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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Claire Wolfe

More pure than thou

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Kitty Antonik Wakfer whacks all of us who say we support WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, but who haven’t cancelled our Amazon and PayPal accounts or cut up our MasterCards and Visas.

She does one very good thing, which is to provide a list of possible payment alternatives — even if many of them haven’t reached the point of sustainability (and may never) and others aren’t really applicable.

But the whole piece also does one very bad thing. It implies that because she has chosen the course of boycotting businesses on behalf of WikiLeaks, others who haven’t are wrongheaded at best, and hypocrites and defeatists at worst. She rips into Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy, the Center for a Stateless Society, Rational Review News, and a bunch of others. Never gets around to me. But I felt the barb, anyhow.

I haven’t dumped Amazon or PayPal and I don’t plan to. I love Amazon. Hate PayPal. And yes, my conscience pricks me for not joining the boycott. I like to live by my principles. But the simple, pragmatic point is that I need Amazon and PayPal. The $30 or $40 a month they regularly bring in (more around the holidays) is a big deal to me. The alternatives Wakfer mentions won’t replace them.

When it comes to alternative payment systems, it’s not just the Catch-22 of “they won’t become viable until people use them and people won’t use them until they’re proven viable.” It’s that, one after another, highly promising and highly touted digital money or payment systems have fallen due to mismanagement, flawed concepts, or the federales. (I’ve got $500 or so in precious metals sitting in an e-gold account I’m no longer allowed to access because the feds imposed stupid identity rules on them. Anybody want to figure out how to retrieve that money for me, eh?) Now, I would love to see a business with better customer service and a less cozy relationship with the feds compete wildly successfully with PayPal. But you know what? In this case, I’m not willing to play King Canute against that particular tide. I’ll support WikiLeaks and Manning with my words and my donations and ask others to do the same. But that’s it.

Now, I don’t know Kitty Antonik Wakfer. She may be a terrific human being. I hope she is. Her heart’s in the right place.

But I would ask all the “more pure than thou” freedomistas of the world: Have you walked a few years in my shoes?

Say you’re a libertarian or a free-market anarchist. Surely, you object to paying taxes — especially for wars of aggression or government handouts. Surely you object to having a government ID number. Drivers license? Auto registration? You know darned well those are clear violations of your right to travel freely.

So tell me: Do you care enough about your principles to live without all those things? Do you refuse to file your 1040? Refuse to use an SSN or get government ID? Refuse to make your vehicle “legal” with the government? Refuse to send your kids to public school or to comply with your state’s homeschool curricula requirements? Of course, if you live by your principles on that level, it also means you can’t open a bank account, can’t travel internationally (unless you sneak), can’t hold a regular job. It means every time you drive you’ll be watching for cops and taking alternate routes in an attempt to avoid them. It means the state might come and take your kids away from you. It means you’ll be a refusnik in your own society.

But heck — You believe in living according to principles, right? So what’s the problem? If you can pat yourself on the back for closing your Amazon account and imply that everybody who didn’t follow your lead is a hypocrite, surely you’ll be willing to take your principles all the way, wherever they might lead — to prison or penury … or freedom. Or all of the above.

Ask me how I know.

For 15 years, I increasingly lived according to my principles. I did those hard things. Went without numbers and ID. Became an exile in my own land. Got by with a little help from my friends (and sometimes a lot of help from them). And every one of those friends was less “pure” than I; but they should kick my ass if I ever have enough nerve to damn them for their lack of purity.

It takes all kinds. It literally does: Ghosts, Agitators, Moles, and even the occasional Cockapoo.

I no longer live like that. Got tired. Went broke. Became weary of being an outcast — weary of knowing I’d have to fight through every little tiny thing that others take for granted. I’m older and ready for a little calm and comfort. I don’t regret one minute of trying to live free. I’m glad I did it. But it didn’t make the world freer. And for me, that time is done.

Today I resist taxes by making very little money rather than by saying an in-your-face NO. I showed a passport to travel to Panama last year. I comply with just about all of the little everyday compliances demanded of modern American serfs (though living in a small town, there are blessedly few such demands). I contemplate becoming a Cockapoo, though I haven’t yet brought myself to that point and may never. Today I’m more Agitator than Ghost. Anybody who wants to condemn me for that is perfectly welcome to.

Thing is, even in my most hardcore days, I wasn’t as “pure” as some folks. Go to the Mental Militia forums and look up the postings of suijurisfreeman if you really want to see hardcore. And I defy anybody to find me one, single freedomista on this earth who never violates a principle — never pays a sales tax for a purchase, lives on property which is neither taxed nor subsidized, totally ignores the existence of the state and all its works, drives boldly down the highway sans license and registration and doesn’t bother to stop when the red light flashes in the rear window because to stop would be to obey the unjust state. Show me the person who goes through life without a single compromise of principle. Show me.

The closest person I know to that ideal is my friend Joel. And even he survives amid compromise.

And unless you are that perfectly pure person whose life is the epitome of principle every moment of every day, then don’t go around condemning others for failing to take a step that you consider proper and necessary — but that also doesn’t cause you any huge inconvenience.

31 Responses to “More pure than thou”

  1. Kent McManigal Says:

    It isn’t a violation of principle to pay a bribe/tax to a politician/thief who has a gang of millions standing behind him ready to kill you for any infraction. Get away with not paying when you can, and do what you have to do to survive another day.

  2. Claire Says:

    I agree, Kent. Gotta point out, too, that Amazon and PayPal were probably just doing the same.

