A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Individualism’ Category

Individual Morality and Consequences

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As a radical individuals I don’t subscribe to the idea of objective morality. If such a thing as objective morality existed, the human race would have had no choice by to agree with each on the matter. But if you ask 10 individuals to describe their beliefs of what is moral and what is immoral, you’ll likely hear 10 different systems of morality.

When I express my disbelief in objective morality, especially to libertarians, I’m usually met with a lengthy explanation of how a world without objective morality would devolved into a world of murder, rape, and pillage. It’s the same argument Christians often make against atheists. Without a belief in God, they believe people will just murder, rape, and pillage. However, people who make these arguments make two mistakes. First, they assume that all morality must be established by an outside force. Second, they believe morality and consequences are interchangeable.

My disbelief in objective morality doesn’t mean I don’t have a system of morals. As I noted above, if you ask 10 individuals to describe their moral beliefs, you’re likely to get 10 different answers. Each of those individuals will express a system of morality to you, indicating that they do have an established system of morality, but disagree on the definitions of moral and immoral. They will disagree on the definitions precisely because they have established their own system. While their system may be heavily influenced by outside forces, such as philosophy, it is a system unique to them. I, for example, have a self-defined system of morality. While I think that it’s a pretty good system and the world would be a better place if everybody lived by it, I have no way to prove objectively that it is a good system and the world would be a better place if everybody lived by it.

The second failure objective moralists often fall into is treating morality and consequences as interchangeable concepts. While an absence of a moral system may give an individual the excuse to murder, rape, and pillage, they very well might avoid performing those actions because they realize doing so could lead to severe consequences. If you try to murder or rape somebody, they might kill you in self-defense. If you try to pillage a neighborhood, the people living there might kill you in self-defense. Even if you managed to get away with such actions, somebody is likely to search for you or hire somebody to search for you so that their idea of justice can be exacted. Even sociopaths tend to understand that actions have consequences and that can often regulate their behavior.

Socialists and libertarians strongly disagree on what constitutes morality. Even though they disagree on morality they can often live together in relative peace. Why? Because they both recognize that their actions have consequences. If a socialist tries to appropriate a libertarian’s means of production, the libertarian might use violence to dissuade the socialist. Likewise, if a libertarian decides that a group of socialists is a threat to their private property and attempts to use violence against them, the socialists may respond with violence of their own.

Just because somebody doesn’t believe in objective morality, or morality of any kind, doesn’t mean they’re going to murder, rape, and pillage.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

What I Need Is None of Your Business

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I was involved in yet another debate about gun control that lead to the inevitable question of why I need and AR-15. This has to be one of the most entitle and pointless questions one can ask.

First, where do they get off thinking that they’re in a position where I have to justify anything to them? Nobody has declared them emperor as far as I know.

Second, why does it matter? Humans need food, water, clothing, and shelter to survive. Beyond that everything else is a luxury. You don’t need a television, cell phone, couch, bed, etc. They’re damned nice to have but you won’t die with out them. So asking why somebody else needs something is pointless because need is obviously not a criteria for legality.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Using Politics is Akin to Using Astrology to Solve a Physics Problem

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According to gun control advocates we have a gun problem. Gun rights advocates have been rebutting their opponent’s claim by claiming that we have a mental health problem. Who the hell is this “we” they’re both talking about? I have neither a gun nor a mental health problem.

The biggest problem with political debates is that they rely on collectivism. Collectivism is a concept that exists solely in our heads, it doesn’t exist in the real world. Each individual is a unique entity. Just because they share some common traits with other individuals doesn’t mean they are like those individuals. If membership in a group controlled an individual’s actions, we would never have any schisms.

The political means fails to solve problems because it doesn’t operate in the framework of reality. Using politics to solve a problem is no different than using astrology to solve a physics problem. When the very premise of your strategy is make believe, you can’t expect to develop a real solution.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 8th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Controlling Property

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What is property? This seemingly simple solution ends up being quite complex when you realize that nobody can agree on the matter. A libertarian will tell you that your property is whatever resources you’re able to homestead or voluntarily trade for. A mutualist will tell you that your property is whatever you’re putting to productive use. A statist will tell you that your property is whatever the State allows you to keep after it has collected its desired taxes. A communist will tell you that you don’t own any property but you might be allowed some possessions of the community can come to a consensus on the matter.

