How’s Zookeeper Selection Day Going?

Let me begin with a quote I just saw from a friend of mine.

The worst effect of voting is not your implicit permission or sanction of the system, nor is it the effect it has on imposing things on others. It is that it reinforces habits of mind that undermine your ability to make yourself free. – Kyle Bennett

In other words, as we’ve discussed before, we are zoo animals, captive in zoo human, and not Free Animals. I quoted Erwan Le Corre of MovNat in that post.

The “zoo” is a modern, global and growing phenomenon generated by the powerful combination of social conventions, technological environment and commercial pressures. Increasingly disconnected from the natural world and their true nature, zoo humans are suffering physically, mentally and spiritually.

Are you experiencing chronic pains, are you overweight, do you often feel depressed or do you suffer from frequent illnesses and general lack of vitality? These symptoms indicate that you are experiencing the zoo human syndrome. Modern society conditions us to think that this is normal and unavoidable.

We don’t think so. Our true nature is to be strong, healthy, happy and free. […]

The zoo is not just an environment, it is a phenomenon, a process, which is designed to keep you a captive of both external and internal cages. It is something that conditions many of your behaviours: clearly it is to me a domestication system, no less. The zoo impairs our ability to experience our true nature […]

But I personally have a problem with morals or ethics when it comes to deciding what is good or what is not good for me, what is done and what’s not, what I should do or what society expects me to do or would like to impose to me as some form of duty.

After all, a tool is useful, a cog in the machine is useful right? I accept no institutional duty. Free will is the most precious thing in my eyes. If I choose to be helpful to others, which I in fact often do because I tend to like others, it is because I decide so and not because I have to. The problem is, many people often think of altruism as sacrificing oneself or one’s resources unconditionally for others, even for those that are total strangers to you or even if it’s going to be seriously detrimental to yourself.

"Our true nature is to be strong, healthy, happy and free," he says. Yea, that’s absolutely the picture I get when I see a long line of weak, unhealthy, unhappy zoo humans standing in long lines to exercise their grand privilege; attempting to become party to the bigger of two big mobs, such that they get to decide whether the existing zookeeper sticks around or, whether he gets replaced with a "new & improved" zookeeper…until, that is, he’s not so new nor much of any improvement — at which point it’s just about time to get all enamored with a future Zookeeper Selection Day where you throw out the Bad Zookeeper and replace it with the Good Zookeeper. Ad infinitum.

They call it chaaaaange…or…hope & chaaaaange…or is it chaaaaange & hope? Whatever it is, it’s excitement and focus on nonessentials. Focussing on or hoping for "change" for the mere fact of "change" serves to illustrate just how morally bankrupt and corrupting the whole shitty affair is, from top to bottom and wall to wall.

And yet…and YET, how many amongst us actually stops, looks around, thinks, extracts concepts and principles from their senses — before finally coming to their senses — and says, "BUT WAIT-THE-FUCK A MINUTE; WE. LIVE. IN. A. FUCKING. ZOO!"

Not fuckin’ many, and it’s goddammed pathetic.

…Even before I wrote that zoo animal post, I had observed:

Go observe any animal in the wild you care to observe, and provided that its environment is suitable to its needs — i.e., hasn’t been ravaged by fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disturbance — they live in perfect, optimal, evolutionarily designed health, which is to say that they live up to the niche they occupy in the evolution of species. Every wild animal is 100% responsible and accountable for its own survival and they do a fantastic job of it.

We evolved to become the rational animal. It was an impressive jump, so impressive that we tend to regard primitives both past and present with some degree of disdain — as though somehow grossly inferior, savage, ignorant, and part of a reality which rules don’t really apply to us. They do, and in terms of biology, they all do. And this is why hunter-gatherers are and have been measurably healthier and stronger — even taller — than us. Here’s an analog for you: even domestic dogs that are as close to the wolf as you can get are no match in terms of health and fitness (dogs are direct genetic descendants of the wolf).

In reality, we have become just like our own pet dogs. Most of them would be completely ill-equipped to survive in the wild on their own and would surely perish in short order. I would venture to say that the same goes for most modern human beings. While division of labor is a marvelous thing ("even" hunter-gatherers understood this), I think that there’s a point where "division of knowledge" becomes an enormous liability on an individual level.

And I can just see some of the likely comments now, some version of "how not enslaving the human race in human zoos would just never work." "Look at Somalia," they’ll plead. From that first blockquote, above: "After all, a tool is useful, a cog in the machine is useful right?" Yep, it’s always all about utility:

[U]tility is amoral. Pay attention whenever you hear or read of a justification for something on the grounds that it’s useful, functional, efficient. Think really hard.

That, my friends, is the essence of individualism, and there could be no greater contrast between that individualism and those old, tired, collectivist ideas straight form the zookeeper’s manual — hauled out and polished up for those ignorant of the failures of history — delivered by the new Zookeeper-in-Chief, himself.

In fact, I wonder if ‘zoo’ is even the right metaphor for what we’re going to get, now. I think ant farm or bee hive might be a little bit more fitting.

And if you believe that the predicted Republican routing of the Democrats — should it come to pass — will materially change anything, well, then you’re just too deluded — or dense — to even recall back as far as 1994, or any of the dozens of times in the decades before.

You "voters" are some of the biggest bunches of fools I’ve ever seen in my life.

I’m with George Carlin. I hold my head high. And unlike the rest of the captives in the zoo human, I can at least — at least — still imagine what it must be like to truly be free — living by my own means, and taking my own chances. 

Ya’ll have a good time out there fooling yourselves once again, y’hear? Make sure to invoke that "Land of the Free" bromide often, loudly, and with moral conviction.

That’s how you’ll keep on believing it (not by reference to any observation or evidence).

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Sean on November 2, 2010 at 13:17

    I am in the same boat ideologically with Mr Bennett and he certainly has a nack for words. I like to call today National Masturbation day and try to treat it as such. Unsurprisingly I also catch a lot of flak from friends and family for my anarcho-ways, thankfully I have found a warm community on the internet. Thanks Richard for this great post! *shared*

    As Emma Goldman said, “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:28

      My very first working title invoked “Erection Day” but I was worried it might offend my good friend Robert Chon.

      • Kim on November 2, 2010 at 14:39

        With all due respect to Gilda Radner (RIP) aka Rosanna from SNL, who always referred to presidential elections as the presidential erection.

  2. Matt on November 2, 2010 at 13:47

    Interesting take on things. I voted because I feel it’s important. I don’t like that at least two levels of government take the money I earn to give it to people who don’t earn it. I am, however, a charitable person and like to help people I know who are in need when I feel they deserve it, mostly because it makes me feel good. I want a government to protect me from others and others from me should any of us decide to wig out and get violent, provide some basic services and keep their fucking hands off my money.

    I voted largely for third-party candidates who have very few ties to special interest groups and who would mostly agree with my above statements. I threw my fucking vote away and that part pisses me off. But, I voiced my opinion in one of the ways I’m free to do so.

    If I truly wanted to be free, I’d track down Larry Dean Olsen, learn everything I could from him and go off the grid somewhere in Utah or something.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:00

      “I want a government to protect me from others and others from me should any of us decide to wig out and get violent, provide some basic services and keep their fucking hands off my money.”

      I always find it interesting when people say things like this, as though such protection currently exists. Anyone watch the local news, lately?

      “When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.”

      Ultimately, nobody can escape responsibility for their own safety, protection, defense. It’s a fantasy to believe otherwise.

      Otherwise, Matt, I can tell your heart’s in the right place.

      • Matt on November 2, 2010 at 14:26

        “When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.”

        I laugh every time I see that, then I go to the range and try some new guns. I agree with you about personal responsibility regarding protection. It’s why I workout ultimately for increased bad-assery, not so I can show off my abs at the pool.

        I do feel police/fire/courts are necessary for some semblance of justice, although I’ll admit they screw it up sometimes.

        I also meant my comment for a larger scale. We need some sort of defense system that should, er uh, defend us as a country.

        All I really wanted to do was plug Larry Dean Olsen. I kid, I kid.

  3. Duncan on November 2, 2010 at 17:30

    Oops! First link should be:

  4. Helen on November 2, 2010 at 13:00

    I haven’t voted in decades, ever since I saw through the scam when I was in my early twenties. Thank you for the wonderful post, Richard 🙂

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:01

      Good for you, Helen.

  5. Julie on November 2, 2010 at 13:01

    Thank you! So many of my Facebook friends are proudly proclaiming that they have voted, and some have even gone as far as to chastise those who don’t. “You know, women didn’t always have the chance to vote.”, one actually said.

    I personally don’t wish to supoort the current system.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:02

      The only “system” I could support is one of unanimous consent.

      • Dan Linehan on November 2, 2010 at 13:48

        When has there ever been unanimous consent about anything?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:05

        “When has there ever been unanimous consent about anything?”

        So, it’d never “work,” right?

      • Joseph on November 2, 2010 at 16:14

        I could see it working in small communities: the compromises available there are usually such that it is much easier to be authentic as an individual and have a real connection with the nuts and bolts of getting good things done. Ethics is always a collaborative endeavor. The American problem, as I see it, is that we are too big: the only way to get 300 million people to agree with anything is to deny the individual in favor of factions (who shout loud enough for the zookeeper of the day–and all the other animals–to hear); the result of this is that our collective decision-making ends up being dominated by really watered-down group-think: idiotic slogans, illogical premises, impossible promises–the kind of stuff that galvanizes mobs short on intelligence and long on moral indignation.

        We like to talk about being a “democracy” or a “republic” — but the fact of the matter (as I read history) is that really effective democracies and republics are small (in territory and population), giving everyone in the community face-time and responsibility for personal decisions (which must stand up to rational inquiry: my friends and family don’t all jump on Uncle Bob’s investment plan “because he has good family values”). Dominated by factions (whose leaders say whatever the hell they have to to stay on top of the monster), we (the United States of America) function a lot more like the Roman “republic” on the eve of Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon with a legion of firebrands determined to “bring back the glory days” (by crowning the almighty zookeeper in chief and making the tyranny of the mafias official). We pay lip-service to freedom even as most of us are more than happy to owe our souls to the mafias that run our government.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 16:22

        “I could see it working in small communities: the compromises available there are usually such that it is much easier to be authentic as an individual and have a real connection with the nuts and bolts of getting good things done.”

        Well I’ve said many times that as HGs we evolved to account for the values of about 30 individuals and at that number, people do have real influence and truly feel like a part of things, as they should.

        I can recall growing up and going to church with my folks that every now and then the church would hold congregational meetings where necessary business was conducted and voted upon. In all the years I witnessed these meetings I saw only one instance of a non-unanimous vote. And, in that instance, the husband and wife who voted no (to a budget, as I recall), left the church a short time later going their own way, as is the natural order of how things ought to be.

      • Joseph on November 3, 2010 at 11:51

        Yes! The problem with the modern “civilized” world is that people cannot take their marbles and go home. They want to rig the game so that everyone has to play (first off), load the dice (with some well-placed legislation), and collect profits from the “customers” (backed up by serious muscle). When private companies do this, it is called organized crime; when the government does it, it is business as usual.

