Tag Archive | individualism

Destroying Bigotry Through Relationships

One of the most interesting things that came about because of Porcfest 2017 is that I realized just how ignorant I am of “average” Muslim behavior. Given that I’m an atheist and have no more interest in Islam than I do Wicca or Zoroastrianism, I’m okay with that. I’m also an individualist, so I also make it a point to treat each person as an individual, not a homogenized blob because they happen to have this or that characteristic. I knew intellectually that all Muslims couldn’t fulfill “the stereotype,” but what stereotype is that? Certainly, there’s the “OMG TERRORIST” stereotype, but everyone except the most idiotic conservative knows that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, some idiotic conservatives do think that. I quote a local writer who recently gave me a copy of his book (yes, the book is trash) (and yes, the motherfucker signed it):

“There are no Peace-Loving Muslims, no Moderate Muslims, no Indifferent Muslims. No Radical Muslims. Just Muslims. A Muslim is a Muslim. Period.”

Yes, someone not only wrote that, but got it published in a book.

While most people wouldn’t go that far, it remains true that familiarity is the destroyer of stereotypes–which is the primary reason that I’m currently considering staying in Mississippi*. But before we get into that, let’s talk about paleo-libertarianism. The question of free markets and discrimination is one that a lot of people would like the answer to, because “let the free market deal with it” is not a satisfying answer when discussing people like me who could end up in situations where they can’t shop at critical stores because everyone in the area is transphobic/racist/homophobic/etc.

They have a point.

It doesn’t really make a difference that 50s era segregation was enforced by the state, because many of the business owners of that day would have carried on that policy regardless–and did so well into the 70s in some places. It’s a nice cop-out to be able to say, “There was nothing ‘free market’ about American segregation; it was legislated and enforced by the state, not the market.” Such a statement is true in a limited sense, but we can’t pretend like segregation and discrimination magically disappear if there’s a free market in place, because they don’t.

Last night I spent a while thinking about a friend of mine who immediately identified someone else as Jewish by their last name. Until this “someone else” told me so, I had no idea that he was Jewish, and even afterward it was worthy of nothing but a mental note. When I asked him how he identified the guy as Jewish, he said it was the last name, and that he knew most/all of common Jewish last names. Then I thought of the many borderline anti-semitic things this friend has said in the past. While he doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened, he does take a position closer to mine, that the truth is lost to history and that wartime propaganda twisted the story until it bears unknown  resemblance to the truth. It also occurred to me that, if asked, I would insist to people that this friend isn’t racist. Finally, I wondered whether that was true. Perhaps my own whiteness keeps me from being able to see his racism.

However, I was also repeatedly interrupted during every conversation at Porcfest a few weeks ago, and, when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that “Women traditionally didn’t have a voice at the politics table,” and that was why I was being interrupted. However, this was demonstrably false. It would have been all too easy to play the victim card and cry about sexism (it would also have been nonsense, given my voice), but instead I observed, and what I saw was everyone interrupting everyone else all the time, without regard to age, gender, or race. Seeing sexism in the interruptions would have been confirmation bias; if I went into it expecting to find that, that’s what I would have found, even though the issue is something larger and much more serious.

In fact, the idea that it was sexist struck me as odd from the start. Although hormones have certainly begun to affect my face and body, my hair still isn’t that long, and from some angles I don’t look very feminine at all. On top of that, my voice is certainly on the deeper end–an issue I haven’t yet worked out. Even wearing a dress, some people instinctively called me “he,” something else that I didn’t and don’t get worked up about (although, as I said to someone Friday night, there will come a time when calling me “he” must be intentional, but that’s after more physiological changes and, ideally, vocal surgery), and people tuning into Call to Freedom would have no idea that the person they were listening to identified as a chick. The idea behind the “They’re sexist” argument is that they’re sexist instinctively and without their conscious awareness, but that falls apart when instinctively they consider me a dude.

All that said, the entire reason my rant at Porcfest was so successful is that I’m transgender. How much power would my rant have lost if that wasn’t the case? Many people told me afterward that I broke through their stereotype of transgender people. One of the judges even said that he’d pre-judged me, and was surprised to have that prejudice shattered. I’m no stranger to stereotypes, and they aren’t really a problem; the only problem is when we cling to them and refuse to allow individuals to break them.

I’ve experienced this more than simply at Porcfest. A friend of mine has a grandmother who strongly disliked transgender people, and this friend handled it by showing her grandmother my posts on Facebook from a year ago about just wanting to live in peace. Stereotypes are built of straw people, and they very rarely apply fully, and sometimes they don’t apply at all. The reason they persist is due more to unfamiliarity than anything else. They imagine in their heads some amalgam of all the terrible things they’ve heard about this or that group, and various factors lead them to believe that their imagined person is representative of everyone in that group. It’s just human nature, and it’s not something to condemn people over.

I wouldn’t be able to fully explain my Straw Muslim. The Straw Muslim wasn’t a terrorist, but they were extremely devout–uncomfortably devout. Your Straw Southern Baptist is pretty much what my Straw Muslim looks like, and I’d go even further and suggest that your Straw Muslim also looks a lot like mine. And while the faith of the people involved with Muslims 4 Liberty cannot be doubted, they don’t fit the stereotype at all. Prior to meeting and spending a week with Will Coley et al., I had no idea how pervasive that perception of Islam was, but why else would I have been surprised by the generosity they showed during Ramadan? I’ve been equally surprised by some of the Christians I’ve met within libertarian circles, such as Thomas Knapp, and I’ve been surrounded by Christians most of my life. Prior to meeting some of these people, I probably would have said there’s no such thing as a moderate Christian. In fact, I’m sure I’ve said that in the past. And there’s no doubt: people like Thomas Knapp are entirely the reason I’ve eliminated anti-Christian rhetoric from my repertoire.

