Tyranny Is Built Out Of libertarian Buts

Tyranny Is Built Out Of libertarian Buts

Many seem eager to claim the label of libertarian. Many claim to want a live and let live society. But then there is that one bit of government intrusion that they’re not willing to give up.

I’m a libertarian, but we need government to control our borders!
I’m a libertarian, but we need government to protect us from foreign enemies!
I’m a libertarian, but government needs to provide a safety net!
I’m a libertarian, but _______!

Everyone just has their little thing they want from government. To keep their little thing, they compromise on all the rest and we get an awful lot of buts and a really bloated and intrusive government. What’s your libertarian but that’s contributing to the growth of the cancer known as authoritarian government?

Discussion (40)¬

  1. Agape says:

    I only have a libertarian butt, for the record. My last pro-minarchy “but” disappeared about a year ago. When I realized we really didn’t need them for defense. Then, even if roads are a pain in my libertarian butt without gov running them, they’re still no reason to have the rest of gov around just for convenient transit. And they aren’t really all that convenient, at that… Anyway, my two grams silver on the topic.

  2. Friday says:

    My mouth is, literally, hanging open… you drew the Capitol out of butts. 😀

  3. AnonymousCoward says:

    Spot on, my friend. Spot on. 🙂

  4. Kushin Los says:

    You know, I never added the “but” part to any of it. I assumed for a while that certain things had to be done, never anything more. Now though I realize there is no consent involved in many of these things by the majority involved.

    So as far as I’m concerned as long as there is no consent to be had, there is no validity to the system.

  5. EXACTLY! You summed up the fault of libertarianism (or any political view that wants freedom, but still includes a government) in a single paragraph and a very funny comic.

  6. Ron Helwig says:

    The ‘but’ that bothers me the most is ‘but money is “special” and government must provide it’.

    Money is a product, just like anything else:

  7. susan 28 says:

    i can’t really think of one, but i do play the game of participation in government to play the forces off each other to keep each from advancing their agenda too much.

    here’s an example: abortion’s a biggie for me, and my approach to it isn’t exactly the type of compromise you’re referring to (ie: wanting government to “provide” something), but it’s a political compromise in that A) i want it NOT to be illegal, B) i don’t want it (or anything) to be publically funded, but C) the political faction that fends off the anti-choice hordes who want to force us at gunpoint to bear pregnancies which themselves might have been forced on us is also the socialist faction that would also make them (and lots of other stuff) publically funded. so i swallow the socialism for the sake of keeping the fundies outta women’s fucking pussies, because to me, ownership of one’s body is more fundamental than ownership of external property, so if one faction respects the former and the other respects the latter and it’s one or the other, i’ll take the former.

    also, to balance out the leftie president, i voted rightie congresscritters in hopes of checking the Dem majority’s inevitable gun control measures. i hate these fucking games. it’s like musical tyrants. i’m not looking for government services with my vote, i’m just trying to keep the essential civil liberties (not “rights”) intact, all of which are more important to me than low taxes, taxes being viewed by me as theft, but things like abortion laws, drug laws and the like present to me as rape (ie: “body theft”) and i prefer theft to rape. so paying the lefties their taxes is kinda like paying protection money to get fewer intrusions into my personal life.

    anyway back to your original question, i have no “buts” as far as what i want “from” government. i just wanna be left alone and try to navigate the statist waters the best i can to get as much “nothing” from government as possible. i have no dog in this race, i’m just trying to slow it down.

  8. Musical tyrants… that’s a good one… ;D

  9. lukas says:

    The ‘but’ I hate most is “but won’t somebody please think of the children?” It makes me say “fuck you” reflexively.

  10. Republic512 says:

    That was point on!

    At first I was like WTF?, and then *rubs belly and laughs”.

  11. Republic512 says:

    edit: “on point!”


  12. geoff says:

    Now I’m curious. What’s the argument against having a military to defend against foreign attacks? I thought a government-run military was part of the Libertarian philosophy, but maybe I’m wrong.

  13. Kat Kanning says:

    Is this a commentary on libertarians, or a Dale fantasy??!?

  14. gu3st says:

    It is these “but-libertarians” which ruined the term “libertarian” so it no longer means what it was always supposed to mean and what is today instead called “voluntaryism”. Non-aggression principle and nothing but a non-aggression principle, no compromise, no wavering.