Property isn’t something granted by an organization or by “society.” It certainly isn’t divined by nature. Property ultimately boils down to what you are able to exert your control over. Libertarians, mutualists, statists, and communists usually become quite upset when I point this out. Part of their displeasure arises from the fact that they only understand control as it relates to force. Control can be exerted in many different ways though.

Let’s say I build a house surrounded by a fence and declare the fence and everything inside of it my property, is it my property? A libertarians will say that it’s my property if I either homesteaded the land or voluntarily traded with somebody for it. A mutualist will say that it’s my property if I’m making productive use of the house and the land within the fence. A statist will give me some wishy washy answer about how it’s my property but the government also has the right to control it in whatever way it sees fit (this is probably the least sensible response). A communists will say that it’s not my property but communal property. In actuality though, it is my property so long as I can prevent others from taking it.

Arguments over the nature of property steam from a desire to control property through argumentation. When, for example, anarcho-capitalists claim that private property rights are a natural right derived from homesteading or trade they are trying to convince other people to recognize anything that another individual homesteads or trades for as their property. However, argumentation isn’t the only means of trying to control property. Statists opt to control their property through a proxy. They believe that if all property claims are controlled by a heavily armed gang then everybody’s property rights are protected. It’s a ridiculous belief in my opinion because it actually makes everything the property of the individuals who compose the gang. Egoists hold up their middle fingers at everybody and just declare everything to be their property. I think they tend to recognize the nature of property better than anybody else.

By hook or by crook, if you can establish your control over something then it becomes your property. How you control your property is up to you. I personally prefer starting with argumentation since it is the lowest cost mechanism I know of for controlling property and I see no point of controlling property if I have to spend more to control it than it is worth to me. But being able to backup your claim with force is also important because you’re not going to be successful at convincing everybody else to respect your property claims. An anarcho-syndicalists, for examples, gives no shits whatsoever about Lockean homesteading and will simply seize whatever means of production you’ve claimed as your property.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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You Can’t Control Anything Outside of Yourself

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If I had a dollar for every time I heard a communist claim that real communism hasn’t been tried, I’d be sitting on a mega yacht in the middle of the ocean drinking scotch that is older than I am instead of sitting in front of my computer. But there is a lesson to be learned from communist countries and, really, everybody successful movement in history. Those who advocate for something generally have an idealistic view of it. Communists, for example, probably see a future where nobody is hungry, everybody has a home, and inequality is a thing of the past. It’s actually a pretty wonderful fantasy. Unfortunately, nobody can control things outside of themselves.

If you read the writings of many of the United States’ founders, you’ll realize that there was significant disagreement on many points. One faction, the smarter faction in my opinion, wanted a federal government that couldn’t even collect taxes whereas the other faction wanted a powerful federal government. While each founder had their view of an ideal country, none of them got everything they wanted.

The problem with movements of any kind is that your vision will never match the result. This is because you’re a cog in a great machine and as a cog you will have limited control. Even if you manage to attain a position of power within a movement, you can’t control how others execute your orders. You may be the Dear Leader of a great communist utopia and have the best intentions in mind but your underlings may be secretly building gulags and offing everybody who looked at them wrong in high school. You could be the founder of a new country with the intention of keeping the newly formed government as small as possible but your fellow revolutionaries may be putting together the foundation for a massive, tyrannical government behind your back.

I gave up on movements quite some time ago after realizing that the result will never match my vision. Instead I’m focusing on myself. I’m working to make myself freer, stronger, smarter, wealthier, and otherwise better. Unlike my time working in movements, I’ve actually had a great deal of success in pursuing my personal goals because I am in full control of all the actors that matter: me, myself, and I.

You can’t control the actions of others but you can control your own actions. Needless to say, if you want to actually accomplish something you have to do it yourself so you might as well do something that directly benefits you instead of something that you believe will benefit others (others, I might add, who you have no right to decide what is beneficial for).

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

What’s the Libertarian Position on…

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What’s the libertarian position on abortion? What’s the libertarian position on hate speech? What’s the libertarian position on corporate welfare? The question about the official libertarian position on various controversial topics is common, especially amongst anti-libertarians who are looking for something to crucify libertarians with and freshly converted libertarians. However, it’s not a good question because libertarianism doesn’t have many official positions.