However, even as vehemently anti-Christian as I used to be (and I’m still anti-fundamentalist), I was more than willing to allow people their right to free association, and have been arguing in favor of that for years. I look back on an article I published about a year ago and badly want to remove it, because it’s so close to being anti-Muslim in its tone. And that came from myself; it came from within. There was no talk of individualism in that article. It was a lot of bullshit about social customs, integration, and assimilation. I’m positively embarrassed that I wrote that spiel, although that sentiment was present before I met people of Muslims 4 Liberty and goes back at least 7 months, to the first time I re-read the article.

Under no circumstances have I or would I ever deny service to someone because of their characteristics, it must be stated unequivocally, but most people aren’t like that. The same people who condemn Trump for his ban of Muslims also praise Canada for refusing to allow entry to members of the Westboro Baptist Church; the Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, would adamantly refuse to allow me into their building, and people like Steven Anderson (not with the WBC, but every bit as hateful and vile) whine and bitch when companies don’t want to do business with them, even as they explicitly refuse to do business with others.

We saw the same thing when Obama became president, and everyone who wanted to see his birth certificate was dismissed as a racist. The reality for most people, however, was something different: through their entire lives, an old white man had been in charge. Suddenly, a black, relatively young man was in charge. They were uncomfortable and afraid, not hateful. And while it’s true that fear often motivates horrific behavior, it didn’t on this occasion, and manifested primarily in cries that Obama was a Muslim or wasn’t from Kenya. It was a knee-jerk reaction to an unfamiliar situation, and one by one these people adapted and realized their world wasn’t coming to an end. Anyone still going on about Obama being a Muslim or a Kenyan is probably just racist and attempting to mask their racism with those allegations, but the birther movement died out because people adjusted and moved on, leaving behind only the racists.

It’s ultimately a matter of cognitive dissonance.

When Bob is told his entire life by his fundamentalist church that gay people are evil abominations, he’s going to experience cognitive dissonance when his best friend of 17 years, Jim, confesses to Bob that he is gay. At this point, Bob is presented with several choices for resolving the dissonance:

  1. My church is wrong. All gay people cannot be evil abominations, because Jim is gay and isn’t an evil abomination.
  2. Jim is wrong and isn’t really gay. He isn’t an evil abomination, and my church is right; ergo, Jim isn’t really gay.
  3. My church is right. All gay people are evil abominations. Therefore, Jim has managed to hide his evil from me for the last 17 years.
  4. On rarer occasions, Bob might craft a special exemption for Jim. “Jim is different… He isn’t like all the other gay people.”

Which of these Bob lands on is ultimately going to come down to trust and relationship importance. If his friendship with Jim is more important to him, then he will decide on #1. If both are equally important to him, he will decide on #2. If his relationship with his church and his religious beliefs are more important, he will go with #3. We can immediately see, then, that Jim has his work cut out for him; there aren’t many things that will be more important to Bob than his religious beliefs, because religious beliefs are “core beliefs” that form the foundation of other beliefs. Asking Bob to accept that his church/religious beliefs are wrong is a much greater thing than simply accepting that Jim is wrong, because Bob’s entire worldview stems from his religious beliefs. If we pull the foundation out from under his worldview, the entire thing collapses.

“Muslim call to prayer while hula-hoppers [sic] groove nearby.”

…And?

That’s a pretty awesome event to be at, if you ask me. People hula-hooping, people stoned, people drunk, people tripping, people dancing, people praying… Everyone getting along, everyone celebrating, and no one hating anyone else over squabbling differences… That sounds to me like a fucking utopia, not something that should be mocked or looked upon with disdain. Indeed, that’s how our entire society should be. I fail to see how anyone has a problem with “Everyone is doing their own thing, and everyone is friendly with everyone else. If they can’t get along, then they just leave each other be.”

In fact, Porcfest is proof that you can put Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians, transgender people, straight people, gay people, black people, white people, Asian people, and all other people with various characteristics into a society together and end up with something that is really awesome. Yet this douchenozzle from CNN said this with disdain and contempt, and people who replied to the tweet made even more contemptuous remarks: “They don’t pay you enough to attend that crap.”

There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.

Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.

Diversity is flawed for other reasons. A homogeneous society of 99% white people (in addition to still being divided, as the previous paragraph contends) discriminating against the 1% black population can’t be fixed by “the free market” alone. However, what if the society is 75% white and 25% black, and the white population is uniformly racist? With these numbers, it’s true that the black population could simply shop at black-owned stores and work for black-owned businesses, but at this point we aren’t dealing with one society; we’re talking about two societies that just happen to reside in geographic proximity. This is still true if we add in an 80% straight population that doesn’t want to associate with the 20% LGBT population; we aren’t “uniting” society. We’re segregating it into many different societies.

It’s similarly true that diversity fails to take hold in homogeneous societies because of social pressures and economic concerns that often conspire to make it impossible for a person to “come out.” This is a problem that never magically vanishes, and there will always be one group or another who cannot openly admit to being in that group because of the adversity they will face upon doing so. Suppose our society was 99% Christian and 1% atheist, but no atheists were even allowed to speak out without being put to death (as was the case until about 300 years ago). Atheists would not be able to band together to create their atheist stores because coming out as an atheist resulted in death. Diversity requires openness, but there will always be disenfranchised people who simply aren’t allowed to be open about who they are.