    So today you’ve got a multitude of terms used to describe REAL libertarianism: pure libertarian, voluntaryist, anarcho-capitalist, market anarchist etc.

    As for the military, geoff, think of Switzerland in World War 2 and why it wasn’t defeated by hitler. No standing army, but each citizen was personally armed and trained in defense as a matter of elementary education. Hitler didn’t have to just defeat some monolithic army and then simply take over the population because the population, every single individual, IS the army!

    So there’s no need for military if you’ve got a population armed and trained at defense.

  15. geoff says:

    gu3st – that was before nukes were invented. And using Switzerland as an example now doesn’t make any sense because they don’t have the same strategic importance as a superpower.

    I have yet to hear a coherent argument for the US disarming. If we disarmed, and left it to an ad-hoc citizen army, we would be quickly overrun by a highly organized, mechanized army bankrolled by a large, hostile government that was backed up by the threat of nukes.

    End of story.

  16. Dale says:

    Who says it needs to disarm? You’re scared? Then fund it. Reach into your own pocket and show your approval by contributing to it. You think you’re the only one who’s afraid? Others will fund it too. Just get it out of the hands of people who can steal our money and do as they please. Then there would be some accountability. Then maybe we’d not be spending billions occupying over a hundred other countries and we’d focus on defending ourselves. It would cost us a lot less. We might actually be safer because we’d stop pissing every potential terrorist off.

    We should apply the logic to every single government program. If you have a majority enough to vote for violence to steal for it, you have enough people to fund it voluntarily and make it accountable and therefore more responsible. Do you believe there is a real demand for it? Apparently not if you think the only way to fund it is with theft.

  17. geoff says:

    Dale – that approach is unscalable. It’s the reason we have a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy. I don’t have the time to individually research and fund every program that I think is worth my money, to research every foreign power I think may be a threat, etc.

    Asking everyone to do so would be a highly inefficient allocation of resources.

  18. Dale says:

    The bureaucracy we have now is horribly inefficient, not to mention criminal. You don’t have to micro-manage each decision. You’d simply have institutions like we have now, only they’d truly be accountable because each of us has the option to support or withdraw support. I guarantee that if people stopped readily handing over so much money to support what’s been going on the last eight years, they’d start acting more responsible. Voting ain’t gonna do shit. They wouldn’t be able to afford the money or the P.R. of taking it all by force for very long. No one has the guts to do that in numbers yet but things will get more desperate. Fear the person who has nothing to lose. All I know is the empire building and corporate bailouts, just for starters, are economically unsustainable and it’s going to hit us like a ton of bricks.

  19. geoff says:

    So the people will fund the organizations that have the best PR. That, too, is a waste, and extremely dangerous. Just look at the influence that Fox News has. No way, Jose.

  20. ANCAPS says:

    But who will run the internet (;-), so we can interact on Anarcho-Capitalist discussion boards such as this one: http://ancaps.super-forum.net/portal.htm

    But who will protect us from dangerous “ancap” charlatans, such as Stefan Molyneux: http://ancaps.super-forum.net/philosophy-religion-f7/molyneuxcultwatch-t4794.htm

  21. “It’s the reason we have a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy.”

    “So the people will fund the organizations that have the best PR. That, too, is a waste, and extremely dangerous.”

    Yes, I agree, representative democracy is a waste and is extremely dangerous.

  22. Ganja Blue says:

    But it is for the CHILDREN!. Don’t you care about the f-ing children. They’ll all die, starve, be stupid, do drugs, be homeless, smell bad, be poor, drown in a hurricane, if the government doesn’t do something slow, expensive, inefficient and ineffective to help them now.

  23. You mean how a highly organized army rolled in and overran a ragtag citizen militia in 1776? Oh, wait, that’s not what happened at all..

  24. geoff says:

    I’m still not hearing any coherent arguments, just a couple of sarcastic remarks that are based on self-righteousness rather than real debate.

    Michael – the ragtag citizen militia of 1776 was eventually formalized into a part of the government. Now why would they do that, if the success of the American Revolution was so fresh in their minds? Isn’t anarchy the *default* state to which humanity is born? If so, why do humans always gravitate to building tribal societies, and then on to more sophisticated forms of government? If anarchy were the best way, wouldn’t it dominate all other forms of government?

