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Posts Tagged ‘Lysander Spooner’

The Drug War: An Irrational Crusade | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 25, 2023

The European Union’s average rate of drug-related deaths is five times higher than Portugal’s. From 1998 to 2011, drug treatment attendees in Portugal increased by 60 percent. This result is encouraging because Portuguese citizens are seeking help, rather than fearing incarceration.

Even the diabolical Charles Manson distributed drugs while imprisoned. Does one honestly think the government will eradicate drugs off the streets?

Donavan Lingerfelt

It’s been over five decades since the war on drugs began in the United States, and billions of dollars coerced from taxpayers have been spent on this frivolous operation. The General Accounting Office’s report found that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program did not deter youth from drug abuse. How exactly has this war benefited taxpayers when drug use has increased, and more potent drugs are being consumed? Even the diabolical Charles Manson distributed drugs while imprisoned. Does one honestly think the government will eradicate drugs off the streets?

The mere suggestion of legalizing drugs causes many to accuse me of advocating drug abuse. I do not have any inclination to consume harmful drugs, and neither do I condone such behavior. My motivation for writing this article, however, is grounded in freedom. I hope that after reading this, people across the political spectrum will understand this objective. For people on the right, they should realize this war is unconstitutional. The Constitution does not grant the government control of what someone injects into their body. The state continues to extend its tentacles of power over its people, and the war on drugs is just one facet of that reality.

The state believes it has the prerequisites to decree what can and cannot be allowed, not just regarding drug policy but in our private lives as well. Lysander Spooner, the nineteenth-century theorist, argued that vices are not crimes: “Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.” You have total autonomy of your body, not the government or anyone else. This should hopefully register with individuals on the left. Today’s political climate has forced citizens into a political dichotomy with no room outside the uniparty’s parameters. Most politically passionate people fail to realize that they share quite a bit of similarities with their supposed “enemies.” It’s not Left versus Right; it’s the state versus you!

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Spooner: We Didn’t Consent to the Constitution

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2022

Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby ameliorating their condition. But it would not therefore be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or ever consented to.

Lysander Spooner

The number who actually consented to the Constitution of the United States, at the first, was very small. Considered as the act of the whole people, the adoption of the Constitution was the merest farce and imposture, binding upon nobody.

The women, children, and blacks, of course, were not asked to give their consent. In addition to this, there were, in nearly or quite all the States, property qualifications that excluded probably one half, two thirds, or perhaps even three fourths, of the white male adults from the right of suffrage. And of those who were allowed that right, we know not how many exercised it.

Furthermore, those who originally agreed to the Constitution, could thereby bind nobody that should come after them. They could contract for nobody but themselves. They had no more natural right or power to make political contracts, binding upon succeeding generations, than they had to make marriage or business contracts binding upon them.

Still further. Even those who actually voted for the adoption of the Constitution, did not pledge their faith for any specific time; since no specific time was named, in the Constitution, during which the association should continue. It was, therefore, merely an association during pleasure; even as between the original parties to it. Still less, if possible, has it been any thing more than a merely voluntary association, during pleasure, between the succeeding generations, who have never gone through, as their fathers did, with so much even as any outward formality of adopting it, or of pledging their faith to support it. Such portions of them as pleased, and as the States permitted to vote, have only done enough, by voting and paying taxes, (and unlawfully and tyrannically extorting taxes from others,) to keep the government in operation for the time being. And this, in the view of the Constitution, they have done voluntarily, and because it was for their interest, or pleasure, and not because they were under any pledge or obligation to do it. Any one man, or any number of men, have had a perfect right, at any time, to refuse his or their further support; and nobody could rightfully object to his or their withdrawal.

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Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner (1808–1887) is the American individualist anarchist and legal theorist known mainly for setting up a commercial post office in competition with the government and thereby being shut down. But he was also the author of some of the most radical political and economic writings of the 19th century, and continues to have a huge influence on libertarian thinkers today. He was a dedicated opponent of slavery in all its forms — even advocating guerrilla war to stop it — but also a dedicated opponent of the federal invasion of the South and its postwar reconstruction. See Let’s Abolish Government, a collection selected personally by Murray Rothbard as Spooner’s best work.

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TGIF: What Really Protects Liberty?

Posted by M. C. on May 2, 2022

by Sheldon Richman

The upshot is that if people’s values are not consistently pro-liberty, it won’t matter in the long run much what the Constitution “says,” and if they are pro-liberty, then it won’t matter whether there is a written constitution — or a state for that matter.

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist” – Lysander Spooner

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, as if we needed another demonstration, that little stands between the government and our liberty. Champions of individual freedom have been properly disturbed by how much power governments at all levels have seized since the pandemic hit in 2020.