Instead we could take the approach of individualism, that a person’s characteristics shouldn’t matter, and that a person should be judged by their actions and behavior rather than being judged over what characteristics they happen to have. This is precisely how Jim breaks through Bob’s anti-gay bigotry. Instead of being lumped into that foreign group that has been painted as a bogeyman by Bob’s church, Jim has an in-road directly to Bob’s heart by being his friend–someone he personally knows. When Bob accepts that Jim isn’t an evil abomination, it is because he isn’t lumping his friend into that group and therefore isn’t applying that group’s alleged qualities to his friend.

Often, we aren’t aware of what stereotypes we harbor, and we’re capable of harboring them regardless of how individualist we are. The destroyer of those stereotypes is the individualism that allows us to have a relationship with someone regardless of their characteristics. Only then can we see how wrong we were.

* As stated elsewhere, the state arresting me and extorting me for nearly $2,500 six months ago ravaged my bank account and basically put me back at square one, albeit with $250~ or so. If I pursue this avenue, all funds contributed to that campaign will be returned, either directly or via matching donations to donors’ campaigns.

Alt-Right or Libertarian?

The alt-right has an odd relationship with libertarians, primarily because so many libertarians defected from the rEVOLution to join the Trump Train and sign on with the alt-right, but they have since continued to call themselves libertarians. There are others, like Stefan Molyneaux, who have some libertarian-ish positions, too, which serves to further muddy the divide. Regardless of a person’s individual preferences on specific policies, though, there is a line between the alt-right and libertarianism.

They are not the same thing, and they are mutually exclusive because of where this divide takes place.

An alt-rightist isn’t a libertarian who personally thinks transgender people have a mental illness; there’s more to it than that, and thinking that transgender people are mentally ill won’t qualify someone as being alt-right. It will qualify them as an ignorant dick, but there are ignorant dicks in all sects and groups. Personally, I don’t know how someone gets from libertarianism to “I hate transgender people,” but I will admit that there’s no direct conflict between the two, even as I would suggest that hating anyone for any characteristic isn’t really kosher.

This, however, is more to do with the difference between hostility and aggression. The NAP–libertarianism–they do not prevent someone from being hateful or hostile. They only prevent a person from using force, violence, and coercion to take that hostility and turn it into action. Such a libertarian can call me mentally ill all day long without violating the NAP, because that’s merely hostility and [probably] hatefulness; such a libertarian cannot, by definition, support having me arrested and sent to a prison or mental hospital against my will, as that is an act of aggression. This is part of the problem with the whole “mentally ill” thing, because I won’t deny that there comes a time when it’s necessary, for a person’s own good, to incarcerate the mentally ill. Suicidal tendencies won’t justify this, but if a person believes he is Abraham Lincoln living in the 1860s, I’m not going to sit here and say there’s no case to be made for putting him in a mental hospital whether he likes it or not. In fact, I’m not going to make a ruling on that right now, because there’s no reason to. I’ll deal with that some other day.

For the most part, though, there is the basic idea that mentally ill people belong in behavioral hospitals, in the same way that criminals belong in prison. I’m trying very hard to avoid the accidental topic I’ve digressed into. By calling me mentally ill, in modern society, whether the person is intending to or not, they are implicitly suggesting that I should be locked up, in the same way as if they called me a criminal they would be implicitly suggesting that I should be locked up. So calling a transgender person “mentally ill” isn’t really that cut and dry when it comes to the NAP, because there are implications. I just wanted to get all that out of the way.

So here’s a thing that most libertarians and alt-rightists have in common, and you’ve heard me talk about it before. My previous article contained a video that discussed it. Apparently someone didn’t like the music, so I also have to get this out of the way. You can say a lot of things about my music, but if you accuse me of writing monotonous music, then you’re showing that you have no musical ear whatsoever. “Overly ornate,” “too complex,” and “too many instruments at once” have been fair criticisms people have leveled, but monotonous? I’m worried for anyone who would make such a statement about music. Anyway–the thing.

Black Lives Matter is inherently racist.

Libertarians are a bit like atheists in that there are very, very few statements that we can make about “all libertarians.” Speaking generally, most of the libertarians that I know would agree that Black Lives Matter is racist. They would also agree that police forces are footsoldiers of the state whose primary responsibility is oppressing, kidnapping, extorting, and killing the American People while they wear a mask of “acceptable usage of violence.” In short, police are organized thugs. They shouldn’t be killing anyone–and that’s where the libertarian ends the sentence. However incidentally, Black Lives Matter argues that police shouldn’t be killing anyone… of black skin color. That, by definition, is racist, as it takes a subset of a larger group and sections it off, assigning it a value on the basis of one arbitrary characteristic. What is the arbitrary characteristic? Race. Taking a subset of the entire population on the basis of race and saying “this is the value of this subset” is, by definition, racist. Would all libertarians agree? No. Most would avoid the subject, and I do think that libertarians should avoid the subject. I’m only bringing it up here to explain the difference between libertarians and the alt-right.

So here we have a racial group in the United States that has sectioned itself off–with the help of many confused non-black people–and has placed itself on a pedestal by omission. There’s no avoiding this. If I say that “I love cats,” it necessarily places cats above all the things that I don’t love. It does not specify what I don’t love, just as Black Lives Matter doesn’t imply that white lives don’t matter at all. It just means I love cats more; it just means, whether intentionally or not, that black lives matter more. If this was not the case, then Black Lives Matter would simply be Victims’ Lives Matter, or Americans’ Lives Matter. But it isn’t, and we can’t pretend like it is and overlook the racism involved.