    With big businesses, it’s always hard to know. Some are willing collaborators with the state. In other cases, they’re just avoiding becoming a target, just like most of the rest of us. Craven? Perhaps. Realistic? That, too.

  3. Scott Says:

    Pure is like perfection-it’s impossible. Sheer practicality requires you to do certain things,whether you like it or not. Driving sans tags will get you nailed very quickly(though I worked with a guy who had tags 5 years out of date). But if the chance presents itself to “forget” a permit/tax/fee/whatever and the risk is low(or at least acceptable),well, forget it and go on. It’s a risk assessment. I’ve lived in rural areas with almost no law(and,not surprisingly,crime was virtually zero),and never felt the lack of a bazillion rules/regulations and the fees that go with them.
    A surprising number of “important” things can be ignored with no negative results for you-look at your situation,and decide for yourself. Everyone’s case is a little different.

  4. Kevin Wilmeth Says:

    Looks like this rattled you a bit, Claire. Hopefully that passes quickly, because you’re a lot more help than hurt, I would say precisely because of your experience.

    Stone-casting would seem to me to be a giveaway that someone’s priorities are a little clouded.

  5. Claire Says:

    Hi, Kevin. :-)

    Ticked me off is what it did. Partly because I do feel as if I’m not doing all I can for WikiLeaks and Manning. (But then, that way lies madness. We’re never “doing enough” to fix all the injustices and outrages in the world. Never could.) Partly because I don’t like holier-than-thous — even though I admit I’m capable of being one, myself.

    Yes, I think Wakfer’s piece would have been a lot stronger if, instead of excoriating others for not lining up behind the one method she’s chosen, she had taken a positive stance and encouraged people to do more in WikiLeaks and Manning’s cause — whether by donating money, joining the boycott, writing letters, protesting, etc. As is, she turned a positive opportunity for promoting freedom into a negative.

  6. Pat Says:

    I had to research these people — Kitty Antonik Wakfer, along with her husband, Paul http://morelife.org/personal/ — to know who they were. I can’t see that they’ve done any more than some others who have read, believed, and proselytized about freedom. But what they _have_ done is inhale the fumes and let it go to their heads. We should leave them to their intoxication.

    (You, yourself, Claire, have commented on those who think that words are sufficient to consider themselves “working for freedom.” I think these two are examples you had in mind.)

  7. gooch Says:

    For those still looking for a PayPal substitute there is GPal dot net
    https://www.gpal.net/

    They used to be called GunPal and started out as PayPal members that were upset with PayPal for not allowing Gun transactions.

    Not Free but very reasonable and no problems with purchasing guns or ammo.

    gooch

  8. Claire Says:

    Thanks for the reminder, gooch! I had forgotten all about them. I know they’ve been around for a while and have a track record. I’ll look into setting up an account with them.

  9. Claire Says:

    Okay, gooch. I’ve gone and done it. I’ve opened a gpal account. Now I just sit back and wait for the PayPal protest bux to roll in, right? LOL. Seriously, though. Good idea and thanks again for the reminder.

    Donate using GPal

  10. Carl-Bear Says:

    Yawn.

    Wake me up when the holier-than-thou idiot stops using US FRNs.

  11. Claire Says:

    Carl-Bear. Damn good point. I forgot about that one!

    Even during my “purest” times I couldn’t have tackled the job of never using FRNs. Lots of other things might be a fine idea in theory. But in reality? Cumbersome. And I’ll never forget that experiment in egold. Damn, damn, damn and doubledamn that one …

  12. parabarbarian Says:

    I’ll bet even Billy Beck takes off his shoes when he gets on an airplane.

  13. Winston Says:

    I’m of the opinion that it’s small ‘real world’ actions that count for the most, like convincing someone to buy their first gun, or managing to convince a liberal that they’re wrong. (Many just need an epiphany to get on the path to non-statist thinking)

    Maybe ‘count for the most’ isn’t completely accurate…but not everybody will get the chance to blow open a big conspiricy.
    Certainly I think things like that should count for more than canceling a paypal account, or voting for an LP candidate that won’t ever win, or holding up a sign for an hour at a tea party…

  14. naturegirl Says:

    I’ve probably taken the exact opposite life route you have Claire…..It’s really harder trying to be a ghost, as recent years go by….That and all the extra “work” that has to be done just to do “normal every day” things most people do…..In other words, it’s alot of work and planning to be “a purist” and you still can’t escape all of it…..

    Sometimes your own freedom and survival trumps any call by someone else to step up and support the cause……you contribute what you can, in your own way, and let the pedestal people ramble on……

  15. jerry jones Says:

    I thought the whole self-ownership ideal was not letting anyone dictate your actions or morality.
    What I’ve always enjoyed most about you Claire is that you have never spoken down people.
    F- them if they have no humor or humility.
    (Whatever…I do want I want!)

    By the way, I finished The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship.
    It was brilliant! It boggles my mind to know that much of the material was written to sway a LEO audience (SWAT magazine).
    That is what I call heavy lifting in the cause of Liberty.
    Instead of brow beating the choir for their lack of holiness you go straight into a hostile crowd and tell them what they should hear but don’t want to. Who does that?
    I’d wager gold ounces to George Washington FRNs that you have put more people on the path to liberty than most other full time freedomistas for that very reason.

  16. Karen Says:

    I think that some freedom fighters are among the worst examples of coercive behavior. If you’re not marching in total lockstep with their particular utopian dogma, then you’re no damn good at all. Any decision to think for one’s self, assess one’s own individual situation and apply one’s own logical action is deemed total failure. I hate being told what to think and what to do like a stupid child. I rankle at passive aggressives who tell me why I’m wrong then “allow” me to think what I please because I must have my reasons(ignorant as they may appear to the entire thinking universe).

