Tag Archives: philosophy

FREEDOM! by Adam Kokesh — A Philosophical Manifesto for the Abolition of Violence

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When I was serving in the Marine Corps, I dealt with plenty of moral and philosophical challenges due to the violent nature of the organization that I eventually had to learn to deal with on my own. Prior to joining, I still felt that there was a place for governments: a military is needed for defense, and a small government was needed to prosecute criminals, both should be efficient and moral. As I went through boot camp, I quickly realized the ethical error in my decision to join, but I had to search high and low throughout my service for the solution to this error.  I had to reject the brainwashing inhibited to me throughout my training, and I had to re-study the information I’d previously retained that was lost in the psychological mind-ruling of the United States Marine Corps. Throughout my studies, Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, and Ludwig von Mises helped me begin to break out of my patriotic mind-set, and begin to assess the real nature of government: violence against the individual. Even though such great literary works by these authors helped me the most, I wish that I had a book like FREEDOM! by Adam Kokesh to help me along the way, but unfortunately, it was just a mere sparkle in his eye during this time. However, having the prior knowledge that I did made me realize the importance of the book while I was reading it, and I was able to come to an even greater understanding of what the principle of non-aggression, as a inhibitor of true freedom, is.

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No Chains

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In elementary school, I always wondered what was in the field beyond the fence.
One time I jumped over the fence to catch a toad that my friend wanted to catch.
I caught the toad, looked at it, and let it go.
My friend said, “Why did you do that?!”
I told her I didn’t want to bring him on the other side of the fence.
She was sad because she didn’t get to hold the toad,
so I told her to jump over the fence and catch him.
She didn’t.

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Individual Rights: Essential to a Free Society

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As of today, all of the fruits of your labor will be donated to the state. Your occupation, based off of personality tests, will be lawn engineering. Your job is to make sure that the landscape in your town looks perfect. We know you have wanted to pursue a career in computer engineering (based off of the phone conversations we’ve been listening to your entire life), but the community needs landscapers. That sounds like an awful collectivist world where individual rights are not held to the highest esteem. Why does it seem so creepy when others make these types of decisions for us? We are all individual beings, and when we are forced to be a part of a collective**, our individual souls suffer; we are not allowed to find who we really are because our bodies do not belong to us.

One thing that we all have in common is inalienable human rights which were defined under the United States Constitution to organize a society which was just being born. This was the first time in history that the rights of the citizens were defined in a government document, and that is the reason why it has been used as an example for constitutions around the world. There have been countless debates over the years as to what type of society a human should live in. We are a social species who thrives off of fellow human contact, but we are also a species who needs to spend time by ourselves. Every single one of us is different, and all different types of people have been trying to figure out how we can all live in harmony on this earth together. When those rights have been regulated by an imposing collective, the individual becomes confused and agitated: Why do I have to be a landscaper instead of a computer engineer? Your parents will tell you, “That’s just the way it is, and you should be proud to be a part of bettering the community.” This conflicting environment creates in the individual what is called cognitive dissonance.

Chances are, after your parents and others in the community congratulate and praise you for being the town’s newest landscaper, you’re probably thinking, “Well, landscaping can’t be so bad. I’ve always loved mowing the lawn.” At this point, you are creating the illusion that you have always loved mowing the lawn, and you helped your dad put in some sprinklers and a pond one time and you loved it. Pretty soon, you forget all about being a computer engineer because landscaping is your life. This is what Leon Festinger (1957) calls cognitive dissonance: a situation where the individual believes one thing but acts a different way, which results in discomfort. This discomfort is relieved by changing one’s attitudes or beliefs around the conflicting behavior, and the result is an unhappy being. The collective forces this type of compliance onto the individual, and eventually it spreads to all individuals and makes a population unhappy.