        I live for the day when no one cares about the profit game, when we can say farewell to robbers of all kinds (including the robbers called in to “protect” us from the rest of their kind). Meanwhile, I am just trying to live well in the small community of family and friends that I know.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 11:56

        “Meanwhile, I am just trying to live well in the small community of family and friends that I know.”

        Amen. I’m convinced the world would be a better place if everyone focussed on that rather than put so much time and effort into getting everyone to live at everyone else’s expense.

    • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 11:52

      “I personally don’t wish to support the current system.” – not voting does not serve to voice dissent or actively affect the current system in any way.

      I’m entirely dissatisfied with our system and my political views range from fascist to anarchist, really anything but a system that claims to put faith in the masses. Ever read about group psychology? We have every indication to believe that the larger the population size the poorer their chocies will be.

      However, sitting out doesn’t fix anything. It sucks to choose between he lesser of evils and for that reason my party status is undeclared however IF evils are to be chose from I want input.

      Seriously, voting took me 10 minutes yesterday. I incorporated it into my morning walk, finished a cup of coffee on the way and TCB. No sweat off my balls.

      – Josh

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 13:34

        “sitting out doesn’t fix anything”

        That presumes voting does and if we’re talking about the advancement of individual freedom, it accomplishes the exact opposite.

        The game is “fixed,” alright.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 14:04

        The notion that voting might fix something is certainly failable however I do believe that it can make progress – though sometimes it isn’t your team that makes the progress.

        To what degree of fixed are you suggesting? Are talking all-out conspiracy?

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 14:13

        Also – it can advance individual freedom(s), a la-carte, slowly, painfully and again, sometimes not as defined by your team.

        Elsewhere prop 19 was addressed which is a perfect example of a specific freedom (for better or worse) that could have been attained. Though aspects of the system may have been “fixed” I do believe that the overall polls reflect the will of the state.

        Check that – I believe they reflects the choice of those who voted.

        The Non-Voting Collective (as oppose to those whom skip it incidentally) is clearly an intellectual movement of educated, free-thinking people. Probably a very similar demographic to the supporters of 19 so I do have to wonder what may have been squandered.

        I’m going to avoid minimizing the issue further but – damn.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:42

        “so I do have to wonder what may have been squandered.”

        A new scheme of taxation. That’s what was squandered with the defeat of prop 19.

        Frankly, I don’t care. It’s not genuine freedom. So fuck it.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:41

        “Are talking all-out conspiracy?”

        No. Conspiracies are dumb under the “secret to big to keep” principle.

        No, it’s just baked into the demorepublicratic cake. And, it’s logical, don’t forget. Set up a system (Founding Fathers) where ultimately your values are used to pay for things you dislike, hate, or even abhor, and this is what you get.

        Endless disharmony.

        America is many things, many good things even, but in terms of people being free to associate only with those who share and celebrate their core values to the general exclusion of others in whatever degree they like (like say, trading values — hint hint), it’s dismal.

  6. Kevin - Paleo Playbook on November 2, 2010 at 13:07

    Hope this inspires a new post on paleo politics.

  7. rob on November 2, 2010 at 13:08

    I didn’t vote in this election, first time in a long time I haven’t voted.

    They give you a choice between Coke or Pepsi, but either way you are stuck with carbonated sugar water …

    And they try to scare me into voting … “If BLANK wins it will be a catastrophe of unmitigated proportions!”

    Screw that … wake me up when I get the chance to vote for something other than Coke or Pepsi.

  8. Jim Arkus on November 2, 2010 at 13:17

    Ha! I’ve been waiting all day for this post. Nice one.

  9. Kim on November 2, 2010 at 13:21

    The great thing about freedom is that you can choose to vote or not to vote. Not voting doesn’t make you morally or politically superior. Some of us use the election process to expresss our convictions about what we think is right. Doing so should not be dissed.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:33

      Hey Kim:

      When I can opt out of all yours and everyone else’s “convictions” on a whim, let me know.

      • Kim on November 2, 2010 at 14:41

        If you want to live in a normal society, you can’t. I can’t either. Just the way it works. Be upset if you must, but you can always vote and assert YOUR convictions. I will not disparage your right to do so.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:51

        Let me know when I can opt out on a whim from yours and everyone else’s “assert[ions] of YOUR convictions.”

        To state it more plainly, let me know when the the whim of the majority (that’s when that assertion thingy works out in your favor) no longer places my life, liberty and happiness in peril through force of imprisonment, or worse, when I haven’t harmed a soul nor intend to.

      • Wiwo on November 2, 2010 at 19:13

        To say nothing of your property. It all boils down to property rights, doesn’t it?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 19:46

        Actually, the right to your own life is most fundamental and everything else derives from there naturally, but close enough. Pretty difficult to ensure your own survival with out some means of securing property or gaining rights through contract or sweat from others.

  10. McGrok on November 2, 2010 at 13:22


    Long time fan of the site, and you made me laugh yesterday with the George Carlin clip. I agree with you on just about everything here, and where I disagree, I trust you respect my free will to do so.

    I agree that little will change either way, but I do think that AT THE MARGIN, it does matter. That’s just my opinion. But then again, I am in the highest tax bracket, and frankly, am sick if taking care of the losers. Look at the animal kingdom. Not every wildebeest makes it. So instead of letting 6 of them get eaten, we all have to walk across together, and lose a chunk out of our leg and survive collectively less free.

    I know that there is zero chance of me changing your mind, but in the past I have seen respect from you for people with a different opinion. I am not naive, I don’t think that things will change, but given an opportunity to vote for smaller government, and less cages, less bars in the zoo, I will in fact vote for that, I think it matters.

    Here is a great post as to why it matters to some. I love you man, love your site:

    By the way, he’s a full-blown libertarian, which is what you would be if you entertained politics, as far as I can tell.


    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:38


      It’s fine, but I’m so far beyond libertarianism, even anarchism or, hell, agorism that I just have no use for any of it at all except to do my bi-annual poking fun of voting.

      Really, it’s going to make absolutely no difference in the world. Just remember that you may have heard it here first.

      You cannot vote yourself free. Rights are not subject to majority whim. Voting is simply wholly inapplicable in the matter of human rights.

  11. Monica on November 2, 2010 at 13:23
  12. Justin on November 2, 2010 at 13:24

    I created this page first thing this morning — just anticipating people asking me “did you vote today?” NO!

    RIP George Carlin.

    • suzan on November 2, 2010 at 13:39

      Thanks for this, Justin.

  13. suzan on November 2, 2010 at 13:25

    No voting for me, thanks. I’ve already been chastized several times and actually ordered to vote by people. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  14. Robert Chon on November 2, 2010 at 13:40

    You’ll have to go a lot farther than that to offend me, Richard.

    And you know that.

    But as I see it, there’s no alternative to the “democracy” we have now, nor is there an apparent transition strategy to a better system. Nor any national will to change things on that scale. And I’m not sure about what you mean by “unanimous consent.” On our board of directors we can achieve unanimous consent, but there’s only five of us.

    At any rate, the erections…err, elections can be viewed as a charade and I don’t have the answers on how things could be improved in terms of the governance of our country.

    But being the idealist, I vote and hope (beyond hope) that our society can improve. Concurrently I concentrate my efforts on improving the quality of my own life and family…with a little bit of utilitarianism mixed in. Sometimes individual agendas and the improvement of our society are not mutually exclusive. When they are, that’s where we have to think a bit more deeply.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 13:56

      “And I’m not sure about what you mean by ‘unanimous consent.'”

      First, the BOD of a private business or institution is a wholly different matter. It is established per a governing document or by-laws, fully available to anyone who might become subject to their governance prior to being subject.

      In other words, private institutions have and claim no sovereignty over those who have not consented to be governed.

      Accordingly, the only way for voting to be moral is a sovereign or quasi-sovereign system is by unanimous consent only. Unless unanimous, the motion, measure, statute, whatever, is null. And by unanimous, I mean ever last individual to be governed.

      Yea, it’d “never work,” but that’s the point and it illustrates that when one say’s “work” they are elevating utility above morality. It’s like focussing exclusively on the utility of a weapon to harm someone while dismissing the ethical issue of whether they should be harmed at all.

      So, no, unanimous consent would never “work,” if what one means by “work” is to impose the whim of the majority upon the minority by force — brute, main force if necessary.

      And that’s why it’s the only valid voting system.


  15. Robert Chon on November 2, 2010 at 13:42

    As far as voting, it’s an individual choice and I certainly understand why some people choose not to.

    On the other hand, the demographics of our country are rapidly changing and many people see voting as an opportunity to help shape and change the national agenda.

    Either way, pick your poison, I guess.

  16. McGrok on November 2, 2010 at 13:46

    I agree, but maybe, just maybe, I can pay less to the government, and while that may not make me free, it will be a few extra bumper plates and grassfed beef!

    Thanks again for the great site. I really do enjoy it, and as you know, I try a lot of your dishes!

  17. Jan on November 2, 2010 at 13:48

    Hey Richard, My name is Jan – long time lurker, first time commenter 🙂
    I was a bit puzzled by your post, since this election seems to be one with the worst choice of politicians in a long time (at least thats how it seems from here in germany). So, why not go with the lesser evil so that at least the idiots on the ballots do not get to decide where the states are going in the next few years? … ya know, the only way to change the system is from the inside … History teaches, as long as the public stays apathetic, nothing is going to change.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:02

      “So, why not go with the lesser evil”

      People have been voting for the “lesser evil” for so long, it’s all that’s left. Evil.

      • Austin on November 3, 2010 at 03:28

        I am so going to quote you next febuary during our general elections in singapore.

  18. Dan Linehan on November 2, 2010 at 14:00

    My rebuttal to all such arguments: The most stable and industrialized countries in the world all have large governments.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:04

      “My rebuttal”

      See my post about utility.

      • Dan Linehan on November 2, 2010 at 14:21

        Utilitarianism is still a form of morality; it’s just consequentialist.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:28

        No, it’s not.

        What’s good for a hundred, a million, or a billion says absolutely NOTHING about whether it’s good for me.

      • Dan Linehan on November 2, 2010 at 14:40

        From a utilitarian POV, millions could killed and it could still be perfectly moral under the right circumstances; say if millions had to die in order to develop cold fusion. The ends justify the means, essentially.

        Individuals aren’t so much the focus, rather the “greater good” is.

        While it’s true that consequentialist governments make society particularly susceptible to the tyranny of the majority, that’s where civil liberties and inalienable rights come into play, to protect the individual.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:45

        “say if millions had to die in order to develop cold fusion.”

        You go first.

        “Individuals aren’t so much the focus, rather the “greater good” is.”

        Greater to whom?

      • bob r on November 3, 2010 at 14:56

        Not only should he go first, he should go Right.Fucking.Now.

      • Dan Linehan on November 3, 2010 at 17:00

        So you’re attacking me personally for explaining how utilitarianism works? Real mature..

      • Dan Linehan on November 3, 2010 at 17:01

        What I don’t get is how you can support capitalism but claim to be against utilitarianism?