The alt-right is reactionary. It is, in fact, a reaction to SJWism. Now, I’m an egalitarian at the core. I don’t think anyone who argues for fair treatment of the disabled, LGBTQ, minorities, or anyone else is automatically an SJW. I’m not going to try to define an SJW, but if you have made it this far, then you know who I’m talking about. The people who run around talking about reparations and saying that Texas shouldn’t be able to ban abortions.

When people saw the current state of affairs in the United States, they reacted. So we have to, once more, be honest about this. There are too many goddamned special interest groups, and way too much identity politics going on. “Identity politics” used to be a dirty word in our culture; now it’s considered acceptable. There is Breast Cancer Awareness, but no Testicular Cancer Awareness. There is Black History Month, but no White History Month. There is Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers, but even All Lives Matter is criticized as racist, as is the KKK, while BLM and the Black Panthers get a pass. There is the LGBTQ group.

And one thing we have to take note of is that, in every single one of these cases, the identity group is supposed to vote Democrat, to the extent that you are a heretical pariah if you do not. The LGBTQ Community wants fucking nothing to do with me, just like Pro-Life women weren’t welcome at the Women’s March. Because it’s not about representing All Women, is it? It’s about representing Democratic Women. LGBTQ Pride isn’t about representing all LGBTQ people; it’s about representing Democratic LGBTQ people. And if you don’t go along with it–if you dare speak against the group that you are supposed to sacrifice your personal identity to, you are considered a heretic and just as bad as the people not in that identity group.

It was freaking inevitable that white Christian men would see this happening and would react by forming their own identity politics group, and that is the alt-right. They’re not all Christians, they’re not all white, and they’re not all men, but white people march with Black Lives Matter and men marched in the Women’s March, so we have to accept that even these identity politics groups fundamentally fail to do what they’re trying to do. This failure is the reason that collectivism will ultimately fail.

So people noticed this and said, “Fine! They want to form their Women’s group and fight for Women’s rights? They want to form their black group and fight for black people’s rights? They want to form their sodomy group and fight for sodomites’ rights? They want to form their Muslim group and fight for Muslims’ rights? Fine! They all banded together, so we’re all going to band together to! Proud White Male!”

Thus, the alt-right was born.

Now, I’ve stated that libertarians and alt-rightists agree on the premises. The premise is that there are too many special interest groups, and way too much identity politics going on. Again, generally this is true, but very little is true of all libertarians. Put two libertarians together in a room and the only reason they won’t come to blows over their disagreements is the NAP.

Libertarians and alt-rightists diverge in the response to the observation. The alt-right reacts by forming their own identity group to basically fight against the other identity groups.

Libertarians don’t react at all; we proact. The libertarian position is egalitarianism and equality: “We are all individuals, not defined by a few characteristics we happen to have. None of these special interest groups should exist; no one should be playing identity politics.”

To return to a favorite, Martin Luther King Jr. argued that people should be treated equally, with no regard to their skin color. He didn’t argue that black people needed to be treated better; he argued that skin color shouldn’t be a factor in determining how people are treated. That is an egalitarian position. And, it’s worth pointing out, that if black people are being treated badly because of their skin color, then erasing skin color as a factor will have the side effect of ensuring that black people are treated better.

Libertarians continue on in the tradition of MLK: “Skin color shouldn’t matter. For them or for you.”

It’s racist to say “Black Lives Matter.” But it’s also racist to say “Proud White Male.”

The alt-right chooses to fight the rise of identity politics with identity politics.

Libertarians want to see an end to identity politics, because we are not blacks, hispanics, gays, transgenders, whites, males, females, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, alt-rightists, and so on. These are just adjectives we use to describe ourselves very partially. They do not define us. We are individuals, not adjectives. That is the libertarian position.

The alt-right just seized a different set of adjectives to play their identity politics with.

They are not us, and we are not them. They are not libertarians, no matter how many libertarian-ish positions they hold, and even if some poor, confused bastards still call themselves libertarians after signing up for Trump. There are some collectivist libertarian groups out there–I don’t know how they manage to reconcile it, and I suspect most of those play the identity politics game, too, because I’ve never met a communist who wasn’t a full-blown Social Justice Warrior, complete with confusing meaningless posts on Facebook expressing empty sympathy for people who probably don’t exist as “activism.”

But the essence of libertarianism is individualism. Because we are all unique, precious individuals is precisely the reason that we must have liberty, after all. There is no “one size fits all” that will please everyone or work for the entire population. Because of this, the only thing to do is embrace liberty and allow people of all sizes to be free to be their own size, whenever, wherever, and however they want to be that size or simply want to exist as that size.

Lastly, in regard to some idiotic college flyers that have been put up on some campuses, there is absolutely no connection between anarcho-capitalism and the alt-right. Individualism is a key component of anarcho-capitalism. I don’t care if you don’t know what capitalism is, but don’t you dare paint me with the same brush that you paint the alt-right with. That’s ignorant. There isn’t an AnCap alive who isn’t an egalitarian who recognizes the value of diversity. That’s because capitalism is economic diversity, but that’s a complex matter.

If someone embraces tribalism–or, even worse, nationalism–then they are most certainly not a libertarian. They’re an alt-rightist. I cannot claim credit or responsibility for anything that other people who happen to share a gender, ethnicity, religious [un]preference, hair color, skin color, cultural background, last name, or whatever with me did as my own achievements or crimes. Why not? Because they’re not me.

And believe me, I would love to claim credit for some of the stuff my ancestors did. Why? Because I recently learned some stuff about my ancestors.

First, my surname “Baker”–that is, before the name change–is actually derived from “Beaker.” We’ve never been bakers, it turns out. The name was pronounced “baker,” and eventually the “e” was dropped.