    Claire, the beauty and effectiveness of you’re work is that you treat me like a thinking rational adult. You invite me to think without ever ramming your ideas down my throat. If I reach different conclusions on occaision, that’s OK because at least I have listened and thought. Your being here with your writings to open minds, is far more important than whether or not you use FRNs and pay sales tax for your house paint. The willingness and ability to think is the one freedom that must survive and the only one that cannot be taken away.

  17. Mark Says:

    Thank you for this article, Claire. It, and the comments, have helped me to reach a decision I’ve been struggling with for years. I’m no longer going to sweat the small stuff. Cop-magnets like not having a drivers license or tags are simply not worth the hassle. I’m still not going to use an SS#, but I’m not going to close down ALL of the bank accounts and charge cards that I’ve gotten previously with that #. I’m also going to continue NOT donating a dime to the FedGov, even though it means living at the poverty level to avoid having to file (incredibly easy when you can’t get a regular job anyway, due to not using an SS#). But I’m going to stop thrashing myself over the little things. I do the best that I can to fight leviathan, and it’s still MUCH more than most people do. So that will have to be good enough. It’s not worth rotting in a cage, just to avoid a drivers license. One has to consider that they have a gun to your head in such circumstances. Such being the case, it’s stupid to risk your life and/or relative liberty for silly little ripoffs like that. Perspective is what’s needed. Keep the big picture in mind. Working on it…

  18. Matt Says:

    The problem with anarchy is it is hard to get it organied enough to have a positive effect.

    The very few anarchists I have known seemed to really want anarchy for the sake of personal power or what profit they might be able to make from the rules going away. That said, they don’t really seem willing to move to the pirate towns of Somalia, or the Af/Pak frontiers to gain experience with what anarchy can really bring.

    Libertarians would be intersting to me if I ever really met one. The few that I have run into seem to be mostly interested in less taxes and more drugs. Rules that protect them from others and the government always seem to be okay though.

  19. Kent McManigal Says:

    Hey, now, Matt, I’m an anarchist. I’m not against rules; just Rulers. I am fine with rules, just not arbitrary ones imposed at the point of a government wielded gun.

    Less taxes is a good goal (zero is less, right?). More drugs is not my goal, but ending the War on (some) Drugs would not result in more drugs, but in fewer drug deaths and kidnappings. And more liberty.

    I support letting government bite itself through using “laws” against itself, although it’s not important enough to me to involve myself in that particular circus. Get rid of The State and those counterfeit “laws” would vanish and wouldn’t be available to be used against anyone. That would be a very good thing.

    And Somalia is NOT an anarchy, but a clash of governing thugs.

  20. Joel Says:

    Much as I appreciate the testimonial, Claire, you know how many of those non-compromises I’d cheerfully ditch given the chance. Especially in winter, when choices often seem to come down to death by hypothermia or malnutrition. I wouldn’t even be able to read this conversation if other people weren’t kindly paying for my connection. Purity be damned: every FRN is sacred, being as they’re so rare.

    And yes, the ideologically pure are a pain in the ass. Especially the ones who do nothing but talk.

  21. bumperwack Says:

    resistance is futile; you will be assimilated…

  22. Matt Says:

    Kent,

    I like your points and can pretty much agree with them. I’m all for less teaxes, ending the war on drugs for the sake of freedom, not tax revenue, less rulers and the least amount of rules possible.

  23. MamaLiberty Says:

    I went through a phase of “purist” thinking, but never really fooled myself that I was able to live even close to the “pure” ideal.

    Now I do my very best to measure each and every action, choice and word against the law of non-aggression. I can forgive anything but aggression, in others and in myself.

    The rest is avoided where possible, and not where it is not… and a lot of in between. Utopia is not an option.

    And I have to third or forth (lost track) the idea that Claire has probably done more to help people both understand and live the “outlaw” life – in relative freedom NOW – than anyone else I know.

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not waiting around for any dumb utopia. I’ve got life to live today. :)

  24. clarence Says:

    send the wakfers my way and i promise to find them a room without a view. running water down the stairs. oh, and make sure they get tased and thrown in jail so they know why their ‘purity’ isn’t so expensive.

    clarence

  25. Ken Says:

    “I think that some freedom fighters are among the worst examples of coercive behavior. If you’re not marching in total lockstep with their particular utopian dogma, then you’re no damn good at all.”

    Remember: Someone who disagrees with one on nearly everything is just a gentile. Someone who agrees with one on most things is a heretic, and therefore a much worse person. ;-)

  26. Kitty Antonik Wakfer Says:

    > More pure than thou

    It was only by chance that I discovered that this response by you even existed, since you did not notify me (my email address is at the bottom of every MoreLife.org and SelfSIP.org page) which would have been a courteous thing to do – or at least made a short comment at the RRND item of notice on my article w/ a link to here for the full blog entry. I’m several days behind reading my Inbox and even when I did finally see RRND’s 1/26 copy (after beginning this reply), the inclusion of this blog entry of yours gave no indication that it was in response to my article.
    I’m responding inline – using your blog quotes so as to not take anything you wrote out of context.

    As to your title, no, I and Paul are not more “pure” – just more consistently principled in wanting to actually attain a totally free self-ordered society without rulers.

    > January 25th, 2011 by Claire
    >
    > Kitty Antonik Wakfer whacks all of us who say we support WikiLeaks and
    > Bradley Manning, but who haven’t cancelled our Amazon and PayPal
    > accounts or cut up our MasterCards and Visas.

