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Pentagon Pushes Plan for Female Draft Registration – Article by Ryan McMaken

Pentagon Pushes Plan for Female Draft Registration – Article by Ryan McMaken

The New Renaissance Hat
Ryan McMaken
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The Pentagon is moving forward with pressuring Congress to add women to the Selective Service program, which will make virtually all young people eligible for the military draft. The Washington Times reports:

The Pentagon says the country should stick with mandatory registration for a military draft, and it advocates a requirement for women to sign up for the first time in the nation’s history.

The recommendations are contained in a Defense Department report to Congress that serves as a starting point for a commission examining military, national and public service.

Congress ordered the Pentagon report, and the office of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness completed it in the early months of the Trump administration.

Currently, only male citizens and residents age 18-25 are required to register, for a pace of about 2 million each year.

Women, whom the government has never ordered to sign up, would add 11 million to the Selective Service System database “in short order,” the report says.

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon, the report reminds us, wants the Service Program to continue indefinitely. No surprise there. But now, the Pentagon wants to expand draft registration so it can include millions of young people who had not previously been eligible.

This proposed change will be couched in a variety of irrelevant issues like “gender equality” and “women in combat.” At the heart of the matter, however, is the fact that the Pentagon wants an even larger list of potential forced laborers who can be paid below-market wages. In other words, draft registration offers — and has always offered — a list of people who can be forced to pay higher taxes in the form of mandatory “service”:  

“Conscription is slavery,” Murray Rothbard wrote in 1973, and while temporary conscription is obviously much less bad — assuming one outlives the term of conscription — than many other forms of slavery, conscription is nevertheless a nearly-100-percent tax on the production of one’s mind and body. If one attempts to escape his confinement in his open-air military jail, he faces imprisonment or even execution in many cases.

Conscription remains popular among [nation-]states because it is an easy way to directly extract resources from the population. Just as regular taxes partially extract the savings, productivity, and labor of the general population, conscription extracts virtually all of the labor and effort of the conscripts. The burden falls disproportionately on the young males in most cases, and they are at risk of a much higher tax burden if killed or given a permanent disability in battle. If he’s lucky enough to survive the conflict, the conscript may find himself living out the rest of his life as disfigured or missing his eyesight and limbs. He may be rendered permanently undesirable to the opposite sex. Such costs imposed on the conscript are a form of lifelong taxation.

Fortunately for those who escape such a fate, the term of slavery ends at a specified time, but for the duration, the only freedom the conscript enjoys is that granted to him by his jailers.

But, Modern Conscription Won’t be About Combat Duty

The irrelevance of gender issues here is made clear by the fact that the Pentagon’s report is part of a larger effort which is, as the Times describes it, “a commission examining military, national and public service.” We’ve moved well beyond the issue of strictly military or combat service when we’re talking about forced labor through conscription.

Should the American federal government decide that it’s necessary to finally make use of the Selective Service lists, the new draftees won’t be people sent to carry rifles on the front lines. The military doesn’t want poorly trained conscripts in combat, anyway. But this fact by no means precludes the potential usefulness of conscription to the federal government.

What the US federal government does want — especially in case of dropping revenues due to economic crisis — is cheap labor to build military bases, drive trucks, prepare food, load cargo, mop floors, and perform the countless non-combat tasks that are required to further expand military prerogatives both at home and abroad. Yes, the US government can pay people to do all those things now. But conscripts could be much cheaper.

After all, even in the military, few soldiers ever are in combat situations. In active war zones in recent decades (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan) there have been seven support personnel for every infantryman. In other words, for every rifle-carrying soldier in a combat zone, there are seven computer programmers, cooks, and mechanics keeping that combat soldier well supplied.

But why stop with military-related issues? “National service” can encompass a wide variety of duties. These can include any of the tasks currently performed by civilian contractors who do government work now on all sorts of domestic infrastructure and social benefits programs.

In the future, if young Americans are drafted, they’re going to be fixing vehicles in a garage or sitting at a desk in an office. And they’ll be doing those tasks for the low, low wages that involuntary servitude makes possible.

The issue of whether or not women should be in combat roles is a totally separate issue and beside the point of whether or not draft registration should be expanded further.

A Huge Repudiation of Property Rights

Ultimately, the only aspect of the women-as-draftees debate that is important is the issue of whether it is morally acceptable to force young people into temporary slavery. Precious few conservatives, of course, have a problem with this, which is why they ultimately can only oppose the expansion of draft registration to women on the grounds of gender politics. For the conservatives, it’s simply a given that forced government labor is entirely justified.

But, even outside the hard-core of the pro-military right-wing regime, it’s hard to find anyone in Washington who seriously opposes draft registration. It’s now been decades since the 1970s when there had a been a movement to abolish both the draft and draft registration. Ron Paul, not surprisingly, was among the supporters of that plan. Not even the end of the Cold War could end mandatory draft registration.

Now we’re talking about expanding the program. But make no mistake about it. Expanding Selective Service from 50 percent of young adults to 100 percent is not about equality, or progress, or patriotism. While these notions will no doubt be used to bully people into supporting such a move, the real-world effect will be a massive expansion in government power over the lives of the population.

Even if modern conscripts avoid all combat, the idea of conscription will always be nothing more than a wholesale repudiation of property rights. The argument that the draft is a necessary “insurance policy” in case of military crisis is no different than saying that nationalization of private industry should always be on the table as an important “insurance policy” in case of economic crisis. Or perhaps the abolition of freedom of speech should be an option as an “insurance policy” in case of social and ideological upheaval.

If young Americans can’t be convinced to fight in the federal government’s wars, then that’s an indication that the federal government doesn’t quite command the respect it thinks it deserves. Often, this is an indication that young people don’t believe the federal government’s propaganda that a war is necessary to “defend freedom,” “fight global communism,” or “end all wars.”  If Americans would rather take their chances not taking up arms for the federal government, that’s a serious problem for the federal government, indeed. But what’s a problem for the federal government is by no means necessarily a problem for the taxpayers who pay the bills. Nor is it a problem the federal government is morally entitled to “rectify” by forcing millions of Americans into involuntary servitude.

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Free Market. He has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre. 

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

This article has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Both Lincoln and the Confederacy Were Awful – Article by Tom Mullen

Both Lincoln and the Confederacy Were Awful – Article by Tom Mullen

The New Renaissance Hat
Tom Mullen
September 3, 2017
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21st-century Americans shouldn’t pick a side in the Civil War. 