We’ve been in the United States since 1620. The first of my family to arrive here was Andrew “Andy” Baker, who settled with his new wife in the area that soon became Philadelphia–the original heart of our nation. That’s right. My family was in Philadelphia before Benjamin Franklin. Not only that, but the exploits of his son–John Baker–are up there with Daniel Boone. In fact, John Baker ran around with Daniel Boone. Even cooler? My family was sent here to the colonies by King James himself as munitions makers. Want to know what we did with that?

Not only did we invent the Kentucky Long Rifle–which was used to great effect in the American Revolution against the British Empire–but when the time came to make a decision, my family sided wholesale with the colonies, and we used those munitions we’d been making for King James to supply the colonies. We may not have written the Declaration of Independence or the Articles of Confederation, but it was my family’s guns and my family’s bullets that were used to fight the war. Even though Andy’s father was the First Knight of England–no joke–we betrayed the British Crown in the name of classical liberalism and self-governance. And I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one or more of Andy’s grandchildren had their signatures on the Declaration of Independence or were among the first national congress.

It’s really difficult not to feel a lot of pride over all that, and it has me wondering if there is some deep cultural root to my anarchism. This same family sided largely with the Confederate States, even though most of them weren’t landowners then–and thus didn’t have slaves. My roots go back in this country to the very beginning, and we are a large part of the reason that the colonies won their independence.

But it had nothing to do with me. I can’t claim their actions as my own. I didn’t do them. I would have, I’m certain of that, if I’d have been there. But I wasn’t there. If there is an afterlife and they can see me, I’m sure they look down on this anarcho-capitalist with pride, and I can look back on them with the same pride, but it ultimately has nothing to do with me.

Those people aren’t me. Stefan Molyneaux isn’t me. What, because we are both white, I get to claim his successes as my own? Because the Greeks were white, I get to claim the invention of the republic as my own?

No. I’m me. They’re them.

Understanding that is a key element of liberty. Forgetting that and trying to claim the successes of ancestors–while conveniently overlooking things like the fact that these same people gave us Nazism and both World Wars, and invented the most destructive weapon in human history, and remain the only people to have used that weapon–twice–is a key element of the alt-right.

Central Authority v. Self-Governance

It’s interesting to watch the UK currently going through what could be called its “federalist growing pangs,” especially as an American who (not to brag) has a pretty solid understanding of how states, rights, liberty, and economies work (all 4 of those are much more interwoven than the average person thinks), because we in the United States have already fought that battle. We fought it during the 19th century, and it was called the Civil War.

For those who aren’t aware, slavery was the catalyst to the Civil War, a fact that really can’t be disputed, but it’s not exactly fair to say that it’s the cause of the American Civil War. In reality, States’ Rights and the Tenth Amendment–the question of whether a centralized authority governed a state, or whether the state governed itself–were the cause of the Civil War, and slavery (abhorrent though it was) was merely the catalyst that brought States’ Rights to a boiling point.

Since even before the Constitution was drafted and the Federal Government formed, there was discussion about whether the Federal Government should have the authority to legislate over member states, and, if so, what parameters were acceptable. This is most evident in the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers (which I have read, but it’s been years, so forgive me), when Hamilton and Jefferson argued opposing viewpoints. Hamilton, a statist, argued in favor of a stronger Federal Government, while Jefferson argued for states’ rights and self-governance.

It has to be accepted that the two are at odds. For every power the Federal Government has, that is one power that the member-state does not have. If the Federal Government has the authority to determine what is and isn’t marriage, then the people of Mississippi who want to define marriage differently are, in effect, governed by the Federal Government, and not by themselves. While there can obviously be times when this is critical–such as if the state of Mississippi turned Gay Hunting into a year-long hunting season–the question of “when it is critical” is one that was debated extensively by the founders.

While I’m not going to launch into another long tirade about what is and isn’t a right, a few things must be pointed out. First, rights are not granted by governments. Let’s say that you have a box. I attack you and take the box from you. Years later, you get back up, fight back, and reclaim your box. Finally, I say, “Fine. Keep your box, then.”

Did I give you a box?

No, obviously not. That I stopped taking something from you, or that I returned something I had previously taken, is not the same as giving you something. And the course of human history makes it clear that rights are the box, because it’s inescapable that, in the earliest days of homo sapiens’ existence, a person could say and do pretty much anything they wanted. It doesn’t matter how far back we have to go–if we have to go back to the trees of the African plains, then so be it. The fact remains that liberty and rights are the natural state of affairs and that, in the very beginning, we had all rights.

It was not until the invention of the state that rights came under attack, and “come under attack” did they. Fast forward from the first chieftains and tribes to England in the 12th century, and you’ll find a mass of people whose “rights” are stomped upon at every turn; they could not be more unlike the ancient homo sapiens who spoke, thought, and lived freely. After much oppression, the British people came together, rose up, and took the box back with the Magna Carta. They did not then take back the entire box, but they took back a lot of it, and the past 800 years of human history have essentially been the people forcibly taking back more and more of the box.

To assert that rights are granted by a government is to fundamentally misunderstand rights, liberty, and human nature. Being able to speak, think, and act freely is the natural state of affairs. No right can be granted by a government. The government can either restrict a right or acknowledge a right, but it cannot create them. You are thinking of “social privileges,” but not rights. And you can argue all day long that this social privilege or that social privilege should be ubiquitous–that’s fine–but don’t call them rights, because they’re not, and calling them rights obscures your actual point of view.