When you have an unhappy but obedient collective, the individual is suffering, and when the individual suffers, he will try to overcome this suffering by means he has learned throughout his life. Some things individuals do to cope with suffering is relieving the stress that is caused by it. We know positive ways to relieve stress, but the negative ways seem to be increasing across the nation, and sometimes that stress can kill us. According to the CDC, suicide has made it to the top ten leading causes of death in the country at more than 38,000 deaths in 2010. According to suicide.org, untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide, and depression amongst the population has leaped significantly since the Great Recession of 2008. Americans were hit with home foreclosures, loss of money in the stocks, loss of their jobs, and an out of control government bailing out the banks and corporations that caused the meltdown in the first place. It seemed that during that time, a lot of Americans lost hope, and according to Forbes.com, the U.S. leads the world in depression rates at a total of 9.6% of the population suffering. Compare that to a .8% depression rate in Nigeria, and you have yourself a huge problem. A lot of this depression stems from Americans feeling like they will never get to live the American dream because most of their money gets taken from the government in taxes and they cannot find a job.

When you have collective control over the economy, unemployment rises. Why? Because the key to a collectivist society is getting the individual to depend on the collective. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  as of January 1st, 2014, almost 5 million Americans are collecting unemployment, 13 million are on welfare, and a whopping 46 million use food stamps. Not including unemployment and food stamps, the federal government uses $131.9 billion of tax payers’ money to pay for these “benefits.” These costs do not even compare to how much tax payers are going to pay for those 60 million non-workers’ healthcare. How is the already stretched and depressed tax payer going to afford that? The answer is that a lot of us can’t afford to without thinking about turning to welfare to help us get by. If this doesn’t constitute as a collectivist-leaning society, I don’t know what would.

Although all of this sounds bleak in comparison to our ancestors’ America of roads paved in gold, we still have a chance to turn our country around to cater to the individual like we once did before. We must stay vigilant in holding our representatives responsible for what they legislate and always stand up for the underdog. We must question the official narrative of everything because it is our duty to keep our government in check, and as long as we keep on asking questions, we will find answers. The Millennial generation grew up with promises of going to college, getting a degree, getting a part time job, meeting our soul mate, getting married, having kids, and retiring at 65. As long as you follow the program, you will succeed, just like your parents did. Now we are finding that these promises were never true, that we have to find our own way that wasn’t promised to us, and that we may have to work until we die. As long as we stay active and voice our opinion, our generation will be the one that leads future generations into getting back to the America with “roads paved in gold,” where the individual soars, and the government stays out of the way.

** If an individual chooses to be a part of a collective, that is different. If we are born into a collective, we did not get to choose.

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Wondering.

If you do not know who you are, who have you been living with your whole life?

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February 25, 2014 · 8:17 pm

Philosophy 2009

The mind is only as shallow as the effort put forth to dig.

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February 22, 2014 · 10:25 pm

Spiritual Freewrite (December 2013)

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“The Koran is yours, the Bible is yours, so is the Talmud, and so are the Vedas and the Tao Te Ching — all is yours. Assimilate all, and the more you assimilate the higher will be the peak on which you can stand and look far away, and distant lands and distant views become yours” – Osho

The more I read these kinds of works, the more I grow to understand what spirituality really means. I’ve been thinking a lot about the history of the world, evolution, creation, and the Bible lately since coming across my journal and reading all of the things I said to condemn religion. My father used to make my little brother and I read directly from the Bible when we were on our way to martial arts and back. My favorite story was the Book of Job. I felt Job, and I related to Job, and sometimes when times get rough, I think about Job. I love Job so much because he persevered through all of the bullshit that was thrown at him and was able to forgive the people who wronged him along the way. His wife and his friends told him to curse God, but he did not because he knew that it was not God that was doing these things to him. He was wise to see the lesson in his shortcomings. Ok, bear with me here as I get preachy and read this all the way through ’cause there’s a lot of God in this. No pun intended.

The way this book was written is interesting in itself. It was written in prose, now, the prose enthusiast knows that prose is a type of poetry that is to be interpreted by the reader. The poet, in this case, has a certain theme he wants to portray to the reader. Different religions see the theme of Job in different ways, and I think that they try to analyze and interpret it so much based off of opinions that have been set forth for thousands of years, that they miss the beauty in the poetry. Now begs the question, what IS Job’s story really all about?