        Capitalism is almost a purely utilitarian system.

      • Dan Linehan on November 3, 2010 at 17:06

        BTW, my “real mature” comment is directed @ bob r’s completely useless post — which is hard to tell because to threading cuts off.

      • Dan Linehan on November 3, 2010 at 17:31


        Just to clarify on the capitalism is a utilitarian system part:

        Capitalism basically exists to distribute goods and services most efficiently among a presumed unlimited demand.

        Buyers’ choices are made based on what products have the greatest “marginal utility” to them. That is to say, people buy whatever combination of goods bring them the most happiness within a given price range.

        Capitalism, as a system, essentially turns into utilitarianism because you have huge groups of people trying to maximize their own marginal utilities (or the marginal utilities of their buying power).

        BP is a good example. They still made $3B last quarter, so the net utility of their product to consumers outweighed the environmental damage. Some people and businesses in the Gulf may have been fucked over, but hey, that’s capitalism — and also utilitarianism.

        See what I mean?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 17:32

        Well first, we do not have capitalism here, or anywhere, which I contend is the separation of state and economics.

        What we have here is some blend of corporatism and regulated markets. I support free market capitalism with no protection or favors from the state.

        On the utility issue, do you not understand the distinction between customer and subject?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 17:47

        “Capitalism basically exists to distribute goods and services most efficiently among a presumed unlimited demand.”

        If by “exists to” you mean some semblance of purpose, no.

        Capitalism is capital (means of production of goods & services) in private hands for the purpose of maximizing profits for the owners.

        BP should pay ever dime of the cost of cleanup and restitution for as long as it takes with no personal liability shielding (corporatism). If BPs assets are insufficient even if liquidated then cost and restitution should pass to the personal assets of officers, board members and shareholders.

        You want to reign in the bad behavior of corporations? Get rid of the state shielding corporate shareholders from personal liability. In other words, every company would be a sole proprietorship or partnership. Then, proprietors and partners could purchase liability insurance commensurate with the amount of their holdings.

      • bob r on November 4, 2010 at 11:19

        My mistake. I read that as you were _advocating_ “utilitarianism” as opposed to _explaining_ it. The personal attack for providing an explanation was out of line.

      • Dan Linehan on November 5, 2010 at 20:08

        @bobr, no worries.

      • Dan Linehan on November 5, 2010 at 21:27


        I’ve still been mauling this discussion over for the last few days trying to pinpoint exactly where the crux of the disagreement is.

        My position, that capitalism on a macro level essentially turns into utilitarianism, really flies in the face of a lot of anarcho-capitalism philosophy.

        So that either means that I’m onto something or way off base. 😉

        It would seem to me that in a more anarchist system, groups of consumers would aggregate their purchases towards fulfilling ends that, while personally fulfilling to their own in-group, would violate the rights of other citizens.

        For instance, what if a group of religious folks pooled their finances (think Mormons against prop 8) to try to run gays or atheists out of town. What would be the recourse for minorities?

        It seems like there would be even less protections for civil liberties, instead of more.

        Is there a book you would recommend about hypothetical justice systems in anarchist systems? I’m sure this has all been discussed, but it’s new to me.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 8, 2010 at 09:11

        Sorry, I seemed to have missed this, Dan.

        “capitalism on a macro level”

        That’s really corporatism. Enormous corps exist because of the protections afforded them by the state (enforced at gunpoint, war, etc. if necessary), not to mention “consumer protection” that’s really just enormous barriers to entry such that capital requirements for startup are too enormous for anyone but major players to participate.

        Look how it is, now. Do you see small inventors starting and then growing industrial like manufacturing to enormous proportions as happened in the 19th and early 20th centuries? No, every new large manufacturing / industrial endeavor is a “startup” by other large industrial concerns.

        What do little people do now? They start enterprises that are not capital intensive, like software and other service/product things.

        “there would be even less protections for civil liberties”

        There are only individual rights and individual liberties. Beyond that you’re stealing time, energy and money from some, to others.

        David Friedman’s (son of Milton) book, The Machinery of Freedom is the classic work regarding private justice systems. I’m not particularly a fan, but that’s on man’s look at it.

      • Michael on November 13, 2010 at 17:38

        Here is another (and better) look in my opinion:

        The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State

        You get a lot of history of private justice systems that have already worked (including our own Anglo-Saxon system) rather than projecting what might work in the future.

  19. NomadicNeill on November 2, 2010 at 14:06

    What about this vote on marijuana in California?

    Seems to me that could make a big change to the economy, state finances, amount of people of that are put in jail and the overall chilled outness of the people.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:12

      If you ask me whether I’ll be happy if that prop — what it is, 19? — passes, certainly. I’m happy any time a fellow prisoner gets out of solitary and gets a decent meal, etc., to cast a general attitude about the infinitesimal number of things in the political sphere that go right.

      But that in no way changes the nature of the whole — the prison — the zoo — and neither does it change the general downward trend to increased collectivization, regulation, infiltration, surveillance, taxation, deficits, national debts and on and on.

      It’s hopeless and voting is never, ever going to fix it. It’s not even slowing it down, anymore.

      • NomadicNeill on November 2, 2010 at 14:19

        I think it’s just the general way the universe works, things coalesce then they fall apart. A part of the ‘creative destruction’ idea.

        Granted it can be a slow process, might not happen within a life-time. But who knows, with the internet and other technology we’ll find decentralising forces becoming stronger and counter balancing the centralising forces.

        For example, certain interest groups want to conserve their power in the financial sphere, which is causing the financial institutions and banks fusing together and becoming larger. But at the same time this makes them more vulnerable and the internal bonds are not strong enough to keep them together. It will all come tumbeling down at some point. Then smaller institutions can come in and provide the same service.

  20. Steve on November 2, 2010 at 14:43

    I largely agree that voting is an exercise in futility. I did vote today though. Why? Ballot questions!!! It was ballot questions that got me out in ’08 as well. I live in Mass.
    Today’s burning question was a vote to halve the sales tax.
    In ’08 it was a vote to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.
    Rich, I’m gonna be real disappointed if prop 19 goes down and you didn’t vote.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:52

      “Rich, I’m gonna be real disappointed if prop 19 goes down and you didn’t vote.”

      If it goes down by one, then you’ll maybe have something there.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 13:44

        “If it goes down by one, then you’ll maybe have something there.” – But you represent a demographic of like minded people! You are part of a collective that might have tipped the scales!

        Oh man, what is the paleo perspective on ganja anyway?

  21. Geoff on November 2, 2010 at 14:43

    Obviously I totally respect your right to vote or not, but I guess I’m not really understanding how abstaining from voting is helping anything. You obviously have grievances about our country, and I’m not going to pretend that your individual vote is going to make a difference, but choosing not to vote isn’t going to do anything either.

    Are you just abstaining because you consider it a useless waste of time? That’s fair enough, but in my case it allowed me to get into an hour later to work, which saves me an hour of pretending that I’m doing something.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 14:56

      “I’m not really understanding how abstaining from voting is helping anything.”

      Let’s be clear. I am not abstaining from voting. Rather, I am refusing to submit your rights to my whims by force of the state. To state it more plainly: I’d never do that to you.

      “Helping anything?” Jesus Christ, I sure as fuck hope not, if by help you mean the machinery of state.

      Here’s a rhetorical question for everyone to ponder: what if they held an election and nobody showed up?

      • tony K on November 3, 2010 at 09:30

        “Let’s be clear. I am not abstaining from voting. Rather, I am refusing to submit your rights to my whims by force of the state. To state it more plainly: I’d never do that to you.”

        Hey Richard,

  22. Kim on November 2, 2010 at 14:47

    Richard, has it occured to you that the only reason you have the right to blog crap, is because you live in the USA? Try doing what you do in say, China or Iran. Or would you rather some communist official or Imam under Sharia Law tells you what you can and can’t do? At any rate, I respect your opinion and your right to express it. I choose to exercise mine in part, at the ballot box. If only I could “stuff it”. LOL!

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 15:00

      “Richard, has it occured to you that the only reason you have the right to blog crap, is because you live in the USA? Try doing what you do in say, China or Iran. Or would you rather some communist official or Imam under Sharia Law tells you what you can and can’t do?”

      It never takes very long for the Spiro Angnew-ism to drop.

      Now, who can tell me what that refers to?

  23. Sue on November 2, 2010 at 16:01

    Do you get fined for not voting in America?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 16:03


      No, not yet. Are they throwing you in jail for it, yet?

      • NomadicNeill on November 2, 2010 at 16:06

        In Australia voting is compulsory.

      • Sue on November 2, 2010 at 16:10

        Its a fine I believe.

      • Glenn on November 2, 2010 at 20:36

        yes, you are correct .. if you don’t pay the fine, they will cancel your drivers license and registration.

        voting to me is like have a multi-choice question with answer A, B, C . If none of the answers are relevant to your view of the answer, where to then?

        We don’t even get the free will not to vote! It’s your duty we are told. I never quite understand that line. Do i get a say when our constitution is violated with new laws? NO Do i get a say when politicians give themself a payrise while they ask us to show restraint? NO Do I see justice applied equally for government officials, when i would be punished for the same offences? NO.
        What EXACTLY am i voting for? Carte Blanche to continue the status quo… and while all this is going on, what is the other hand doing, hidden behind the back? Exerting more control over your rights to take care of yourself.
        Doesn’t anybody else see this.. its big brother telling you what is best for you. Doesn’t it bother you?
        Why would anyone want to participate in voting for that system? While government lobbying is still legal.. good luck changing things with your vote

  24. Anthony Landreth on November 2, 2010 at 17:01

    Your attitude regarding consent and imposition seems to generalize to market conduct. The market is not free. Nice if it were free, but it’s not. If you want to participate, you must bank. If you bank, you’re likely contributing to special interests devoted to destroying your environment, perpetuating war, preventing the development of civil right in Third World countries, filling your head with manufactured wants (consumerism), and buttressing the state. The more money you earn, the more that goes into a bank or fund, the more you contribute to these causes, the more zoo-keeping. If opting not to vote is your response to the political system, what is your response to participation in the economy? This is not a smart-ass question.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 18:03

      “The market is not free.”

      I understand that. The zoo human exists on many levels. Hell, even in marriages which the state imposes upon spouses as a contract, the statutory and judicial interpretation of which changes over time. When you get married now, your general understanding of how a divorce might be adjudicated now may have little relevance as to how it might be adjudicated in 10-15 years, especially as concerns children.

      The way I conduct my life is to always look for the least involvement with the state as possible, and that includes, of course, not going to vote. And why would I even want to? Elections exist for the express purpose of imposing the values of the majority upon the minority. Well, since I have zero interest in at least 95% of what the state does, that pretty much puts me in the minority 95% of the time meaning it would be an enormous waste of my time and attention in any case.