The foundation of most branches of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle, which states that initiating aggression is undesirable. Other common principles include strong individualism and support for private property. The common principle of strong individualism butts heads with the question about the official libertarian position. While individual libertarians may hold a specific position on a controversial topic, there is seldom an official libertarian position because such an official position would go against individualism.

For example, there is no official libertarian position on abortion. Many libertarians see abortion as aggression against a fetus and therefore believe abortion is immoral. On the other hand, many other libertarians see forcing a mother to carry an unwanted fetus until birth as a violation of her self-ownership and therefore believe abortion is moral (or at least more moral than violating the mother’s self-ownership).

Oftentimes libertarians themselves fail to understand the strong individualism common in the philosophy they follow. When asked what the libertarian position on a topic is, they will give their position as the official libertarian position. But speaking authoritatively for others without having that authority delegated to you by the individuals you’re speaking for is collectivism, which is commonly accepted as anti-libertarian.

The question isn’t what the libertarian position is but what a libertarian’s position is. What is your position on abortion? What is your position on hate speech? What is your position on corporate welfare?

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Make Yourself Great Again

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Donald Trump won the presidential election with the meaningless slogan, make America great again. I say that it’s a meaningless slogan because America isn’t an actual thing, it only exists in our head. America cannot reason, think, or act. Only individuals can. But this is America and the people composing the public schooling systems have taught several generations that fiction is fact (and in fairness to the people composing the public schooling system, the United States public schooling system isn’t the first nor will it likely be the last to do this).

Instead of following meaningless slogans, I propose following a meaningful one, make yourself great again. How do you do this? First, focus on yourself. Self-interest is often seen as a bad characteristic. A lot of people like to claim that it’s greedy. Instead they say everybody should be focused on “the greater good.”

This is probably why so many people get sucked into the fiction of collectives. They forgo self-interest because they don’t want to be seen as greedy and instead focus on “the greater good.” Of course, “the greater good” is usually defined by other people. Let’s again consider the slogan, make American great again. What did making American great again involve? Voting for Donald Trump. However, that didn’t make American great since America is a fiction. That didn’t make you great either since you’re not one of the individuals who achieved victory. Donald Trump won the election. Those directly connected to him were gifted various things by him. You didn’t gain anything. Your life remains unchanged because your efforts went to somebody else instead of yourself. If you want to make yourself great, you need to focus on yourself.

Second, define great. My definition of greatness is complex and always changing, however, I include a constant drive to improve myself physically and mentally in my definition. I workout and study almost every day. My goal when I wake up is to be stronger and smarter by the time I go to bed. Only you can define what is great for you. I do suggest setting a few goals though since goals give you something concrete to strive for and thus provide you a mechanism of judging progress.

Third, pursue your definition of great. This is the part most people have difficulty with. Pursuing your definition of great will likely require discipline so your first goal may very well be to develop discipline.

Pursuing goals given to you by others won’t make you great because those goals were never meant to make you great, they were meant to improve the greatness of whoever gave you those goals. Pursuing your own goals at least has the chance of making you great (while it’s always possible to fail to achieve a goal, your chances of achieving it are far greater if you’re actually pursuing it). So consider tossing off the make believe shackles of collectivism. Forget about “the greater good.” Be selfish.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 25th, 2017 at 11:00 am

How Many of Your Ideas Are Your Ideas

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How much of what you know is the product of rational thought and how much of what you know was programmed into you by others? This is a question that I have been tossing around for quite some time. There are many things that I have believed over the years that I eventually realized weren’t the product of rational thought but simply things somebody else told me.

This question is especially relevant when discussing political matters. Take the debate over government controlled healthcare for instance. Most people living in countries with state controlled healthcare believe that the only alternative is no healthcare whatsoever (unless you’re rich). Here in the United States the idea of government controlled healthcare is catching on more every day. But did most of the people arguing in favor of government controlled healthcare conclude that it was the best option after a great deal of research and thought or are they just parroting what they were programmed to parrot:

“The National Health Service is the closest thing the English have to a religion,” Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor Nigel Lawson famously once observed. However, given the swivel-eyed fanaticism with which its supporters will defend it, even from the overwhelming evidence of its shortcomings, at this point it might be more accurate to describe the NHS as Britain’s national cult.

