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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/18150/walter-block-vs-stefan-molyneux-vs-ron-paul/

Walter Block vs. Wendy McElroy vs. Stefan Molyneux vs. Ron Paul

December 13, 2011 by

Walter Block is back with another controversial article this time questioning a four year old article by Wendy McElroy.

Here is Wendy’s response to Walter from four years ago when he raised similar issues, but never replied.

This is an ongoing debate that last reared its ugly head in a discussion between Walter Block and Stefan Molyneux. Here is Molyneux’s response to an article by Walter Block on arguments on the value and potential of political action, who is and who is not a libertarian, and Ron Paul.

Fittingly, here is an excerpt from a letter from Murray Rothbard to Wendy McElroy, dated October 1982, in which he offers a counter to the voluntaryist contention that voting is immoral.

Christine Smith makes the counterpoint more succinctly:


Robert Fellner December 13, 2011 at 2:05 am

Holy crap this nonsense again, nooooo! I didn’t watch Stephan’s video and could only make it through the first 2 minutes of Christine’s before I felt like eating a pine-cone would be less painful than continuing to watch her rant.

Voting Ron Paul is not a vote for the legitimacy of government. It is an act to further the spread of liberty; as Ron Paul has done more effectively than any other human alive. Walter Block explains this. Murray Rothbard explains this. Lew Rockwell explains this. Those with the ability to think logically and who recognize that the state is not legitimate merely because it allows you to vote, also understand the converse of that truth; voting does not legitimize or endorse the state.

If the election changed from Obama to Ron Paul to “Should government cease to exist?” would these logic hating, anti-liberty lunatics also refuse to vote, as doing so is “evil” and a “violation of the NAP”? The fact that MURRAY ROTHBARD explained this thirty years ago, but the so-called an-caps still fail to realize it, while wearing a Rothbard t-shirt, is enough evidence I need that no amount of logical argumentation will ever convince them otherwise.

Charles Pearson December 13, 2011 at 2:52 am

I think this idea that voting is consenting to the system is utter nonsense. I would like to hear a response from those who think otherwise to the following comment from someone on Tom Wood’s blog.

“I consider myself a principled anarchist, and I think the idea that voting implies consent is silly. Let’s scale it down. Imagine you’re on an island with five people which has set up a system of voting in spite of your objections. One of the islanders calls a vote: to execute a lazy refugee who isn’t pulling his weight. The vote is 2 for and 2 against with only you remaining. Now, execution is wrong. Especially for this fellow who has done nothing wrong. He’s innocent. You certainly couldn’t be held accountable for his death if you refused to vote, but would voting really be wrong? Would it really imply you agree to the system, just because you used it once to do good, to right a wrong?
I don’t see voting for someone like Ron Paul any different. I don’t agree with the system, and I want it abolished, but I’m going to try my hardest to use it against itself if I can.”

Jan December 13, 2011 at 3:06 am

What if the tables were turned and you were voting for the execution of an innocent Iraqi or the imprisonment of your neighbor, or the dropping of a bomb on a Pakistani family, or the torture of an innocent Somali?

These scenarios are much more akin to your vote today than your island situation.

Go ahead and vote for the welfare-warfare state and open your wallet for the war machine if you must, but don’t go around thinking you are doing the honorable thing.

Robert Fellner December 13, 2011 at 3:21 am

“What if the tables were turned and you were voting for the execution of an innocent Iraqi or the imprisonment of your neighbor, or the dropping of a bomb on a Pakistani family, or the torture of an innocent Somali?

These scenarios are much more akin to your vote today than your island situation.”

Exactly, precisely one politician is a vote AGAINST all of those things. So the real situation is: do nothing because you misunderstand libertarianism and allow those atrocities to continue, or support the one candidate who presents a real opportunity to put an end to those atrocities. No-one is mandating you vote, but calling the act of voting for the person who will reduce those atrocities, immoral, is absurd on its face.

Jan December 13, 2011 at 4:27 am

Those things will still occur under a Ron Paul administration. He is not in favor of individual rights so much as willing to return power to the collective entity of the states. And, the military industrial complex will continue as even he acknowledges the Congress is responsible for funding the war endeavors.

integral December 13, 2011 at 5:04 am

If the one sure power he has as commander in chief is control over the armed forces, and he orders them to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan (and wherever else), how will this still be happening?

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

The Congress will suddenly embrace its Constitutional duty to declare war, declare war on Al Queda, Taliban, Syria, Iran, etc, etc, and then impeach President Paul when he does not fulfil his duties as Commander in Chief.

Robert Fellner December 13, 2011 at 5:08 am

That’s a concession!

