When Does Law Become Criminal?
January 2021: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 459 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.
If you've ever criticized taxation in front of an average statist, be them liberal or conservative, you know that it quickly turns awkward. They insist that taxation is necessary for certain services and that they're happy to pay it. They sometimes even assume you're advocating not paying taxes, then the conversation turns towards a discussion on the merits of "obeying the law".
We are just supposed to obey the law, people say. My fellow Latter-day Saints are even more insistent on this, throwing out the knee-jerk 12th Article of Faith reaction. We are supposed to support "government" and obey the law. We are supposed to be good little citizens. If we don't like the law, we can write a letter to our congressman, our run for office ourselves, etc.
But what about when the law becomes criminal? What, you don't believe the law can be criminal? You say: "Taxation isn't criminal. Government interventions in my business transactions isn't criminal. The state deciding what I can or can't consume isn't criminal. No, not at all. We've all tacitly consented to the social contract that legitimizes the government that passes laws that create taxation, economic interventions, and consumption laws."
At what point would you begin to question the legitimacy of the law? If everything the government does is kosher, then can it ever do wrong? You would think not. It can steal, ie. tax, with impunity. It can control our consumption. It can insert itself into every one of our relationships or interactions with others. It can even force us to fight it's wars. It can do no wrong, you see!
Or can it? Surely your average liberal or conservative statist would be horrified if their government started killing all but one of their children. Or if the government started requiring your entire income, leaving you with food stamps and housing vouchers. Wouldn't they? Wouldn't they be absolutely horrified? They would! And rightly so! The government has become a criminal gang. Before, with it's minor taxation (and inflation) and economic interventions, we were okay with it. We blithely assumed that tacit consent and the social contract kept us all fat and happy. That government was there for our good.
But it wasn't. It never was. There's no such thing as a social contract. Authority must be explicitly granted, and few people living today have explicitly granted power to those who exercise authority over them (and dissenting others). Every state today is illegitimate for the majority of the people it rules over. Only when their laws, already criminal, become obviously criminal do people see the illegitimacy of the state. Don't wait for that. It could be too late.
Take the time now to study the origin and nature of the state. Free your mind from it's control, first and foremost, and then you will be free. You will have changed your mentality. You will see the state for what it is, and you will understand why it's important to obey it's laws. Not because they are good and right and legitimate, but because if you don't, you will either wind up in a cage, or dead.