      • Anthony Landreth on November 2, 2010 at 19:26

        What does a lifestyle of least involvement look like? State and large corporate interests are basically the same, the state being the coercive mechanism through which corporations are enabled to compete with each other when market advantages don’t suffice. So I take it you would try to pass as little of your money through corporate entities as possible, support small business, pool resources with others in your community to provide public goods that the government fails to supply, etc. Is that the picture?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 19:56

        Well, first, while I understand the whole issue with personal liability shielding through corporatism I do still make some distinctions. Even large corporations like auto makers are generally in the position of having to cater to customer whims. Whether they could get as big as they do without the many protections afforded by the state, I don’t know. 19th century industrialization was pretty laissez faire — at least by any comparison — and some pretty large enterprises grew up. Of course, many were able to get sweetheart deals on land and other natural resources from the state, so who knows.

        But I suspect you’re more right than wrong.

        At any rate, yes, I am continually mindful of doing business with the smallest business units I can. When I go to restaurants it’s independents. The supermarket? I go to the much better Lunardis (two locations) than Whole Foods. I go to farmer’s markets.

        So, there you have it.

  25. R Dunn on November 2, 2010 at 17:07

    I am an active non-voter.

    Once again I decided to participate in the democratic part of the republic. As I have in nearly every election and primary since I could vote, I went down to the local polling place, greeted the old bags that run the show, entered the voting space, read over the entire ballot, flipped off everyone running and voted for nobody.

    Then I stopped and bought some bacon on the way home.

  26. Duncan on November 2, 2010 at 17:27

    Bill Hicks nailed the whole Punch ‘n’ Judy charade back in the early 90s, predicting much of what’s gone down since:

  27. Jim on November 2, 2010 at 18:32

    One, my dog would kick any wolf or foxes ass, any day of the week. Two, you are suckers if you think the people being elected are NO different or “can’t be any worse.”

    I hate(ed) John McCain, but I do think he is (and would be) slightly better than Obama. I think Nancy P and Harry R are out of control… Why wouldn’t I vote for the less horrible choice?

    It is nice that you didn’t vote and don’t vote, I suppose. I prefer to vote for the lessor crook and evil.

    In all the entire government, Federal, State, County, and city in most places is bankrupt. The unfunded “off the books” pensions and benefits are already so out-of-wack, it is just a matter of time before it crumbles down. I am not a tin hat person, but an accountant. There is no money to pay the pensions… none. The little town of Stockton CA pays firemen an average $205, 000 year, and they retire at 80%-110% pay… The assistant to the Sherriff in Modesto? $234,000/year. He too will retire this year at 80%-110% of his annual pay… and will likely draw that for 30+ years. No elected official from any party can, could, or will fix this…

    Not vote? Should a drowning man not cling to a branch? Should a starving man not look for food?

    I’m just saying…

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 18:49

      “I prefer to vote for the lessor crook and evil.”

      Already addressed that above when I said that people have been voting for the lesser of two evils for so long it’s all that’s left. You’re voting for evil.

      “Should a drowning man not cling to a branch? Should a starving man not look for food?”

      If you think voting is representative of either in a meaningful way then it’s masturbatory at best, delusional at worst.

      To end on a positive note, you’re absolutely right about the pensions in CA. Only a matter of time.

  28. NomadicNeill on November 2, 2010 at 19:01

    Would you feel differently if there were more parties to choose from and the barrier to entry was lower?

    Many European governments are composed of a coalition of parties and many special interest groups can be represented even if it’s just with a single seat.

    For example it could be conceivable to one day have a ‘Whole foods / natural food’ party represented in parliament as the awareness around food grows in the same way that the Green party has steadily grown over the past 40 years.

    • Wiwo on November 2, 2010 at 19:30

      I can’t speak for anybody else, but I couldn’t vote in good conscience for any party which was going to appropriate the property or abridge the liberty of anybody without their consent. It wouldn’t be right for me to steal, kidnap, or otherwise coerce, so I can’t condone sanctioning others to do it on my behalf. Period.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 19:40

        “I can’t speak for anybody else, but I couldn’t vote in good conscience for any party which was going to appropriate the property or abridge the liberty of anybody without their consent. It wouldn’t be right for me to steal, kidnap, or otherwise coerce, so I can’t condone sanctioning others to do it on my behalf. Period.”


        I find this is a pretty decent primer on freedom, particularly in the sense of the authority of groups (or people with fancy hats) over the individual.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 13:49

        For those reasons I don’t join a political party but by not voting you are condoning by omission. Your ideal system would not have been reached by any of the current candidates but a long migration towards your ideal system may have started with one of them. Progress is slow.

        If you don’t want to support these perceived grievances, withhold your taxes, that’ll actually ruffle some feathers 🙂

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:17

        “but by not voting you are condoning by omission.”

        Bullshit. That presumes there is some moral duty to be delusional (vote) and there is not.

        “Your ideal system…”

        Stop. I have no “ideal system” and never have had. That’s for you delusional voters.

        “withhold your taxes”

        I did, for a number of years when I was self-employed with no employees and had no family. But once I began a business and got hitched I set it aside (without making past amends) as I do not want to put innocents (wife, employees, a number of whom are family) at risk without their explicit consent.

      • 100% vegan on November 2, 2010 at 19:35

        Stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

  29. 100% vegan on November 2, 2010 at 19:18

    I empathize with the helplessness and fear of those standing in voter lines waiting to reaffirm their pathos with their chosen mob(s). But unfortunately, I have a smaller gut and larger brain that requires much maintenance and it would just wreck my day if standing in line let what was on the barBq go a degree past 118. pri·or·i·ti·za·tion

  30. Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 19:35

    Political “change” is a double edged sword, V. Ask a German Jew, circa 1934.

    Ask a Russian, or a Chinese. Ask an educated Cambodian from the 70s. Oops, aren’t any left.

    • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 13:52

      Ah, a Nazi reference so soon? It may be a double edged sword but what counts is who swings it. I’m confused – you sound dissatisfied with the status quo but denounce the prospect of change as inherently volatile?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:19

        “but denounce the prospect of change as inherently volatile?”

        No. See principled, non-violent civil disobedience.

  31. jennifer on November 2, 2010 at 19:39


    this post is brilliant. i fear that your point however got lost on a lot of the commentators. what i understand is that voting in and of itself is not the problem, it’s voting in THIS system. if we were still living as we evolved to live, in small packs, voting or more correctly, everyone voicing what they think makes infinitely more sense. of course, “voting” then was more about where do we camp for the winter and so people actually had to be both involved directly in the consequences of their vote and then, consequently, had to be EDUCATED and truly involved in the process.

    this concept that the state has any interest in our welfare, for our individual health, success, etc. is illusory. it has reinforced our own helplessness. the locus of control gets moved from internal to so far external that we are ruled by people who do not know us. wild animals that live in packs all know each others’ faces, smells, and habits. so, yes, a different zookeeper is still a zookeeper. the system perpetuates itself.

    and, anyone that can go on and on about this country is the freest, greatest, bla bla bla has clearly never traveled to holland or countless other places or read any statistics about infant mortality, health, education, etc. and we are often scratching the bottom of the barrel on these comparative lists because of our complicity with those that we think we’ve voted into power and our own lacking sense of responsibility for self. in other words, drop over half the population in the woods, nay, just away from fast food joints and their asses would be kicked within hours.

  32. michael on November 2, 2010 at 19:41

    Totally off your topic, but has anyone seen this?

    • Sue on November 2, 2010 at 19:47

      Load of bollocks. They can’t let it go!

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2010 at 20:04

      Ha, fucking dickhead morons. Check this:

      “The group analyzed several studies, including a large analysis from Harvard University investigators that compared egg consumption and health among more than 117,000 doctors and nurses. The Harvard team concluded — after eight to 14 years of followup — that consuming up to one egg per day “is unlikely to have substantial overall impact on the risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or stroke among healthy men and women.” A second smaller study also showed no harm from egg consumption in healthy people.

      “But both of those studies reported that, among people who became diabetic during followup, an egg a day doubled coronary risk — and they don’t tell you that part of it,” said Spence.”

      Translation: Once they confounded variables, we got the result;t we were looking for.

      I just may have to rage about this one.

  33. Ray - Pure Spontaneity on November 2, 2010 at 20:52

    Yep, it was a real fucking hardship for me to go to my voter precinct last week and participate in early voting, but I decided since somebody was going to win an election I might as well vote for someone I thought would steer toward the direction I think the country should go in. It took ten minutes.

    Richard, you live in America and at this point and time are subject to the various laws of the land. At one point will you vote? Or do you think it will always be pointless? I would guess if the FCC and the USDA got together and decided to shut down paleo blog sites because they decided it was evil nutrition you probably wouldn’t care. I imagine you are at the point that the blog probably gives more back to the paleo community than you get now. But when do you start to care? You haven’t bought your own island to be king richard and rule on your own (I’m not suggesting your that crazy but who doesn’t want to be king :)) What about when the government votes itself or the people your property (they already do to an extent)?

    At what point, if ever?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 09:03

      “It took ten minutes.”

      Hell, putting a gun to someone’s head and demanding they do your bidding, or else, takes all of seconds.

      I mean, so long as we’re still elevating utility and efficiency over morality….

      “At one point will you vote?”

      You mean join a gang and agitate for its dominance over the gang smaller in numbers and those — like me — who choose not to join a gang?


      “I would guess if the FCC and the USDA got together and decided to shut down paleo blog sites because they decided it was evil nutrition you probably wouldn’t care.”

      Right. Because I don’t choose to become a gang member like everyone else — ’cause, I mean, what other way could there be? — I just don’t care. It’s always humorous how advocates for certain causes, procedures, beliefs always co-opt the concept of “care.” “Do you care enough to vote?” “Do you care enough to pray?” “Do you care enough to go vegan?” And so on.

      “But when do you start to care?”

      I think it was probably around 1968 or so. I count the Nixon-Humphry contest as my first awareness of politics. I still recall my dad watching the election returns.

      “You haven’t bought your own island”

      Earlier I commented on the Spiro Agnew-equeness of this sort of line and asked if anyone knew what I was referring to. So, I ask again.

      • Bill J. on November 7, 2010 at 04:06


  34. James on November 2, 2010 at 20:53

    Mr. Nikoley,

    To start off, let me say that I’ve been following your blog for six or so months and find it a great resource and it has inspired me to change my diet and perception, all to beneficial effect. Thanks for keeping it up to date and your frequent updates: it’s one of the best resources on the web for a number of reasons.

    That said, this post got me thinking and I felt the need to add my thoughts to the matter…

    To wit, this quote:

    “The worst effect of voting is not your implicit permission or sanction of the system, nor is it the effect it has on imposing things on others. It is that it reinforces habits of mind that undermine your ability to make yourself free.”

    This reminds me of the “Shawshank Redemption” in the sense that all inmates realized the totality of the situation; some complied while others opted out. None resisted or tried to escape it. At least until Andy rock-hammered his way through the wall and sewer. Insight? Thinking out side the box? Desperation? Dunno, prolly yes…

    Stripped down to its essentials, if you’re aware of these “habits” and have a hypothesis of their ultimate outcome then there’s the opportunity to be aware of their implications and act. Non-participation is as an implicit a permission/sanction as is stupid-voting. Complicitity cuts both ways.