Tony December 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

Concessions with statist aggression makes you a statist. All statists make concessions with other statists.
For an alleged anarchist (which Block claims to be) to approve of concessions is to NOT be an anarchist. This of course should not be a problem for those libertarians who inconsistently think that government aggression has a limited place provided it abides by whatever subjective standard a small government libertarian has about these things, but since these arguments are mostly aimed at alleged anarchists like Block who are hypocritical about their own so-called “hatred of the state”, it should be a major problem to him.
In effect, Walter Block is no different from the utilitarian “end justifies the means” beltway-libertarians and Kochtopus-organisations he so loathes.

Matthew Swaringen December 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Tony, you make the unwarranted assumption that all choices that are possible are always attainable, but this is not the case.

If I’m starving it doesn’t mean I hate all food. If I’m conceding it doesn’t mean that I want to concede anything, just that I’d prefer this over that.

It is better to have smaller states than to have larger ones in general, and although you may disagree with that you can’t say that those of us who hold this opinion are therefore statists simply because we believe strategically that we are advancing liberty by limiting the scope of the Federal government.

RFN December 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Go ahead bitching and moaning, all the while knowing you are not advancing your desire for liberty at all. This is akin to the kid who bitches and moans about wanting to play a game, but when asked to play is too afraid to do it. It’s easier to snipe from the sidelines when you’ve got no skin in the game.

Devin December 14, 2011 at 2:39 am

Charles, my response would be that this analogy is flawed.

Voting on a particular outcome is not the same as representative democracy. Casting a vote on whether or not to raise membership dues at your golf club, or having the family vote on whether to go for Italian or Mexican food, or whether or not to execute a fellow castaway is clearly not immoral. The debate is over whether it is moral to sanction, through voting, an individual’s ascension to authority over not only yourself, but also all others whose views oppose your own.

In order to be truly analogous, this island example should involve two islanders vying for leadership of the group. One campaigns on a platform of executing the lazy man and the other opposing the execution. Of course, after the “election” and the fate of the freeloader has been decided, the winning candidate would retain the right to impose, via force, his choices and whims on the whole group.

Personally, I think that if Paul were to win the presidency it would actually be the worst possible outcome for the liberty movement. The financial system and the economy are going to become a major disaster over the next five years, regardless of who is the president, and so many people are going to suffer immeasurably. Just think of the reactions if a libertarian president were in office as the crisis spun out of control. Let Obama take the blame.

The ideal outcome would be for Paul to win the Republican nomination, but then lose a close election to Obama. It would provide the maximum exposure for the ideas of liberty, and when the shit inevitably hits the fan people will think “Gee, Dr. Paul was right. If only we would have listened to him.” instead of “We bought all that garbage about liberty and look at the mess we’re in now.”

Nick Fecteau December 13, 2011 at 3:01 am

I didnt watch block because I find him unbearable but I watched half of Christine’s video. I get it. But it’s not really Ron Paul she is rejecting as she rejects government in general. That to me begs the question of why even bring it up? If she rejects government, then discussion about Ron Paul is useless.

Tony December 13, 2011 at 6:50 am

“That to me begs the question of why even bring it up? If she rejects government, then discussion about Ron Paul is useless.”

You are missing the part where she is responding to Walter Block’s *attack* on those libertarians who don’t make an exception for Ron Paul. Since Block is the one who claims to reject government with an exception, and attacks libertarians who refuse to make that exception, any response to him must obviously discuss why that exception must not be made. There is no difference in opinion between Block and Christine Smith about government in general, but there is a difference in opinion about the so-called exception to the rule. So to claim that for Christine Smith to discuss Ron Paul is useless is illogical. There is no other point to make when responding to Walter Block’s immature and irrational attack on non-voting libertarians.

Ball December 13, 2011 at 3:16 am

Well, after reading and watching the various arguments presented, all I have to say is no voluntaryist has galvanized large swaths of the public against the power elite. Stephan says it’s a matter of starting a 160yr struggle, but I happen to think it’s something else entirely.

The solution isn’t a 160yr evolution of society, it is the recognition of the nature of man. We are tribal beings who seek identity to protect ourselves from the others. The reason Ron Paul has been successful is because he has created an identity for those seeking that identity.

Don’t kid yourselves kiddos: Ron Paul’s campaign may involve a little more brain matter than most, but it’s still identity politics. I’m OK with that, just like I identify with Austrians here and more generally speaking the Reality-based Community (as opposed the brainwashed imperialists, bent on self-destruction).