The utterly unparalleled degree of moral outrage which greets any criticism of the NHS bespeaks the decades of propaganda — in the state’s schools, from the state’s politicians, and on the state’s news and media outlets — which have taught the British people to believe that the only alternative to a state-controlled healthcare monopoly is for the poor to die in the streets. So pervasive has this myth become that the Labour party has been able to base its entire electoral strategy, for decades, on painting themselves as the only party that truly cares about ‘our NHS’, and a recent survey found that, when asked ‘What makes you proud to be British’, the NHS was the nation’s most common answer by a considerable margin. All this has led to a situation wherein the desperately needed reforms to Britain’s healthcare system cannot even be discussed, due to the irrational overflowing of blind rage and uncomprehending contempt that greets any criticism of Britain’s ultimate sacred cow.

More often than not, when I debate the topic of government controlled healthcare with a proponent their arguments don’t run very deep. They usually involve parroting the propaganda. If I bring up an angle that isn’t covered by the propaganda, the proponent usually falters because they don’t have a foundational understand of their belief. They haven’t really thought about it. They haven’t researched it. The knowledge was programmed into them by others and they mindlessly run with it.

I should note that I’m not making a criticism. Each and every one of us has a head full of programming. However, relying primarily on programming necessarily limits you. Case in point, the government controlled healthcare debate. A lot of data exists showing that government controlled healthcare isn’t the be all, end all that many of its supports claim it to be. If they’ve actually taken some time and put some thought into their belief then they might be able to rebut that data. Most supporters though are unable to provide a meaningful rebuttal because they don’t really understand the issue since they’ve given it little or no thought.

We see the same thing with a lot of religious individuals as well. Most people inherit their religious beliefs from their parents (i.e. their parents programmed that belief into them). How many Christians do you know who seem to know next to nothing about Christianity? I know quite a few. Hell, I was raised Catholic and can say that most of the people who attended the same church as I did knew next to nothing about Catholicism (even my Sunday school teachers, all of who were volunteer parents, knew very little). These people never gave their belief the same careful thought as Thomas Aquinas.

From the standpoint of individualism this question takes a more interesting turn. If you consider yourself an individualist, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to act on the knowledge you’ve acquired over rational though rather than the information programmed into you by others? One thing that I’ve become better at and am constantly working to improve is analyzing my beliefs to determine whether or not they are beliefs that I’ve actually come to due to rational thought or were programmed into me. The best way I’ve found to determine which of the two categories a belief belongs to is to analyze the opposite position in depth. If you understand the arguments against your belief and can make counterarguments that support your belief then you have necessarily given at least some rational thought to the belief. Maybe you decided that your belief was incorrect or maybe you were able to come up with counterarguments against the criticisms of your belief. Either way, you’ve at least given your belief some rational thought and can therefore say it is, at least in part, yours by your own volition.

I believe that an important part of becoming a self-actualized individual is constantly analyzing your beliefs and trying to learn about other beliefs. I won’t claim that rational thought will inevitably lead one to my conclusions. In fact, your conclusions will almost certainly differ from mine to some degree. However, by analyzing your beliefs and other beliefs you can say that you believe what you do because of your actions, not somebody else’s.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

You Have Only the Rights You Take

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I’m going to start this post off with a clip of George Carlin:

You have no fucking rights. Whenever I say this somebody inevitably gets upset and tries to rebut my statement by listing off a bunch of rights that they think they have. Libertarians are probably the worst offenders but followers of most political philosophies generally have a list of what rights they believe they have.

As George Carlin said, rights aren’t rights if somebody can take them away. Let’s consider the right to property. It’s probably libertarianism’s most fundamental rights. But nobody in the United States has a right to property. At best a person living in this country can enjoy the privilege of renting property. The privilege is revoked if the renter fails to pay their rent, which is often referred to by the euphemism “property tax.” The privilege is also revoked, as is the privilege to any property, if a law enforcer claims that the property might be related to a drug crime (Isn’t civil asset forfeiture great?). And let us not forget the fact that the privilege can also be revoked if the landlord decides the property would be better off in somebody else’s hands (This is usually referred to by the euphemism “eminent domain.”).