We’re fighting the Civil War again. Whenever both major parties drop any pretense of addressing the real problems facing American taxpayers, their constituents revert to having at each other in “the culture wars.” And no culture war would be complete without relitigating what should now be settled history: the reasons for the Civil War.

Americans sympathetic to the Union generally believe the war was fought to end slavery or to “rescue the slaves” from political kidnapping by the slave states, that seceded from the Union to avoid impending abolition.

“No,” say those sympathetic to the Confederacy. The states seceded over states’ rights, particularly their right not to be victimized by high protectionist tariffs, paid mostly by southern states, but spent mostly on what we’d now call corporate welfare and infrastructure projects in the north.

That the states seceded for a different reason than the war was fought seems to elude everyone.

States’ Rights, Tariffs, or Slavery?

There is plenty of secondary literature presenting evidence on both sides, which is why Americans are still arguing this tired point over 150 years after the war ended. But there is a pretty simple way to clear the air. Just read the primary sources and take everyone at his word.

Many of the Confederate states published declarations explaining their reasons for seceding from the Union. The problem for those making the tariff argument is only a few of these declarations even mention the tariff, and then only in passing. The declarations of South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas don’t mention taxes or economic policy at all.

But what all the declarations state loud and clear is the seceding states’ objections to the federal government not fulfilling its constitutional duty to execute fugitive slave laws, the election of a president who campaigned saying the Union could not survive “half slave and half free,” and their belief that the Republican Party’s determination to keep slavery out of new territories would eventually lead to abolition of the institution in their own states.

The passage which is perhaps most damning to the tariff theory comes from Georgia’s Declaration, which reads:

The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state.

The passage is accurate. The Republican Party was indeed comprised of a coalition between abolitionists and former members of the Whig Party, like Lincoln, who still sought to implement Henry Clay’s “American System” of protectionist tariffs, “internal improvements” (viz. “infrastructure”) and a central bank. But the Georgia Declaration dismisses this as merely an incidental observation and emphasizes the party’s opposition to slavery. One cannot help but conclude that Georgia, while objecting to the American System, was willing to tolerate it, but would not tolerate any threat to slavery.

It is true that not all states eventually part of the Confederacy seceded at the same time. Four seceded only after Lincoln called for volunteers from state militias to put down what he considered a rebellion. Arkansas, in particular, cited the Union’s attempt to coerce it into making war on the seceded states as its reason for seceding itself. Nevertheless, none of this would have happened had the first seven states of the Confederacy not seceded for their stated reason: fear of the eventual abolition of slavery.

It is after presenting this airtight evidence that advocates of Lincoln and the war commit their grand non-sequitur: namely, that because the lower southern states seceded over slavery, Lincoln must have fought the war to abolish it. But just as the tariff or states’ rights theories are belied by the seceding states’ own words, so, too, is the abolition theory belied by Lincoln’s.

Lincoln’s Motives

In his first inaugural, Lincoln reassured the seceded states he had no intention of seeking abolition of slavery where it already existed and that he fully acknowledged the constitutional duty of the federal government to uphold fugitive slave laws. He even goes so far as to say those laws will be upheld as “cheerfully” as any others under the Constitution.

What Lincoln says he will not tolerate is secession itself. Contrary to the plain words of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln claims “no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination.” And he goes on to state clearly why he will later prosecute the Civil War.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.

Stay off federal property and pay your taxes and I won’t invade. That was Lincoln’s message to the seceded states. Not only did he not insist they free their slaves, he wrote each of the governors promising his support for the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which would guarantee the “rights” of the slaveholding states to continue the institution in perpetuity.

Some Lincoln apologists offer the theory that Lincoln’s motivations changed over the course of the war and that he came to view freeing the slaves as the primary reason for fighting it. Again, Lincoln’s own words contradict this. In a letter to Horace Greeley, written just a month before he issued his first Emancipation Proclamation, having already discussed it with his cabinet a month before, Lincoln wrote:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

It doesn’t get any plainer than that.

Stopping Picking Sides

There is no reason to doubt Lincoln’s personal, philosophical opposition to slavery, but it wasn’t the reason he fought the Civil War. We know this because he said so, repeatedly. And it is by no means a leap, based on his lifelong political beliefs and what he said himself during his first inaugural, that the reason it was so important for him to “save the Union” was because he couldn’t pursue his big-government agenda without the seceding states’ taxes. That’s quite a poor reason to start a war in which 600,000 to a million Americans are killed by their fellow Americans.

While Lincoln may not have fought the war to end slavery, there is no doubt it directly led to abolition, something every other civilized country achieved peacefully. But it also had permanent, negative effects on the American republic. It destroyed the view of the United States as a voluntary union. It set precedents for expansion of executive power which would be cited again and again by future presidents seeking new ones. And it forever associated limiting federal power and secession with slavery and racism.

21st-century Americans shouldn’t pick a side in the Civil War. Much like the brawl between the White Supremacists and Antifa in Charlottesville, Va., it was fought by two tyrannical powers for mostly evil purposes. The best we can do today is understand what really happened and work to rehabilitate the bedrock American principles of limited, decentralized government and the natural right of secession, good ideas given a bad name by Lincoln and the Confederates alike.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? and A Return to Common  Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. For more information and more of Tom’s writing, visit www.tommullen.net.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women – Article by Jessica Pavoni

Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women – Article by Jessica Pavoni

The New Renaissance HatJessica Pavoni
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A female veteran’s case against the

Selective Service

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The New York Times reported today:

“The United States Senate voted to pass a defense bill today that would require young women to sign up for a potential military draft for the first time in U.S. history.”

This issue was bound to come up eventually, as women have recently been allowed to compete for combat positions on the front line. Captain Kristen Griest’s recent completion of Army Ranger School and assignment as an Infantry officer is evidence of this shift in both policy and culture.

The accepted logic goes that if women have equal access to all jobs in the military, they ought to have equal responsibility with respect to the draft. And make no mistake: even though there has not been a draft since the 1970s, the ultimate purpose of Selective Service registration is precisely to enable a draft when deemed necessary.

Many are applauding these changes as an important step towards “equality” and recognition of women’s capabilities. But the focus on equality is masking the underlying injustice of the law in the first place. The more important issue is that forcing anyone to register for Selective Service is unjust because it is based on coercion (and has the potential to place otherwise peaceful people into violent situations). Let’s examine why.

