. These folks generally
    respect those who are believers. Then there are the fundamentalist
    atheists who unequivocally declare that there is no God(s) and therefore
    claim access to all the knowledge of the universe (the only way
    one could make such a claim). These individuals are generally intolerant
    of any sort of religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Anyone who
    has spent any time examining the philosophy of anarchy will find
    that there are many different ideological "versions" of
    anarchism. Per Bylund's Anarchism.net
    lists a healthy sampling:

    "…collectivist
    and individualist anarchists, revolutionary and pacifist anarchists,
    atheist and Christian anarchists, communist and socialist anarchists,
    high-tech and primatism anarchists, industry-centered and environmentalist
    anarchists, as well as property abolitionist and free-market or
    capitalist anarchists."

    However, you
    will find at least three key elements of that philosophy that is
    shared by all interpretations: the necessary abolishment of the
    oppressive state, voluntary association, and self-government. The
    latter is the element being considered here.

    In order for
    a stateless society to be successful, individuals within that society
    must practice self-government, i.e., individual responsibility.
    They must act in accordance with a code of morality/ethics dictating
    non-aggression and respect for other's lives and property. This
    "code" may originate from a variety of sources, secular
    or religious.

    Some fundamentalist
    atheist/anarchists brazenly claim that no one can be described as
    or declare himself an anarchist if he has a religious loyalty to
    a God(s) because he is then submitting to the governance of someone
    other than himself. This, of course, is nonsense. Using their argument,
    it would also follow that one cannot be an anarchist if married,
    as such a relationship entails submitting (at least sometimes) to
    the orders of a marital partner. One could also not be employed
    by another party, as that relationship, as well, would involve taking
    commands from someone other than yourself. Even a self-employed
    individual takes "orders" from his customers.

    All of these
    examples are related to personal accountability, rather than governance.
    An individual is accountable to his/her marriage partner in accordance
    with their marriage agreement and vow. An employee is accountable
    to the contractual agreement made with his/her employer. In a similar
    manner, a business owner is accountable to his/her customers if
    he/she intends to stay in business. By the same manner, one who
    holds a religious belief does so, in part, to regulate his/her behavior.
    The individual sees in that religious doctrine a reliable, time
    tested philosophy for guidance. Following that guidance offers the
    best hope of living successfully and peacefully among other individuals.
    The individual sees this doctrine/code of ethics as a guidepost
    to compare his behavior and thus make himself accountable.

    None of the
    above examples can be remotely compared to statist's behavioral
    obedience to their governing ruling masters – an obedience created
    through fear, force, and coercion. It is the rejection of this illegitimate
    governance that characterizes an anarchist. As
    I wrote
    a couple years ago:

    "Religious
    doctrine, in and of itself, has no collective power over others.
    It has no armies or thugs with guns to enforce its edicts. An
    individual needs no state or private security apparatus to defend
    himself from such doctrine if it is intellectually or morally
    disagreeable, but merely the use of his God-given reason and self-education.
    The state, however, is a secular/godless construct only attractive
    to those with no moral conscience. It is an instrument of force,
    legitimized by fraudulent doctrine and promises, and used to control
    others by force rather than honest, forthright, peaceful persuasion."

    The
    fact that some individuals have both accepted religious teachings,
    and in some cases accepted them to the point of religious reverence
    and/or worship, is irrelevant
    to being characterized as anarchists
    . The fact that they both
    dismiss and disavow any allegiance or obedience to any man-made,
    man-operated system of governance over their lives, property and
    liberty is relevant.

    If you come
    to these beliefs through religious doctrine – so be it. If
    you come to these beliefs by way of an indoctrinated, secular, moral
    code of ethics – so be it. What's important is that you have
    accepted these ethics and morals as imperative to living peacefully
    and freely among other individuals. What is important is a physical,
    not spiritual reality – your exhibited behavior toward and your social
    interactions with others.

    Why should
    one give up their own personal motivation to serve the ambitions
    of intolerant, atheist evangelists?

    July
    10, 2009

    Roger
    Young [send him mail]
    is a
    freelance photographer
    in Texas and has a
    blog
    .

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