    Dale – sorry if I’m stirring the pot here more than you like…I just find debate like this to be really fun. 🙂

  25. Dale says:

    “Dale – sorry if I’m stirring the pot here more than you like”

    Don’t apologize for that! Stirring the pot is healthy. These are not new questions. Other people have these questions too so it’s good that they get posted.

    I have entire blog entries for topics like this but I’ll try to keep it brief. Anarchy is not a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet. Have you read the book about software development by that name? The same applies to the myriad of problems that civilized societies have to solve. Anarchy is in fact a recognition of that very fact! It’s a realistic view of the world. I know you said Fox News is bad because they can manipulate PR so well, and I’d agree, but I’m just saying government is even worse because they have all that PR on their side AND legitimized violence. I don’t have a magic bullet solution for all the world’s problems and don’t claim to. I’m only arguing that creating a monopoly on violence is quite possibly the most potential for corruption that we can possibly make and is therefore not a solution at all. So yes, Fox is bad, and the federal government is far worse. In fact, I would link most of the corruption in large wealthy corporations to the fact that they can lobby for favoritism and barriers to entry against small business and so on from an immensely powerful government, and in fact, that this cycle escalates as that favoritism gains them far more wealth than they could legitimately earn without the violence.

    So if you present me with some complex problem of society, whether it be national defense, domestic defense, welfare, regulations, I would agree we need to address those problems, but would simply disagree that creating a monopoly on violence is ever the answer. Search this site for “authoritarian beastie”. The “solution” is worse than the original problem, because while we may consolidate power, we haven’t figured out a way to consolidate morality. A violent monopoly is not benevolent, though it exerts considerable PR efforts to appear to be.

  26. gu3st says:

    So if you support an organization which forces people to buy from it and fund it at the point of a gun you ought to be consistent and be willing to pull out a gun against a productive individual yourself, personally. Are you willing to do that? Would you drag someone in jail personally for not paying taxes, for instance?

    So many people argue how government is needed and good and whatever, but never actually consider the implications of their moral position.

    Whether government, military, healthcare system, roads or whatever else you wanna name, exist or not is IRRELEVANT. What is relevant is whether you and me are being FORCED to buy those services or are we left the decision to choose voluntarily.

    If you don’t support initiation of force, or coercion, you cannot support government as we know it (coercive monopoly) and be consistent. If you support government, you support initiating violence, you support perpetual war (not just between states, but state and its citizens because they’re violently enforcing their own “terms and conditions” on all their “customers”).

    There is NO middle ground. Once you realize this, there’s no escaping. You either choose to condone violence or you stop supporting the idea of government.

    That’s voluntaryism.

  27. Dale says:

    Geoff (and others), I highly recommend this very brief video introduction to the fallacies in thinking that lead to authoritarian monopolistic governments and their inevitable failures. It’s called “Anarchy is Emergent”.

  28. gu3st says:

    Great video Dale. That’s kinda how I’ve been thinking about the world for a while now, everything bottom up, where one thing is consisted of its fundamentals and everything is a fundamental to something on an even higher level. Observing the universe seems to confirm this pattern, from subatomic particles to galaxy clusters and beyond and beneath, universe is like a fractal.

    And somewhere there are human individuals, not some fantasies like “government” or “country” which correspond to nothing in reality and are completely artificial concepts designed to make humans act in completely self-defeating and literally self-nullifying fashion (if you’re to believe “country” trumps you yet country doesn’t exist, you effectively nullify your individuality), but individuals and groups of individuals brought together by natural urges (like self interest).

  29. Alex Libman says:

    I haven’t seen that many white butts since Braveheart, but this ain’t ancient Scotland – I demand equal opportunities for butts of all races, ages, genders, colors, creeds, and body fat percentages! LOLZ

  30. fester says:

    Great cartoon. Even the best intentioned minarchists will never make any headway, because of this. When I was active in the LP, I found a lot to agree with people on, but everyone seemed to have a different opinion of what few duties they thought the government should perform. The problem was that in a roomful of 20 people who believed in small government vs. No government we would have close to 50 or more functions someone in the room felt like the government should be doing, and you just cannot have small government if everything from the military to roads to schools and ports and borders are controlled by the government. Pretty much everything the government currently does could fall into one of these people’s categories.