People are people regardless how modern or sophisticated you have made society. A voluntarylist society may reduce squabbles, but people will still be people and I’m wiling to bet there will be red shirts and blue shirts. I have little taste for politics, but I haven’t heard or read a convincing argument that we can just ignore this phenomenon or bypass it, certainly not through reason. The path towards greater freedom does, at some level, require leadership, naming names, and taking them.

At least there’s a small piece of truth as I see it.

Conza88 December 13, 2011 at 3:41 am

This, again, seriously? Walter Block’s arguments and response to Stefan were absolutely cringe worthy. Why lend credence to their fluff by giving it light? And this is a four year old article… what, the..? Not smart. Equally cringe worthy is Stefan’s long history of attacking and STRAW-MANNING Ron Paul.


Voting is a RED HERRING. Blimey people. If no-one voted tomorrow, the state would still be there. Voting is not constitutive. Go read the Rothbard article on voting, linked above – it settles this issue completely.

Juraj December 13, 2011 at 4:21 am

Christine Smith is what Rothbard described as “left-wing sectarianism”. Does she ever come out of her house and use public roads? Just because someone is offered the choice by the aggressor of having their left hand or both hands chopped off, and chooses the former via voting, she would call him a statist, regardless whether his ultimate goal is to have both hands intact and get rid of the aggressor as soon as possible. Molyneaux’ approach is a little different – he sees parenting as the turning point, slow gradual changes. He just doesn’t think Ron Paul can make a difference.

Ron Paul has done for liberty more than all the anarchists combined, me being one of them. Every time he mentions Austrian School, someone googles it up and ends up at mises.org. I don’t vote because can’t be bothered and there is no Ron Paul where I can vote.

Conza88 December 13, 2011 at 8:51 am

Ron Paul is a voluntarist… the fact that a massive chunk of FDRadio listeners and forum members came to the philosophy of liberty BECAUSE of Ron Paul is also highly amusing.

Ron makes ‘compared to’ arguments and uses the constitution as a rhetorical tool in an age of manufactured consent. He explicitly stated as such in a speech he made in Prague, 2006. Contained within the links above.

The “compared to” argument is something StefMol has promoted elsewhere, as the prime question to ask in philosophy. And yet he doesn’t apply it here.

integral December 13, 2011 at 5:02 am

From what I’ve read about Wendy McElroy’s “writings” on ron paul she’s mostly actively looking for any kind of flaw that can be cast in a negative light.
For example:
She claims that Ron Paul refers to gays as a social problem in this article:

Apparently because he mentions the words social and problem in an article that has to do with federal control over gay marriage, it must mean that he considers gays a social problem, much in the same way that when Wendy McElroy comments on her homepage in the TUESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2011 section: “[Note: thank God! As critical as I am of the Canadian government, at least it did this right.]“, this obviously means that she is christian and loves the state and thinks the state can do no wrong, because she mentioned the words God, thank, Canadian government and right.

That’s right. Wendy McElroy is a statist.

Hoskins December 13, 2011 at 7:49 am

…zzzzzzzzz — just more of the decades-old controversy: ” What/Who is a genuine libertarian ? ”

It won’t be resolved here.

However, ‘voting’ is a general waste of time for libertarian & non-libertarian alike.

parker December 13, 2011 at 8:33 am

This kind of thing is why I left the Libertarian Party after the ’96 Browne campaign. Too many libertarians want to play the game, “I’m a better libertarian than you are.” When listening to people like Christine and Molyneux, I’m reminded of the scene from the movie Life of Brian in the corridors where the two Judean gangs kill each other while the Roman guards stand and watch with quizzical expressions.

Christine and Molyneux are acting like children. Christine says that Paul is just another parasite. Given that kind of sentiment, it’s pretty clear she’s so blinded by her passions she can’t see past the end of her nose. If Paul wins the election, that will be a step in the right direction. Any libertarian who can’t see that either has his head in the clouds or in some posterior orifice.

Jan December 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

It seems like it is Walter who is acting the child and dredging up a four year old article.

Matthew Swaringen December 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Has she changed her opinion? No… so it’s still valid even if it is 4 years old.

iawai December 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

First: Since this is an economics website, how about an economic analysis of the voting question. If one’s goal is to live free, how should voting and other govt participation play in their means? What about other goals – like freeing not only one’s self, but also his countrymen?

More importantly: I must say that while I understand the argument, and respect the individual’s decision not to vote, I disagree with the general argument that true voluntarists can’t vote. The anti-voting argument comes down to: “Anyone who votes lends legitimacy to the govt, and since I don’t view it as legitimate I can’t support voting”.