    First and foremost, I do not do hatchet or “whack”-jobs in my writings (nor does Paul). I want people to improve, to act in accordance with what will maximize the lifetime happiness of each, the purpose of each person’s life whether or not s/he realizes it. (For the foundational basis of this stated purpose, please read Paul’s treatise “Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction” – http://selfsip.org/fundamentals/socialmetaneeds.html – and the links from it.)
    I do not seek out, nor take any pleasure in pointing out, the errors in another’s verbal or written statements. I would much have preferred in this current situation to actually have discovered that only a few liberty promoting writers were acting in contradiction to their stated approval of WikiLeaks, but unfortunately this was not the case. And I included the request that readers notify me of liberty-promoting (or otherwise) writers that have actually done as I show is needed.

    The “cut up our MasterCards and Visas” is a considerable exaggeration. I never suggested that anyone “cut up” their MasterCards and Visas, or simply cancel their accounts without that symbolic gesture – but perhaps this is an attempt to to get readers at the very beginning of this blog entry to feel “whacked” by me.
    I wrote in (and provided a link to) my comment at the RawStory article on Anonymous (did you read it?), “While we have not canceled our Bank of America Visa credit card nor our [2] other Visa and MasterCards through other institutions [(US and Canada - Paul is a legal Canadian resident)], they are on an emergency-only use basis.” This is because there are some things that appear to be virtually impossible to accomplish without use of a credit card (renting a car is one that comes readily to mind). I also have an over $10K credit limit on one card and about the same again between the others and am loathe to give up that emergency use capability. Besides, if I do not use the cards then having this emergency credit available is not supportive of Visa or MasterCard in any manner. But yes, previous moderately frequent use of all our credit cards is on hold and will not resume unless Visa and Mastercard change their ways. I even went so far as to get a debit card with my credit union, only to realize after getting it that it uses Mastercard to accomplish the transfer from the credit union. Since MasterCard does get some remunerative benefit from its use (from the merchant, but less than for a credit card), I no longer use the debit card except to get gas when I am in a real hurry (such as a few days ago when ice cream was melting because we forgot the cold box ice packs).

    > She does one very good thing, which is to provide a list of possible payment
    > alternatives — even if many of them haven’t reached the point of
    > sustainability (and may never)

    How do you know they are not yet sustainable? And if you and others do not patronize them, then how will they ever reach that point? Are you waiting for the “cannon fodder” of people (who *you* clearly think are foolish) to pave the way for you?

    > and others aren’t really applicable.

    Only one was not of use for payments within the US – XOOM.com – but since there are liberty-promoting individuals and websites outside the US (yes, there really are!), those individuals and websites can receive money from USers using this method.
    As for the others, how do you know that they “aren’t really applicable” until you fully investigate and maybe even try them out. Ah, but its so much easier to just continue to use the already known – never mind that they have shown themselves to be totally unworthy of association. The road to liberty is strewn with boulders and every one of us will need to push and tug our way along or we will certainly never get there.

    > But the whole piece also does one very bad thing. It implies that because she
    > has chosen the course of boycotting businesses on behalf of WikiLeaks,

    “[O]n behalf of WikiLeaks” is not the correct way to put it. I have discontinued associations with these businesses on behalf of *myself* – because my pride, my honor, my self-esteem requires that action. I never even hesitated when I first read of Amazon’s and PayPal’s actions. I was aghast that they would do that without any formal government action against them – and disgusted that they would be so cowardly. Claire, were you not equally aghast and disgusted?!

    > others who haven’t are wrongheaded at best, and hypocrites and defeatists at
    > worst.

    Yes, all of that and with some even more. They are wrongheaded because the mission of gaining a truly free self-ordered society without rulers is so difficult that nothing less than constant and total fidelity to the task in every word and deed can possibly attain the goal. Some are hypocrites because they are not practicing what they preach. When the going gets tough, they show themselves to be weak cowards. Some, such as Rockwell, are even worse than hypocritical. Rockwell openly admits that he has *never* preferenced against tyranny. I used to think he was an honorable man. No more! Most socialist humanists have far more honorable behavior than he apparently does.

    > She rips into Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy, the Center for a Stateless
    > Society, Rational Review News, and a bunch of others. Never gets around to
    > me. But I felt the barb, anyhow.

    Good to this last! A guilty conscience can be very useful.
    Actually I purposely pointed out the positive actions that Wendy McElroy and Brad Rodriguez along with Tom Knapp at Rational Review News have taken on their respective websites. But, yes, I think that they can move away from PayPal and I do hope that they found the provided information as beneficial in doing so.

    > I haven’t dumped Amazon or PayPal and I don’t plan to. I love Amazon.

    How can you “love Amazon” any longer? Sure I too used to think Amazon was great, but there are certain actions which are of the “make/break” kind. They are simply *unacceptable* and are unforgivable, unless and until the actor admits the error, apologizes and seeks to make reparations in some appropriate manner. If Amazon had simply required the government to get a court to *order them* to terminate the hosting service for WikiLeaks, then they would be clean and I would still have my account there. Even now if they admitted fault and made a substantial restitution payment to WikiLeaks, then they would be showing the right stuff (honor and courage). I would think that under those circumstances most people who left them would then return. I know that I would, because, yes, Amazon has always had excellent services and prices.

    > Hate PayPal.

    We never liked it much either for some of their repeated practices, but only used it for the convenience of others. We find Xipwire to be every bit as good for transferring (to and from), cheaper and the people to be much more responsive and friendly – real actual people with names and faces!