To make matters worse, officeholders and public-health officials object when the judicial branch occasionally overturns their power grabs because judges are said to be unqualified to rule on “medical” matters. So, if judges furnish constitutional and other legal grounds against power grabs, we’re supposed to ignore them because they in fact are issuing medical opinions for which they are not qualified. That’s pretty inventive reasoning, but unfortunately it is in the service of tyranny and serfdom.

Some judges have made good, that is, power-limiting, decisions during the pandemic, though they might well have gone the other way. (See John Hasnas’s “The Myth of the Rule of Law.”) It’s only a slight exaggeration to say the judicial process is a coin toss.

When judges get it right, the devout constitutionalists among us cheer: “The system works!” But what about all the times the rulings went the other way? Where does that leave the constitutionalists? They will say that the problem isn’t with the Constitution; it’s with the judges. But considering that the Constitution doesn’t interpret itself, who were they expecting to interpret it? Robots that have been correctly programmed? Who would do the programming? Even people within the competing schools of constitutional interpretation don’t agree on everything.

Since it’s people all the way down and the process is internal, not external to society, don’t the constitutionalists have a wee problem?

James Madison called the Bill of Rights, which he wrote, a “parchment barrier.” But he couldn’t have really meant that because parchment is a poor material for making the heavy-duty, barrier liberty requires due to the predatory nature of politicians. The only real barriers in this regard are the people themselves — people, that is, who refuse to give, carry out, or obey unjust orders. Paraxodically, orders require consent, and that can be withheld. (Think of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which Brian tells a prison guard that he doesn’t have to follow orders and the guard replies, “I like orders.”)

Strictly speaking, constitutions and statutes cannot compel unjust conduct or compliance. They are merely words. When governors ordered “non-essential” businesses and schools to shut down and people to stay home in 2020, those politicians didn’t point guns at anyone. People obeyed, but I suspect that only a few did so lest they be punished. If someone had disobeyed, armed agents of the state might have been dispatched, but why did they obey orders? No gun was held to their heads. They might have been fired and others put in their place places, but no one would have been subjected to force.

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What Spooner Can Teach Us in Our Age of Neofascism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 24, 2021

Lysander Spooner argued that there is “no treason” against the Constitution because it has no authority over Americans. Another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, and a powerful rejoinder to the neofascism of the hour, should be neo-Spoonerism: there is no treason against the federal government, because the federal government does not abide by the document which it claims as its foundational authority to govern.

Jason Morgan

Mises Wire readers are probably familiar with nineteenth-century American proto-libertarian Lysander Spooner (1808–87). Spooner’s radical challenges to statism are best summed up by the title of Murray Rothbard’s edited collection of Spooner’s greatest writings: Let’s Abolish Government. Spooner was a great American, an anarchist committed to the free administration of justice, anticollectivism, dismantling slavery, and preventing the federal government from setting up a new kind of nationwide statist enslavement on the ruins of the wartorn South.

Lysander Spooner’s most prominent work is probably his post–Civil War tract No Treason. Spooner wrote No Treason to argue that secession from the federal union is no crime.

Of this work, section 6, “The Constitution of No Authority,” stands out. In “The Constitution of No Authority,” Spooner saps the battlements of the federal edifice, the Constitution itself. The Constitution, he writes, is at best a contract, and even then at best a contract among the very few “who had already come to years of discretion” living at the time who were consulted on the document. The Constitution begins with “We, the People,” but Spooner pulled the curtain back on that rhetoric to argue that “the People” could mean, at most, the people alive and of majority age who had some say in how and when the document was signed and ratified. That is all.

The Constitution,” Spooner writes, “so far as it was their contract [referring to the handful of people with a hand in making the document], died with them.” The entire sentence is emphasized in the original. Lest anyone miss the meaning, Spooner begins the section with his conclusion: “The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation.”

In other words, no one living in Spooner’s time, approaching a century since the Constitution was hammered out and inked at the bottom, can be said to be engaged in unconstitutional acts. Because there is no Constitution, Spooner says. Whatever it was, it ended when the people who signed it passed from the scene. The framers “had no natural power or right to make [the Constitution] obligatory upon their children,” he writes. Americans cannot and should not be bound by contracts which some people made among themselves long ago.

In short, because there is no Constitution, there is “no treason.”

(As for the arguments that voting and paying taxes count as tacit agreements to participate in the Constitution’s imagined governmental regime, Spooner demurs. People could vote without a Constitution as well as with one, he says, and paying taxes is akin to being the victim of highway robbery, to which no person would consent if he had the choice. So, neither voting nor paying taxes implies a personal ratification of the parchment from 1789.)