  31. I won’t take the time to count them myself, but please, please, please tell me there are 435 (better yet, 535) asses in that depiction of the capitol building.

  32. ~because I already know there are 535 asses inside.

  33. Dale says:

    “I won’t take the time to count them myself, but please, please, please tell me there are 435 (better yet, 535) asses in that depiction of the capitol building.”

    I’m LOL right now!

  34. Agape says:

    I apologize for the essay post in advance. I neglect the comments thread for a few days and suddenly half the hitcount has said something 🙂

    Susan 28:
    Meanwhile, you jump through those hoops to try and fight the battle and have lost the war by conceding their right to *permit* or *deny* freedoms to you as they will. If they don’t have the right to have a say in your self-ownership, they don’t have the right to grant the liberty any more than to deny it. And you’re still demonstrating the behavior of faith in governance.

    First, the argument against the “national defense” government military is to open your eyes and look at what it has been used for since pretty well the beginning. The war of 1812 was an aggressive war, and couldn’t have been fought for the reason claimed because it was fought right after the inauguration of a prime minister who was happy to just stop impressing our sailors into naval service, and even if word hadn’t gotten to the capital by the start it should’ve triggered them to sue for peace. Instead we got the white house sacked, which caused the whitewashing that gives it its name. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2im2sYjHbFw comments on it as part of the foundations for the Civil War.

    The militias got incorporated into government because government abhors independent power and the war of colonial secession demonstrated just how much they could be effective at removing an established government, and eventually were disbanded altogether to remove the rest of the power from the states. And by quite far, at least so long as there are authoritarian regimes capable of invasion, there would certainly be investment by businesses and individuals to defend them against that invasion. Invasion and taxation hurts the bottom line at the least unless it’s applied in your favor, and paid for by somebody else. And would create an incredible incentive for developing an actually effective defense against nuclear attack, rather than the porkbarrel “missile defense shield” we have now.

    And, my response to the assertion that we need a strong, centralized, authoritarian state military to defend ourselves against other strong, centralized, authoritarian state militaries is that really makes no sense. Our strong, centralized, authoritarian military has defeated how many strong, centralized, authoritarian militaries since WWI? What repelled us and numerous other strong, centralized, authoritarian militaries? Got us out of any given country? Decentralized, guerilla militias. It happened to some extent in Korea. It happened in Vietnam. It happened when Russia got run out of Afghanistan and is happening to us now there. It happened and is still happening in Somalia, where the gun grabbers commented that trying to disarm the Somali population(!) was like trying to disarm the NRA (or maybe nowadays it’d be like the GOA). It’s happening in Iraq.

    Keep in mind, this is not simply a libertarian comic. This is Anarchy In Your Head. While I will acknowledge minarchists as being in the libertarian minarchyanarchy spectrum, that’s not what the comic is and it’s not what a lot of us here are. I at least welcome any discussion from anybody, even the vile hated socialists and republicans 🙂

    You forgot how much the PR engine *for* government is created *by* government regulation, which simultaneously creates it and puts a leash on it should it truly turn on its masters. Remember when congress had the gall to call the heads of the networks before them in ’00 simply for calling Florida the (probably) wrong way?

    Rick Caldwell:
    LOL, but shouldn’t that be 537? You forgot the President and Vice President 🙂

    My additional comment:
    I have talked over the years with a lot, and I do mean a lot, of minarchists. Particularly the founder-worshipping constitutionalists seem to be the most psychotic of the lot. It failed to even limit government for even five years. So they wanna press reset and just try it again only not allowing slavery and leaving sufferage for women and minorities.

    There are two remainders in the minarchist camp. The first is those who do go farther than the constitution and want to limit government to a further degree and usually try a different structure to see if it’s the *way* we give them their power and monopoly that is the problem. This camp, however, almost universally wants to retain some taxation powers, and the use of force to maintain monopolies on defense (police and/or military), most of the time justice (though I’ve seen some exceptions here who would allow competing arbitration and such so long as the top level held “national defense” and the tribute to it was enforced), and a collection of other markets that varies quite a bit as fester observed. Even if those monopolies are not directly involuntary-tax funded, directly, the force-imposed monopoly would still result in a “fund it or have nothing” indirect tax. For an instance of this not working, the Icelandic minarchy, the Althing, fell largely to the ability to avoid new competition by the chieftans. Maybe they’ll remember their history now, since the Icelanders are laying blame (mostly) in the right directions in this “crisis”: overspeculative banksters and the government.