Penalties for failing to register with Selective Service

Most people are aware that failing to register with Selective Service makes a man ineligible for federal student financial aid, and seriously impacts his ability to get a government job, obtain a security clearance, or gain citizenship. Fine, you may say – a young man who does not want to register can pay the price by not pursuing federal financial aid, and not getting a government job, security clearance, or applying for citizenship. That is a fair trade, and at least there is no violation of natural rights in that scenario; all a man needs to do is exercise his right to opt out or disassociate. But there’s more:

“Failing to register or comply with the Military Selective Service Act is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison term of up to five years, or a combination of both. Also, a person who knowingly counsels, aids, or abets another to fail to comply with the Act is subject to the same penalties. (Selective Service System)”

And there you have it – where the law is exposed for what it really is: a statute that institutionalizes indentured servitude whenever the government sees fit. That is exactly what military service is, whether you join voluntarily or are conscripted into the armed forces (read why here). Now if you refuse to register, your entire professional life is likely to be destroyed. Any person who recognizes the principle of self-ownership will immediately understand why requiring a person to register for the draft is the antithesis of personal freedom. If you fail to register, you risk your liberty (through jail time) or the fruits of your labor (by paying a fine) for committing no crime at all. There is no reason to believe that if women are made to register for Selective Service that these penalties will change – and they will infringe on women’s rights the same way that they currently infringe on men’s rights.

No Great Step for Women

This article is not meant to doubt the ability of women to perform physically demanding tasks in dangerous, high-stakes environments. Indeed, women have been successfully engaged in many different roles during war for decades, as medics, pilots, gunners, Female Engagement Team members, and more. Unfortunately, many people have been pining for “equal” treatment for women without considering what the actual treatment is – and whether it’s a good thing for men, either.

The real issue at play with this latest amendment is not whether women can or should fill combat roles, and thereby be eligible for the draft. The real issue is that a Selective Service registration (which leads to a draft) is immoral for both men and women, and that neither should be required to register at risk of becoming a felon, being fined, or being put in jail. The mere presence of a draft registration is an assertion that some people are qualified to put other people’s lives at risk. They aren’t.

Moreover, an important point is missing from the national discussion: if the United States were actually to be attacked, there would be no shortage of volunteers to defend the country. Instead, a draft would most likely be utilized to fight a war in which willing volunteers were hard to find…which is perhaps a damning indictment of the motives for a particular war.

While many are hailing Selective Service registration as a step forward for women, I am rather reminded of these wise words from Alexis de Tocqueville: “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

The author:

women-selective-serviceJessica Pavoni is a former Air Force Special Operations instructor pilot. She has 1,335 combat hours, and has deployed eight times to three regions of the world. Her writing has been featured at Antiwar.com and RonPaulInstitute.com. Visit her blog libertybug.org.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Thomas Carlyle: The Founding Father of Fascism – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Thomas Carlyle: The Founding Father of Fascism – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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Thomas Carlyle fits the bill in every respect

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Have you heard of the “great man” theory of history?

The meaning is obvious from the words. The idea is that history moves in epochal shifts under the leadership of visionary, bold, often ruthless men who marshal the energy of masses of people to push events in radical new directions. Nothing is the same after them.

In their absence, nothing happens that is notable enough to qualify as history: no heroes, no god-like figures who qualify as “great.” In this view, we need such men.  If they do not exist, we create them. They give us purpose. They define the meaning of life. They drive history forward.

Great men, in this view, do not actually have to be fabulous people in their private lives. They need not exercise personal virtue. They need not even be moral. They only need to be perceived as such by the masses, and play this role in the trajectory of history.

Such a view of history shaped much of historiography as it was penned in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until the revisionists of the last several decades saw the error and turned instead to celebrate private life and the achievements of common folk instead. Today the “great man” theory history is dead as regards academic history, and rightly so.

Carlyle the Proto-Fascist

Thomas_CarlyleThe originator of the great man theory of history is British philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), one of the most revered thinkers of his day. He also coined the expression “dismal science” to describe the economics of his time. The economists of the day, against whom he constantly inveighed, were almost universally champions of the free market, free trade, and human rights.

His seminal work on “great men” is On Heroes,  Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1840). This book was written to distill his entire worldview.

Considering Carlyle’s immense place in the history of 19th century intellectual life, this is a surprisingly nutty book. It can clearly be seen as paving the way for the monster dictators of the 20th century. Reading his description of “great men” literally, there is no sense in which Mao, Stalin, and Hitler — or any savage dictator from any country you can name — would not qualify.

Indeed, a good case can be made that Carlyle was the forefather of fascism. He made his appearance in the midst of the age of laissez faire, a time when the UK and the US had already demonstrated the merit of allowing society to take its own course, undirected from the top down. In these times, kings and despots were exercising ever less control and markets ever more. Slavery was on its way out. Women obtained rights equal to men. Class mobility was becoming the norm, as were long lives, universal opportunity, and material progress.

Carlyle would have none of it. He longed for a different age. His literary output was devoted to decrying the rise of equality as a norm and calling for the restoration of a ruling class that would exercise firm and uncontested power for its own sake. In his view, some were meant to rule and others to follow. Society must be organized hierarchically lest his ideal of greatness would never again be realized. He set himself up as the prophet of despotism and the opponent of everything that was then called liberal.

Right Authoritarianism of the 19th Century

Carlyle was not a socialist in an ideological sense. He cared nothing for the common ownership of the means of production. Creating an ideologically driven social ideal did not interest him at all. His writings appeared and circulated alongside those of Karl Marx and his contemporaries, but he was not drawn to them.

Rather than an early “leftist,” he was a consistent proponent of power and a raving opponent of classical liberalism, particularly of the legacies of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. If you have the slightest leanings toward liberty, or affections for the impersonal forces of markets, his writings come across as ludicrous. His interest was in power as the central organizing principle of society.

Here is his description of the “great men” of the past:

“They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history….

One comfort is, that Great Men, taken up in any way, are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something by him. He is the living light-fountain, which it is good and pleasant to be near. The light which enlightens, which has enlightened the darkness of the world; and this not as a kindled lamp only, but rather as a natural luminary shining by the gift of Heaven; a flowing light-fountain, as I say, of native original insight, of manhood and heroic nobleness;—in whose radiance all souls feel that it is well with them. … Could we see them well, we should get some glimpses into the very marrow of the world’s history. How happy, could I but, in any measure, in such times as these, make manifest to you the meanings of Heroism; the divine relation (for I may well call it such) which in all times unites a Great Man to other men…

Carlyle established himself as the arch-opponent of liberalism — heaping an unrelenting and seething disdain on Smith and his disciples.And so on it goes for hundreds of pages that celebrate “great” events such as the Reign of Terror in the aftermath of the French Revolution (one of the worst holocausts then experienced). Wars, revolutions, upheavals, invasions, and mass collective action, in his view, were the essence of life itself. The merchantcraft of the industrial revolution, the devolution of power, the small lives of the bourgeoisie all struck him as noneventful and essentially irrelevant. These marginal improvements in the social sphere were made by the “silent people” who don’t make headlines and therefore don’t matter much; they are essential at some level but inconsequential in the sweep of things.