I’ve heard people call Job the representation of suffering. Christians and Jews hold that God “allowed” Satan to do all of these things to Job to “test” his faith, somehow suggesting that God wanted Job to suffer. The suggestion of God wanting Job to suffer has been a central point in contradicting the Bible to atheists and related religions; if God was all knowing and loving, why would God allow his greatest “servant” to suffer? To them, that sounds like a controlling unloving God who does not care for his “servant.” To me, that sounded like a controlling and unloving God because that is how I was taught to interpret this poetry. I was taught, “This is the way it is and that is that.” So, obviously, I rejected the Bible altogether. Why would I want to associate with a God that ALLOWS Satan to torture the man who loved him most?

Here’s a crazy thought: GOD DID NOT ALLOW SATAN MAKE JOB SUFFER! Since when does Satan take orders or consult God before doing anything? The poetry was written as conversation between God and Satan, which led people to believe that God basically “ordered” Satan to make all of these horrible things happen to Job to try to get him to turn away from God. Wrong. God did not stop Satan until he believed Job could not take it anymore. Until he believed Job couldn’t take it anymore. Until he believed Job couldn’t take it anymore. Just wanted to make that point clear. He KNEW Job and he KNEW Job could handle it because he CREATED Job. If God made told Satan to do these things to Job, then that would mean that GOD made a PACT with the DEVIL! Does that sound familiar? Why do some religions portray it as a pact? Satan does whatever the fuck he wants and can take over at any time. God cannot control Satan because Satan is the Fallen Angel. Some may say that God can control Satan because God is all knowing and powerful and created Satan, but I do not believe this is true.

Here’s where the craaaaaziness comes in. So, let’s define some things real quick to make this an easier explanation: God, – the guiding force in our lives that allows us to pull through bad situations and accomplish our dreams. Satan – the thing that keeps us back from doing that. Man – the extension and physical form of God, God’s children.

“God” is the energy in which humans create to do good and take care of others. This is the thing that makes us charitable, reasonable, wise, and logical. It is just defined as one word, “God.” As Osho says, “… the more you assimilate the higher will be the peak on which you can stand and look far away…” ALL RELIGIONS HAVE ONE CENTRAL THEME! EVEN! The religions of the past. Man has something in him that makes him divine, and that is what we have all grown to try to define. This is what preachers mean when they say, “God is in our hearts,” and “God is inside every one of us.” It’s true because God is not a singular being that is located in a certain place like “heaven.” You know, the idea of heaven is great, but the thought that it is an actual and physical place is a little silly, given the vastness of the Universe in it’s wonder. Now when I read anything religious, I replace the word “God” with “Universe” because it makes more sense to me that way. We are all Godly. That sounds crazy, right? Actually, what might sound more crazy to the people who have known me for a long time is that I’m talking like this. Which brings me to the subject of Satan.

Satan represents the duality of mankind. Satan was an angel that fell, and was created by God. Since Satan did, indeed, fall, and chose to fall, and CHOSE TO REJECT GOD, I think Satan is, arguably, the most important character in the Bible. He is the one that makes us lose our judgement, fall into temptation, live a life of crime, and he is also the one that makes us overindulge in our senses. He is the one that God cannot control because he is the one who chose to reject God, and this is why MAN is an extension of GOD because humans have a part of them that they cannot control either. I think that this is the most important lesson that Satan represents. In the case of Job, Satan manipulated Job’s life to have all of these horrible things happen to him. Did it ever occur to anyone that Job was actually fooled the entire time into believing that God was the one who was testing him? God did not choose to test him, Satan did. But Job, his family, and his friends constantly refer to God as the one who is testing him, and that represents the vulnerability of a great man of the Universe. He was tricked. But even though Job was tricked and vulnerable, he was strong in that he kept the energy that drives him to keep on moving forward and never giving up. That is why Job is so endearing to anyone who hears the story, he never gave up.

Men never give up (I’m speaking in general terms, not just male), and the reason men never give up is because there is divinity in all of us. Job was the epitome of divinity in his devotion to the Universe, but he still suffered. I do not think Job is the representation of suffering, I think Job is the representation of all that we go through in life, and WHEN WE CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE! We often overcome these feelings through the help of our own energy — our own being, perseverance, and conviction. This is what “God” is, and this is the phenomena of “hitting rock bottom,” then succeeding. We as humans have powerful capabilities, and we are divine creatures, but we have created our own divinity. Since we are “godly,” we should act as such, as men who have a great connection with THEMSELVES and therefore have a great connection with this energy we describe as “God.” This is where Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed come in, but I’ll save that bit for a later religious analysis because I think I have exercised my point in great detail already.

