Not too long ago, I was a staunch warhawk and neoconservative. While I coaxed myself as a “small government conservative,” I was a huge fan of George W. Bush’s presidency and advocated for a massive foreign policy as well as a fixed moral standard imposed by the federal government. I supported both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, as well as the expansive War on Drugs. In addition to this, while I claimed to be against the Patriot Act, I was still in favor of using the power of government to collect bulk data from Muslim Americans. To top it all off, as an ardent Christian, I believed my views were truly virtuous and what God was looking for in an individual. But over the past year, I have undergone a radical psychological change in my pursuit of the truth; one which I hope each and every one of you will have the privilege of experiencing yourselves.
In my high school and early college years, I was never much of a reader. I would ask for interesting books for Christmas and never get around to reading them. But last May, I was allured by George Charles Roche’s book Legacy of Freedom and spent the rest of the summer of 2014 reading dozens of conservative books by the likes of Glenn Beck, Ben Carson, Allen West, Dinesh D’Souza, and Michael Savage. I always had an interest in politics, but now that I was finally reading books, I felt adequately armed with enough facts to be able to debate against liberals.
While perusing through Amazon to look for more books to purchase last October, I came across some interesting books written by Judge Andrew Napolitano. I was somewhat familiar with Judge Napolitano because I had seen him on Fox News a number of times, however I had no idea until opening up his books that he was a libertarian. I read his book Lies The Government Told You with great caution, as I still fervently supported the War on Drugs. However the argument he posed was far too logical for me to ignore. Judge Napolitano explained how a government that has the authority to control what drugs you put in your body has the authority to then regulate ANYTHING you consume. This made me understand that the regulation of drugs is a gross violation of the first amendment. I finally relinquished my deep-rooted conviction that drugs needed to be banned when I realized that what you consume is not a crime.
Theft, assault, and murder are crimes. The rhetoric goes that since the consumption of illegal drugs increases an individual’s likelihood to commit crime, they need to remain illegal and punishable by law. However, this is extraordinarily fascist, since we would be jailing millions of people who have yet to commit an actual crime. It would be as logical as saying all blacks need to be imprisoned since they commit crime at a higher rate than whites. I then realized that I could not say I supported freedom of speech and freedom of enterprise if I continued to support the War on Drugs, which prohibits both of these. As Walter Block writes in his book Defending the Undefendable, “There is nothing in whiskey, drugs, gambling, prostitution, or moneylending that is intrinsically criminal. It is solely because of legal prohibition that gangland methods become associated with these fields.”
Like Glenn Beck, I began calling myself a conservative-libertarian. I still however believed in a robust military and interventionist foreign policy. I believed Islam to be the greatest threat to my life and my liberty, which is why we needed a resilient presence around the globe. But after rewatching the 2012 Republican Presidential debates, Ron Paul’s arguments made me begin questioning my beliefs once again.
After reading Judge Napolitano’s book Theodore and Woodrow, as well as Recarving Rushmore by Ivan Eland, I finally woke up to just how sinister and fallible the role of the presidency is. Learning of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s failed presidencies made me begin to feel weary of the political process. However I only believed that this was because men didn’t follow the Constitution. I was wholeheartedly convinced that if politicians would begin to follow the Constitution, we would be able to shrink government… even though such a feat has never been accomplished in the history of the world.
I kicked off the new year by reading Judge Napolitano’s latest book, Suicide Pact. Judge Nap outlined the federal government’s egregious usurpations of power during war and exposed the great lengths government has gone to in order to ensure we would be dragged into war. Ever since the dawn of the Progressive Era, nearly every single president has entangled us in foreign affairs in the name of national security. They say it’s to protect our freedom, yet our liberties are greatly violated here on the home front.
It was at this point that I finally began identifying myself as a libertarian. For the first time ever, I realized that it was not the responsibility of the United States government to police the world. It came to my understanding that the only just war is one in self-defense, therefore the US would have no legitimacy intervening in Iraq and Syria against ISIS.
I remained a Constitutionalist and believed government was still necessary to defend our lives and our liberty. I believed putting greater checks and balances on government would rid of all of our problems and create a state accountable to its people. These were my stances when I first created this website as YoungJeffersonians.com back in February. I believed in expanding upon our forefathers’ wisdom and reverting our nation back to their intended vision. As I read a few Ron Paul books, my beliefs were confirmed and I truly believed our founding fathers were the guiding beacon to freedom.