    > And yes, my conscience pricks me for not joining the boycott. I like to live by
    > my principles. But the simple, pragmatic point is that I need Amazon and
    > PayPal.

    Claire, since your “conscience pricks me for not joining the boycott”, there is a definite reason for this and for everyone when this happens – it is a signal from your background processors that there is a conflict/contradiction taking place between the programming of your emotions (yes, emotions are habits programmed by the mind) and your conscious thoughts/decisions.

    However there are no conflicts of *consistent and coherent* principles with reality nor between emotions and intellect – in much the same way that there are no conflicts of interests between rational people. Besides, it is ridiculous for anyone to say that they *need* Amazon and PayPal (in the sense of cannot possibly do without them) when both have been in existence less than 15 years!

    > The $30 or $40 they regularly bring in (more around the holidays) is a big
    > deal to me. The alternatives Wakfer mentions won’t replace them.

    How do you know that unless you try! Do you really want to continue to receive funds from people who also do not have sufficient honor and consistency of principle that they too would want to abandon both Amazon and PayPal? Claire, you are really selling your supporters short here and effectively encouraging them to continue ignoring principled action – or at least forgiving them ahead of time for not taking principled action.

    > When it comes to alternative payment systems, it’s not just the Catch-22 of
    > “they won’t become viable until people use them and people won’t use them
    > until they’re proven viable.”

    Okay. It’s good to see that you recognize that.

    > It’s that, one after another, highly promising and highly touted digital money
    > or payment systems have fallen due to mismanagement, flawed concepts, or
    > the federales.

    So it is important to continue to help more viable alternatives come into existence, so long as one does not risk too much (this is where the pluses and minuses of overall strategy are correctly considered – there is no matter of ethical or moral principle involved here).

    > (I’ve got $500 or so in precious metals sitting in an e-gold account I’m no
    > longer allowed to access because the feds imposed stupid identity rules on
    > them. Anybody want to figure out how to retrieve that money for me, eh?)

    What would be wrong with you acceding to the ID requirements in order to retrieve the money and then terminating your account with e-gold? If you will describe the downside, then perhaps a solution can be worked out. Paul has a 30+ year history of finding ways out of such things. We never used e-gold because it seemed to be mainly of value to much wealthier people and we could see no places where we bought anything that would take e-gold.

    > Now, I would love to see a business with better customer service and a less
    > cozy relationship with the feds compete wildly successfully with PayPal. But
    > you know what? In this case, I’m not willing to play King Canute against that
    > particular tide.

    The metaphor is totally misplaced! The actions of the State are not inevitable and unstoppable like the tide. If one does not buck the State (evade, avoid and undermine it) in every possible manner that does not harm oneself as to make life unbearable or its continuance impossible, then one is not really actively working towards a much freer society. And more alternatives are a prerequisite for more true freedom in the sense of more available actions – something that all people want and that the State is constantly preventing from coming into existence.

    > I’ll support WikiLeaks and Manning with my words and my donations and ask
    > others to do the same. But that’s it.

    By not doing more to influence others, Claire, you are effectively weakening, rather than multiplying your own efforts.

    > Now, I don’t know Kitty Antonik Wakfer. She may be a terrific human being. I
    > hope she is. Her heart’s in the right place.

    On the subject of “know[ing]” someone, while I have never met Tom Knapp or Wendy McElroy (for instance) in-person, I have read a significant amount of their online writings and engaged both of them in discussions and therefore quite reasonably consider that I “know” them both. It is not necessary for someone to have been in the same room, shaken hands and exchanged chit-chat to say that s/he “knows” another person, particularly when actually meaningful information sharing rarely takes place that way. In fact, the degree to which one person “knows” another is greatly varied and even many domestic partners of many years length often are surprised by the amount of information they do *not* know about each other.

    > But I would ask all the “more pure than thou” freedomistas of the world: Have
    > you walked a few years in my shoes?

    Paul has been actively walking in his own liberty-seeking shoes for some 35 years and I for more than 10 since joining him, though I was definitely a minimal governmentalist since discovering Ayn Rand in 1961 at age 16. Those who are most vocal on the Internet are not necessarily the ones doing the most anti-State activities. We have not been silent on liberty-promoting/seeking these past 9 years – a web search easily reveals this – and we are quite open about ourselves, including many identifiable photos, in order to enable anyone to determine for him/her (hir) self if we are “terrific human beings” and worth associating with.

    The next portion of Claire’s response is interesting and the hodge-podge of actions raised need to be addressed if only to analyze and separate them meaningfully(which I may do in a separate response). However they are not relevant to my original article. I will only say I know from Paul that he became fully anti-State in about 1980 after becoming convinced that *each and every* State action is harmful to all humans because it is effectively anti-liberty and anti freedom enlargement. At that point he did some deep thinking about whether and how it was possible to live an ethical existence in current society. (Ethical meaning never acting in such a way as to harm others.) His decision was this was only possible if one went off into some kind of wilderness, where one could avoid all contact with State enforcers, and lived off the land in a totally self-sustaining existence. Otherwise if one had any value exchange contact with those within a State society, one could not avoid some part of the value of that exchange going to support that State (and consequently harm all humans). Since he could not bring himself to live (actually it would hardly be “living” for a science and hi-tech minded person) that way, he chose to then start doing in turn (sometimes all together) all and more of what Claire has listed below. Since I joined him in 2000 together we have done some of those anti-State actions which are easier to action without incurring undue hardship or high potential risk of incarceration.