The fact is, there is a govt that most of our neighbors, countrymen, and everyone else views as legitimate. I don’t think that it is legitimate, but as of now it exists. And to make strides in my own life for success and expanding freedom, I must accept the fact that it exists. Because it does, and because it still in some respects is viewed as legitimate by my neighbors, I must play their game. My goals within this game may be to question the legitimacy of the entire system because I rationally decided that working within or with the system is the most efficient way to reach this goal.

Individual Subjectivity

Donald Rowe December 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

There is the act of voting and there is after vote action.

The act of voting is not violent aggression but the after action may be, but need not be, violent.

One after action possible is to broaden discussion, expand the range of possibilities taken under consideration, address specific concerns and to ultimately reduce the conflict in society, with respect to the issue at hand.

Unfortunately, the currently popular after action is to force the minority to submit to the will of the “majority” of voters, end discussion, limit options for consideration and increase the general discontent all while leaving the issue poorly resolved in the minds of many and therefore subject to yet another round of time and energy consuming political football.

The intention of the voter regarding the after action is the key, and that is held, obscurely, in his mind. And that intention is, potentially at least, changeable.

Michael A. Clem December 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Yes. The actual act of voting is not consent to the results of the vote. After all, the electoral process itself, and its results, are forced upon people regardless of whether or not they vote. Only a deliberate vote for something evil is in itself evil. Part of the problem with the electoral process, of course, how few are the options for a “good” vote as opposed to an evil vote. As such, I would agree that the chances of changing the system through the ballot box are slim. The real power in the electoral system lies not with the voter, but with the person or persons who create the ballot of candidates and/or issues that voters get to vote on. A voter obviously cannot vote for an option that’s not on the ballot.

Donald Rowe December 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I would be inclined to vote if the ballot included a “no” choice and I could make a mark for every single one of them.

Matthew Swaringen December 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I don’t like Walter’s arguments in either of his debates but I like those of Molyneux and McElroy much less.

They are frankly spreading lies about Ron Paul considering they have both made unfounded accusations against him. Yes, it makes sense not to trust a politician, including Ron Paul, but it’s quite something else to label him as a standard “right wing conservative” when he is absolutely not that and has proven so consistently over years of time.

Walter is right about one thing, and that is that Ron Paul has brought more people around than either one of the 2 he’s arguing against. I’m not saying they aren’t perfectly good people or that they present bad arguments in general. But on this they are wrong, and I say this as someone who was “converted” as it were, from minarchism to anarchism by Stephan Molyneux, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says.

I can understand not believing that the political strategy is viable as Molyneux points out, but I cannot understand the vitriol. It’s unwarranted and unhelpful and it won’t help a single person.

The fact that Ron Paul says that states should be able to do X or Y is made within a constitutional framework and is useful for the people he’s trying to appeal to and to the oath that he made to uphold that document as a member of congress. It is not a statement that he agrees that states should be able to have laws against X or Y or that he would vote in favor of such nonsense. Yet you would never know that if all you listened to was McElroy or Molyneux.

The sad thing to me is that they should both know better, but they seem to refuse to listen to anyone. Unfortunately, the arguments made against them are also flawed and so they are able to focus on that instead of the core point, which is that they should accept that there is a valid difference of opinion here on what the correct strategy is, and there is no proof to who is right about this.

Phinn December 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

People need to get their minds around something — as a means of changing the behavior of the ruling class, voting is trivial.

And when I say ‘trivial,’ I’d say that voting has about as much effect on our rulers’ decision-making as paying income taxes has on federal spending — none. They own all the money, people. They print it all; they don’t let anyone else print it. So, paying income taxes is only a way of taking the money out of YOUR hands. The state doesn’t actually need it. They just want you NOT to have it.

It’s better not to vote because it is far more important that you free your mind, and get your head around the magnitude of the triviality of voting. Voting keeps you from fully accepting the triviality of voting. It prevents you from comprehending the magnitude of the con game that the state is, of the size of the Big Lie of statism. Once you fully grasp the proposition that THEY DON”T CARE WHAT YOU THINK, only then you’ll see what voting amounts to — self-abuse.

If you really want to end or even limit statism, take all the time that you would spend thinking about voting, or which “candidate” you approve of (which is an even bigger waste of time) , and spend that time running a website. Media is powerful. One guy with a blog is 10 million times more powerful than one guy with a vote. The statists actually care about media, even blogs, because media is incredibly powerful. It wakes up the other sheep. The statists really hate that.