Ah, if my former self could only hear the words of the latter.

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Real Immigration Reform (Winter 2014, Eng 100, featured as class example)

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“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” are the words every American hears and feels a sense of pride, because these are also the words that our fellow men in other countries, “yearning to breathe free,” know our country by. From the original native immigrants to the vikings to Christopher Columbus and the Mayflower, America has always been a nation built off of the dedication of our ancestors wanting to build a freer life for their children. It seems that in this modern day, some Americans have forgotten our accepting roots and others have over-embraced it. How do we find a middle ground?

The problem in our immigration policies in America today is that there is too much government involved. Americans hold on to the federal government as a crutch to lean on when we get tired, all the while forgetting that we could not lean on this crutch during the American revolution for a reason. With the federal government out of the picture, states will be able to decide for themselves what to do with the immigrants. As a result, immigrants will have a choice as to which state they will be able to immigrate to.

The two states with the most different immigration policies are California and Arizona. California just passed a law that will give illegal immigrants a driver’s license, and wants to pave the way for a more “immigrant friendly” state. Arizona has had talk of building a 100 foot wall across the border and deadly force authorized for anyone who wishes to cross, and recently passed a law that will charge illegal immigrants with trespassing just for being on Arizona soil. These two states obviously represent each side of the immigration argument, and will eventually prove which method works the best. By giving both of them the right to do with their border as they please, it will provide a more “people-of-the-country” oriented governance and will show which immigration policy works best for both economical and sociological aspects of the immigration argument.

Arizona loses around $3 million each year, and California’s general fund spends around $10.5 billion annually on legislation related to illegal immigration. The federal government spent $18 billion in 2012 alone on illegal immigration, a cost that is 75% greater than both California and Arizona combined. With all three of those government entities, the cost for illegal immigration adds up to a whopping $31.5 billion. By telling the federal government to go away and leave immigration matters to the states, it will save the American tax payer $18 billion alone. With the economy on the brink of collapse and the tax payer stretched to find resources for themselves, this would take away a small, but important cost to Americans and our children. This sounds great and all, but if the federal government was not involved in the immigration process, how would anyone become a United States citizen?

California’s driver’s license initiative will allow immigrants to establish a residency and enough documentation to work in the state of California. This path will lead to the availability of citizenship applications for all immigrants while they work to support their family. The influx of immigrants will force California to adjust its oppressive small business certification laws in order to allow for more businesses to open up, thus allowing more jobs to be created. In order to not face an imminent economic meltdown due to Arizona completely locking up the border, there would be no way the California legislature could not adjust their laws to allow more business creation. This would make California the pro-immigration and pro-small business state, and lead the way to a more innovative America.

There is no doubt that cultural diversity allows for a greater knowledge and wisdom as to how the world works. America has been the “melting pot” of the world for this reason, and we take great pride in our diversity. Why should an imposing government decide how we deal with the men we share our land with? If you are an individual who is able to apply your skills to help the community, why should you be barred from doing so? If there is a state who does not want workers to help the community, then why should they be forced to take them? Ultimately, whether you are skilled, or willing to learn a skill, accepting everyone we share the world with makes us a greater species – ones who are able to think outside of our realm and connect with our fellow men. It is insulting that an “all knowing” government has the right to decide that one person is more deserving than another to live on this land. As long as we separate ourselves from one another with labels such as “legal” and “illegal,” we fail to recognize that that family of eight might very well need that job the father got while standing outside of Home Depot. It takes away the human aspect of our characters, something that is very dangerous for an entire population to do.

There are a few different ways to view immigration, but I think that the ultimate way to view it is as a part of human nature. We have and always will be a nomadic species, and dealing with this instinct will forever be a challenge. My solution is to stop trying to control it, and just let it run its course. We should not have to spend our time and resources on stopping an animal instinct. Stop spending our great-grand children’s future on getting people to stay in or out of our country, because we are not going to be around to watch them suffer as they try to pay off the deficit that was started long before we were even born. We are Americans: the most adaptable people in the world. Let’s stay that way.

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