    I agree it’s unfortunate to be limited to a range of possibilities but, hey, it a reinfocement loop and glass-half-full-guy sez there’s the possibility to modify the loop’s parameters, at worst over the long term. If you try. Who was it said “Use your freedom of choice”? Oh yeah… (

    Otherwise, what’s the alternative? “Free” is complete bull-nardicles unless you’re willing to dig through wall and have a plan on the other side. Mine? Eat the testes and go out the sewer line, plot the next move from Zihuatanejo, figuratively speaking… Oh, and vote the next time too.

  35. NomadicNeill on November 3, 2010 at 04:35

    I think it’s a bit childish to be honest.

    No one needs to tell me how arbitrary the institutions of nation, state and law are. I was born in one country, have the nationality of another and currently live in a 3rd country were I’m not allowed to vote in the national elections, only local and European.

    Who gives people the authority to restrict my freedom in this way, determining where I can go and what I can do? No one. But sadly throughout history there have been people with big sticks / swords / guns who impose their will on others.

    I can refuse to participate because it ‘legitimizes’ authority and reinforces the submissive mind-set in me, or I can accept that things don’t change overnight and that not everyone is currently contemplate the nature of the nation state and how it imposes restrictions on the individual. The majority of people in the US still believe in gods, give them time to get over that first.

    The only way to roll this oppression back is by spreading ideas and participating in a community that moves things in a direction that is more open and free. Sitting at home ‘opting out’ doesn’t do anything at all.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 07:43

      “Sitting at home ‘opting out’ doesn’t do anything at all”

      Precisely, and quite a good thing. If everyone one “did nothing” to advance state oppression we’d be better off. We’ve been voting for centuries, now, the state has only gotten bigger, more oppressive. You can not, will not, ever, vote your way out of this.

      It’s masturbatory, illusory, delusional, insane.

      Listen, you want to know the way to truly change things, but takes a lot more skin in the game than ineffective, masturbatory voting?

      Go study up on Thoreau, MLK, Ghandi. What do they have in common?

      • Tom on November 3, 2010 at 13:29

        Don’t go comparing yourself to Thoreau, Ghandi and MLK. Civil Disobedience implies that there is some consequence to your actions. Staying home and not voting doesn’t have any consequence – except that you left the choice of who’s holding the keys to your cage to someone else. You want civil disobedience? Next year go down to your local polling place and sit in the doorway to keep people from going in. And when they haul your ass off to jail, let them. And don’t pay your fine. And when you get out, do the same thing the next year – and bring some friends. And the year after that, with more friends. Ad infinitum. Until it changes something.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 13:37


        Shut the fuck up.

        “Don’t go comparing yourself”

        I did no such thing, you godammed liar.

      • Tom on November 3, 2010 at 13:54

        I went back and reread the above and you’re right, you didn’t. My apologies.

        But my other point still stands. Refusing to vote isn’t passive resistance. No “skin in the game” as you said.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:25

        OK, thanks for that and I take back the foul language used against you but will leave it here for the record.

        “Refusing to vote isn’t passive resistance. No “skin in the game” as you said.”

        Correct. It’s not resistance at all, but a refusal to participate in a system that subordinates the rights of some to the whims of some others who simply arbitrarily number more.

        I wouldn’t do that to you.

        I do disobey the law regularly when I have good reason to, and for years did not file or pay taxes — until i get a family and employees.

      • Tom on November 3, 2010 at 14:52

        On a basic level, I agree with you. Voting isn’t going to change the system. Our corporate masters won’t let that happen. The game is rigged from the start.

        But not voting doesn’t change the system, either.

        Maybe voting is futile. But it’s something to pass the time until the next revolution.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 13:40

        Moreover, you fuckin’ liar, I have no intention nor desire to stop the process of voting and never implied I did. This whole post, dipshit, is about me explaining _why_ I don’t.

        In other areas, I engage in personal civil disobedience every day and have for decades.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 14:29

        What Thoreau,MLK and Gandhi had in common is that they all supported the institution of voting:

        “I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. ” – Thoreau

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:47

        “What Thoreau,MLK and Gandhi had in common is that they all supported the institution of voting”

        Yes, and how could I have missed that, given that’s what they are all famous for: voting!

  36. pfw on November 3, 2010 at 06:01

    I went to vote because a candidate for local town council sent around a pamphlet outlining her views. The pamphlet was so poorly written and expressed such delusion that I felt compelled to vote for the other guy. Given a choice between crazy and unknown, I’ll gamble on unknown. I’d never forgive myself if that came down to a one vote swing (which it easily could at the town level).

    For the rest of the ballot I just picked random candidates. There was some guy running for Congress on the “Be Determined” ticket, so I couldn’t pass that up. Anyone who gets on the ballot with a nonsensical party gets my vote in a heartbeat.

    As for rejecting the system, meh. You might try, but realistically you’re stuck in the belly of the machine with the rest of us regardless of whether you consent to be there or not. Once can masturbate with the idea that they’re making a difference with their vote and one can masturbate to the idea that they’re taking a stand or that they can experience freedom in an industrialized world of 7 billion people. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 08:30

      “Once can masturbate with the idea that they’re making a difference with their vote and one can masturbate to the idea that they’re taking a stand or that they can experience freedom in an industrialized world of 7 billion people.”

      There is no valid reason an individual can’t experience freedom in an industrialized world of 7 billion people. Freedom _is_ the default condition (it means: nobody is enslaving you). It merely requires that the other 6,999,999,999 people leave that individual out of their schemes for one, and not claim sovereignty over his existence for two (you owe us because you live, a secular version of Original Sin: your sin that you were born on this soil; now atone through a lifetime of toil and obedience to the arbitrary rulers we vote to dominate you).

      You speak as though there is some existential, metaphysical requirement for everyone to attempt to live at everyone else’s expense – like ants & bees – to erect a grand cannibal pot and hold an election every two years to decide who goes into the pot and who gets to feast.

      I simply won’t have any part of it and counting your original conflation, that there’s no difference between participation and not, well, I’ve just demonstrated that my position deserves distinction from the former.

      • pfw on November 3, 2010 at 10:13

        My point is that people do claim sovereignty over your existence, regardless of your lack of participation in one part of their system. Do you have a driver’s license? If not, and you still drive, then bravo for your consistency. Otherwise, welcome to the chain gang brother.

        You’re not “free” in the sense that you are constructing. The reality of the world is that you are a (perhaps unwilling) member of a large society, and that society has taken upon itself the task of regulating your behavior. It doesn’t matter if you vote or not. You can’t opt out. You might not want any part of it, but if you’ve got a license plate on your car or pay your taxes then you’ve got part of it.

        I’m not sure where you got existential requirements for cannibal pots out of my post. No, I don’t think the universe dictates democratic government. The United States Government does though, and they’ve got the tasers, so unless you’re really, really super principled and refuse to abide by all laws, you’re stuck in the belly of the machine with the rest of us.

        So, yes, the pragmatic difference between voting and not voting is null. You’ve clearly constructed a different reason for not voting than most people have, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts reality of your life it makes very little difference.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 10:33

        “You’re not ‘free.'”

        This is what I have been saying. Have you not been listening?

        And what a shame that, is, eh, on the heals of a supposed “enlightenment.” The theory was there, but has, as of yet, remained unpracticed while all the while what once was a flame is now barely a flicker in the hearts and minds of the zoo human.

        ” The United States Government does though, and they’ve got the tasers”

        Don’t forget guns and jails. And don’t forget that the ultimate penalty for any infraction, if you’re willing to take it far enough, is death.

        Welcome to the “Land of the Free.”

      • pfw on November 3, 2010 at 11:11

        I think we’re waving our hands and agreeing with each other.

        My original point was that all of this pragmatically boils down to “whatever makes you feel better”. Casting a vote or not casting a vote is irrelevant. In the end, you still pay your taxes or you go to jail, so if pushing a button or vocally not pushing a button gets you off, enjoy.

        Or maybe I should have just left it at “meh”.

  37. Mark on November 3, 2010 at 06:11

    You’re really kind of an adolescent, aren’t you?

    It’s not just the adolescent use of foul language to make your points, which you should have grown out of a couple of decades ago. It’s the adolescent “voting doesn’t make any difference, we’re all animals in a zoo” nonsense. With adolescents everything is an extreme – it’s wonderful or it’s horrible. There’s no nuance. There’s big sweeping overwrought emotional pronouncements. That’s the tone in your post.

    Human beings organize in societies and it’s a good thing. There is no better way I’m aware of for choosing who will lead that society than a democratic vote. The Founders worked hard for us to be able to choose our leaders that way rather than having some king pass the leadership role on to his children. Is it perfect? Of course not; what is in human nature and society? Does your one vote change everything? Of course not. You are one independent person who does have a vote, like everyone else, and your vote counts a little bit just like everyone else’s.

    If everyone who believed in freedom followed your advice and refused to vote, it would simply leave the field wide open for those who want to take away even more of our freedom to do so.

    Like you, I refused to vote for a while too – when I was in my early 20s and full of contempt for the “sheeple” and so on. Then I grew up and began to understand that in life you do what you can, with some humility and some understanding that it will never be perfect, and that that means that on election day you symbolically stand up for what our ancestors fought and died for — freedom — and you vote for the candidate that best represents your views, understanding that rarely will one ever fully satisfy you. You modestly and quietly stand up to be counted. You don’t throw an adolescent, foul-mouthed tantrum about how everything isn’t going just the way you want it, right now, so you’re going to go sulk in the corner and “I’ll show you!” Grow up.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 08:16

      “Human beings organize in societies and it’s a good thing.”

      Whose society?

      I happily take part in a number of micro societies, self-organized in different ways, even ones that use voting to decide things — and I participate. You know why? Because I’m _freely_ associating, my values actually count for something, I can influence, individually, the direction of said societies and I can leave any time I want.

      The “society” you speak of is merely a mass collective operating by state coercion. Moreover, this society claims arbitrary sovereignty over literally everything that exists from shore to shore and beyond. The notion that it is in any way analogous to our evolved sense of being a social animal is illusory, even sociopathic.

      “Grow up.”

      Yes, and getting your 1 in 300 millionth say in your own affairs is oh so “grown up.”

      And if you don’t like the invective around here you’re also free to leave this micro society any time you want. I won’t force you to stay, nor ask you to support it or pay for it. I’m so “childish” and “adolescent” that way. I should just “grow up” and send some thugs in uniforms and fancy hats after you.

      • pecanmike on November 3, 2010 at 11:28

        Although your blog has helped me with diet issues and is well done most of the time, I have to agree with what Mark is saying above. I have thought the same thing many times. There is no gray with you and you seem to enjoy spewing vulgarities at anyone who irritates you. It is easy to be a badass sitting behind a keyboard but I can guarantee you dont behave that way in public or you would have the living shit beat out of you in short order. And that is paleo.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 11:41

        “I have to agree with what Mark is saying above.”

        Well, that certainly makes it valid, then, eh? It’s decided.

        You agree. Stop the discussion!

    • Ulfr on November 3, 2010 at 09:16

      Grow up? Mark, are you now going to define for all of us what “grown up” and “adolescent” mean? Nice.

