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Only two options

by Larken Rose 

It never ceases to amaze me how people change what I say in order to be able to rebut it. Some people “advocate” anarchy, meaning they suggest doing away with government altogether, abolishing it, and forming a free society. That is not what I am suggesting, any more than I am suggesting that Santa Claus be abolished. I am arguing about what is, not what should be. The only “should” I’m suggesting is that people “should” accept open their eyes to reality, accept the truth, and throw away the insane, self- contradictory, horribly destructive superstition upon which all of the political beliefs of 99.9% of the population rest. I don’t want to change reality; I merely want people to recognize it, and then deal with it as they see fit. When people tell me that they don’t think my idea will “work,” or aren’t “practical” or “realistic,” it tells me that those people aren’t reading what I wrote. About 90% of political discussions I have with people amount to this: Me: “Santa Claus isn’t real. He doesn’t exist.” Other guy: “But Christmas would never work without Santa! We can’t do away with him! You’re being too idealistic. The people would never get Christmas to work without Santa! They’re just not charitable enough. Sure, there should be limits on what Santa is allowed to do, but we can’t have no Santa. That would never work! Your idea is too extreme. We need Santa to do some things!” Let me break this down to something which is both amazingly simple, and yet which hardly anyone ever thinks about (and which you will  never hear discussed in any mainstream politic debate, or in any “educational” institution): Fred and Bob are hungry. There is one sandwich on the table in front of them. They both want it. Who gets it? It depends upon who “owns” it–who has a rightful claim to it? To whom does it belong? The concept is pretty darn simple. Now try this: Who owns me? Do I own myself, or does someone else (an individual or a group) own me? At this point almost everyone responds by saying that I own me–but almost NO ONE actually believes it. What does it mean to own something? It mean to have the exclusive right to use it as you see fit, to dispose of it if you wish, to give it away, to sell it, whatever. For any given thing–including me–SOMEONE has to have the “final say” on what is done with it. So the question is, who has the ultimate say over what is done with ME? I do. And from that one simple statement, ALL of my political beliefs can be inferred. Trouble is, most people never bother to consider what all logically follows from that one simple statement. There are four guys, including me, in a room. I want to play the piano. They want to play doubles dominoes, which they can’t without four people. Now, they have the right to try to talk me into playing, or pay me, but when it comes right down to it, who has the RIGHT to decide whether I play the piano or play dominoes? Me. There are 22 guys, including me. I want to draw dinosaurs, and they all want to play official-rules football (which requires 22 people). NOW who has the ultimate right to decide which I do? They can beg, persuade, try a guilt-trip, bribe, bargain, etc., but in the end, I AND I ALONE have the right to decide what is done with me. Why? Because I own me, and they don’t. If this seems so self-evident and so obvious that you’re wondering why I would bother explaining it, that’s a good thing. Hold onto your brains as we compare that painfully simple concept to the authoritarian indoctrination we’ve all been exposed to. If I own me, then I own what I produce. (The owner of the cow is also the owner of the milk.) If I build a chair, with my own time and effort, it belongs to me. And if I decide to trade my chair for someone else’s basket of apples, then the apples become mine. They belong to me, every bit as much as I belong to me. If I instead trade my chair for a few silver coins, the silver belongs to me. No one else. Me. I own me, so I own it. Okay, I think I’ve about beaten that point to death, and at this point hardly anyone would disagree–at least, they don’t THINK they disagree. Do you think I own myself? If you say “yes,” try this little test: If I want to spend all the silver I got from selling a bunch of chairs, to buy a boat from someone else, do I have that right? If I own me, I certainly do. Oh, but wait. Some guys decided they get a cut of what I earn, which they call a “tax,” in order to do stuff and buy stuff THEY think is important. Is that okay? How about if it’s only a 1% “tax”? Then is it okay? If you answer “Yes,” you do NOT believe I own me; you believe that “government,” or the collective, or my neighbors, or something else owns me, but that I don’t own myself. As with the sandwich, SOMEONE has the ultimate right to say what is done with it. If anyone, or any group of people–whether wearing the label of “authority” or not–has the RIGHT to take what I earned–essentially, the right to take a piece of me–and I do not have the right to overrule them, then THEY OWN ME. It’s no more complicated than that. Ownership is digital: either I own me, or someone else does. It can’t be both. When there is a conflict of ideas about what should be done with me, ONE side–the side which OWNS me–has the final say. If we disagree, whoever has the moral RIGHT to enforce his decision is the rightful OWNER of me. If you believe in “taxation” at all, in any form and to any degree, you believe that someone ELSE has the final say, which means THEY own me, and I don’t. As you ponder that thought, don’t be tempted to rant about what we “need,” or what “works,” or what is “practical” or “realistic.” There are two options here, and ONLY two options: 1) I own me, or 2) someone else owns me. So which is it? Don’t tell me what you think is “necessary” for civilization, or how society has to be arranged, or whether my philosophy would “work.” Don’t bother fishing for excuses for your answer, and don’t try muddling the waters with rhetoric about “consent of the governed,” or “giving up some of our rights,” or what will happen to society if people don’t accept your answer, or any other evasions. (In other words, don’t parrot the obfuscations and bunk that has been force-fed to all of us in order to obscure and mangle what should be a painfully simple concept.) Just tell me, WHO OWNS ME? (At the same time, you will be answering another question: “Who owns YOU?”)   Find out more about Larken Rose at

2 Responses to Only two options

  1. Pingback: Only two options « Libertarian Hippie
  2. ChiTrader

    July 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Well said, Mr. Rose. I linked your essay to my twitter and FB accounts so non-Libertarians who are curious about us might better understand our core belief. Glad I found this website via Wish I had found it years ago. Chris

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