To Carlyle, nothing was sillier than Adam Smith’s pin factory: all those regular people intricately organized by impersonal forces to make something practical to improve people’s lives. Why should society’s productive capacity be devoted to making pins instead of making war? Where is the romance in that?

Carlyle established himself as the arch-opponent of liberalism — heaping an unrelenting and seething disdain on Smith and his disciples. And what should replace liberalism? What ideology? It didn’t matter, so long as it embodied Carlyle’s definition of “greatness.”

No Greatness Like the Nation-State

Of course there is no greatness to compare with that of the head of the nation-state.

“The Commander over Men; he to whose will our wills are to be subordinated, and loyally surrender themselves, and find their welfare in doing so, may be reckoned the most important of Great Men. He is practically the summary for us of all the various figures of Heroism; Priest, Teacher, whatsoever of earthly or of spiritual dignity we can fancy to reside in a man, embodies itself here, to command over us, to furnish us with constant practical teaching, to tell us for the day and hour what we are to do.”

Why the nation-state? Because within the nation-state, all that is otherwise considered immoral, illegal, unseemly, and ghastly, can become, as blessed by the law, part of policy, civic virtue, and the forward motion of history. The leader of the nation-state baptizes rampant immorality with the holy water of consensus. And thus does Napoleon come in for high praise from Carlyle, in addition to the tribal chieftains of Nordic mythology. The point is not what the “great man” does with his power so much as that he exercises it decisively, authoritatively, ruthlessly.

The exercise of such power necessarily requires the primacy of the nation-state, and hence the protectionist and nativist impulses of the fascist mindset.

Consider the times in which Carlyle wrote. Power was on the wane, and humankind was in the process of discovering something absolutely remarkable: namely, the less society is controlled from the top, the more the people thrive in their private endeavors. Society needs no management but rather contains within itself the capacity for self organization, not through the exercise of the human will as such, but by having the right institutions in place. Such was the idea of liberalism.

Liberalism was always counterintuitive. The less society is ordered, the more order emerges from the ground up. The freer people are permitted to be, the happier the people become and the more meaning they find in the course of life itself. The less power that is given to the ruling class, the more wealth is created and dispersed among everyone. The less a nation is directed by conscious design, the more it can provide a model of genuine greatness.

Such teachings emerged from the liberal revolution of the previous two centuries. But some people (mostly academics and would-be rulers) weren’t having it. On the one hand, the socialists would not tolerate what they perceived to be the seeming inequality of the emergent commercial society. On the other hand, the advocates of old-fashioned ruling-class control, such as Carlyle and his proto-fascist contemporaries, longed for a restoration of pre-modern despotism, and devoted their writings to extolling a time before the ideal of universal freedom appeared in the world.

The Dismal Science

One of the noblest achievements of the liberal revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries — in addition to the idea of free trade — was the movement against slavery and its eventual abolition. It should not surprise anyone that Carlyle was a leading opponent of the abolitionist movement and a thoroughgoing racist. He extolled the rule of one race over another, and resented especially the economists for being champions of universal rights and therefore opponents of slavery.

As David Levy has demonstrated, the claim that economics was a “dismal science” was first stated in an essay by Carlyle in 1848, an essay in which non-whites were claimed to be non-human and worthy of killing. Blacks were, to his mind, “two-legged cattle,” worthy of servitude for all times.

Carlyle’s objection to economics as a science was very simple: it opposed slavery. Economics imagined that society could consist of people of equal freedoms, a society without masters and slaves. Supply and demand, not dictators, would rule. To him, this was a dismal prospect, a world without “greatness.”

The economists were the leading champions of human liberation from such “greatness.” They understood, through the study of market forces and the close examination of the on-the-ground reality of factories and production structures, that wealth was made by the small actions of men and women acting in their own self interest. Therefore, concluded the economists, people should be free of despotism. They should be free to accumulate wealth. They should pursue their own interests in their own way. They should be let alone.

Carlyle found the whole capitalist worldview disgusting. His loathing foreshadowed the fascism of the 20th century: particularly its opposition to liberal capitalism, universal rights, and progress.

Fascism’s Prophet

Once you get a sense of what capitalism meant to humanity – universal liberation and the turning of social resources toward the service of the common person – it is not at all surprising to find reactionary intellectuals opposing it tooth and nail. There were generally two schools of thought that stood in opposition to what it meant to the world: the socialists and the champions of raw power that later came to be known as fascists. In today’s parlance, here is the left and the right, both standing in opposition to simple freedom.

Carlyle came along at just the right time to represent that reactionary brand of power for its own sake. His opposition to emancipation and writings on race would emerge only a few decades later into a complete ideology of eugenics that would later come to heavily inform 20th-century fascist experiments. There is a direct line, traversing only a few decades, between Carlyle’s vehement anti-capitalism and the ghettos and gas chambers of the German total state.

Do today’s neo-fascists understand and appreciate their 19th century progenitor? Not likely. The continuum from Carlyle to Mussolini to Franco to Donald Trump is lost on people who do not see beyond the latest political crisis. Not one in ten thousand activists among the European and American “alt-right” who are rallying around would-be strong men who seek power today have a clue about their intellectual heritage.

Hitler turned to Goebbels, his trusted assistant, and asked for a final reading. It was Carlyle.And it should not be necessary that they do. After all, we have a more recent history of the rise of fascism in the 20th-century from which to learn (and it is to their everlasting disgrace that they have refused to learn).

But no one should underestimate the persistence of an idea and its capacity to travel time, leading to results that no one intended directly but are still baked into the fabric of the ideological structure. If you celebrate power for its own sake, herald immorality as a civic ideal, and believe that history rightly consists of nothing more than the brutality of great men with power, you end up with unconscionable results that may not have been overtly intended but which were nonetheless given license by the absence of conscience opposition.