I see Ron Paul’s importance as not being derived from his position in government. That’s trivial, too. He has no real influence. His importance to the cause of liberty is NOT based on the prospect that he will “win” a presidential election, which is preposterous, considering he’s opposed by the finance, oil, military and pharmaceutical industries, for crying out loud. I mean, they OWN the joint! Or even that if he were to “win” (I can’t help but chuckle every time I write that), that he could actually DO anything to steer the rest of the statists. That’s like trying to sweet-talk the Russian mafia into transforming itself into a charity organization for kids with leukemia. Not gonna happen.

He’s basically a media personality masquerading as a politician. His campaign is a kind of performance art. It’s like one of those mock-campaigns you used to see on MTV (Randy of the Redwoods?), or Stephen Colbert, or Bill the Cat. His relevance, effectiveness, and significance is based on the fact that he’s using the outward appearance of an electoral campaign to run a media operation — to promote Austrian economics, and mention the Constitution on air a few times.

Media is powerful. Voting is not.

Old Boy December 15, 2011 at 2:42 am

Not to mention AIPAC hates Ron Paul and no one gets the job without their thumbs-up.

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Anarchists always ridicule the people who think you could fix government if you could just get the right people to run it.

But suddently you have anarchists falling all over themselves to get Ron Paul elected so he can fix the government.

That must entertain the statists.

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Anarchists also ridicule the people who say “If you don’t vote, don’t complain”. The anarchist response is “You, the voter, participated in the election. You’re the one that shouldn’t complain”.

If Ron Paul runs and loses, will the anarchists who voted for him stop complaining about the government for the next four years?

Matthew Swaringen December 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Always? You might want to take a step back and realize that anarchists are individuals, and we don’t always do anything.

I don’t want Ron Paul to “fix” the government. I only want him to do what he has said he will do which will result in greatly limiting it and much of the damage it causes. He probably can’t accomplish 1/10 of what he wants, but even that much is substantive.

And yes, I actually do think he has a very slight chance of winning. It’s not huge, but it’s greater than zero and it’s worth trying to do this as I think if he were to win it would be a good thing for the spread of libertarian ideas.

Unlike Reagan who used some nice catch phrases I really do think Ron Paul is a voluntarist, even if he’s working within the system. I have seen absolutely no reason to believe otherwise, and he’s had every opportunity to prove us wrong and hasn’t done so.

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Anarchists always ridicule the people who think you could fix government if you could just get the right people to run it.

But suddently you have anarchists falling all over themselves to get Ron Paul elected so he can fix the government.

That must entertain the statists.

Michael A. Clem December 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I just want Ron Paul to do as much damage to the image of government as he can. I don’t think he can “fix” government, but he can show a lot of people what’s wrong with government.

M.R. Orlowski December 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Either way, society can improve tremendously if Ron Paul were president, who cares if it’s not anarchism? We’re not going to get anarcho-capitalism overnight…

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Anarchists always ridicule the people who think you could fix government if you could just get the right people to run it.

But suddenly you have anarchists falling all over themselves to get Ron Paul elected so he can fix the government.

That must entertain the statists.

Carpel Ibertatem December 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Sorry about the triplicate comments above… was replying from a work computer and the corporate firewall kept blocking the site response to my entries.

Vedran December 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Yes, voting in any government election isn’t a completely libertarian thing to do, however, if we were to rate the immorality of voting for Ron Paul where would it fall???…..probably next to littering once every four years. Or perhaps driving recklessly on the way to work….actually that’s probably far worse….

I have a few questions for those who think that we shouldn’t vote for Ron Paul: “Have you avoided supporting the government in every aspect of your life?” I’m not just talking about sitting in your armchair and blogging about libertarianism. Do you receive benefits from the government, is your industry of employment supported by the state, do you call 911 in case of an emergency etc.? Furthermore, just some personal questions: “Are you a completely moral angel in every aspect of your life, are you a good parent, do you treat your spouse well, have you helped someone in need lately, are a good neighbor, are you a person that others can trust?”

If you’re all of those things, then please be high and mighty about the evils of voting for Ron Paul. If not, do not judge others including Walter Block for the speck in their eyes when you have a plank sticking out of yours.

I don’t consider voting for Ron Paul to be the most libertarian thing in the world. However, I’m going to vote for him anyway -on the scale of immorality, this is a speck. I worry about the planks in my own eye -not the specks -and I wouldn’t judge anyone for the specks in theirs.

Vote for Ron Paul and don’t worry about. Worry about the big moral questions in your life not the small nuisances.

Wesker1982 December 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm

It is simple. A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for less government, a vote for less initiated aggression.

If you were a total slave and could vote for a few more freedoms, I would not view a vote like this to be consent of the actual slavery.

angurse December 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I don’t see the issue in voting. Sure, it’s a waste of time statistically, but it seems perfectly fine as a form of defense.
(And if someone actually could rollback the state, or at least halt it temporarily, more power to him, I could care less if that makes me only 92% libertarian.)