Spooner’s pioneering arguments against organized theft known as centralized government are especially powerful in our time. I would love to have read Spooner’s assessment of the 2020 “election,” for example, and his views on the “stimulus,” inflation, shortages, counterfeiting, polymorphic infrastructure, and imperialist boondoggles which the 1789 Constitution has placidly overseen. I think Spooner might have said, in a Massachusetts deadpan, “There is no treason in checking out of that mess. There is no reason not to.”

But if Lysander Spooner were alive today, and were reprising “The Constitution of No Authority,” he might take much farther some of the elements found in his original work. He might push his arguments so far as to give rise to a new kind of Spoonerism, a neo-Spoonerism. I think this neo-Spoonerism would be the natural complement to the original. For the obverse of the Constitution’s having no authority is the plain fact that no one who purports to uphold the Constitution actually does so. Not only is the document itself void—not a single soul among us having signed it, as Spooner argues at great length. But even if “We the People” had signed such a contract, it would still be void, because the counterparty, namely the government, has violated, I think it is no stretch to say, every single promise and clause. The Constitution is invalid on its face, and invalidated by egregious and habitual breach.

Spooner points this out in a narrowcast way in “The Constitution of No Authority.” He writes:

It is no exaggeration, but a literal truth, to say that, by the Constitution—not as I interpret it, but as it is interpreted by those who pretend to administer it—the properties, liberties, and lives of the entire people of the United States are surrendered unreservedly into the hands of men who, it is provided by the Constitution itself, shall never be ‘questioned’ as to any disposal they make of them. (pp. 22-23; emphasis in original)

The Constitution creates an absurdity, Spooner argues, in which the document claiming to safeguard our liberties makes us the “property” (Spooner’s term) of the government. On the Constitution’s own terms, the Constitution does the opposite of what it purports. This, too, Spooner says, is a mark against anyone’s having to abide by it.

But let us take a much broader view of the Constitution and its applications. Much has changed since Spooner’s day. Do those who claim constitutional authority abide by the Constitution? Do they legitimately work within the confines of the document which we are to believe gives them the right to govern “the People”? If they do not—that is, if the government itself does not follow the Constitution—then there is a second powerful argument extending from Spooner’s original insights and reinforcing them.

This is neo-Spoonerism, as I call it, or the argument that the Constitution has no authority in the broad sense as well as the narrow. Not only does the Constitution fail on the technical charges Spooner brought against it, such as that no one living today signed it and that the government which the Constitution sets up is the opposite of what it claims. But also, and perhaps even more damning, no one in government today even abides by this specious document in the first place. The Constitution is undone by itself, by reason, and by circumstances. The third, circumstantial indictment of the Constitution is what I refer to as neo-Spoonerism, an organic outgrowth of the Spoonerist philosophy.

To test this hypothetical neo-Spoonerism, choose any part of the Constitution at random and see whether it is being faithfully observed. For example, from Article I, Section VIII: “The Congress shall have the Power to … raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” This is evidently breached.

Or, from the Bill of Rights, Sixth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” On this, for a start, let us call the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and every Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judge on the list to the witness stand. Just to get warmed up.

Or from the Bill of Rights, Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Civil asset forfeiture seems almost a parody designed to flout this Amendment, and the spirit of the Constitution as a whole.

This list could go on for quite some time. I did not even touch the Ninth or Tenth Amendments, by a faithful reading of which the majority of the federal Colossus would have to be torn down. The federal government is tracking and trammeling our speech, limiting our freedom of assembly, endangering us with reckless involvement in foreign wars, keeping political prisoners, staging coups against sitting presidents, forcing us to inject experimental serums, and shadowing journalists. Does it make “the People” any more than mocked fools to abide by the Constitution when the “people’s government” does no such thing?

Lysander Spooner argued that there is “no treason” against the Constitution because it has no authority over Americans. Another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, and a powerful rejoinder to the neofascism of the hour, should be neo-Spoonerism: there is no treason against the federal government, because the federal government does not abide by the document which it claims as its foundational authority to govern. Author:

Contact Jason Morgan

Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan, and was a 2016 Mises Institute Fellow. For a list of his books and publications, see his personal site.

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There Are no Such Things as Constitutional Rights –

Posted by M. C. on April 21, 2020

We are born with rights and we die with rights, whether any piece of
paper exists or not. If rights are claimed to exist because of a
constitution , no rights exist at all. The tyranny we face today is
because of the Constitution, not in spite of it.

By: Gary D. Barnett

A man’s natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.”