As time went on, left and right mutated, merged, diverged, and established a revolving door between the camps, disagreeing on the ends they sought but agreeing on the essentials. They would have opposed 19th-century liberalism and its conviction that society should be left alone. Whether they were called socialist or fascists, the theme was the same. Society must be planned from the top down. A great man — brilliant, powerful, with massive resources at his disposal — must lead. At some point in the middle of the 20th century, it became difficult to tell the difference but for their cultural style and owned constituencies. Even so, left and right maintained distinctive forms. If Marx was the founding father of the socialist left, Carlyle was his foil on the fascist right.

Hitler and Carlyle

In his waning days, defeated and surrounded only by loyalists in his bunker, Hitler sought consolation from the literature he admired the most. According to many biographers, the following scene took place. Hitler turned to Goebbels, his trusted assistant, and asked for a final reading. The words he chose to hear before his death were from Thomas Carlyle’s biography of Frederick the Great. Thus did Carlyle himself provide a fitting epitaph to one of the “great” men he so celebrated during his life: alone, disgraced, and dead.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. 

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Drafting Women Means Equality in Slavery – Article by Ron Paul

Drafting Women Means Equality in Slavery – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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Last week the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring women to register with Selective Service. This means that if Congress ever brings back the draft, women will be forcibly sent to war.

The amendment is a response to the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat. Supporters of drafting women point out that the ban on women in combat was the reason the Supreme Court upheld a male-only draft. Therefore, they argue, it is only logical to now force women to register for Selective Service. Besides, supporters of extending the draft point out, not all draftees are sent into combat.

Most of those who opposed drafting women did so because they disagreed with women being eligible for combat positions, not because they opposed the military draft. Few, if any, in Congress are questioning the morality, constitutionality, and necessity of Selective Service registration. Thus, this debate is just another example of how few of our so-called “representatives” actually care about our liberty.

Some proponents of a military draft justify it as “payback” for the freedom the government provides its citizens. Those who make this argument are embracing the collectivist premise that since our rights come from government, the government can take away those rights whether it suits their purposes. Thus supporters of the draft are turning their backs on the Declaration of Independence.

While opposition to the draft is seen as a progressive or libertarian position, many conservatives, including Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and Robert Taft, where outspoken opponents of conscription. Unfortunately, the militarism that has led so many conservatives astray in foreign policy has also turned many of them into supporters of mandatory Selective Service registration. Yet many of these same conservatives strongly and correctly oppose mandatory gun registration. In a free society you should never have to register your child or your gun.

Sadly, some opponents of the warfare state, including some libertarians, support the draft on the grounds that a draft would cause a mass uprising against the warfare state. Proponents of this view point to the draft’s role in galvanizing opposition to the Vietnam War. This argument ignores that fact that it took several years and the deaths of thousands of American draftees for the anti-Vietnam War movement to succeed.

A variation on this argument is that drafting women will cause an antiwar backlash as Americans recoil form the idea of forcing mothers into combat. But does anyone think the government would draft mothers with young children?

Reinstating the draft will not diminish the war party’s influence as long as the people continue to believe the war propaganda fed to them by the military-industrial complex’s media echo chamber. Changing the people’s attitude toward the warfare state and its propaganda organs is the only way to return to a foreign policy of peace and commerce with all.

Even if the draft could serve as a check on the warfare state, those who support individual liberty should still oppose it. Libertarians who support violating individual rights to achieve a political goal, even a goal as noble as peace, undermine their arguments against non-aggression and thus discredit both our movement, and, more importantly, our philosophy.

A military draft is one of – if not the – worst violations of individual rights committed by modern governments. The draft can also facilitate the growth of the warfare state by lowing the cost of militarism. All those who value peace, prosperity, and liberty must place opposition to the draft at the top of their agenda.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

The Status of Slavery Prior to the American Civil War (2006) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The Status of Slavery Prior to the American Civil War (2006) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 26, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2006 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 6,000 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  ***
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 26, 2014
***

The Declaration of Independence holds it a self-evident truth that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” At the time of the American Founding, however, this proclamation of the desirability of unalienable rights for all men was clearly inconsistent with the enslavement of an entire race of men in the Southern states.

The Founders, recognizing the tension, deliberately omitted mention of the word “slavery” in the Constitution so as not to give the impression that the Constitution explicitly championed the practice, instead of tolerating it as a necessary evil. Where slaves were mentioned, as in the slave importation clause, the fugitive slave clause, the three-fifth clause, and Article V, they were euphemistically referred to as “other persons,” implying that the Founders did unequivocally recognize the slaves’ humanity.

Both Abraham Lincoln in his speech on the Dred Scott decision in 1857 and John Calhoun, in his 1838 speech on the issue, give the same account of the Founders’ views on slavery; while slavery could be tolerated for the time being as a necessary evil, the Founders expected and wanted it to eventually die out. The Founders were willing to allow slavery to persist where it already was so as not to engender disunity and political fractiousness, but they also endeavored to obstruct its spread-for example through the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which forbade slavery in the Northwest territories. The first act of the U. S. Congress was to reaffirm this Ordinance and its prohibition. While Lincoln and Calhoun hold diametrically opposite views as to slavery’s desirability, their accounts of the Founders’ views are extremely similar.

Lincoln and Calhoun also both recognize the change in public opinion of African-Americans and slavery since the Founding. For Calhoun, the Founders’ toleration of slavery as a necessary evil had given way to the desirable perception of slavery as a positive good. Lincoln mentions that two of the five states where African-Americans originally had the right to vote had since taken that right away; at the time of the Founding, there were no legal restrictions on masters’ abilities to emancipate their slaves, but since then it has become virtually impossible for masters to do so.

Furthermore, many state constitutions had been amended to prohibit even the state legislatures from abolishing slavery. Moreover, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which forbade the extension of slavery north of the 36◦30′ line, was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, sponsored by Stephen Douglas and based on the principle of “popular sovereignty,” i.e., allowing the residents of a territory to choose whether to open the territory to slavery. The act allowed slavery to be entertained in territories from which it had hitherto been strictly excluded.

In these ways, the condition of slaves in the United States actually worsened prior to the Civil War; thinkers on both sides of the issue acknowledged this and saw the need for action either to decisively strike back against slavery or to entrench it permanently. The seeds of armed conflict had been sown.