Anonymous Guest December 14, 2011 at 12:32 am

The anti-voting libertarians are doing harm to their own supposed beliefs. Paul would move this country significantly in the right direction and a successful Paul presidency would significantly increase the number of libertarians. Right now, we have abstract arguments that we are right, but most people don’t yet believe it could work in practice. If minarchy is adopted and works, the number of statists will significantly decrease ans the number of ancaps will increase. If you don’t care about winning in the real world, don’t vote. If you want to attain your goal in your lifetime, a victory for Ron Paul is your best chance. Simce you won’t vote, I must conclude that you like debating ideas, but have no intention of translating that into the real world.

Phinn December 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

If you think that any president, much less one like Ron Paul who is bitterly opposed by huge government-sponsored industries (e.g., oil, medical products and services of all kinds, roads, banking of every stripe and flavor, all media, the military …) has any chance to effect the SLIGHTEST change on the agenda of the U.S. government, then you are delusional.

You are buying into the false reality they have created for you.

Reality is that voting for a president has about as much effect on the actions of the government as does voting for the winner of American Idol.

Reality is that a handful of industries own the U.S.A. Reality is that you are a serf on their plantation. They found that it’s far too expensive to keep you in actual shackles, so instead they have trained you from birth to enslave yourself.

A key part of this false reality is getting you to participate in the illusion. To participate in the ritual of self-enslavement. Encouraging you to participate in voting is a key propaganda tool.

Imagine that your vote went into a random number generator. Imagine that the voting machines didn’t even bother to record your vote at all. That’s how trivial voting is.

Vedran December 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

It pretty much is that trivial. That’s exactly why everyone shouldn’t get so worked about voting. Go vote for Ron Paul, but don’t expect too much to happen.

And you know what’s also trivial and pointless….not voting at all in protest. So might as well cast a ballot for Ron Paul if you’ve got nothing else to do.

Phinn December 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Voting is trivial in terms of its impact on the actions of the state. As Emma Goldman said 100 years ago, if voting ever changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

Voting is not trivial in terms of its impact on your mind. The psychological impact of voting is the sole reason that the state keeps it around.

The expectation of voting is even more important than the biannual ritual of actually going to a voting booth. Every minute people spend talking about electoral politics and upcoming elections reinforces the idea that voting matters.

iawai December 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

They’ve created this reality – but you’re kidding yourself if you say it’s “false.”

You can either sit and the corner and ignore their intrusions into your life, or you can take what little bit of say they give you and kick back a little bit. Sure the results may be less than you anticipated, but at least you’ve stood up and said “I disagree.”

Phinn December 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

The false reality is the proposition that democracy creates a responsive state. That the USA is a government “of the people.” That the statists are subordinate to the serf class. That power begins with ordinary, free people and is then delegated to the statists. (They still call the district-wide plantation overseers “representatives.”)

These ideas are a perfect inversion of reality.

The results of voting are not merely “less than I anticipate.” They are nothing. Zero. De minimus.

I “stand up and disagree” by pointing out the falseness of the lie of the State. The State is actually very fragile. It cannot function without the active participation of the serfs. I encourage everyone to deny them that. That’s what I do. That’s how I spend my time (when I’m not meeting my family’s economic needs, sleeping or recreating).

Massive non-voting is actually far more damaging to the State than attempting to vote in an anti-statist politician. Such voting will never work, but a large movement of non-voting helps dispel the idea that voting matters.

Vedran December 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Well, if I’m personally voting knowing full well that it doesn’t matter, then your point doesn’t hold up. After casting my ballot, my feelings about the government will be exactly the same.

And actually Phinn, not voting does not damage the state at all. More often than not, it empowers it. I’ve never heard someone say “Look the voter turnout was really low this year. Maybe people are questioning the legitimacy of the state”

Usually, the low voter turnout is used to aggrandize the state by promoting yet more civic duty propaganda and the non-voters are accused of being apathetic people who need better public school education.

Phinn December 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

>>> “Usually, the low voter turnout is used to aggrandize the state by promoting yet more civic duty propaganda and the non-voters are accused of being apathetic people who need better public school education.”

Doesn’t that response tell you something? Statists hate it, I mean HATE it, when the sheeple refuse to participate in their little charade. The charade is essential to the whole operation.

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. If people want to oppose the state, trying to get the state to fix itself from within is not the way to do it. The way to do it is ignore it.