The Confederate States had 150 years ago the opportunity to double down on the principles of liberty and self-governance that the Federal Government had been cracking down on, virtually since its inception. They did not take this highroad, though, and they merely used states’ rights as a mask to hide the fact that they wanted to keep slaves. To further backup the claim that the issue was never truly slavery and that slavery was merely the catalyst, consider this excerpt from one of Lincoln’s letters, where he reveals that his only concern is keeping the union together (e.g., continuing the encroachment of the Federal Government):

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.

Slavery was merely the mask around which the question of states’ rights was decided. It was always about self-governance versus centralized authority, and the Confederacy’s failure to stand on principles ensured their defeat.

When secession petitions circulated the Internet a few years ago, Obama responded to them by saying that the founders intended the union to be perpetual. This is such a flagrant violation of self-governance that it hardly needs to be addressed, but let’s address it anyway. The founders are dead. Their intentions, their desires, their motives, and their concerns no longer apply to this world, and they certainly do not apply to modern politics, because we are not governed by the dead. The idea that the founders had the right to impose a government upon us that we could never abolish or escape from is abhorrent to the thinking mind. They had no more right to consign us forever to a union than we have to sign our future great grandchildren to a union. The idea is absurd, and that a President of the United States so poorly understands the nature of liberty that he believes it is relevant what dead people wanted is horrifying.

It would be interesting to see a referendum go before the people of Mississippi that asked whether we should withdraw from the union. Of course, there’d be immediate arguments that we’re part of the same landmass (an argument that is ridiculous, since, so is Mexico and so is Canada, yet neither of them are required to be part of the United States), but it would be more interesting to see how it played out and whether a state would even be allowed to secede. I would bet “No.”

Similarly, I don’t think the UK’s referendum will matter. Even if support for withdrawing falls 80%, I don’t think it will be allowed to happen. Either the current UK government will pull some kind of shenanigans (the referendum isn’t legally binding, after all) to wave it away, or the EU will impose itself upon the UK. For whatever reason, despite knowing it for thousands of years, we have yet to apply the very basic truth that no centralized authority has ever allowed one of its members to just leave.

I’ve been pointing out for years that the United States and the European Union are identical in nature and structure, and that we have simply forgotten that. We have forgotten that our own 50 states are states, are individual republics and nations. California, Germany, New York, Texas, Russia–these are all states. Accepting anything less is the equivalent of relinquishing our right to self-governance.

That is the question that now stands before the UK. Are they ready to surrender the idea of self-governance, ostensibly forever, since even the United States, who fought this war 150 years ago, has not reclaimed its right? There are many arguments that put the cart before the horse, especially on the European Court of Human Rights and other matters, most of which are direct products of the UK people, and they argue that pulling away from those will diminish their own standing. What a bizarre concept. If your principles created that institution, then your principles do not rely upon that institution. Another of those things that should never have to be pointed out…

While I do personally think the UK should go with self-governance, there is a huge disconnect between the American mindset and the European mindset–an almost irreconcilable disconnect. The disconnect is almost as severe as the one between Americans and Asians, and it’s caused by the same question: Individual versus Society.

Me, I’ll side with the individual every single time. Even when they’re assholes.

====================================

For your amusement, the whole of the quote I pulled is:

I would save the Union. … If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” In this masterful message, Lincoln reaffirmed his support for abolition without apologizing for the pace of change, while also subtly preparing pro-slavery Union loyalists for the announcement to come.

…and it came from http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/emancipation-150/i-would-save-the-union.html .

Pay attention to the author’s remarks. “In this masterful message, Lincoln reaffirmed his support for abolition…”

What?

No, he didn’t. He, like, literally did the exact opposite of that. The only thing he affirmed was his ambivalence for abolition. He affirmed his support for keeping the Union together, and he affirmed that slavery and/or abolition were only means to that end, and that he didn’t care at all which was the one that achieved that end. How can someone be so brainwashed and so thick that they literally read the opposite from what was actually said? Lincoln basically said “I don’t care about slaves. I just want to keep the Union together, and I’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure that.” And from that, this dumbass takes away Lincoln’s affirmation for abolition???

I Am Not An Adjective

“Are you a transsexual?” someone asked me yesterday over the Internet. To be honest, they said “are u a transsexual” but it pains me to see such lazy writing–yes, even on the Internet and in a YouTube comment, I think the bare minimum should involve putting a question mark at the end of an inquiry. But I’m pretty out of touch with the way most people communicate, because I’ve never even texted someone anything like “im goin 2 the show wbu”.

Anyway.

6I use on YouTube the same pic that I use for my Gravatar–this one. As you can see, there’s nothing in particular about that pic that says “transgender” one way or another. Facial features are among the most difficult ways to identify someone’s gender, because there aren’t any facial features that are predominantly male or predominantly female. While I’m not the hottest chick out there, nothing in that pic indicates I may be transgender.

I’ve tied my various online accounts together pretty well: Quora, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, WordPress… All in the name of making it easier for people to follow me if they’re interested in doing so. It’s not hard, for someone who cares to, to take the path that starts at Facebook and ends with my Google+/YouTube profile, and that’s by design.

Judging just off the comment, I’m guessing that this is one of the Rand Paul supporters who happened to stumble across me again, a month or so after their initial bout of stupidity and ignorance, and he couldn’t resist the urge to pose the question to me again, since I ignored it everywhere else. We were initially having a decent conversation–though I was the only person defending my position, and everyone else was assaulting it and not listening, because a few logical steps is just too much to ask the average person to take–and then the discussion suddenly and inexplicably turned to my gender–as though it was in any way relevant to the topic. Things soon spiraled downward, as they tend to do, and I was briefly followed to various other places, but not in a way that was overwhelming or particularly bothersome. It was just annoying.