The Constitution and Sectional Discord in the 1850s (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The Constitution and Sectional Discord in the 1850s (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 20, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published in four parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 3,700 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  ***
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 20, 2014
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The 1850s were a time of intense escalation for a sectional conflict between the free-labor-based, industrial North and the slavery-based agrarian South. In this controversy, both sides claimed sanction for their point of view and vision of America’s political future from the country’s founding document, the Constitution. Thus, the nature of the highest law of the land turned it from a cohesive force into fuel for the coming clash between the North and South. The contents of and the omissions in the Constitution, as well as the greatly varying interpretations thereof, brought about this state of affairs.
***

Multiple interpretations of the Constitution that fed into the crisis of the 1850s had existed since 1798, when Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions proclaimed that the Constitution and the Federal Government were the products of a compact amongst the states, and that the Federal Government’s legislation possessed no legitimate connection to the interests of the people unless verified by more direct representatives thereof (Norton 225).

This was the origin of the powerful new doctrine of States’ Rights, which Southern politicians would develop over the course of the next 63 years. During the Nullification Crisis of 1832, John Calhoun and other leading South Carolina politicians argued that a state had the right to overturn federal legislation, such as a deleterious tariff, which was passed without that state’s consent (Norton 383).

Following the immense territorial gains of the Mexican War, the issue of States’ Rights in the context of the status of slavery in the new territories gained even greater prominence. Lewis Cass, Democratic Presidential candidate in 1848, proposed the doctrine of popular sovereignty to enable the residents of a given territory to decide whether or not to institute slavery in the territory and in the state that it would become. Cass’s argument hinged on the notion that Congress did not have the Constitutional authority to legislate slavery in the territories (Norton 402).

Already this philosophy conflicted with a sentiment emerging in the North and expressed in the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, which sought Congressional action for the abolition of slavery from all territories gained from Mexico (Norton 400). By 1850, old political safeguards, such as the Missouri Compromise, which were designed to quell any discord in regard to the issue of slavery’s status in new territories, had begun to atrophy as the Compromise of 1850 legislated for California’s admission as a free state and the extension of slave status to territories such as Utah, which were North of the Missouri Compromise line (Norton 405).

During the 1850s, the safeguards to the relative stability of the Union during prior decades steadily began to crumble. The Compromise of 1850 sparked hostility from abolitionists, free blacks, and an increasing number of moderate Northerners via the enactment of a draconian Fugitive Slave Act. Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 dealt the death blow to the Missouri Compromise by outright annulling it and granting the residents of the Kansas and Nebraska territories the ability to decide the status of slavery therein by popular vote.

What resulted was a state of quasi-war known as “Bleeding Kansas,” in which over 200 people were murdered on both sides and dishonest election practices were rampant (Norton 413). In 1857, the Supreme Court itself addressed the issue of the Constitution in the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, ruling essentially that black Americans were not citizens of the United States and that Congress had no power to bar slavery from the territories (Norton 415). This ruling, along with the presence of a majority of Southern judges on the Court indicated that not even this ideally impartial body was exempt from the regional struggle.

The Constitution, indeed, was not a perfect a document, and some of the words and concepts therein left the political stage open to the enmity between the advocates of freedom and the slaveholders. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote that, although the Constitution did not contain explicit mention of the words “slave” or “slavery,” it did implicitly and deliberately seek to legitimize the institution. Euphemisms such as “other persons” were used in the text, and the three-fifths clause, which counted every slave as three-fifths of a state’s inhabitant, entrenched the status of the slave as an inferior and inherently different being in the eyes of the law.

In addition, via the promise to aid states in the event of “domestic violence,” the Constitution could be interpreted to mandate Congress to suppress slave revolts (Norton 203). Such facts permitted Garrison to chastise the Constitution as an instrument of an oppressive government that violated the liberties naturally attributable to every man.

Abolitionists grew increasingly enraged in regard to the Constitution’s treatment of a slave as three-fifths of a person and the South’s disproportionate representation in the House of Representatives as a result.

To be fair, however, an alternate interpretation of the Constitution’s mentions of slavery can be argued. It was precisely because the Founders recognized the incompatibility of slavery with individual rights and wished to see its eventual extinction that they omitted any explicit references to slaves and instead unequivocally acknowledged them to be “persons.” Furthermore, the three-fifths compromise can be seen as a political necessity during the Union’s formation – as without it, there would have been little chance of getting Southern states to consent to the Constitution.

During the 1850s, while the Abolitionists in the North condemned the U. S. Constitution for its alleged support of slavery, Southern planters employed the Constitution’s perceived implicit sanction of slavery in order to claim protected or at least inviolable status for the practice.

An anonymous Georgian wrote in “Plain Words for the North” that the Constitution had recognized slavery where it existed and, since men from such regions had been pivotal in assuring the expansion of the United States into new territories, they should possess a voice in determining slavery’s status. If slaves were indeed property, as the Georgian claimed the Constitution to acknowledge, then it would be a grave injustice for Congress to prevent their mobility into land partly gained by the efforts of the slaveholders.

In the meantime, the Constitution itself did not in fact conclusively and unequivocally recognize slavery’s right to exist, as even slavery proponents like President James Buchanan seemed to recognize. In a message to Congress, Buchanan proposed an “explanatory amendment” assuring the perpetuation of slavery and reinforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. The fact that a similar clause was not present within the original document, along with the absence of a contrary clause abolishing slavery, indicated that the Constitution was ambiguous on the subject and open to a range of conflicting interpretations.

These conflicting interpretations of the Constitution further exacerbated the situation. Confederate President Jefferson Davis developed the argument of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions to its extreme and proposed that because the Constitution was a “compact between independent states” and because the process of amendment ratification heavily emphasized state sovereignty, the individual states maintained the ultimate authority to secede from the Union when they no longer deemed the compact advantageous.

Abraham Lincoln, expressing a diametrically opposite view, declared that no state had ever existed as a sovereign entity outside of the Union and that only by virtue of the national Constitution, formed within the framework of a federal Union, could the states claim whatever rights they possessed. By Lincoln’s analysis of the Constitution, States’ Rights could not be but subordinate to the federal authority that engendered them.

Both Lincoln and Davis harbored a fundamental respect for the Constitution, but their irreconcilable interpretations thereof helped establish them as the leaders of the opposing sides in the upcoming war. Ultimately, the “proper” interpretation of the Constitution on this issue would be settled by force and by blood.

In the North during the 1850s, many Americans perceived slavery as an inherent violation of the individual liberties that the Constitution was supposed to represent. The cartoon “Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Free-Soiler” dramatized this sentiment by depicting Democratic politicians shoving a slave into the mouth of a resisting free man who cries “Murder!”