Lysander Spooner (1867). “No Treason: No. 1-”, p.7

In the midst of this fraudulent pandemic, there has been a renewed call to look to the Constitution for answers. This is a smoke and mirrors solution that does not address the real problem. Constitutional rights do not exist, and if they did, those so-called rights would be worthless. Rights cannot be written into law or claimed due to a political document because they would have no merit.

The rights of man are natural, and all rights stem from the single factor of life itself, for if man has a right to life, all other natural rights are inherent as well. A right to life means that one has a right to defend his life. It means that one has a right to support and sustain his life. This means he has a right to property, the highest form of property being self. It means he has a right to move about freely, to work, to protect others, to speak and congregate in order to protect and defend life. All individual and natural rights are inherent due to humanity, not to any other men or documents drafted by men.

This seems simple enough, but Americans seem to clamor for direction and approval by those that wish to rule over them. Instead of accepting that a right to life is natural, and cannot be bestowed by men, people seek approval by some authoritarian class for clarity concerning the legitimacy of something so obvious. This in and of itself destroys the very core of common rights, because having to put into contract or law the guidelines for what is natural is the acceptance that rights do not exist unless sanctioned by a higher body. This is asinine, and the notion of a constitution to spell out what is inherent weakens any position of strength of the individual.

Some have forgotten, and most have no understanding of the history of the Constitutional Convention. This was a coup completed by Hamilton and his followers to create a strong central governing system, where most all power was given to a federal or national government instead of to the individual and the states. Those attending the convention had claimed their task as only to alter and improve the Articles of Confederation, not to scrap the current Constitution of the United States. But there was never any intention of improving upon the current “law of the land,” but only to set up a new federal state with unlimited power. Keep in mind that the Articles of Confederation did not allow for a president, did not allow the federal government any power whatsoever to tax, so it was extremely restrictive of any executive or federal power whatsoever.

So if freedom were desired, why then would a new constitution that gave immense powers to the federal government over states and individuals be so revered by those calling themselves Constitutionalists? Why do any that have read Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the power’s clauses, claim that this document was ever meant to protect the rights of man? How is an unlimited power to tax, to control all commerce, foreign and domestic, to coin and control all money, to provide for the general welfare, to borrow money on the credit of the United States, to declare and prosecute war, to raise and support militaries, and to make all laws necessary to enforce all these powers and more?

The Constitution is a contradiction at every level, as granting these unlimited powers to the federal nationstate, and then at the same time claiming to protect the freedom of the the individual, is not possible. Every single power “granted” in this horrendous document negates any protection of liberty.

So why is this document that was long plotted through conspiracy, that was secretly written and accepted behind locked and closed doors in the dark of night, that erased all protections of liberty then in place in the Articles of Confederation, and that was signed by politicians, many of whom gained much more power in government after its implementation, so revered? Selling the Constitution in the late 18th century was in effect not much different than selling total tyranny over a fake pandemic today.

If the Constitution was meant to protect individual rights and the freedom of Americans, why are the masses of this population being forced into poverty, loneliness, isolation, quarantine and self-imprisonment? Why are medical martial law and martial law being carried out? Why have the businesses of Americans been forcibly closed down? Why have Americans been forced to avoid contact with all others? Why is mass surveillance of everyone the new normal, and constant threats by government of forced vaccination and mandated behavior in place? Why does anyone think this is a free country due the the totalitarian powers authorized in the United States Constitution?

Lysander Spooner explained this perfectly when he said:

“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it, In either case, it is unfit to exsist.”

Lysander Spooner (1971). “The collected works of Lysander Spooner”

The Constitution is used, administered, and defined by government, it is interpreted by the Supreme Court, which is made up of nine judges appointed for life also by government. In other words, it is simply a political tool of government used and interpreted to give power to the state, not to its people. It was only intended to fool the people into believing that they had freedom and power only due to a piece of paper drafted by politicians. It is worthless and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the natural rights of man, but in fact is detrimental to liberty because of the assumption that only government can define individual rights through parchment secretly drafted in the dark of night 233 years ago.

We are born with rights and we die with rights, whether any piece of paper exists or not. If rights are claimed to exist because of a constitution , no rights exist at all. The tyranny we face today is because of the Constitution, not in spite of it.

As to the Constitution:

It was a bloodless coup d’état against an unresisting Confederation Congress….The drive was managed by a corps of brilliant members and representatives of the financial and landed oligarchy. These wealthy merchants and large landowners were joined by the urban artisans of the large cities in their drive to create a strong overriding central government – a supreme government with its own absolute power to tax, regulate commerce, and raise armies.”

~ Murray N. Rothbard–Conceived in LibertyVol. 5, [306]

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