      Sounds like you once had some ideas of your own. Now you embrace the group-think you find yourself surrounded with. This includes defining for everyone else how they should be and what they should think. I guess you no consider yourself a well adjusted “adult” or something. Hmmm.

      You can go right ahead and keep “growing up.” Have a nice life.

    • bob r on November 3, 2010 at 16:35

      It’s the adolescent “voting doesn’t make any difference, we’re all animals in a zoo” nonsense.

      I’m pretty sure he never stated “voting doesn’t make any difference”. What he stated was more along the lines of “it’s immoral” and “I wouldn’t do it to you”.

      You, Mark, demonstrate one (of the many) problems with “voting”: you’ve decided that you are “grown up” and are, therefore, qualified to dictate the terms of existence of others.

      You assert those who recognize “voting” is immoral are not “grown up”. I guess that’s one way to soothe your conscience: label those who disagree as inferior to you and therefore obviously in need of direction from you.

      I’m pretty sure I’m “grown up”, but even if I’m not it is not any of your business. You have no moral obligation to look out for my best interest and I’m not granting you any authority to do so either.

  38. Helen on November 3, 2010 at 20:18
    • Helen on November 3, 2010 at 20:22

      A quote from the article in the link above: “Americans out of work, out of income, out of homes and prospects, and out of hope for their children’s careers are angry. But the political system offers them no way of bringing about change. They can change the elected servants of the oligarchs, but they cannot change the policies or the oligarchs.”

  39. Paul on November 3, 2010 at 06:50

    i am registered to vote but have yet to in my lifetime, mind you im only 22. i wanted to vote this year, especially for the local ballots in massachusetts because taxes very closely affect me, especially when they can be tied to state education funding. But i didnt. I dont know anything, i dont know how anything really works. I dont think many people do. But then im stuck, if i don’t vote, what do i do? I suppose we could all just “walk away” from the zoo and reject it, but does that really solve anything? And so do I walk away, me, one person, does that really solve anything? Do we organize a mass rebellion? I’m sure there are more powerful routes to enact change in this country than voting, but in my position i dont have access to many, yet, outside of my purchasing power and my vote. And wouldnt it follow that you should pursue change as much as possible by as many avenues as possible, voting just being one of those, even if it is the only one?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 08:44

      “if i don’t vote, what do i do?”

      It’s amazing how many people never consider that doing nothing is also a choice amongst alternatives in any given confrontation.

      “does that really solve anything?”

      What are you aiming to “solve?” Do you really think that the majority of voters out there are voting in order to expand the size, scope, and cost of government or, is that simply baked into the whole cake of practical politics?

      It goes like this: hit people up on their values. Fool them into believing that they have a shot at imposing their values upon everyone else. Now make sure there are a bunch of conflicting values in the mix so that you set up a sort of mini civil war. The result is just as we have been getting for centuries with the democratic process: ever expanding government, regulation, deficits, inflation (the most pernicious form of theft), national debt. Ad naseum.

      So, voting doesn’t “solve anything” either.

      “I’m sure there are more powerful routes to enact change in this country than voting”

      As I indicated before, what truly solves things but doesn’t require the bloodshed of civil war or revolution is to be found in the works of Thoreau, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi. But, it has to be done right and it requires real skin in the game. It’s not impotent like casting a vote.

      • Jim Arkus on November 3, 2010 at 10:03

        I’m curious what you think, Richard: Thoreau, MLK, and Ghandi were all intensely religious men (MLK took his cues from Ghandi, who took his from Tolstoy, who based his views on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). So if you’re speaking about non-violence and a willingness to die for your beliefs, do you think that’s hinged upon any sort of a belief in a higher power?

      • Paul on November 3, 2010 at 11:06

        So i guess in the end it all boils down to what i think needs solving, which eventually comes to me trying to force my values on people, which may be a bit drastic of a term if you knew me i would like to think. I probably tend to think as most people do that my values are simple and obvious and should be universal.

        The beauty of the great people you have mentioned is that they had strong foundation and security in their values without the need to force them upon others even really try to convince them. By simply living theirs, many people eventually came to see the beauty in this, the necessity and truth in their values, on their own. They never tried to force anyone to agree with them.

        so is the problem then that governments are in the business of forcing people to agree with them?

        and if so what is needed? A personal revolution?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 11:21

        “So i guess in the end it all boils down to what i think needs solving, which eventually comes to me trying to force my values on people”


        If you are committed to non-violence, then you never force anything on any one, save your own defense in response to their initiated aggression. Beyond that you are left with persuasion and when that fails, the freedom to associate with others whose core and principle values you share.

        “So is the problem then that governments are in the business of forcing people to agree with them?”

        They do not — as least in the US — require your agreement. They require your obedience. They require your servitude in terms of your time, your property and the overhead of your attention (they require a piece of you, your values).

        “what is needed?”

        Disobedience. Coordinated, massive, civil and absolutely non-violent.

  40. Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 10:10

    “So if you’re speaking about non-violence and a willingness to die for your beliefs, do you think that’s hinged upon any sort of a belief in a higher power?”

    I don’t think that non-violent resistance, i.e., civil disobedience, has any inherent or necessary connection to religious beliefs. Nor does it exclude them.

    Non-violence is the critical thing all this turns on. So long as people pledge that and, I should add, go so far as to protect their oppressors from those who might break such pledge — like in the heat of the moment — as proper civil disobedience MUST entail, then the why and how of justifying their disobedience is irrelevant.

    It should be noted, understood and accepted that some of the best examples of civil disobedience throughout history have been over freedom of religion and have generally been extremely effective in the Western world.

    • Michael on November 3, 2010 at 13:21


      You invoke some of the great civil resisters of our day, and you will get 100% agreement from me that such is the only real way to change things, short of a monumental crisis, where things change quickly and acquire a momentum of their own.

      But might I suggest that civil disobedience has occurred and brought about most of the freedoms we once enjoyed and in some cases still enjoy in the west? We need not look to Gandhi, King, and others. In fact I will go so far as to say every significant advance in the last several centuries we have enjoyed regarding liberty has come from civil disobedience.

      Think about it.

      How did slavery end in this country?

      How did women’s rights progress in the early (and true) feminist movement of the 19th century?

      If you needed a scorecard to judge who has advanced the cause of unhindered immigration more – some lobbying think tank(s) in Washington, or the illegal immigrants climbing through holes/tunnels on our border – who do you think is making the more significant advance?

      Tell me, who exactly is winning “the war on drugs.”

      The fact of the matter is that nearly every significant advance I can think of regarding liberty has occurred through civil disobedience. Once the level of civic disobedience rises high enough, the government often steps in and co-opts the issue to make it look like they had something to do with it.

      Fact: The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free a single soul, but slavery was already on its way out in the South. It had already been constitutionally abolished by the Confederate States, and in fact was peacefully abolished everywhere else in the western hemisphere. Civil disobedience against slavery was a rising tide that eventually was co-opted by Lincoln to add some “moral” credibility to his war, though if Lincoln had his way no slave would have been free, at least on American soil.

      Fact: The original feminist movement derived nearly all its energy from individualist anarchists, who constantly partook in disobedient civic activities to get their message across. One of the defining (and disastrous moments) in the feminist movement was when some began to look to gov’t for solutions. Others quickly saw the folly and said, “why should we take on another paternalistic master?”

      Fact: “Illegal immigration” has clearly won the day in America, even among the masters of the universe who, when up for an appointment from whichever Caesar is in the White House, often get sidetracked on this issue.

      Fact: Prohibition has never worked in this country. All it does is create a massive army of people who are willing to disobey the government.

      Fact: Even before MLK things were already changing in the South. If it wasn’t for government intervention, things would have changed much quicker. Rosa Parks is a hero, but the majority of the bus riders in Montgomery were black. The only reason the bus company was able to survive the massive financial hit it took as a result of the boycott that followed (which is now generally seen as the start of the civil rights movement) is because they were granted a monopoly by the government and were receiving government subsidies.

      Civil disobedience doesn’t work? Hell, its the only thing that does work.

      No one ever ever ever votes their way to freedom. Unless it is a successful vote for secession, voting usually entails the entrenched powers that be gaining a greater grip on our liberties and freedom.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 13:31

        That’s a very wide accounting of civil disobedience, Michael. Excellent.

        Taken as a whole, it’s remarkable how impotent it makes the act of voting look.

        Ha, voting: “masturbation in the face of impotence.” I’ll need to remember that.

      • Joseph on November 3, 2010 at 14:51

        Brilliant! In short, government (and the voting that supports it) is not the engine of moral progress: people are. Government just “cleans up” after the fact, taking credit, breaking heads, and (more often than not) reversing or putting the breaks on whatever good thing brave individuals have going.

        You cannot legislate morality for others. You have to live it for yourself.

      • Michael on November 6, 2010 at 04:14

        In short, government (and the voting that supports it) is not the engine of moral progress: people are. Government just “cleans up” after the fact, taking credit, breaking heads, and (more often than not) reversing or putting the breaks on whatever good thing brave individuals have going.

        Joseph, you hit the nail on the head.

      • JK on November 13, 2010 at 16:57

        While I’d like to think civil disobedience is effective for change, I’m hesitant to give it so much credit. George Orwell’s essay “Reflections on Ghandi” posits that, in Gandhi’s case, civil disobedience was a disadvantage. The British Imperialists saw CD as okay, in that it kept people from effecting any real change, it kept them calm and controllable. The real reason the British left India was utter exhaustion of military troops post WWII. They kept puppet leaders in control of India once they “left.” In regards to the efficacy of CD within a totalitarian state, Orwell writes, “It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary.” Perhaps this applies to the current situation in the US?

        Please don’t assume I think voting does any good, but I thought I’d offer some insight to the discourse via Orwell’s views. The brief essay is available free on the internets. Orwell’s writings on the British empire often apply quite accurately to the US.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2010 at 17:09

        JK, do you have a handy link? I’ll look it up later, if not.

      • JK on November 14, 2010 at 17:53

      • Michael on November 13, 2010 at 17:26

        Thanks JK for your comments. The only problem I have with Orwell and others who comment on the futility of CD is that they assume something I do not – the overwhelming power of the state.

        Its late here in Kiev and I am very tired so I might be getting this wrong but I think it was Bastiat who provided the great insight that every government is ruling at the bequest of the people it rules, no matter how despotic. Why? Because the ruling elite is always an extremely tiny majority of any given population. If even a fraction of the population decided to rebel the gig would be up. So governments go out of their way to produce this illusion of power and near omnipotence. If they didn’t they risk having the whole house of cards fall down.

        So whatever the reason the troops left India, if enough Indians got fed up it wouldn’t have mattered. As Solzhenitsyn ruminated about in his writings, what if they had resisted long before it was too late. What if every Soviet soldier knew his life might be on the line every time he attempted to carry out an order from the ruling regime. Things, he surmises, might have gone quite differently. In the end, that is how things fell anyway, though little of that has been reported in the mainstream press.