Clearly, this person doesn’t have much exposure to liberal issues, because “transsexual” has fallen out of use, and has been out of use in the U.S. for the past decade–it has gone the way of “transvestite,” and only someone pretty out of touch would use it. It’s almost like the transgender equivalent of “queer,” in fact. Now, you know me. I call myself a shemale, so I’m not going to get worked up over someone being politically incorrect. That’s not my point. My point is that he simply used a word that indicates he comes from a conservative background. A liberal would have said “transgender,” in the same way that a liberal would say “little person” or “homosexual” instead of “midget” or “gay.”

I would actually make the case that I’m transgender and not transsexual, but I’m not sure I would really want to use that fine of a comb to untangle the issue. Since it doesn’t matter anyway, my point is simply that he used a version of the label that indicates a rightwing mentality. And that’s fine. Hey, I’m an anarchist. In many ways, I’m on the extreme Conservative side.

People have a hard time characterizing my political leanings. Despite extensive conversations with a colleague, he told me last week that he wouldn’t know how to answer if someone asked him what my political ideology was. I don’t know why–it’s really simple. I think people should be allowed to do anything they want to do, as long as they don’t do anything that forcefully prevents anyone else from doing what the other person wants to do. I think that the state (what you’d know as “the government”) should be abolished, because, by definition, all it does is forcefully inhibit people from doing what they want to do, and we have forms of government that do not require force (namely: economics). When it comes to social matters, I am extreme left: people can say whatever they want to say, marry whoever they want to marry, smoke all the pot they want, and whatever else. I don’t care, because it’s not my business. It doesn’t affect me, and I have no right to force other people to behave as I want them to. Because of this, I am extreme right when it comes to the state (again, what you’d know as “the government”), because the state is a tool that people use specifically to force other people to behave as they want. There are two aspects to this: social and governmental.

Generally speaking, conservatives want Big Government, and they want to use that Big Government to enforce their conservative social ideas. They want to use the state to force people to not have homosexual marriages and to not get abortions, for example. Generally speaking, liberals want Big Government, and they want to use that Big Government to enforce their liberal social ideas. They want to use the state to force people to serve homosexual weddings, to force religious institutions to provide birth control, for example.

Goddamn, I didn’t mean to get off onto all of that.

Homosexual. Christian. Atheist. Agnostic. Muslim. Jew. Mexican. Black. White. Man. Woman. Gay. Straight. Heterosexual. Anti-theist. Baptist. Methodist. Catholic. Republican. Democrat. Shiite. Conservative. Liberal. Libertarian. Anarchist. Statist. Corporatist.

Individual.

Our society is obsessed with labels. It doesn’t matter who you are; there are a few dozen labels that can be applied to you right now based on your beliefs, ideas, and practices. Labels have several problems. Labels create stereotypes. After all, a label is really only a category, and members of a category, by definition, all share some traits. These shared traits become the stereotype. Even if the shared traits are predominantly positive, it’s still a stereotype and it’s still a negative thing. When we use a label on a person, we immediately create a mental image of what that person is like. Every word in the opening paragraph of annoyingly written one-word “sentences” will form an image in the reader’s head no matter how open-minded and tolerant the reader is. This is the purpose of labels and categories, after all. This is also the danger of labels and categories.

The use of labels prevents us from recognizing a very important fact: the person we’re affixing the label to is an Individual, not a group. We are all Individuals. We are not groups. Because of this fixation our society has with labels, categories, and groups, we long ago abandoned the idea of Individual Rights and stealthily swapped it out for Group Rights. There is no greater threat to Liberty than the use of labels and groups.

We talk about homosexual marriage and we debate whether or not it should be allowed. This overlooks the very important fact that what we’re really talking about is an Individual. We refer to people as adjectives, not as Individuals, and in this we err. The question is not whether gays should be allowed to marry; the question is: Should this Individual be allowed to marry? The answer to this question is an immediate and resounding, “Yes.” “Yes,” however, isn’t the right answer. The right answer is: “All Individuals should be allowed to do the same thing that all other Individuals do.”

There’s no such thing as a homosexual. There’s no such thing as an Atheist. There’s no such thing as a Christian. There’s no such thing as a Mexican. There’s no such thing as a Statist, Corporatist, Democrat, Conservative, or Libertarian. There are only Individuals. There may be an Individual who is a male and who is attracted to males, but this Individual is not a homosexual. “Homosexual” is simply a label we use to describe this Individual so that we can readily identify certain characteristics the Individual has. Labels should be used for nothing else. Labels should never be used to dictate one’s rights.

An Individual’s preferences in religion, politics, government, sexual orientation, or whatever should have no bearing on what an Individual is allowed to do. When we allow these preferences to dictate an Individual’s rights, then we immediately move from a system based on Individual Rights and to a system based on Group Rights. From there, it’s just a matter of time before the Majority is dictating its preferences onto the Minority.

Gay/Lesbian marriage is the finest example of this problem. As a society, we are arguing about whether the group we call “homosexuals” should be allowed to marry. We’ve missed the point entirely. The only reason that can be given as to why “homosexuals” should not be allowed to marry is that certain people believe it is a sin, it is wrong, it is an abomination, or it is “spitting in the face of ‘God!’” (Which of these reasons you get depends on how far into the South you are when you ask). There’s simply no other reason that can be given as to why homosexuals should not be allowed to marry.

Plato long ago recognized that Democracy has a severe flaw: it can devolve into a dictatorship over minorities by the majority. In the case of “homosexual marriage,” this is what is happening. A marriage between two men is only going to affect the two men who married; a marriage between two women is only going to affect the two women who married. It does not affect bystanders in the tiniest way.