Forcing_SlaveryMany Northerners feared that integrating free citizens and slaveholders was another ploy by the Slave Power, a Southern oligarchy bent on extending its domain over the entirety of the United States, intending ultimately to send even the free men of the North into tyranny by unconstitutionally silencing criticism of their actions via such measures as the Gag Rule of 1836, which automatically tabled abolitionist petitions brought before Congress (Norton 400).

But no measure demonstrated the reality of the Slave Power’s existence more than the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which epitomized the Southern planters’ interpretation of the Constitution.

Chief Justice Roger Taney stated in a burst of historical ignorance that the Founding Fathers had never intended for black men to achieve equal status with the white population of the United States. Moreover, having won on the issue of popular sovereignty in the territories, the Southerners, with Taney as their spokesperson, were no longer content with the mere allowance of choice in the territories. Taney’s ruling amounted to an outright protection of slavery in the territories by barring Congress from limiting its spread (Norton 415).

If this were the true nature of the Constitution, then an increasing number of Northerners could not hope for it to preserve any semblance of liberty in the Union. Ruling on Dred Scott’s status as a slave, the Decision clothed the Fugitive Slave Act in Constitutional “justification” by affirming that presence in a free state did not free a slave.

Dred Scott also gave credence to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s association of Constitutional sanction with the Fugitive Slave Act when he denounced it in 1851. Emerson recognized the blatant immorality of legislation that would grant legal protection to the kidnapping of free black men and escaped slaves alike and would result in suicide for a country that deemed itself the home of freedom. Indeed, with laws and interpretations such as these, the conflict between the Northern and Southern ways of life was irreconcilable and could only erupt in blood.

South Carolina’s secession in December of 1860 set in motion the Southern interpretation of a Constitution dominated by States’ Rights, while the resulting Civil War and Lincoln’s use of 2.3 million federal troops to forcefully reunite the country demonstrated the Northern view which justified use of central authority on the grounds of national unity and individual liberty (Norton 461).

Ironically, the secession of the South permitted Northern Republicans to employ Congressional legislation (and the absence of Southern opposition) as a means to firmly establishing their own interpretation of the Constitution.

In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, assuring that slavery would exist no more and ending the dispute over its status in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 guaranteed that all men born or naturalized in the United States were citizens of their respective states and entitled to inalienable individual rights, thus overturning the Dred Scott Decision. Despite the fact that the contents, omissions, and possibilities for opposing interpretations within the Constitution greatly fueled the discord of the 1850s, the document was ultimately perfectible through the amendment process to the extent of assuring a just resolution to the ideological facet of the nation’s greatest inter-regional conflict.

Source

Norton, Katzman, et. al. A People and a Nation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Donate today to the fundraiser to Help Teach 1000 Kids That Death is Wrong.

References
Death is Wrong on Amazon
* Paperback version
* Kindle version
Death is Wrong Official Home Page

– “Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Liberty Through Long Life” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Life Extension and Risk Aversion” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware” – Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald – The Intercept – March 12, 2014
– “Longevity Escape Velocity” – Wikipedia
SENS Research Foundation
Movement for Indefinite Life Extension Facebook Page

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 14, 2014
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Do you wish to actually live in a free society, rather than just ponder what one would be like? For some, the desire to live in liberty is so strong that they would echo Patrick Henry’s immortal words, “Give me liberty or give me death!” More than just those words should be immortal; in fact, you should be. Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Death is Wrong is my new children’s book on indefinite life extension, beautifully illustrated by my wife Wendy Stolyarov.  The book is an educational primer which presents, in a concise, accessible manner the philosophical desirability and scientific feasibility of lifting the upper limit on human lifespans through the application of science and medical technology. We are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo fundraiser to spread this book to 1000 children, free of cost to them.  Death is Wrong does not take any political positions and does not advocate specifically for libertarianism, since we seek to focus on life extension in the book and to attract as universal a base of support as possible. It is certainly feasible to hold almost any political persuasion and to advocate the radical extension of human lifespans. Yet I, as a libertarian, see the defeat of senescence through medical progress to be an indispensable component to achieving liberty.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

The U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that humans have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the right to life is a negative right – the right not to have others infringe on one’s life – it is nonetheless indisputable that the positive condition of life is the prerequisite for the exercise of any kind of liberty and the pursuit of any kind of happiness. If one is dead, there is nothing – no choice, no growth, no self-actualization – and not even a memory of any past deed or previous fulfillment of one’s goals. Without life, liberty is impossible, and yet biological decay propels us all toward the loss of the very potential for liberty. Death obliterates everything: our precious individual universes, full of sensations, insights, thoughts, and aspirations are forever snuffed out, deprived of the possibility of ever fulfilling any goal or actualizing any ideal.

In “Liberty Through Long Life” – written in April 2013 – I described the possibilities for improving the prospects of liberty just on the horizon, facilitated by accelerating technological progress – from emerging methods of online education to cryptocurrencies to seasteading and space colonization. I explained that libertarians should want to live as long as possible in order to see and benefit from the fruits of these tremendous innovations.

Just two months after I wrote “Liberty Through Long Life”, most of us in the Western world found out just how unfree we truly were. Especially in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency and its counterparts in many Western countries are spying indiscriminately on hundreds of millions of innocents, it has become apparent that the political struggle for liberty in today’s climate has encountered barriers that appear, at present, virtually insurmountable. I am not referring to failure to achieve the libertarian political ideal or even a directional approach toward such an ideal – despite the ardent, passionate, unquestionably dedicated work that activists for liberty have done during and between the past several election cycles. The situation today is worse than that. Even abolishing the Orwellian spying apparatus and penalizing those officials who concealed and then endorsed it appears to be seen as out of the question by the political elite, no matter how great the pressure from the public and how completely useless the mass spying has turned out to be. More than ten months after Snowden’s revelations, all of the powerful people who orchestrated the mass surveillance remain in their offices, and Snowden is a fugitive in Russia. Now it has even been disclosed that the NSA has devised programs to harvest data from private hard drives, webcams, and microphones by infecting personal computers with malware in mass. Can we expect to see an end to what we would have, just one year ago, considered an unimaginably intimate surveillance – or, more likely, will the gatekeepers of the current political order assemble all of their power in the effort to perpetuate it? Achieving mere non-perversity – not to mention liberty – as an immutable principle for contemporary Western political arrangements to follow, would appear to be a Herculean task.