    But the worst problem about Claire’s raising of this multitude of diverse anti-State actions is that for most of them there is no alternative at all (ie using the State owned common property, or even using the State money for that matter). Whereas for the action of boycotting various service businesses there are clear alternatives as my article pointed out and provided. It is when there are viable alternatives and yet a so-called anti-State person continues voluntarily to use a pro-State service or to comply with a State edict that my criticism for lack of principle applies.

    > Say you’re a libertarian or a free-market anarchist. Surely, you object to
    > paying taxes — especially for wars of aggression or government handouts.
    > Surely you object to having a government ID number. Drivers license? Auto
    > registration? You know darned well those are clear violations of your right to
    > travel freely.

    > So tell me: Do you care enough about your principles to live without all those
    > things? Do you refuse to file your 1040? Refuse to use an SSN or get
    > government ID? Refuse to make your vehicle “legal” with the government?
    > Refuse to send your kids to public school or to comply with your state’s
    > homeschool curricula requirements? Of course, if you live by your principles
    > on that level, it also means you can’t open a bank account, can’t travel
    > internationally (unless you sneak), can’t hold a regular job. It means every
    > time you drive you’ll be watching for cops and taking alternate routes in an
    > attempt to avoid them. It means the state might come and take your kids away
    > from you. It means you’ll be a refusnik in your own society.
    >
    > But heck — You believe in living according to principles, right? So what’s the
    > problem? If you can pat yourself on the back for closing your Amazon
    > account and imply that everybody who didn’t follow your lead is a hypocrite,
    > surely you’ll be willing to take your principles all the way, wherever they might
    > lead — to prison or penury … or freedom. Or all of the above.
    >
    > Ask me how I know.
    >
    > For 15 years, I increasingly lived according to my principles. I did those hard
    > things. Went without numbers and ID. Became an exile in my own land. Got
    > by with a little help from my friends (and sometimes a lot of help from them).
    > And every one of those friends was less “pure” than I; but they should kick my
    > ass if I ever have enough nerve to damn them for their lack of purity.
    >
    > It takes all kinds. It literally does: Ghosts, Agitators, Moles, and even the
    > occasional Cockapoo.
    >
    > I no longer live like that. Got tired. Went broke. Became weary of being an
    > outcast — weary of knowing I’d have to fight through every little tiny thing that
    > others take for granted. I’m older and ready for a little calm and comfort. I
    > don’t regret one minute of trying to live free. I’m glad I did it. But it didn’t make
    > the world freer. And for me, that time is done.
    >
    > Today I resist taxes by making very little money rather than by saying an
    > in-your-face NO. I showed a passport to travel to Panama last year. I comply
    > with just about all of the little everyday compliances demanded of modern
    > American serfs (though living in a small town, there are blessedly few such
    > demands). I contemplate becoming a Cockapoo, though I haven’t yet brought
    > myself to that point and may never. Today I’m more Agitator than Ghost.
    > Anybody who wants to condemn me for that is perfectly welcome to.
    >
    > Thing is, even in my most hardcore days, I wasn’t as “pure” as some folks. Go
    > to the Mental Militia forums and look up the postings of suijurisfreeman if you
    > really want to see hardcore. And I defy anybody to find me one, single
    > freedomista on this earth who never violates a principle — never pays a sales
    > tax for a purchase, lives on property which is neither taxed nor subsidized,
    > totally ignores the existence of the state and all its works, drives boldly down
    > the highway sans license and registration and doesn’t bother to stop when
    > the red light flashes in the rear window because to stop would be to obey the
    > unjust state. Show me the person who goes through life without a single
    > compromise of principle. Show me.
    >
    > The closest person I know to that ideal is my friend Joel. And even he
    > survives amid compromise.
    >
    > And unless you are that perfectly pure person whose life is the epitome of
    > principle every moment of every day, then don’t go around condemning
    > others for failing to take a step that you consider proper and necessary — but
    > that also doesn’t cause you any huge inconvenience.

    This last is false. It is always correct to urge people to take more actions which aim to bring about a totally free self-ordered society without rulers and to chastise them for not seeking and taking alternatives to the supporting of businesses which have taken pro-State actions.

  27. Claire Says:

    Kitty, I’m glad you can have you say here, but I don’t see why you think I should have contacted you. Did you contact Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy, and all the others before you held them up as bad examples?

    On the other hand, I completely agree that it’s a good thing to urge people to take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society. I just think that (taking the case of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as an example) there can be multiple ways of doing that. Boycotting Amazon or PayPal is certainly one way. However, it’s a way that shows support but doesn’t directly contribute to the defense of Manning or Assange or the continuation of WikiLeaks. Others might feel they’re doing more by sending money directly to Manning’s defense fund or WikiLeaks. Yet others might prefer to join a protest march or a letter-writing campaign. To each his own.

    You’re quite right also that a large part of my post wasn’t in any way a direct answer to you. In fact, in a way, my post wasn’t an answer to you at all. Your article just triggered other thoughts.

    Nevertheless, I still perceive you as having said, or at least very strongly implied, in your original piece that anybody who didn’t join you in your one particular method of support for WikiLeaks was wrong-headed, hypocritical, and defeatist. I reject both that conclusion and the “my way or the highway” approach to freedom that I’ve seen from purist freedomistas so many times — and still see when I re-read your article.