Why should groups who are unaffected by the actions of another group be allowed to dictate whether those actions are allowed? There is a flip side to this argument that is largely unrecognized, though: If “heterosexuals” can marry but “homosexuals” cannot, then Individuals that belong to the Heterosexual Group have more rights than Individuals who belong to other groups. With this scenario, one Individual has more rights than another Individual.

With this set-up, the group with the most rights will be the majority. This is a clear problem in a nation built upon the idea that “all men are created equal.” Equal rights is one of the fundamental pillars of our nations; through our entire history as a nation, we have said that everyone should have equal rights. We have never, though, practiced what we preached by allowing everyone to have equal rights.

Rights have been divided among racial lines in the past. Black Americans had fewer rights than White Americans. Rights have been divided among gender lines in the past. Female Americans have had fewer rights than Male Americans. We did not “create equality” when we abolished these separations in regard to Rights; we simply went from very broad categories to smaller categories.

Now Rights are divided among sexual orientation, age, religious preferences, and all sorts of other asinine things. Sexual orientation is now the most dominant and most severe example in our culture. We went from a society in which “blacks” couldn’t marry “whites” to a society in which “homosexuals” couldn’t marry “homosexuals.” We still discriminate just as strongly and passionately as we did in the days of segregation. The only difference between discrimination today and discrimination then is that the groups to which we show discrimination are smaller and more narrowly-defined. We’re still discriminating.

And we always will be. The idea of groups will never go away, nor should it. The ability to classify and categorize is an evolutionary advantage that has helped us survive and thrive on a planet largely hostile to our existence in a universe largely hostile to our existence. We’ve categorized bears as dangerous, thus we avoid bears. We’ve categorized lightning as dangerous, thus we do not climb telephone poles during storms. The ability to classify and categorize is important to our survival, and we shouldn’t stop classifying ourselves. Categories and classifications make it easier for us to identify certain characteristics which make our lives easier. Classification is key to our lives.

The only way we should not use categorization is in regard to Rights. We can eliminate this problem quite easily by recognizing that humans are never adjectives. This isn’t “a homosexual” about whom we’re saying must be denied the right to marry. This is an Individual who happens to either have male characteristics while preferring relationships with other Individuals who have male characteristics or female characteristics while preferring relationships with other Individuals who have female characteristics. That’s what this is about: an Individual who has certain characteristics.

When we divide rights based upon groups, we end up with a culture full of groups who all claim, “The characteristics of our members are the only appropriate characteristics, and anyone who does not have these characteristics can be denied whatever rights we wish to deny them.” This is what is happening in the “homosexual marriage” debate. The group who numbers as the majority is claiming, “The heterosexuality of our members is the only appropriate option and anyone who is not a heterosexual can be denied their right to do what heterosexuals are allowed to do.”

Since we can divide Individuals into groups based on any arbitrary and irrelevant characteristic we want, our society can create a lot of problems by using Group Rights. Since 90% of Individuals are right-handed, why don’t we pass a law which says that “lefties” can’t attend public schools? Since Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S., why don’t “Christians” pass a law which says that all “non-Christians” can’t vote? These issues are absurd, of course, and the latter is protected by the fact that, thankfully, most Individuals who are Christians still appreciate the right to religious freedom.

One day homosexuality could become the preference of the majority of Individuals. The percentage of Individuals who are homosexuals has been steadily climbing for decades now, after all, so it is quite possible that this percentage will climb so much that homosexuality is the majority. At that time, “homosexuals” could make it illegal for heterosexuals to marry. This scenario isn’t exactly implausible.

The “heterosexuals” want to deny rights based on sexual orientation right now because they are safely the majority. This is true of all groups who want to deny rights based on an Individual’s categorization into one group or another: they are all currently the majority. Majorities change. After all, once upon a time the majority believed that Zeus was real. Once upon a time, the majority believed that the Earth was the center of existence. Once upon a time, the majority believed that illnesses were sent directly from Yahweh and that the best cure was prayer, not medicine.

Simply because a group is a majority right now doesn’t mean they always will be, and when they are no longer a majority, their rights are likely to be restricted as strongly as they once restricted the rights of other groups. “Heterosexuals” may one day find that they are not allowed to marry. “Whites” may one day find that they are not allowed to vote and must use separate facilities. “Men” may one day find that they are not allowed to vote and only make about 50% of the money “women” make for doing the same job. Tables turn.

The best way to protect our rights is by making sure that everyone has the same rights. After all, if everyone has the same rights, then it doesn’t matter who is the majority, because the majority won’t have the power to dictate the rights allowed to the minority. Protecting ourselves (if we are the majority) in the future, in case we become a minority, is not the only reason we should make sure everyone has the same rights, though. It’s the right thing to do. Tolerance is the right thing to do, and it is nothing but intolerant to deny one group or another certain rights.

There will always be groups. There will always be adjectives which we use to strip away the personhood of someone. There will always be gays, straights, blacks, whites, Christians, Atheists, Republicans, Conservatives, Democrats, and Liberals. The concept of groups will never vanish from our society. The concept of Group Rights, however, must vanish from our society, because it is deeply flawed.

We are not gays. We are not straights. We are not blacks. We are not whites. We are not Christians. We are not Atheists. We are not Republicans. We are not Conservatives. We are not Democrats. We are not Liberals. We are not Statists. We are not Corporatists. We are not Libertarians. We are not Rationalists.

We are Individuals with characteristics that are most easily identified and explained by using one of the above labels. We have preferences, beliefs, ideas, philosophies, moralities, codes, and principles. But we, as Individuals, each define our own preferences, beliefs, ideas, philosophies, moralities, codes and principles—they do not define us.

I am an individual.

And so are you.