    The last set of minarchists is actually kind of funny. I’ve run across a minority of the “minarchist” camp who profess to the belief that we need some government, but also profess to believe in individual secession and the ability to form competing “governments” with no regard for border! I, along with another ancap, once had an hour-long argument with such a “minarchist”, until we discovered that part of his philosophy. The argument pretty immediately cooled off, and me and the other ancap sat down and quietly and calmly explained to him that what he believed in was in fact at the least “voluntaryist” anarchy. That it’s not government if it doesn’t have that force monopoly. That it’s pretty much just a business, even if someone chooses to name that business government.

    Oh, and Dale? I hope you don’t mind if I take this opportunity to shamelessly plug http://www.bigheadpress.com/ heh.

  35. T-Zero says:

    Hi. I’m new to this comic, and am enjoying it. I’ve always believed that society would be better off with little government, and have been calling myself a social libertarian since I gained the age of majority.
    I’m learning a great deal about anarchist ideals from this site (and more from the commentary on each page) and I’ve some questions to put out there for you all. Please view these in the spirit that I’m sending them: I’m putting out some points (or counter-points, depending on how you choose to view them) in the hopes that someone will be able to either support them or refute them rationally. (From what I’ve seen, this little proviso is not needed on this site, but I always put it out there when talking politics, especially on the net.)

    One of my big libertarian buts is that corporations and businesses are just as capable of oppressing a people as a government. In addition to being able to use violent force in the case of armed goons, a business can also starve a people into submission, simply by removing their income from them. Admittedly, in a strong and thriving economic environment, with abundant resources, this last act is not effective because of the individual’s ability to gain employment elsewhere. Yet there are places in this world, and in this country, where a couple of industries, or even a single industry, are the only source of employment available to a population. A good example of this is the coal strikes of the early twentieth century. In this situation, the people were under physical, emotional, and economic abuse. Gainful employment elsewhere was no option, because there was no where else to be employed. The viable arable land was diminished due to the presence of the coal mines, and the workers were being forced to go into debt (to the company they worked for!) simply to put a roof over their heads, and food on the table. After large and violent uprisings against the mines and often the local authorities, the miners would gain concessions from their employers. Yet eventually, these gains would be removed when the company thought it could safely do so. This cycle lasted for nearly fifty years. It still happens, but now the miners, through the unions and their willingness to revolt, have won from the government legal rights which aide them in their fight against the mines. Abuses still happen, and the miners still have to strike, but with the added weight of the legal system behind them, their struggles tend to be shorter, less frequent, and to bring more lasting gains.
    My question is this: In an anarchist society, how could such a situation be resolved? Legal recourse would seem to necessitate a state with the ability to back up its law with violent force. Yet without the weight of law behind it, how could a movement such as that started by the strikes win out? Simply killing the mine owners and collectivizing the mines under their former employees seems to be a short-sighted and rather morally unappealing option.