Live your life anarchistically. Live it outside the confines of statism. Ignore the state as much as you possibly can. But the first step is to free your mind, and to do that, you have to let go of the sad little hope that your government will listen to you. Quit supplicating to your abuser.

Vedran December 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm

What I’m saying is that you can free your mind of the state and still go vote for Ron Paul. It doesn’t really matter.

Phinn December 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

It apparently matters to you, but you want to maintain the pretense that it does not.

If you were truly indifferent, then you could just as easily spend the time voting (or otherwise talking about politics) by eating caramels. Or learning to play the mouth harp. Or replacing all the light bulbs in your house with black lights. (Or what I call ‘Tuesday night.’)

If you believed that voting truly does not matter, except as a pantomime of political activity designed to deceive you into compliance with the State, which you claim to oppose, then you would not vote. Or you would vote for yourself. Or vote for Mickey Mouse. Or the ghost of Elvis.

You are clearly holding onto some tiny shred of belief that Ron Paul (or whoever) can actually improve your life.

I’m telling you that this belief is pure, concentrated poison, and is robbing you of true freedom of thought and action.

integral December 15, 2011 at 5:11 am

Phinn says that you should never go to the doctor. Your false belief that he can improve your life is pure concentrated poison, and only by dying from dysenteri can you achieve true freedom of thought and action!
Yes, how dare we put faith in fellow human beings! This is completely opposite of the Teachings of Anarchism! [/sarc]

Phinn December 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

No, I’m not against going to a doctor to fix your dysentery.

I am against going to a witch doctor.

As I see it, when people rely on false, ineffective, and just plain wrong “solutions” to their problems, it is actually worse than doing nothing.

When you have an infection, a shaman will tell you that the best remedy is to beat a drum while preparing an offering made out of tree bark and dog shit for you to give to the river god.

When you take this advice, you are actually worse off, since by getting a false answer to your question (as opposed to “I don’t know”), you have failed to acknowledge that you actually don’t know how to treat the infection, and have therefore spent your time and energy doing things that make your situation worse.

By giving you the tree-bark-and-dog-shit remedy, the shaman’s first lie is unspoken — that he knows what will help you. The second lie is also unspoken — that there is such a thing as a river god. The actual remedy he provides is the third lie — that tree-bark-and-dog-shit cures dysentery.

However, science and reason will tell you to take an antibiotic, boil your water, stop crapping in your drinking supply, and wash your hands before you eat dinner. That’s because science and reason have identified the true cause of your ailment — microorganisms.

To bring this strained analogy full circle, I recommend that when we all look around and see the problem (the State, and the idea of statism generally), that we avoid using the wrong remedies (the State’s voting procedures), and instead do the things that make us happier and more free and prosperous (love, procreation, fun, productivity, etc.).

Becoming more free also means avoiding the means by which the State makes us unfree. The main method by which we are enslaved is psychological. Slave-masters have evolved. They no longer use whips and leg irons. Instead, they use false ideas (e.g., the legitimacy of statism). When you inculcate children with these ideas, only one in a million people will ever understand the truth of our enslavement. The slaves will enslave themselves.

Please open your mind to the idea that voting serves no practical purpose, and has no effect on the course of governmental action. It is pure theater.

And since voting is theater, the ONLY reason the statists want you to participate in it is for the psychological effect it has on you. It mollifies people. It prevents them from accepting the idea that we are slaves.

Doug Stewart December 14, 2011 at 4:12 am

I see voting for Ron Paul as an act of self-defense, not sanctioning the state.

Sione December 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

What is one vote actually worth? Does making a mark on a piece of paper once every so many years actually mean anything significant? Do any of you really believe that the person you made your little mark for is going to be your “representative” in that he or she will represent your interests (let alone take your instructions)?

This is all about a little bit of political theatre and mostly this theatre plays some soap opera or other. The audience gets to pay for the tickets and is allowed to engage in a little clapping, cheering, gasping etc from time to time. So long as the audience participation is limited and controlled, not interfering too much with what the actors are up to on the stage, then it is tolerated by the theatre management and security. Of course, the audience is not supposed to invade the stage and take it over…

In the normal course of events one should never engage in voting for someone who does not act in one’s own interest. Worse still would be voting for someone who acts to oppose or destroy one’s principles and take away one’s own property. That means that it is almost impossible to rationally and logically vote for any politician. To so do would be the granting of a sanction to be looted and worse. Nevertheless generations of North Americans and others have granted the sanction to their own enslavement and destruction. Go figure. Such persons can’t complain. They partook and deserve the consequences their support yields to them.