        So its not that CD is impotent in the face of totalitarian government. It just depends on the level in which the CD is carried out. In a society where enough of the populace decides they have had enough, no government of any sort can survive. That is why governments tend to co-opt successful CD movements for their own purposes, lest they be seen as the frauds they really are.

      • JK on November 14, 2010 at 18:11

        Yes, you’re right, I did assume the totalitarian situation. Orwell comments on the Russian situation under Stalin (one I’m not so familiar with) “The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference.” So yes, it seems CD would be effective if every Soviet soldier could have tapped into a collective revolutionary conscience.

        I’m not sure whether he’s suggesting a violent revolution, but he certainly doubts a peaceful disobedience when he says, “Applied to foreign[non-Indian] politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement. Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned.” Will the US government respond to a generous gesture? Unless it makes the imperial power uncomfortable by growing too large, I contend that CD will be ineffective. I suppose my doubt is that CD could ever get big enough to do much. I know it’s not a great attitude, but I guess I don’t know what else to do. Voting doesn’t help much when your given two bad choices.

        FYI at the end of Orwell’s 1949 essay, he pretty much predicts the Cold war, but thought missiles would actually get launched. It’s well worth a read :

  41. Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 11:38

    “hunter gatherers were entirelly subordinated to the group. They had very little to no comprehension of private property, hierarchy or class”

    If “entirely subordinated” while having no “hierarchy or class,” then who, precisely, enforced this subordination?

    “The fredom your talking about is completely alien to human as we evolved.”

    Oh that’s utter nonsense. We evolved generally free to go our own way, to split off into separate groups. And this behavior has been observed in modern HG groups, not to mention all other pack animals.

    “the group deemed necessary”

    Groups do not “deem” anything. Only individuals deem, assert, contend, believe…act. So, when a “group” “subordinates” a member, what that actually means is that individuals individually “deemed” that they would individually participate in cracking an individual skull, if not a number of individual skulls.

    There’s no such thing as group praise or culpability. There’s no collective mind, morality, evil. It all reduces to the thoughts and actions of individuals.

    “Karl Marx and Engels”

    Oh, yea, those two famous “anthropologists.”

    • Bushrat on November 3, 2010 at 19:30

      On this comment, Huxley (I think) likened humans to wolves. Pack animals at times, but not all the time. Some people are more individualistic than others, but no one is a 24/7 social creature.

      Being part of the group 24/7 is like being part of a beehive or ant colony, where the majority are just mindless drones. This is the most efficient way of organising society, but since we are not brainless insects it is also insulting and degrading.

      Given the fact that individuals differ in almost every way, one man’s utopia is another man’s hell (and vice versa). All do gooders think their way is their best and it must be imposed on others for their own good (whether they like it or not), which leads me to a Heinlein quote:

      “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.” – R.A Heinlein (The Notebooks of Lazarus Long).

      • Richard Nikoley on November 6, 2010 at 19:13

        Love the quote, Bushrat.

        I think we as wolves, generally must socialize to survive. But, yea, that doesn’t mean it needs to be 24/7.

        Socialism is really an attempt by queen bees and ants to create bee and ant colonies.

        (Again, sorry for the hold up. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t even read your posts in the spam folder before sending them on.)

    • Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2010 at 08:09

      “Well it all depends on your definition of freedom.”

      Definition is contextual. This is why dictionaries express definition in terms of 1, 2, 3…. etc. Those categories count for the various contexts in which the concept might be used.

      “If you believe freedom can only be restricted through the aggressive actions of individuals, then yes, hunter gatherers were free in this sense.”

      Of course that’s what we mean, as, so far as I know, lions, tigers and snakes have not set up city-states to enslave humans. Nor have volcanoes, earthquakes or hurricanes. The context of this discussion is freedom in a political context. I’m not talking about “freedom” from the constrains of nature, i.e., gravity and other natural phenomena.

      “However that is to simply co opt freedom for your own political opinion.”

      No, I’m placing it in context rather than equivocating, which is what others do when they claim we have no freedom because we, in effect, can’t jump off a cliff and fly.

      “If freedom is understood in the positivist sense…”

      There is no such thing. Freedom is to be properly understood in a negative sense, which comes from a recognition of the nature of man within the constraints of nature. It is absurd and renders the concept meaningless to imagine that freedom means freedom from the bounds of man’s nature.

      “Hunter gatherers were free to individually wander into the wilderness and most likely die. But what sort of freedom is that?”

      That would be the freedom to take one’s own chances, according to one’s own chosen values.

      “The same level of freedom exists for the individual who has no property in modern society. They are forced to sell their labour to another who will set the terms and conditions.”

      Which can only mean granting one man freedom at the expense of taking it away from others. Which is contradictory. Selling your labor is called trade. It’s how most humans have opted to exist and those who do well at it profit and reinvest those profits toward expanding the _social_ bounds of their freedom while still being subject to nature. All that is required is that they be free from aggression of other humans (even those in uniforms and fancy hats) and, have the freedom to defend themselves against such aggression.

      Freedom in a political context is simply being left alone to make one’s own way, no guarantees. That’s how I want to live my life (free). Y’all are welcome to set up your safety nets and protections all you like. Just simply leave me and those who hold my values out of it. I’m not interested in your schemes.

      Thank you very much.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2010 at 10:53

        To add a bit of clarification, freedom, like rights, are negative obligations, not positive ones.

        My right to live means that I have a right to pursue it, not that anyone has an obligation to provide what I need to pursue it.

        My right to life an freedom is a negative obligation on society: Leave. Me. The. Fuck. Alone.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2010 at 14:25

        “You cant simply banish “freedom to” from the dictionary as meaningless.”

        I’m not at all. That’s implicit in the negative obligation of others. Also implicit is the corollary: that you must leave others alone as well.

        So, you have the freedom do do all your heart desires until it runs into direct conflict with that same freedom everyone else has.

        So, others can’t take your stuff or enslave you (your freedom expressed as a negative obligation on others) and you get to do anything and everything you want, bounded by your nature (you can’t fly and you don’t have gills) and by the freedom of others (your freedom expressed as a positive opportunity for you and a negative obligation toward others).

        As far as conquering nature goes, I’m all for it, but in the context of freedom it only means you’re free to try. Contextually, we are currently bound by gravity. Should that change from some tech innovation, then it would be subsumed within the concept of freedom without so much as lifting a finger. It’s not a problem.

        All knowledge is contextual.

        “But morally important from what perspective?”

        Man’s nature. Unique to our big brains, we have the capacity to act against our own natures (suicide being the most extreme example, and there are degrees to that — suicide can take a decade). Which means: we have to choose to act to secure the values necessary for our survival and well being. That nature implies a natural right to do so.

        Morality is merely a construct: what’s good for the human organism in the context of its nature vs. what’s bad for it.

        Freedom is god for i t and thus, it’s a moral issue.

        “We all must seek permission to live in the world.”

        No, we must _socialize_ to live in the world. We’re social animals. It’s part of our nature.

  42. Helen on November 3, 2010 at 12:19

    The two-party system with its elections is THEATER. If a person went to a play in which two different actors were running for office, and they cast their vote for one of them, would they really expect their vote to have any meaning outside of the theater? Of course not. Well, our national politics works the same way, only people don’t realize it. Every so often there is this theater piece called an “election”. Its really theater-in-the-round, and so its very convincing, so people get all excited and suspend their disbelief and go to the “polling places” to cast their vote. But as soon as they leave the polling place, they have left the theater and are back in the real world, where their vote has no real meaning. That’s why when people get serious about wanting change, and start using non-violent protest…I mean real civil disobedience and not just stupid “marches” on Washington, which are simply more theater…the velvet gloves come off and the iron fist comes down on them.

  43. […] Subscribe ← How’s Zookeeper Selection Day Going? […]

  44. Josh on November 3, 2010 at 12:30

    ” But as soon as they leave the polling place, they have left the theater and are back in the real world, where their vote has no real meaning. ” – The system is flawed and corrupted and far from ideal but that statement is just not true.

    However, I would love to partake is some innovative disobedience to invoke change as I have in the past. Anything particular you have in mind? A theatrical spectacle in it’s on right, every bit of the way.

    Also, despite my support of voting I certainly agree that “Zoo Keeper selection” is an entirely accurate phrasing. Someone has to man the zoo, glad it isn’t me.

    • Helen on November 3, 2010 at 13:21

      Oh, but that statement it is true, Josh.

  45. Josh on November 3, 2010 at 13:38

    So what have non-voters accomplished? You talk about civil disobedience but you are preaching to the choir. The assumption that civil disobedience and voting are mutually elusive is absolutely absurd. Yesterday I voted. What did you do yesterday to further your ideals? I’m not aware of any civil disobedience actions that took place, so pony up – I’ll join you.

    Statistically, you represent a demographic and your choice to not vote reflects a collective decision of your demographic leaving the voting to other demographics which may be opposed to yours and digging your hole deeper.

    It just seems spiteful and wrought from the frustration that:

    1) Ideals will never be universal
    2) Change comes slowly and with struggle
    3) Change isn’t permanent
    4) You don’t always get your way
    5) You don’t have much control over a large system

    So you tap out altogether?

    • Helen on November 3, 2010 at 14:09

      The question should be “What have the VOTERS accomplished?”, except to further entrench system designed to ensure that the “little people” have no voice?

      p.s. Josh, you seem to confuse civil disobedience with mass action, and the two are not the same…a lone person can perform deeds of civil disobedience any time they want…they don’t need any mass of people behind them. Not only that, but alot of civil disobedience would consist of INACTION, rather than action…like NOT filling out a census form. Come to think of it, MASS civil disobedience lends itself to being co-opted and infiltrated, a la the COINTELPRO high jinks of the 60’s.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 14:39

        Well tons of propositions that had significant impact were either approved or denied. Many of these propositions will have positive impact and directly benefit “little people”.

        Thanks for pointing out the difference between those approaches and providing an example. Declining from filling out a census – whats the benefit there?

        As far as I know it just means less funding for public services of the little people.

        Burning a draft card is one thing, withing holding your taxes – now we are talking

        Not voting and skipping a census – kind of like screaming in a vacuum – to me those are examples of what you coined as “velvet gloves”.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:50

        “Declining from filling out a census – whats the benefit there?”

        Less pain in the ass. Very important to me, as it’s _my_ ass.

        “it just means less funding for public services of the little people”

        “Funding” at whose expense?

      • Helen on November 3, 2010 at 15:04

        Hey, Josh, your double-think is showing 😉

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 15:23

        @ Richard: “Less pain in the ass”/”round filed” – I get the impression that your actions are more deliberate then that – you don’t cultivate the image of one whom would act in a way that wasn’t based on ideology or logic. Re: funding – the funds are already there – whether or not it should be at our expense is a separate issue. So long as they are there – I think they should be allocated fairly.

        @ Helen: Ad hominem abuse and a 1984 reference – you just scored a double.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:45

        Oh, yea, I’ve always round filed the census questionnaire, and I never answer the door to strangers.

        I also always trash the jury duty summons.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:10

      “So what have non-voters accomplished?”

      “The assumption that civil disobedience and voting are mutually elusive is absolutely absurd.”