  28. Kitty Antonik Wakfer Says:

    > # Claire Says:
    > January 29th, 2011 at 8:41 pm
    >
    >
    >
    > Kitty, I’m glad you can have you say here,

    But Claire, you have been highly selective in what you are responding to among the *many* items I addressed in your blog entry, actually all of them in one manner or another. You have addressed almost none of what I wrote in reply, not even to acknowledge agreement except weakly in two instances. You didn’t even answer the questions, “Claire, were you not equally aghast and disgusted?!” and “How can you “love Amazon” any longer?” and two others. Did I need to state that these were not rhetorical questions? And that is not a rhetorical question either.

    This avoidance is what takes place very frequently in online discussions and which I see as highly contributing to miscommunication and very often to dissension. As Paul has written in describing why we insist on response to everything on our own groups/blogs:
    “Inline response is required because it is the best fully practical method to enable Internet dialog to have the same good manners as is commonly used in face-to-face discourse. Such a good mannered approach includes responding to all questions or points addressed to you (once you have either begun a conversation or have already responded to one with respect to a given person), rather than ignoring the other person. The only exception is a simple statement of the form:
    “I will no longer respond to you”, ideally giving reasons for such a statement.”

    > but I don’t see why you think I
    > should have contacted you. Did you contact Lew Rockwell, Wendy
    > McElroy,and all the others before you held them up as bad examples?

    Claire, this is another example where your logical analysis seems to be incapable of differentiating adequately. The difference is that you were specifically responding directly to something I wrote. Whereas with respect to those you mention, if you recall from my article I was writing in general about the fact that I had found no liberty promoting writers/websites who were not supporting, by their usage, the named corporations (PayPal, Visa and MasterCard) that had specifically caused harm to WikiLeaks. Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy and the others mentioned were merely a few examples of some that I read or have read fairly often in the past. I was not doing a critique of a blog entry of any of them, something Paul has done on several occasions and then has always notified the writer.

    (BTW An enterprising individual could provide a service of letting writers/activists/promoters/etc. know when they have been mentioned anywhere on the Internet.)

    > On the other hand, I completely agree that it’s a good thing to urge
    > people to take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society.

    It’s more than just “a good thing”, It is *imperative* for liberty promoters “to urge people to take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society” if the liberty-promoters and those they are trying to influence *really* want “a free, self-ordered society”. Otherwise, the “liberty-promoters” are inconsistent in their goals and principles and a self-ordered society will be a *very* long time, if ever, coming into being.

    > I just think that
    > (taking the case of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as an example)
    > there can be multiple ways of doing that. Boycotting Amazon or PayPal
    > is certainly one way. However, it’s a way that shows support but
    > doesn’t directly contribute to the defense of Manning or Assange or
    > the continuation of WikiLeaks. Others might feel they’re doing more
    > by sending money directly to Manning’s defense fund or WikiLeaks. Yet
    > others might prefer to join a protest march or a letter-writing
    > campaign. To each his own.

    Mixing ideas up as you have done here (and previously) and disconnecting them from particular principles, I contend, is a cause for your confusion and contributes to even more of the same. Also, keeping straight the points made by another in a written discussion is easier to do if a person responds inline as I did with your original blog entry. (This corresponds to how a verbal in-person discussion would take place.)
    Boycotting PayPal, Visa and MasterCard is in no manner exclusive of “contribut[ing] to the defense of Manning or Assange or the continuation of WikiLeaks” as I pointed out by way of the alternative money transfer methods. And if one is a true liberty-promoter, one will *not* continue to use private services of corporations that are working with government to destroy WikiLeaks by not allowing their customers’ own money to be transferred to WikiLeaks. You have not provided any valid reasoning for how one can be a true liberty-promoter *and* continue to make use of these corporations as long as this is their practice.

    “[J]oin[ing] a protest march or a letter-writing campaign” is also *not* exclusive of withdrawing voluntary association with PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon. Again, if one is a true liberty-promoter, one will *not* continue to use private services of corporations that are *working with* government to destroy WikiLeaks by acceding to government suggestions or hints rather than (ie. PayPal, MasterCard and Visa) requiring the government to get a court to *order them* to refuse to transfer customer money and for Amazon to terminate the hosting service for WikiLeaks. These actions of corporations requiring court actions by government was not done, and, Claire, you have not responded to this very fact. Yes, requiring the “rule of law” within a democratic society is far from the best social arrangement, but it is still far better than a society of rule by the whims and non-legal requirements of individual bureaucrats (“rule by men”). And until we can get a State-less society into existence, it is the best we have and should be required to act as it is supposed to according to the laws and court precedences.

    “To each his own” is an easy cliche to repeat but has no application here when addressing true liberty-promotion. One is not promoting liberty when continuing to voluntarily associate with businesses and with individuals – especially government enforcers – who are actively working with/for government in their efforts to destroy WikiLeaks and are promoting/performing the many other physical harm-doing actions of governments world-wide.

    > You’re quite right also that a large part of my post wasn’t in any
    > way a direct answer to you. In fact, in a way, my post wasn’t an
    > answer to you at all. Your article just triggered other thoughts.

    Then it would have been more honest to have stated that right off – that my article “just triggered other thoughts”. However, you have not been consistent in your thinking and that was a major portion of my reply, again to which you have not responded.

    > Nevertheless, I still perceive you as having said, or at least very
    > strongly implied, in your original piece that anybody who didn’t join
    > you in your /one particular method of support/ for WikiLeaks was
    > wrong-headed, hypocritical, and defeatist. I reject both that
    > conclusion and the “my way or the highway” approach to freedom that
    > I’ve seen from purist freedomistas so many times — and
    > still see when I re-read your article.

