Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Collateral Damage and Revolution

Neoconservatives and the war establishment are fond of using the term “collateral damage” when referring to the killing of innocent people as a result of the perpetual war in the Middle East. After the latest “event” in Afghanistan, General McChrystal’s profusely apologized for the deaths. That’s the extent of “accountability” for the war establishment.

On the domestic front, there is an ongoing war against the established power of the federal government. The fronts of this war have taken on many facets. Most are peaceful, without “collateral damage.”

There are the actions as exemplified by the tea party patriots, including protests and the petitioning for redress of grievances at various town hall meetings. All this has all been very peaceful, yet very vocal and the establishment is taking notice. Also occurring is the significant Petition for Redress from the We the People Foundation.

With the recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, the voters have chosen a path, at least at the margin, of less government and have rejected government-meddling, corporate- protecting, budget-busting healthcare.

The ascendency of Congressman Ron Paul and his Campaign for Liberty exemplifies another aspect of the battle against tyrannical government. Dr. Paul has continuously, for the past 25 years or so, fought against expansive war in international affairs, the theft of natural rights guaranteed by the US Constitution through the war on drugs and the war on terror, and the assault on the taxpayers through profligate government spending with a piling of bankrupting debt, via its enabler, the Federal Reserve. Now Dr. Paul is a regular on most of the cable news/talk shows.

And much to the chagrin of the big-government Right, Ron Paul continues to make inroads especially influencing the young to remake the Republican Party into a party of liberty. His recent overwhelming win in the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) presidential preference poll, taking a full 31% of the vote versus 22% for Romney and 7% for Palin, indicates that the efforts of Ron Paul are paying off in this fight for freedom.

There have also been some important wins in federal court (possibly jury nullification decisions) concerning the laws for filing income tax returns and the aiding of the act of nonfiling including the victory of former IRS criminal investigator, turned freedom fighter, Joseph Banister.

Many states are passing nullification resolutions that proclaim the right to refuse to enforce laws passed by the federal government that they regard as unconstitutional.

On all these fronts, freedom fighters have used the libertarian constant, a peaceful means in achieving the end of big government tyranny, which is consistent with the Libertarian Party certification, “I oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals.”

Of course the million dollar question is, at what point does the use of government power that is inconsistent with the US Constitution and contrary to natural law, attacking the objective right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, become the use of force, and how individually directed should that defense against government force be.

Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence stated, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So the right to rebel tyrannical government is firmly enshrined in the American tradition. But how should this action proceed? And who decides?

It occurs to me that every man must look into the mirror and decide this ultimately personal decision. To be consistent with libertarian principles, a collective should never force a decision about rebellion on an individual.

War is the ultimate collectivist act. And so in a defensive rebellion for liberty, it must be individually determined to be consistent with the concept of liberty. And to reduce the possibility of collateral damage, notice must be given to parties associated with the enemy.

And so to the case of Joseph Stack, who recently flew his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, who stated in a heartfelt letter explaining his actions, “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well." Anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with any federal bureaucrats or bureaucracies can sure empathize with the anguish Joseph Stack felt. An IRS ruling that changed Mr. Stack’s classification from an independent contractor to an employee eventually set events into motion that brought him to believe that the only act left in his being was a final act of desperation and revenge.

In Mr. Stack’s understandably anguished mind, he had no choice left. Tragically, in my opinion, the deep emotions he felt clouded what objective observers should conclude are hopeful signs that the American people are waking up and a new renaissance of freedom may be developing. Possibly those signs were coming too late as he felt that big government had already destroyed his life.

The result of Joseph Stack’s actions was one dead IRS agent. No notice was given. It is highly unlikely that the dead agent was the agent working on Stack’s case. And in this point of time, the reeducating of the populace to the tenets of individual freedom have not reached the point where it is an obvious fact to many government workers that they are working for an evil organization hellbent on absolute despotism.

So in all likelihood, Mr. Stack’s suicide assault brought on some collateral damage.

My hope is that all peaceful means to achieve the goal of liberty in our time be used up before violent defensive force is employed. And then, if necessary, the focus should be laser-beamed not to foot soldiers of tyranny, but to the architects.

Neoconservatives believe that the end justifies the means and that “collateral damage” killing is justified. Libertarians hold themselves to a far stricter moral construct. The means must be as moral as the end. And collateral damage is unacceptable.