So we can just cross the right to private property off of the list. At least have have a right to live, right? Again, at best, you have a privilege to live that can be revoked at any time. Justine Ruszczyk privilege to live was revoked by Officer Noor. Your privilege can live can be revoked at any time by a law enforcer and if it is the enforcer’s employer will retroactively justify that revocation.

You don’t even have a right to associate or disassociate with whoever you choose. If you believe you do, try disassociating with a law enforcer during a traffic stop sometime. I’m just kidding, don’t do that because your privilege to live will likely be revoked. But I think you understand my point. There is a list of individuals and organizations you are required to associate with and another list, probably just as long, of individuals and organizations you are not allowed to associate with.

If you have no right to property, life, or voluntary association then what rights can you say you have? None whatsoever. Unless, of course, you can take them.

There are people who have managed to protect their property from being seized through civil asset forfeiture and eminent domain. People have also been successful at defending their lives when law enforcers attempted to revoke their privilege to live. And there are people who manage to disassociate themselves with unsavory characters as well as associate themselves with individuals and organizations they are prohibited from associating with. How did they managed to protect their privilege to property, life, and voluntary association? How did they turn a privilege that was about to be revoked into a right? By defending their rights. This brings us to the point of this post, you have only the rights you take.

How you take your rights is irrelevant. If you are able to take your rights by pleading with the State’s courts, by defending yourself against law enforcers, by convincing others to respect them through rational discourse, or by leaving the territory controlled by the individual(s) or organizations attempting to force you to associate with them, the result is the same. They lose. You win. They fail to take your rights. You succeed in taking your rights.

Those who rely on anything other than their personal ability to guarantee their rights have no rights. No philosophical axioms, constitutional amendments, or higher deities can grant you rights. The only thing that can grant you rights is yourself and, as much as it sucks to read, you won’t always be successful.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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Attacking Sacred Cows

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for even a short time probably realize that I enjoy shitting all over people’s sacred cows. My current favorite sacred cows to shit all over are, in no particular order, democracy, nationalism, and national heroes (groups of people blindly worshiped as heroes such as the police). While I’m not unique in this, I believe that my motivations differ from many of those who also enjoy defecating on people’s sacred objects. I don’t do is for shock value or to piss of people. The reason I go after idols so fervently is because I’m trying to help people become self-aware.

Most of us have a head full of programming that was instilled in us at a young age. I like to refer to behavior that results from this programming as automaton behavior although an equally accurate term is probably unconscious behavior. Regardless of what you want to call it, it’s performed without thinking. A lot of this programming is legitimately useful. For example, programming that makes you automatically look both ways before crossing a street can save your life. But a lot of this programming is unnecessary or even detrimental.

Nationalism is a good example of programming that is certainly unnecessary and oftentimes detrimental. What value does one actually derive from acting on the belief that their nation is better than any other nation on the planet? With the exception of monetary gain derived from appealing to other people who blindly act on their nationalism programming, very little. But the costs of acting on this belief can be very high. For example, people frequently join the military because of their nationalism programming, which often results in them being killed in a far off country. Another example of detrimental automaton behavior is national hero worship. When a police officer kills somebody under questionable circumstances many people’s national hero worship programming causes them to defend the officer’s actions regardless of how egregious they were. When this programming exists on a sufficiently large scale it shields such officers from the consequences of their actions and teaches other officers that they can get away with such behavior. I’m sure you can see how this kind of automaton behavior, when practiced on a large scale, makes any reformation of policing difficult if not impossible.

Overcoming automaton behavior requires one to first identify the programming. This is where attacking sacred cows comes in. While one simple attack against a sacred cow is seldom effective at helping an individual identify the programming that causes their automaton behavior, enough successive attacks often are. Case in point, I’ve seen several people who have long been acting on their national hero worship programming to defend every egregious action taken by a cop finally admit that there might be a problem with modern policing after the recent shooting in Minneapolis. This admission usually comes in the form of advising people not to call 911. While that isn’t a solution likely to result in fix the problem it is the beginning of overcoming the national hero worship programming.

Until an individual begins to act consciously it’s difficult for me to call them self-aware. I want a world full of self-aware individuals. While a self-aware individual is not guaranteed to agree with my views, and most likely will disagree with many if not most of my views, they will at least came to their conclusions by their own actions instead of having their beliefs instilled in them by others. That, in my book as a radical individualist, is a significant victory.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am