    At no time in my article did I reject or disparage “letter writing campaigns” and/or “street march[es]“, but I have written other places – http://selfsip.org/focus/protestsnotenough.html – that and why these are not enough. It was also obvious in my recent article that financial support of WikiLeaks *is* desirable or else I would not have worked for several days to provide information on money transfer alternatives that had not refused to relay to WikiLeaks. (BTW I have taken part in several letter campaigns for Bradley Manning and have monetarily supported his defense fund via echecks – as well as that of other war resistors previously by PayPal.)

    Your metaphor – “my way or the highway” – is totally inappropriate in this situation, as is so often the case when writers/speakers use metaphors. That metaphor is *only* appropriate when the speaker/writer is on hir own property and referring to actions taking place on hir property; s/he has the entitlement to set the rules for actions taking place on hir property and if such rules are not acceded to then it’s “the highway” (the exit to hir property) for the action-taker. It is this kind of analysis of statements/analogies/metaphors that is truly needed (and so often missing) by liberty-seekers and promoters (and all writers, for that matter).

    Of course you can state your “reject[ion]“, but without clearly stated *reasons* for why my statements and conclusions are wrong (which pointed out where and why yours in your original blog entry are in error), you are simply asserting your continued defiance of using reasoned thinking. This does you no longterm benefit and is a disservice to your readers.

    Use of cutesy terms like “purist freedomistas” does the user no real longterm benefit, nor the reader/listener, since it really conveys nothing of substance for the discussion at hand or any other. You seem to be implying via it that a person who is consistently principled (?”purist”?, though I previously pointed out your error in using this word) in hir promotion of “freedom” – I would say liberty, absence of physical constraint by another with regard to any available action, is the more appropriate term (see Paul’s discussion of the differences between freedom and liberty at: http://selfsip.org/solutions/socialcontract_annotations/freedom.html) – is some sort of tyrant/dictator. But a tyrant or dictator employs enforcers to initiate physical force on others or actually uses it hirself. I think you very well realize that I cannot do anything but persuade in writing or speaking others to change their behavior – I cannot initiate physical force on readers/listeners to abandon PayPal, Visa, MasterCard or Amazon for any reason. I am not a *ruler* (the State). All I can do, and encourage others in the same situation, is to not voluntarily associate with those who are actively working against liberty and even those who are not truly promoting liberty to the extent that these latter are not doing so.
    Therefore, what is the purpose of using phrases – ie. “purist freedomistas” – that bring up images of initiators of physical force? It surely cannot be for improving and expanding discussion of the principles and methods by which a self-ordered society may be attained.

    Claire I seriously encourage you to carefully read again my original article and respond to it one paragraph at a time in an inline manner. Take each sentence separately and be sure that you understand what I have written. (I do not use words carelessly. Paul is very careful about that himself, and since we edit each other’s writings he goes over mine with as much care as he does his own writings.)
    If there is something I have written that does not “sit right” with you, stop and think about it. Write it down and then state what you think is in error and why. I urge you to repeat this for the entire original article and then for the reply I made above to your blog entry.
    If, during such critical analysis of my writing, you find what you think is a logical error, make yourself understandable in presenting it and I conclude that you are correct, be assured that I (and Paul) will publicly state that and will revise our thoughts and actions accordingly. Neither one of us is wedded to our current decisions in the sense that we will refuse to change our behavior if shown that our thinking in that area is truly in error. (I was very sure up until about 11 years ago that a minimal government – armed forces, police and courts – was essential for an orderly society but I came to realize that this is not true.)
    At the same time, note in writing where you agree with me. By doing both of these we – and those reading the exchange – clearly know where we both stand and why. In the process we both learn about each other – “come to know” each other – and therefore gain.

    I write the above as a proposal, Claire, not as some sort of debating challenge. I do not debate; I am not interested in scoring points. I read, discuss and raise points to any liberty-promoting writer/activist in the hopes of improving the thinking and behavior of that person (or myself, if I am wrong), *only* for the purpose of making true movement towards attaining a self-ordered society of total liberty – that and nothing more.

    Lastly, I will be putting this entire exchange at the Self-Sovereign Individual Project’s Dialogues Miscellaneous Discourses
    on Social Order Section – http://selfsip.org/dialogues/misc/index.html – since it has potential benefit to others by being read in the future.

  29. Claire Says:

    Kitty Antonik Wakfer wrote: “But Claire, you have been highly selective in what you are responding to among the *many* items I addressed in your blog entry, actually all of them in one manner or another. You have addressed almost none of what I wrote in reply, not even to acknowledge agreement except weakly in two instances. You didn’t even answer the questions, “Claire, were you not equally aghast and disgusted?!” and “How can you “love Amazon” any longer?” and two others. Did I need to state that these were not rhetorical questions? And that is not a rhetorical question either.”

    Well, yes, Kitty. It’s true that I didn’t answer every point you made. Here are my reasons: I don’t have either the time or inclination to get into a long discussion; People who read what both of us have already written can draw their own conclusions from what we’ve already said; I don’t feel that I owe you anything (including time or answers); and above all, it appears to me that you so completely missed the point of what I originally wrote that I can’t see how it would help to engage in the lengthy debate you appear to want — despite your disclaimer that you don’t debate.

  30. Balfour Says:

    hey kitty

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/tirelessrebutter.htm

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/ideologue.htm

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/android.htm

  31. Leftover Links | People v. State Says:

    [...] Gross at The Picket Line links to a good meditation on the dangers of lifestyle purity perfectionism by Claire Wolfe, who writes: Kitty Antonik Wakfer whacks all of us who say we support WikiLeaks and [...]

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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