A few items rattling their way through my brain. Time to get rid of these.
We have seen statues come down, statues not only of slaveholders (which would require the removal of most statues around the world of anyone born before around 1830 and a few born since), but statues of those who worked to free slaves and those who were slaves. The point isn’t slavery; the point is history.
As many have noted, and I have recently written about, a nation without a story is not a nation. This is the endgame of removing all statues – more accurately, removing the symbols that reflect the history of the nation. Who does this benefit? If we can judge by the people who are tearing down the statues, it doesn’t benefit what might be described as civil society.
I have done my own share of tearing down statues, so to speak. Call it revisionist history. My contribution is meager compared to many who have done the same. I wonder: what is different about what I have done compared to what is done when statues are torn down?
I guess I would say: my work was with the aim of exposing false narratives in our history, of giving some evidence in history that would alter the narrative. It strikes me that such work can only help strengthen the nation by placing its history on firmer footing; it can strengthen the nation by properly reflecting on and recognizing its past sins.
But is this just rationalization on my part? Is this not what today’s (physical) revisionists would say?
This got me to thinking: a nation whose official historical narrative is compiled of many lies might inherently be headed down the road of its statues being torn down. Building a narrative of lie upon lie merely opens the door for those who wish to question the foundation – and rightly so, it seems to me.
We read in Proverbs 19: 5 “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Perhaps tearing down statues is America’s comeuppance for building one false narrative on top of the other.
Anyway, returning to my question: what’s the difference of the work I have done vs. the tearing down of the statues today? I guess I can say my work was in search of truth – open to someone revising what I described; the physical revisionists are only able to tear down, regardless of narrative: slaveowner, slave trader, abolitionist, or slave. It is a task solely of destruction, with no attempt at leaving truth in its wake.
Such as these are not facing history honestly. I guess, ultimately, this is the difference of my work and theirs. Whether I am furthering truth or not is the task of the next revisionist to decide. But approaching it honestly? I believe so.
Why didn’t I cheer on CHAZ or CHOP or whatever name they wanted to use? Three years or so ago, Catalunya was voting on secession. I wrote then, and have written since: cheer on every opportunity for secession; if those in the seceding group do not wish to secede, then support their secession from this group.
So, why not cheer on CHAZ? What’s different? I guess I can answer it with a quote from Jeff Deist, writing at the time of the vote in Spain:
For libertarians, self-determination is the highest political end. In political terms, self-determination is liberty. In an ideal world, self-determination extends all the way to the individual, who enjoys complete political sovereignty over his or her life. The often misused term for this degree of complete self-determination is anarchy.
So, first there is the question of self-determination.
In an imperfect world, however, libertarians should support smaller and more decentralized governments as a pragmatic step toward greater liberty. Our goal should be to devolve political power whenever possible, making states less powerful and easier to avoid. Barcelona is less ominous than Madrid. The Legislature in a US state is less fearsome than Congress in Washington DC.
It seems correct to me – ever-smaller levels of government bring governmental leaders closer to the community, and give those in the community more opportunities to find a situation better suited to their preferences. But this only works to advance liberty if the higher governmental institution does not continue usurping life and property from those who have now seceded. So this is a second consideration.
But then we have this line:
Street gangs are bad, but they can be avoided in ways Uncle Sam cannot.
So, why did I not cheer on the street gang in Seattle as I did the secessionists in Catalunya? I guess for a few reasons – and I suspect Deist would concur: first, it is not clear that there was any “self-determination” by those who lived and worked and owned businesses in the district on this matter; from what I can understand, it was kind of the opposite. Maybe I am wrong one this.
Second, the higher levels of government didn’t leave those inside alone: still obligated for taxes, still obligated to the laws (well, not the armed thugs, but those whose homes and businesses were destroyed). The only way that these people were left alone was in the only function the higher entity owed them: defense of life and property.
Which brings me to the third reason: until we come to a stateless society, should we not expect those in government and authority to do their jobs? By “jobs,” I don’t mean spying and flying drones over wedding parties and the like. I mean protect life and property – the only proper role of a government if there is to be a government. This clearly didn’t happen in Seattle. In fact, it was the opposite.
Those looting and destroying were left free by the government that was supposed to protect from such thuggery. Imagine what would happen if a private citizen-victim of these looters did the government’s job in the stead of those who had the obligation. This defender of his property would have been the one sent to the gallows.
So, I guess my point is this: this event in Seattle was no secession. It was a militarized invasion, with those responsible for defense abandoning their duty while leaving illegal the possibility of defense by those whose property and lives were jeopardized. Which brings me to…
Pulling the Plug
Would libertarians be happy with pulling the plug on the existing state structures, confident that freedom would then ring – that eventually things would work out? Working through this question in the past is one of the reasons I concluded that a proper cultural foundation is necessary before one can consider anything like liberty – or consider anything like pulling the plug.
If I was a resident in the CHAZ district of Seattle, I suspect I would feel even more confident of this view than I did before.
In the absence of my free ability to properly defend my property (as all legal risk and all laws are against those who will do so), and in the absence of my ability to secure the services of a private and competing defense agency (which would be cost prohibitive for many reasons and would also open me up to the liabilities of a criminal), what are we to do with today’s police? Defund them? Spit on them?
I suggest we start by reducing the number of laws on the books – eliminate all laws against non-violent offenses. Second, demilitarize; almost every department has SWAT teams and the like that are supplied like military invaders of Afghanistan.
After that, we can talk about defunding the police.