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Can Violence Solve Violence?

Rarely do I hear anything from Stefan Molyneux that I can
substantively disagree with, so allow me to jump on this rare
opportunity to take issue with something he said. (I'm hoping this
rant finds its way to him, and I'm betting one of you forwarding it
to him will work better and faster than me trying to find his e-
mail address in my infinite, messy pile of stuff.) In a recent
podcast, where he gave his thoughts on the Joe Stack incident,
Stefan asserted that violence cannot be solved with violence.
Partly true, partly false. Here is the link for that clip:

I think Stefan would agree that the initiation of violence is a
symptom of something not being right in the head of the aggressor.
And it is absolutely true that the root CAUSE of the aggression
cannot be fixed via more violence. However, the EFFECT (or symptom)
of that problem CAN be. As a very simple example, if someone breaks
into my house at night, my 12-gauge is not going to repair whatever
mental damage led the guy to want to do such a thing. However, it
has a good chance of stopping the EFFECT of his psychosis. In such
an instance, my goal would not be to "fix" what is wrong with the
invader, but to prevent the potential SYMPTOMS of his psychological

Likewise, the irrational belief in the myth of "authority" is the
direct cause of the vast majority of theft, assault and murder in
the world. The people at the IRS, for example, routinely commit
harassment, terrorism, extortion and robbery, because they truly
believe that when something evil is "legalized," it ceases to be
evil. They (and their victims) have been indoctrinated to believe
that theft is bad, UNLESS "authority" does it, in which case theft
("tax collection" / "law enforcement") is GOOD, and RESISTING it is

So the root cause of the problem is their indoctrination into the
cult of authoritarianism, and all the propaganda and rhetoric they
were fed about "law," "taxation," "government," and all the other
bunk which is designed to paint theft as a GOOD thing when the
slave-masters do it, and only bad when us peasants do it. And the
SOLUTION to that problem is, quite literally, "deprogramming"
people out of the most dangerous superstition: the belief in
"authority" (the notion that some people have the right to rule
others). So no, cursing at, punching, shooting, or blowing up IRS
employees cannot fix that underlying problem.

HOWEVER--and this is a big however--while delusions remain,
violence can sometimes deter the EFFECTS of those delusions. No
matter how much an IRS employee has bought into the state
propaganda, if he thinks he might die if he keeps on robbing people
("collecting taxes," as he would call it), he might choose a new
career. The underlying problem would remain, but the symptom, in
that case, would disappear, as would some of the potential
resulting damage.

In general, it's a bad idea to focus on treating the SYMPTOMS of a
problem, instead of treating the problem itself. This is true in
medicine, economics, philosophy, and just about everything else.
However, if the symptom of ONE person's problem is the SUFFERING of
another, then treating the symptom is a worthwhile goal, for the
sake of the innocent victim.

Suppose someone came up with a way to convince all 100,000 or so
employees of the IRS that if they showed up for work the next day--
or ever again--they would all die horrible deaths. And suppose they
could be made to believe that without any of them actually being
harmed. Frankly, I would be thrilled. Though it would do nothing to
address the underlying problem--that the state's hired thieves
believe "legal theft" to be morally righteous--it would, on a
practical level, deter them from victimizing others as a result of
their delusions.

So the question is, when do we focus our efforts on trying to
enlighten the deluded, and when do we do whatever it takes to stop
the deluded from hurting people? My answer is, we should
continually focus on both. Those of us who know that we own
ourselves have the absolute right to do whatever it takes to stop
others from initiating violence against us, whether they fully
understand what they're doing or not. At the same time, it sure
would be nice if we could make it so they didn't WANT to initiate
violence against us. But if fear of harm is all that will keep
thieves from stealing, it's better than letting them rob people.

This brings to mind a related topic--which I'll rant about more in
some later message--having to do with condemning the state's
mercenaries ("police"), calling them names ("fascists"), insulting
them ("Nazi swine"), etc. Believe it or not, I don't just do that
to be nasty. I believe it serves a useful, worthwhile purpose to
identify evil as evil, and I believe it can be very destructive NOT
to do so. I know some people prefer to always be polite and civil,
in an effort to "win over" the statists to the idea of self-
ownership, but I think in a way that is often inappropriate. The
thugs with badges get paid to harass, terrorize, assault, extort,
control, and otherwise oppress people who haven't hurt anyone. I
don't believe sane people should talk as if it's up for polite
discussion whether that's okay or not.

In the ever-popular example of the Nazis, which of the following
would have been more appropriate or more effective?: 1) lots of
Germans politely trying to point out the philosophical
inconsistencies in Hitler's agenda, or 2) lots of Germans
constantly and viciously condemning the Nazis in the most hostile,
insulting, caustic terms imaginable, as soon as that party came
into being? If people can be shamed or brow-beaten into not acting
like thugs, I'm all for it. Of course, it would be a lot better if
they could instead be ENLIGHTENED into choosing the philosophy of
self-ownership. And in the long run, that is absolutely what our
goal should be. But history has shown all too well, all too often,
that in the short term, it's a lot easier to shoot an aggressor
than it is to reform him.

I spent years trying to make various IRS employees (and other state
mercenaries) consider the possibility that maybe "doing their job"
is immoral. Joe Stack spent a day showing them that "doing their
job" might be hazardous to their health. Which of us did the IRS
folk learn anything from? Sorry to say, I don't think it was me.

Larken Rose

P.S. I have to take this opportunity to throw in a disturbingly
appropriate excerpt from my second book, "Kicking the Dragon:
Confessions of a Tax Heretic," most of which was written in 2006,
during my time as a political prisoner:

"Then along comes this '861' thing, and suddenly I saw, not just a
really nasty fraud that needed exposing and resisting, but
potentially a means of achieving real positive change (not the
fictional kind that politicians endlessly yammer about), WITHOUT
violence ... Imagine that: a nonviolent way to rein in some of the
government's gargantuan power. Sounds good to me. To be blunt, I
still see exposing the income tax deception as the only way to
avoid an eventual (but not too distant) large-scale violent
conflict between the U.S. government and the citizenry. ... To put
it another way, I did what I did in part because I saw this
endeavor as the best hope for avoiding large-scale violence AGAINST
THOSE IN GOVERNMENT. No, that wasn't a typo. I believe that ending
this fraud is the best way for those in government (as well as
others) to escape a very nasty end, by allowing for a 'revolution'
that requires no bullets and no blood. ... I really wish I had some
compelling argument left supporting some hope of success via
nonviolence, but I don't. To be blunt, if you read in the news that
some IRS paper-pusher or collection thug, or some pseudo-judge, got
his or her 'determination' overruled with a baseball bat or a pipe
bomb, I won't be very surprised. ... [JFK] said that when you make
nonviolent change impossible, you make violent change inevitable. I
really do hope, even as I sit here in prison for a crime that the
prosecutors and the judge know I didn't commit, that a bunch of IRS
headstones don't start to appear as a confirmation of JFK's words."