Then in late March, something magical happened to me and my mind was blown like never before. I watched a YouTube video by Adam Kokesh where he challenged a conservative to a debate on the principles of liberty. It was titled Conservative tries to understand libertarianism #KOKESHED. I opened up the video believing that libertarianism was essentially just Constitutionalism. But what Adam Kokesh brought to the table was far superior to a political philosophy. He presented a moral philosophy. He articulated that if it is always morally wrong for individuals to steal, assault, and murder, then it is also always morally wrong for governments to do this. We are all equal under natural law, yet government by its very nature is placed above natural law.
Adam went on to explain how the state exists by first initiating force against us. We as individuals own ourselves, and we also rightfully own the fruits of our labor since our bodies produced it. Therefore if no thief can initiate force against us and assert a higher claim on our wealth, then neither can an institution that calls itself government. This is called the non-aggression principle. What the government calls taxation is simply theft. It is the forced confiscation of property that is not theirs.
Up until that moment, I had never before in my entire life pondered a world without government. I accepted it as the status quo and never once questioned its existence, but rather just its role. As a follower of Christ, I realized that I could not pretend to be against crime yet support an institution that steals from 350 million people on a daily basis and kills whoever it pleases. Government is the greatest criminal enterprise in the world and is able to warp morality with impunity. No piece of paper or Constitution can give any man the moral justification to steal, assault, and murder. I was instantly sold on Adam’s principles and forever said goodbye to statism and hello to liberty. Once you cross the threshold to freedom, there’s no going back.
Initially I had a hard time understanding how a free society would operate, however I knew that in due time I would better comprehend the philosophy of anarcho-capitalism. In first converting to the philosophy of anarcho-capitalism, all that matters is being opposed to the initiation of force. No number of if, ands, or buts can justify the use of violent force against peaceful people. The questions of “who will build the roads” and “who will settle contract disputes” are completely irrelevant when it comes to the question of force. The ends do not justify the means.
After my conversion to anarcho-capitalism, I then read Adam Kokesh’s free ebook Freedom where he answered a number of my concerns about a free society, and I would recommend you all give this a read if you are curious to learn more about voluntaryism. My next two months were spent watching many YouTube videos from Adam Kokesh, Stefan Molyneux, and Larken Rose. I then read Practical Anarchy by Stefan Molyneux, followed by Murray Rothbard’s books Anatomy of the State and For A New Liberty.
Through reading these books, I realized that it was not possible to achieve liberty through the political process alone. Government acts as our masters and we are their slaves. We were all born as free, beautiful, and independent human beings. If you want to be free, then start living free. Freedom begins with the freedom of conscience and unshackling our minds from negative thoughts.
My transition to the philosophy of anarcho-capitalism made me realize just how inconsistent all statist ideologies are. They claim to have a grasp on morality yet violate the basic tenets of all universal ethics in order to achieve their goals. Conservatives and liberals alike will say that stealing is bad, and therefore we need an institution that will steal from us in order to prevent others from stealing from us. Conservatives say that we need defense services to keep us safe, yet they promote the use of violence against you if you peacefully opt not to fund it. Liberals say that we need to be charitable to the poor because it is virtuous, yet they promote the use of violence against you if you peacefully opt not to fund it.
It is wonderful that conservatives see a demand for defense and liberals see a demand for charity, which is why it is ludicrous to believe that the only way people will fund these services is if we hold guns at their heads. Private defense companies currently exist in the free market, and are much more ethical and efficient than government defense because they are accountable to their consumers. Private charities currently exist in the free market and are also much more ethical and efficient than government welfare since they are accountable to their donors. For more on this, I recommend reading James Chillemi’s recent article on how the free market is willing and able to provide consumers in every aspect of life.
All in all, my transition to anarcho-capitalism was a very enlightening one and has truly broadened my perspective of the world. I see the intrinsic good in mankind and am much more optimistic about the future as we move towards a free society. When we humble ourselves, we are able to see our own faults. And by keeping an open mind, I was able to come to the understanding that I was brazenly supporting the most callous of crimes against mankind. After reading my story, I am hoping you too will research more into these principles and follow the same journey I did. Anarcho-capitalism is beautiful.
I will end with a quote from anarcho-capitalist philosopher Jeffrey Tucker. “Anarchy is all around us. Without it, our world would fall apart. All progress is due to it. All order extends from it. All blessed things that rise above the state of nature are owned to it. The human race thrives only because of the lack of control, not because of it. I’m saying that we need ever more absence of control to make the world a more beautiful place. It is a paradox that we must forever explain.”