Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Letter to 'Liberty on Tour'


Hi, fellas,

I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed following your journey on your website and the interesting information, inspiration, and entertainment you’ve provided. I earlier had closely followed your journeys with the Motorhome Diaries. However, one of your recent videos showed a disturbing bit of intolerance that I feel will only hinder, not help, your mission.

Near the end of the video showing you having fun at the Flying J Truck Stop you run a crawl at the bottom of the screen warning visitors of the threat of “mental illness, nationalism, and god worship.” The video also had Adam voicing a derogatory remark directed at an article of clothing with a Christian message printed on it. Though not offended, I am somewhat disappointed. If your project was “Atheism on Tour” the remarks would make sense. But since your project is titled “Liberty on Tour,” I believe those remarks inappropriate and out place.

Certainly, the concept of “liberty” includes the freedom of and respect for the individual’s spiritual conscience and religious faith- no matter what form or ideology comprising that belief. An individual’s spiritual conscience is his business and it should be respected as such. A man’s spiritual beliefs are the private realm of the individual. What is relevant is the individual’s behavior and whether or not he commits or delegates aggression against others. I wrote about this concept some time back.

If you don’t agree with the viewpoint of a “mentally ill” Christian, you might better share the viewpoint of an atheist by the name of Walter Block, who earlier had voiced a similar sentiment.

Though you may see a god or religious faith as just another ruler to be avoided, such a belief is only in the mind of the believer- a ruler of the conscience. This “rule” is also accepted voluntarily and can be summarily rejected by the individual at any time with no earthly consequences The state, however, is the tangible, physical entity that rules and tyrannizes regardless of the individual’s personal acceptance of such a ruler. Refusal to be governed or guided by such an entity may very well bring earthly consequences such as being caged, tortured, robbed or even killed. This justifies your warning against “nationalism.”

Please be assured, you have nothing to fear, nor reason to be hostile toward, any individual who expresses a religious belief. As long he doesn’t align himself with the state he has absolutely no power over your life. All lovers of liberty, no matter the presence or lack of spiritual conscience, despise and reject the coercive nature of the state

You should have far less concern about “god worshippers” than from “state worshippers.” (nationalists). The former has no earthy power to physically control your actions as a free individual. The latter, however, align themselves with the coercive state to force their agendas upon others.
Please remember that many liberty lovers have a spiritual conscience or religious belief. The type of remarks I mentioned will only serve to alienate or drive them away from the important, valuable message you offer. Continuing this attitude (at least publicly)will unnecessarily limit your outreach and lessen your chances of successful persuasion. Please believe me, I would express the same viewpoint if the offending party was a Christian, Buddhist, etc making insulting comments directed toward atheists.

Let’s respect each other spiritual beliefs (or lack of such) and rightly acknowledge the strength they provide each individual. Doing this will bolster and broaden the alliance of all those who wish to work for a stateless society. When that goal is reached, we will then share a prosperity and peace that can only be maintained with this same attitude.

Here’s wishing you safe traveling and continued success,

Roger Young

Pet Eyre was kind enough to respond:
Roger, thanks for the thorough and candid email. You make some good points and I appreciate the inclusion of some outside resources to buttress your views.

I can't speak for Adam but for me personally your comment:

"You should have far less concern about “god worshippers” than from “state worshippers.” (nationalists). The former has no earthy power to physically control your actions as a free individual. The latter, however, align themselves with the coercive state to force their agendas upon others."

[This] is what the crux of this comes down to - outside authority. As Rose Wilder Lane outlined in her book "The Discover of Freedom" throughout history people have vested their trust in an authority outside themselves, which has enabled individuals to do some pretty bad things. That authority can be monarchy, democracy, religious states, etc.

It's these things that have indoctrinated people to kill strangers simply based on the fact that they were born on the other side of an arbitrary political boundary or that their views on a higher power/god differ.

I recognize that not all folks that are religious seek to impose their views on others via force but historically some have. And some continue to do so today. But at the same time (again, my views, Adam may differ), you're right - blanket statements made against a group of folks for the actions of some aren't necessary.

Thanks again for letting us know your thoughts. Even if we don't see eye-to-eye on everything I know we can have a civil discussion.

In liberty,


My response:
Howdy, Pete

Good to hear from you.