On the other hand, those who didn’t do not deserve such consequences. Unfortunately it is vanishingly difficult, if not impossible, for them to insulate themselves from the results of others’ overwhelming desire for self-immolation. As was reported to me, “When a fire is big enough, even those some distance away can still get burnt.”

As far as voting for Ron Paul is concerned, if you believe in his policies and principles, if you believe he is telling the truth and will act according to what he says, then voting for him is to vote in favour of those. He represents you and the consequences of that will be yours to enjoy.

The question still remains whether doing so makes you a supporter of the present system. Does taking part mean you are acting in support? That question defies nice, easy and comfortable answers. For example, the oft touted idea of change from within is a reliable self-justification and certainly conventional enough, but does that ever really occur? Have any such changes from within been away from government and towards freedom? My late teacher used to state that, “all elections are won by government.” Perhaps that is worth more than a passing thought.

Is a vote for Ron Paul indeed a sanction of the system or instead a sanction of Ron Paul and the policies and principles as promoted by Ron Paul? Whichever answer you choose, there is no denying that Ron Paul promoted important principles of liberty in economics, politics etc that likely would not have received the publicity that they have enjoyed in the US media of late. For on-going continuance of that I, for one, would enjoy seeing him elected to the Oval Office. Still, on this occasion, to vote Ron Paul or not isn’t my decision to make. Over to you guys.


Osku r December 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

A consistent rejection of state would require of not paying any taxes and not trading with anyone paying taxes to any government. Even accepting government fiat in any exchange would be paying taxes through inflation. This could be effective way to show an example to others and could have effect in state if enough people would do that. If it could not be done inside a country, one should flee to international waters in places like seasteding.

Other strategy would be to work inside the system by having a job and salary and use those resources to fight against the system for ones rights. Would voting against the state or attending in a political campaign be worse, than choosing to work for many hours daily for the benefit of the state?

boniek December 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

There is difference though. You are not forced to vote whereas you are forced to pay taxes. Voting is not essential part of life which cannot be said about trade. I agree that that would be the most consistent rejection, but also the most dangerous therefore only for desperate people.
By voting you are not expressing your anti-state sentiment but rather pro-state one, because voting is state institution/process.
If people want to stay consistent and avoid hypocrisy then defending voting for Ron Paul is the same as defending voting by anyone for anybody else – after all political philosophy is a matter of subjective preference.

Ned Netterville December 14, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I don’t vote because it would entangle me with my evil enemy–the State. The State is immoral (viz., evil) in my opinion because everything it does is predicated upon its claimed “authority” to initiate the use of force without provocation.It seems to me that voting admits the phoney “authority” of the State by which some people exercise control of other persons without their consent in the same way that slaves are controlled by their masters. Not only does voting sanction the State and its violent ways, but voting is also the means by which ordinary people endeavor to enlist State force to their own ends or political agenda, thereby making them accessories to the State’s crimes. Furthermore, voting in many places requires the perpetrator register (like an illegal alien) and have various other encumbering statist accouterments such as a driver’s license (State permission to travel) or photo identification (slave’s passport), which no self-respecting free person would ever acquire. Voting is much like wrestling with a pig in its sty: one is bound to be soiled by the exercise.

Eric Evans December 16, 2011 at 2:31 am

Ayn Rand’s general position on government funds/services (and I paraphrase) was that the only people who have the moral right to accept them are the people who oppose the illegitimate government and its services, since they are, for lack of a better phrase, taking back ill-gotten gains. This is a position Block has expounded upon and defended on several occasions. The concept seems firm to me as well as many others…why shouldn’t this line of reasoning also apply to voting *in this particular instance*?

Even if one holds the position that this vote would ultimately mean nothing towards the devolution of an illegitimate government, I think we can all agree that, despite that larger scheme of things, it nonetheless represents an opportunity to do so. So to that end, from a philosophical standpoint, one has not only a moral right to vote but a moral *obligation* to vote, to express their preference for killing the system even if it can’t be done this time.

Then there’s the effect of voting on the general public. The ultimate goal is to engage the public with the ideas of liberty as much as possible, but they need reasons to be receptive to those ideas that go beyond mere logic and facts. Even if many people believe in these ideas amongst themselves, they will refuse to stand up for those beliefs if they see so few others doing the same. If you have an opportunity to show others that it’s OK to believe in those ideas publically, to show them the numbers of followers and how they’re growing, and you refuse to do so, are you not forgoing your moral obligations to your beliefs?

Proops December 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

The whole subject is too mind numbing to continue following beyond Miss McElroy’s first plea. Antiwar.com has obviously spread the message of liberty way further than that nationally known closed-border-less-libertarian-than-Bob-Barr-right-winger Ron Paul.

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