Neither Bullets nor Ballots: Essays in Voluntaryism
by Carl Watner, George H. Smith, and Wendy McElroy

Essays about anarchist participation is government, elections, and war. Arguments for nonviolent and nonpolitical action to resist the state. They contend that such participation is inconsistent with libertarian principles. They are not persuasive. They show it might be embarrassing and futile. The essays are better than I expected, especially Watner's last essay on European history.

George Smith Quotations
George Smith argues for nonpolitican action as a strategy and as the only moral tactic.

Publicity that links libertarianism to a political party—when the essence of libertarianism is anti-political—is counterproductive. (9)

To run for or support candidates for political office is to grant legitimacy to the very thing we are attempting to strip of legitimacy. (19)

Libertarians should oppose the vote in principle—they should oppose the mechanism by which political sanctification occurs. (20)

To vote a person into office is to give that person unjust authority over others. (21)

When an LPer enters the voting booth, he is attempting to place in office a person who will have unjust authority over me. (21)

... it's not true that laws have to be repealed in order to be rendered ineffective. There are thousands of laws on the books today which are virtually dead, because the public would not tolerate their enforcement. (26)

We wish them to view government with contemptuous indifference. This cannot be achieved through political action. (28)

Carl Watner Quotations

Spooner argued "that voting and tax-paying were not legal evidence of assent to the Constitution. Both were done under duress and were, in effect, acts of self-defense." (39)

The core of Thoreau's argument is that men become machines when they obey orders without thinking or when they give the government authority to speak or act on their behalf. "Must the citizen ... resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? (40)

...when non-violent resistance is practiced, attention is drawn to its underlying principles. (65)

Frank Chodorov wrote that a voter's boycott, unlike other revolutions, but much like non-violent resistance campaigns, "calls for no organization, no violence, no war fund, and no leader to sell it out." (67)

...the European anarchist tradition never fully developed this principle of self-ownership in the same manner as the individualist-anarchists in the English speaking world. It was always anti-authoritarian and had a more collectivistic orientation towards property ownership than did the individualist tradition. (70-71)

What unites them is their commonly shared view of the State as a criminal gang and as the chief enemy and most dangerous enemy of all people in society. Where they differ is in their expectations regarding the form a future anarchist society will take. (71)

On Wright:
"He consents to be vested with power to do what he acknowledges to be wrong, and swears to do it, and then gravely assures us that he never intended to do it, Such a man is unworthy of any trust." (36)

Wright summarized his argument by stating that he would not vote, even if by his one vote he could free all the slaves. (36)

[This shows that this sanctimonious objector to government cared more about his ego than about freedom. RH]

Wendy McElroy Quotations

Government is a group of individuals organized for the purpose of extracting wealth and exerting power over people and resources in a given geographic area. Ordinarily people object to and resist thieves and robbers; but in the case of government they do not because the government has created a mystique of legitimacy about its activities. (43)

Libertarianism is the political philosophy based on the concept of self-ownership; that is, every human being, simply by being a human being, has moral jurisdiction over his or her own body. This jurisdiction, which is called individual rights, cannot properly be violated, for this would be tantamount to claiming that human beings are not self-owners. (43-44)

An unnamed 17th century libertarian wrote:
What can be more absurd in nature and contrary to all common sense than to call him Thief and kill him that comes alone with a few to rob me; and to call him Lord Protector and obey him that robs me with regiments and troops? As if to rove with 2 or 3 ships were to be a Pirate, but with 50 an Admiral? But if it be the number of adherents only, not the cause, that makes the difference between a Robber and a Protector: I will that number be defined, that we might know where the Thief ends and the Prince begins. And be able to distinguish between a Robbery and a Tax. (44)

Libertarianism is a direct attack upon the mystique of the State. It recognizes that the State is only an abstraction and reduces it to the actions of individuals. It applies the same standard of morality to the State as it would to a next door neighbor. If it is not proper for a neighbor to tax or pass laws regulating your private life, then it cannot be proper for the State to do so. Only by elevating itself above the standards of personal morality can the State make these claims on your life.

Libertarianism commits treason in the most profound sense of that word. Not treason as it is commonly understood, for conventional treason is the act of disloyalty to a particular State, usually undertaken to benefit another State. The treason of libertarianism goes much deeper. It is a spiritual rebellion directed not at a particular State, but at the idea of any State whatsoever. (48-49)

The State has no more right to demand taxes for roads than a thief has to demand payment for stolen property. (52)

Year Read: 1984, 1997


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