I must respond that there is no “authority outside yourself,” as relates to people with any kind of religious conscience. What you call “authority” is a governing ethic that is part of their mind. That ethic or belief is no more an “authority” than the set of ethics and beliefs that govern your life and how you interact with others. Every individual has one, whether it comes from preachers, philosophers, their parents, or any combination of sources. The fact that a person claims this ethic comes from a “god” is irrelevant. If the ethic is dangerous, irrational, or claims the right to aggress against others, it can be dealt with accordingly, as you deal with any individual or organization you disagree with or see as a personal threat. “Religion” is certainly not the only rationale for aggressing upon others.

All atheists have governing ethics, as well. Two of them are communism and democracy (mob rule). Those beliefs must surely fall under your definition of an “outside authority.” I know you are aware of the sordid history of those ethics. But individual atheist communists or democrats are little or no threat to anyone. It is only when their governing ethic becomes part of the state’s do they have any significant power or control over others. They have no more power than any other hostile individuals you run into, nor do the gangs and organizations they may form.

Our common enemy is the state, an organization that claims a monopoly of force over everyone (not just supporters) and will kill and plunder to maintain that monopoly. It is the only truly “outside authority” that is still a threat today. It is the only organization with the resources (all stolen) and firepower to successfully maintain that monopoly. Show me any religious group or non-state institution (or group of atheist communists or democrats, for that matter) today who possess the firepower or strength to force their ideology or ethic upon you. What is a threat to you is the mere existence of this mutually despised institution, not whatever governing ethic it claims to subscribe to.

Our mutual goal should be to convince others that any organization claiming and actively enforcing this monopoly of force should be abolished and not allowed to exist. Just how to accomplish that is a topic for another discussion. What individuals use to govern themselves is irrelevant and up to them.

I’m figuring you still probably don’t agree with me. But I thought I could detail a little better my previous thoughts. Also, please understand, that I passionately agree that yours and Adam’s comments toward religion are yours to express anytime you wish. I just think it is counterproductive to express them (through videos and commentary) within the mission of Liberty on Tour.

I hope MARV has been behaving better. :-)

All the best,

Roger Young

[To further clarify: An individual’s ethic or discipline for self-governance (authority within himself) is only a threat to others if projected and enforced through an institutionalized monopoly of force (outside authority) upon non-consenting parties. This force is the core element of statism. Christians and atheists, etc are no threat to unbelieving individuals unless they become statist Christians and statist atheists, etc.]


Greg said...

I too respect what Adam and Pete are doing. The pulse is right in this country right now for Voluntaryism to spark a wildfire in thinking. As usual, you have great insight and clarity which is causing me to think heavily on the topic of religion. I can really only comment on the process that goes through my mind on this topic because for me there is no desire to coerce or impose my view of God, The Universe and everything on my fellow man--I am in accord with LOT in this respect. That philosophical process has always led up to an admittedly coward's position of agnosticism but in my opinion the most important part of this philosophy (or of any religion, I suppose) is to ask the "ultimate" question (to borrow from The Hitchhiker's Guide a bit). I don't get an answer, but certainly I get great meaning in asking. It would be my desire that fervent believers who have undeniably answered this question for themselves do not then use coercion and force to impose their own answer upon me. If one finds meaning in the "answers" of religion and chooses to voluntarily associate with that religion, it is of no consequence or harm to me. One of the ways such a person often attempts this coercion (and violence) is through the state. Violence and coercion are clearly not the same as self defense and for the most part I can defend myself against someone trying to remove my head because I am an "infidel." However, I can't easily defend myself against an attacker that would rob me of my wealth and physically remove me from my family by throwing me in some prison as the state is want to do against the individual. This leads me to the same conclusion as you in that we need a voluntary society that no longer wants or needs the state. Pete and Adam are younger guys and they are going to make some mistakes (as we all do). I think that advocates of liberty make a mistake by not using diplomatic tact when in disagreement and that was the case we see during the truck stop for LOT. I am inclined to side with you here and say that persuasion to accept a voluntary society is something we can all benefit from, whereas whatever conclusions or answers to the "ultimate" question they've been able surmise won't benefit everyone (certainly they would benefit some with a similar view though). Liberty trumps personal ideology here and in fact it is a stalwart condition that makes the latter viable.

Enlightened Rogue said...

Well said, Greg and thanks for your comments. They are a valuable addition to the discussion.