      They aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m sure many practitioners of disobedience of the law (which can take place at many levels, individually or group) are folks who masturbate as well. But one is effective for real change toward liberty and the other is, well, masturbation.

      “So you tap out altogether?”

      I’m here, aren’t I? And what I do here has more positive impact on lives than all of you voters and your acts of voting put together. And, I’m an employer as well. I sign paychecks — lots of them.

      Tap out?

      I don’t think so. I simply don’t delude myself into thinking I’ve ever done anything for my fellow man by stepping into a silly voting booth and then wearing a silly sticker with a silly grin on like I’m somebody because, as two have pointed out here, I took 10 minutes.

      And, I disobey the law in a number of ways virtually every day of my life. …And I’m no scofflaw, either. My disobedience in the various ways I practice it is principled and has reasons.

      Here’s one I would be glad to do: I would love for someone to organize a massive alliance of small businesses — say on the order of a million or more — to pledge to stop collecting 941 witholding, instead, paying that money to the employees to whom it rightfully belongs. If enough got behind it so that risking my business (and the livelihoods of my employees) was worth it and that I wouldn’t simply go down in flames with no possible result, I’d pledge in a heartbeat.

      • Joseph on November 3, 2010 at 14:58

        “I’m an employer as well. I sign paychecks — lots of them.”

        Money talks a lot louder than votes these days. We small fry have already “bought” our politicians at the grocery store before we pretend to choose them by vote.

        I definitely buy (pun intended) the argument that in choosing to shop at farmers’ markets and run a small business yourself, you are doing more to transform society than the person who depends on Walmart, RJR Nabisco, and Wall Street (and their government cronies) for all his needs.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 15:06

        Richard – those examples are all things that were “not done by voting” – not necessarily done by “non-voters”. Also, I find the way in which they are divorced from any semblances of our democratic process to be highly arguable. Any victory of any proposition or movement is going to be related to a multitude of abstracted factors – that’s how it got there.

        Regarding the statement that no one votes their way to freedom – I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that voting is a magic bullet but simply a tool for making progress and victories have been achieved. You wanna say it is a flawed tool? I won’t argue with that.

        This is my most important point – FREEDOM IS NEVER ABSOLUTE – EVER. As progress is made new grievances are defined and higher levels of freedom are sought. Humans ought to never feel satisfied and become complacent. This is related to Maslaws hierarchy of needs. Consider how your definition of freedom (or lack thereof) may relate to an inmates or a forced soldiers.

        “Voting never made anyone free” – No single action ever made anyone anything.

        Our system is messed up but I think about Monarchies in which the King was entitled to 100% of my resources, including my wife and I feel like we may have made some progress with our little Democracy here.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 15:22

        “those examples are all things that were “not done by voting” – not necessarily done by “non-voters””

        Distinction without meaningful difference given the former. Voting didn’t do it, so it’s immaterial whether they were or wee not voters. It’s impertinent. Moreover, this identification runs to the core of this whole thread and my original stance as Carlin put it: “Voting is Meaningless.”

        “Any victory of any proposition or movement is going to be related to a multitude of abstracted factors – that’s how it got there.”

        This is just equivocation. It didn’t happen by voting. Case closed.

        “voting is […] simply a tool for making progress and victories have been achieved.”

        Nonsense. We have voted since the dawn of the US. Compare the per-capita size, scope, influence and burden of the federal, state, and local governments.

        This has been a total, unmitigated disaster on all levels in terms of individual autonomy and freedom.

        Voting did this.

        And what Michael pointed out is that it would have been one hell of a lot worse by now, but for civil disobedience.


        Fine, yell it, especially since I haven’t even whispered such a claim, nor have I noticed has anyone else.

        “This is related to Maslaws hierarchy of needs.”

        Oh brother…. You need to go learn what freedom in a political context _means_. Hint: it doesn’t mean that you have the “freedom” to things at the expense of others.

        Freedom in a political context is no more complicated than simply leaving individuals alone to make of their lives what they will, or destroy their lives, with no unchosen duty or obligation to anyone else ever, under any circumstances.

      • Josh on November 3, 2010 at 15:34

        Wasn’t accusing you of making such a claim. Also, the definition of freedom we are working with was not entirely clear until this point. This thread is big a many people have contributed in different capacities.

        The political freedom that you describe is clear – but I don’t think it is simple. I feel like if we were to start from scratch in an effort to create it our best intentions would result in similar grievances.

  46. jclements on November 3, 2010 at 13:57

    Someone on the Internet is wrong! I must dive in… Point of interest, someone designed a chatbot to argue climate warming on twitter for them, I wish I had the app for this subject (and for nutrition). And God. We’ll get our delusions sorted out via automation. Soon it will only be chatbots nattering away at each other on the net. In the meantime, we can all go read Libertarian FAQs and Hayek books and read the Anti-Libertarian FAQ too and get back to each other.

    Rich- Actually, you’re free to leave this society as well. Unfortunately, nearly every square mile of livable land on the planet is under control by a society that claims “arbitrary sovereignty over literally everything that exists from shore to shore and beyond.” Just the way it seems to have happened. America, Fuck Yeah.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 14:27

      “Actually, you’re free to leave this society as well.”

      Ah, Spiro Agnew, again. OK, third time: who knows the reference?

      • Joseph on November 3, 2010 at 15:09

        Is this the quote you are looking for: ?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 15:24


        I’ll give you a hint. Five words.

      • bob r on November 3, 2010 at 16:57

        I’d go with “America, love it or leave it” but that’s six words. Seems to fit the sentiment of a number of the comments here though and I only have one thing to say to anybody who says it to me: Fuck you, I don’t require or need your permission to exist.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 17:27

        Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

        I believe the original was simply “love it or leave it,” and the America part was implied. I’m not super sure about that though.

        My general response is: yea, like you own the place.

  47. Jeremy on November 3, 2010 at 14:04

    Richard, I agree completely. I linked your post and Kyle’s quote up on FB. Seems everyone is scared of replying so far.

    IMO, this is the best quote. “I am not abstaining from voting. Rather, I am refusing to submit your rights to my whims by force of the state”

  48. Bushrat on November 3, 2010 at 19:20

    Today I have been reading Brave New World Revisited, which is a collection of reflections on the way the world was heading by the author, twenty years after he wrote Brave New World. Its scary how the very predictions he feared would come true are coming true. Huxley predicted the zoo and it will only get worse.

    By the way, many people prefer 1984, despite it being the lesser book. I’ve often wondered why, and I suspect it is because 1984 is not the way the world will end and it is scary in the same way a horror movie is scary. Brave New World however hits too close to home and many people say it can never happen because if they admit it can happen then they may have to admit that it is happening.

  49. j on November 3, 2010 at 20:09

    Nobody was ever free. Nobody will ever be free. The person with the biggest teeth/claws/club/wallet always rules, til they dont. The person on top of the pile is not free because they are a slave to doing whatever it takes to stay on top.

    It is the way it works on this planet. Freedom is a myth created by humans to make themselves feel better about the futility of their existence. Same as religion.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 22:17

      “Nobody was ever free.”

      Oh this is tiresome. You have no concept of what freedom means in a political context, and that’s what we’re talking about. And I see this all the time.

      No wonder freedom is so on the way out.

  50. Eric W. on November 3, 2010 at 22:09

    “Perhaps it will be said that this consent is not a specific, but a general one, and that the citizen is understood to have assented to everything his representative may do, when he voted for him.

    But suppose he did not vote for him; and on the contrary did all in his power to get elected some one holding opposite views – what then?

    The reply will probably be that, by taking part in such an election, he tacitly agreed to abide by the decision of the majority.

    And how if he did not vote at all?

    Why then he cannot justly complain of any tax, seeing that he made no protest against its imposition.

    So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted – whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! ”

    — Herbert Spencer,

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2010 at 22:33

      “And how if he did not vote at all?

      Why then he cannot justly complain of any tax, seeing that he made no protest against its imposition.”

      Huh, I would have never guessed Herbert Spencer to be so daft on such an issue. He’s smuggling in the premise that the state has a moral right to take from you by force, i.e., to steal from you.

      And if you actually call things what they actually are — theft, in this case — then the logical absurdity ought to become clear, even to a polymath.

      “So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted – whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter!”

      Translation: you are a subject and slave to the crown and by virtue of its sovereignty, you consent to all it does.

      Well, he was British, after all. You can’t really expect him to have an American sense of political freedom.

      Lysander Spooner was far sharper on these issues.

      • Eric W. on November 4, 2010 at 06:08

        Richard, Spencer wasn’t being daft. He’s describing these arguments–which amount to Consent if you do, consent if you don’t–to highlight how absurd they are.

        I really should have included the text that follows what I quoted:

        “A rather awkward doctrine this.

        Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees; if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent.

        And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A’s consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!

        It is for those who quote Blackstone to choose between this absurdity and the doctrine above set forth.

        Either his maxim implies the right to ignore the state, or it is sheer nonsense. “

      • Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2010 at 07:29

        Ah, well I’m very happy to see that I missed the irony implicit in the first quote.

        Perhaps if I had read it at 7:30 AM with caffeine fuel rather than at 11:30 PM right before bed I’d have picked up on that.

        I still recommend reading Spooner’s No Treason. It’s an exhaustive dismantling of the consent of the governed doctrine.

  51. arlojeremy on November 4, 2010 at 15:27

    Are you *sure* there’s nobody you would vote for? You might like this guy:

    “Or don’t vote, either way it doesn’t matter!”

    • Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2010 at 16:55

      Ha! You may be right, though, I’m certainly no nihilist. But maybe that nihilistic tenor is merely an aspect of translation.

      The other issue is that the message is self-contradictory. On the other hand, elections don’t solve anything anyway…

      Some great grains of truth and honesty, though.

  52. Lucy on November 5, 2010 at 12:42

    I voted. As I do every election. It’s a hobby. Though I must confess my hand got tired writing myself in for all the uncontested races and races where I didn’t like any of the people running. I know someday I will likely weary of this pointless expense of energy and time but until then it amuses me to engage in their sacred ritual, lightheartedly, and it especially amuses me when I get to be shocked and horrified at the campaigners of particularly atrocious measures.

    I guess the appeal is that there are precious few times when you are invited to display contempt and derision for the Leviathan, and abstinence just isn’t loud enough.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 5, 2010 at 13:11

      Hey, it’s pointless anyway, Lucy, so if you can amuse yourself with it, that’s the very best reason for voting I’ve ever heard. Go for it. Enjoy. Laf.

      Laf especially at those who take it seriously.

  53. Bushrat on November 6, 2010 at 20:59

    Richard it occurs to me that the word “liberty” may be more useful than “freedom”. As demonstrated above, the word freedom can be used many ways and in a sophist slight of hand debates often move from freedom in a political context to absurd and specious arguments about whether man not being able to fly means he is not free. Libtery, on the other hand, is a word that is bound up so well with political connotations that hopefully mean it can be used in a discussion/argument without someone trying to subtly shift the direction of the discussion into stupidity.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow by Email8k