Yet I do not intend to undermine hope. Eventually the world improves, and old oppressions dwindle away. Yet “eventually” can be a long time. It took millennia to put an end to the legal institution of slavery, and during the early 18th century it seemed firmly rooted in the Western world. Yet forward-thinking outliers – from the Quakers to the Enlightenment philosophes – recognized its depravity and articulated the moral case for abolition back when slave labor seemed to be inextricably integrated into the most influential economies and systems of production. William Lloyd Garrison, the great 19th-century abolitionist, recognized that the push to end slavery as soon as possible was necessary to see it ended at all. He wrote, “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” [1] Slavery was ultimately abolished through a long sequence of often highly sub-optimal steps – but, were it not for the uncompromising immediate abolitionism of people like Garrison, it might not have been abolished at all, or at least would have been abolished much later. If we argue for liberty today, it will still likely take decades of the most ardent advocacy and activism to undo the harms caused by ongoing and escalating infringements of every natural and constitutional right of even the most law-abiding citizens. Therefore, while I support every effort – conventional or radically innovative – to move our societies and governments in the direction of liberty, it is essential to recognize that the success of such efforts will take an immense amount of time. If you do not remain alive during that time, then you will die without having known true liberty.

Yet we should urge not just the immediate abolition of oppression – but also of death itself. The forward-thinking outliers today – thinkers in the transhumanist and life-extension movements – recognize that transitioning from today’s medical system to one in which humans could achieve longevity escape velocity – where every year lived increases life expectancy by more than one year – will likely take decades of the most dedicated efforts in research and advocacy. Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation, one of the foremost advocates of indefinite life extension, thinks that there exists a 50% chance of reaching longevity escape velocity in 25 years, with adequate funding. Yet, in order to catalyze the culture to embrace, or at least not oppose, the research projects and medical therapies needed, the sentiment that the abolition of death for innocent humans is desirable yesterday is imperative. This is a sentiment with which libertarians can find a close kinship, for they know well the desire for liberty to be here yesterday. This does not mean that we should forsake long-term plans or disdain incremental improvement in lifespans or medical treatments. Quite the contrary, the achievement of the great goal of preserving each innocent life will be made out of a long sequence of such incremental improvements that will save an increasing proportion of people with each new feat of progress. But we should also strive to greatly accelerate progress in biogerontological research and medicine, so that the breakthroughs can come in time to save us and those whom we cherish.

Educating the next generation to work with full dedication toward both liberty and immensely longer lifespans is a key component of this new abolitionism of the 21st century. Every bit of liberty achieved for medical innovators and cutting-edge researchers in biotechnology and nanotechnology will be a boon to the rate of progress. Every bit of lifespan extension will give activists for liberty more time to reverse Western political systems’ gallop toward totalitarianism, or to develop innovative workarounds that bypass the political systems altogether. Death is Wrong breaks with the prevalent traditional approaches of teaching children about death – approaches which either attempt to justify death through arguments that devalue the moral worth of human life entirely, or else endeavor to persuade children to resign themselves to an inevitable if regrettable end and to fill their time with other pursuits to get the thought of death out of their minds.  Instead, the book confronts the predicament of human mortality head on and shows young readers that death is neither insurmountable nor just; instead, it can be defeated, albeit with great effort. My hope is that enough young minds will be motivated by Death is Wrong to acquire the skill sets in science, philosophy, and advocacy needed to accelerate the arrival of indefinite longevity. More generally, I hope that the book will challenge children to break from conventional packages of thinking and engage every single idea critically and actively, eventually arriving at practical and moral worldviews based on principles that correspond to reality rather than the surrounding majority opinion.

Every day approximately 150,000 humans die throughout the world – 100,000 of them from diseases of senescence. Every day by which we can hasten the arrival of indefinite longevity, at least 100,000 precious individual universes will be preserved and will be able to join us in contributing their ideas and actions toward a free, just, humane society that respects and protects the rights of every individual. The contribution of indefinite life extension to human survival rates will likely even be beyond the gains reached solely due to medical progress. As I explained in “Life Extension and Risk Aversion”, the longer people’s lifespans and time horizons become, the more conscientiously they will seek to avoid or diminish physical hazards that could deprive them of hundreds or thousands of years of expected life. Exceptionally long-lived humans will work with far more intensity to reduce the prevalence of accidents, infections, natural disasters, crimes, wars, and – yes – politically motivated physical harm. A society comprised of such young supercentenarians would quickly become one of libertarians.

Libertarians can help by joining the movement for indefinite life extension and supporting the fundraiser to spread Death is Wrong to 1000 children – the next generation whose work may well enable us all to live in true liberty one day. May we have liberty – and defeat death!

[1] Quoted in William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, eds., The Antislavery Argument (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. xxxv.

How Will Religions Respond to Indefinite Life Extension? – Article by G. Stolyarov II

How Will Religions Respond to Indefinite Life Extension? – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 25, 2013
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I was asked, on a recent Immortal Life discussion/debate thread to address the question of whether religions would become obsolete in an era of indefinite human life extension.

This is another topic on which I created a video in early 2012 – “Religion and Indefinite Life Extension”.

To summarize, in my (atheistic) view, religions are generally not animating forces of societal change. Rather, they tend to be barometers of prevailing attitudes approximately one generation in the past. Often, religions get dragged along into making progress by intellectual developments outside religion – in the same way that, as a result of the 18th-century Enlightenment, various Christian denominations gradually transitioned away from providing Biblical justifications for slavery and toward denouncing slavery on Christian grounds. The impetus for this transformation was the rise of ideas of reason, individualism, and natural rights – not the doctrines of the Christian religion.

I suspect that there will be a broad spectrum of responses among various religious denominations and their followers to the prospect of indefinite life extension, once most people begin to see it as within their individual grasp. In Christianity, on the cutting edge will be those Christians who interpret the message of the resurrection (a literal resurrection in the flesh, according to actual Christian doctrine) to be compatible with transhumanist technologies. (We already see the beginnings of forward-thinking interpretations of religion with the Mormon Transhumanists.) On the other hand, the more staid, dogmatic, ossified religious denominations and sects will try to resist technological change vigorously, and will not be above attempting to hold the entire world’s progress back, merely to make their own creeds more convincing to their followers. Historically, religions have served two primary societal roles: (1) to form a justification for the existing social order and (2) to assuage people’s fears of death. The first role has atrophied over time in societies with religious freedom. The second role will also diminish as radical life extension in this world becomes a reality. Religions do evolve, though, and the interpretations of religion that ultimately prevail will (I hope) be the more peaceful, humane, and progress-friendly ones. At the same time, proportions of non-religious people in all populations will rise, as has been the trend already.