    This is an example of why my political views on the economy tend to be rather socialist. I view the wealth and wealth giving resources in this society as being rather akin to water, and to be treated as one treats water rights. If my land has a stream running through it, I own that water and to do with it as I will. Yet I do not have the right to damn up the water, and deny it to my neighbor, because he has as much right to the water from our collective stream as I do. I do not have to the right to use so much myself as to deny it to him, or to pollute it at my end so badly that he cannot use it at his. Wealth is much the same in our modern society. Subsistence farming is for much (if not most) of our population no longer a viable option as a livelihood, especially in the cities. The only really effective way to put food on the table, clothes on one’s back, and a roof over one’s head, is to work for a company. A company that is undoubtedly out for its bottom line: the acquisition of wealth. Who are the ones watching the bottom line? The men at the top. Their acquisition of this wealth is much more efficient if they pay their employees the lowest possible wages, so they do this. Their employees lack recourse, because all the other companies have seen how well low wages help the bottom line as well. Opening one’s own business is rarely effective and always difficult, because the large ones are able to use the wealth they’ve accumulated to undercut the prices of the competing small business(es), and the small business owner if put in a difficult situation. Even if he manages to keep afloat, he will have to do so by employing similar tactics as the large companies, i.e., keeping his profits up by keeping his employees wages low. Thus a vicious cycle is generated and perpetuated.
    The problem with all of this, from the position of the employee at the bottom, is that it is exceedingly difficult to live on a low wage. The cost of living is often just too high. This problem can be treated by taking loans, but loans are by definition, borrowed wealth, and this in turn just sends more wealth to the top, where it tends to accumulate and stagnate, at the cost of the man at the bottom. (If anybody believes in the “trickle down” theory, I rebut with the “Vimes’ Boots” theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vimes#Vimes.27_Boots )
    The easiest way (and so far as I have been able to see, the best way) to remedy this situation is through the forced redistribution of wealth through socialist measures. These measures are not possible without the threat of force (or the government, same diff) and I do not see how an anarchist society would be able to deal with such problems. Strict free market tactics just haven’t been proven to work, as shown during the Irish Potato Famine.
    Phew. Sorry to talk your ears off (or write, as the case may be), but I’m hoping the people here will be able to offer some good arguments for why an anarchist society could work in these cases.

  36. Mark says:

    I think this is my favorite toon so far.

  37. Agape says:

    T-Zero, ah, yes. The socialist libertarian point of view, that views these things as the natural consequence of business. I might suggest http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7C89E81CC2E193A4&playnext=1 as a fairly decent primer on anarcho-capitalism. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYTgwzHU6xg to specifically address your ideology. What should be remembered, here, is the prevalence of government-created monopolies, and the destructive effect they have on an economy. Those localized “specialized industries” you mentioned were pretty much created by government. The claim that government force keeps the gains, and makes it less likely to need to strike to get them, is unsupported by reality. Mainly because anytime the government has taken a side in such strikes, it tends to protect the company against the workers. Or take the side of strikers who are demanding unreasonable concessions against the company. The natural balance is if the local economy really only can support one employment outlet for most of the population, unlikely but we’ll run with it, striking is a negotiation tactic. The vids I posted links to cover that.

    Here’s the thing. A stream passes through somebody’s land, it’s not really destroying a resource to use it. So utilizing 100% of the stream if you need to in order to irrigate your fields, not a problem. However, if they pollute it so that it pollutes land downstream, that really does result in damage across that board. And a private court would probably rule against anyone doing so.

    But, taking what would be *called* an unreasonable amount of profit, isn’t really damming up the economy. If they are, and striking is proving ineffective (generally it means the wages they’re demanding are too high, and scabs can be found for competetive wages), the employees could just do a little capital-shopping, present the plan that they have all the skills and experience, and with the resources to start an alternative they could (if their assertion is correct) either undercut their old business or offer more competetive wages, or both. The part about undercutting competition outside of the bounds of profit is real BS. If they’re taking a loss to be rid of competition, they can only do so for a limited time. They either have to burn through any stored profits, which the idea is they weren’t operating at a high profit level or this reduced price is in fact not outside of profitability, or run through credit. Either this will be stopped by reaching the limit of their credit or the limit of their capital or both.

    The claim that the potato famine was a failure of the free market is truly BS. I don’t understand how that claim even got started. First, potatoes were monocultured (in England) through government regulation and subsidy. Then when the blight hit *them* they went in with goons and confiscated all the food of the Irish. Free market never entered into it.

    Seriously, scratch the surface of “monopolies”, and you find government making them exist as such. Government is really the meta-monopoly, the monpoly that creates all other monopolies. Examining why this is so is practically a doctoral thesis in itself. You’d have to dig into land grants, subsidies, protectivist activities like patents and copyright. Selective enforcement on the side of businesses. Even the “progressive” tax structure hurts rising businesses. A business at stability is almost perfectly balanced between costs and revenue. A business engaged in expanding its marketshare has an imbalance, taxing this imbalance reduces its ability to unseat the top players. This discussion is better done in real time. Maybe we can exchange IM or meet on IRC.

  38. T-Zero says:

    Thanks for responding, Agape. I’ve looked over those videos you sent, and would like to discuss this a bit more. Please e-mail me at t_z3120@yahoo.com and we’ll set up a way to do so.