The Form IS the Argument

I don’t spend a lot of time engaging people in arguments about statism or religion because I usually don’t enjoy myself very much. I get tense, irritated, annoyed, my voice starts to rise in volume (and sometimes in pitch)… I will usually disengage, but by this time, the damage has already been done.

I see it happening to a lot of other people, too. I will see a debate on a forum or in a chat room and wonder, are these people really enjoying themselves?

In a recent therapy session, my therapist was guiding me through some body work (somatic awareness) and, during this, she mentioned that we will get to the content another time; right now, we’re going to focus on the body.

It struck me that the content is so often what we focus on, and that it is the form we most often ignore. I said that it made so much sense, that to first ensure that the form is sound is fundamentally philosophical, scientific… she offered, “Real.”

The form–the body–tells you volumes about the argument without ever having to look at the content.

It’s not that the content is unimportant, but it is very helpful to keep in mind that content is essentially nonmaterial. The content hangs on the form, and if the form is unsound–not conforming to reality–then examining the content without paying any mind to the form is as useful as painting over a water stain without fixing the roof.

In actuality, it is impossible to improve the content without a sound form.

The average person in the world today will engage you on content (you certainly don’t see anyone examining forms in any mass media outlet). If you attempt to bring up a structural flaw in our society (taxation is theft), the vast majority of people will ask you how such-and-such a service will be provided without taxation (or better, how it will happen in “your world”).

Don’t be fooled! It might not be intentional on their part, but these responses serve to distract from the core issue–the form of the argument.

Just like slavery wasn’t about cotton distribution, taxation is not about educating children or building roads or protecting consumers. Understand that the form of the argument IS the argument, at least in our society as it exists today.

Written by James Pyrich in: Philosophy |

“Creation” and Troubles in America

There was a recent post to Derren Brown’s blog reporting that the new film about Darwin, “Creation,” was being shunned by American distributors. (It has since been picked up by Newmarket… and I think I would like to see this film. :))

On the blog and especially on the facebook post sharing this post, there were a TON of comments to the effect of, “Stupid Americans.”

I was debating with myself whether I should post a response on the blog, on facebook, or even if I should post anything at all. I decided that I would at least start a post on my own blog… mostly in part because what I have to say has very little to do with the movie in question, but also because I would rather have a discussion here than bungee in elsewhere and stir up a shitstorm.

The epithet, “Stupid Americans,” has always bothered me. I used to think (and the temptation is still there to do so) that it bothered me because of the “Americans” bit. After all, I am an American (though through absolutely no choice of my own), and for a very long time I would identify myself with that, for better or for worse.

However, I think that it was the “stupid” part of the phrase that bothered me more, because “Americans” is just a label but “stupid” is the part that’s meant to be insulting.

This might seem blindingly obvious, but please bear with me. 🙂

Why would the expression, “Stupid Americans,” bother me so much? It’s not like I chose to be born in the United States, and certainly when I was a child it was impossible for me to choose to leave. Even as an adult, it is exceedingly difficult, and it’s not like it is easy to assimilate into another culture, no matter how much of its comedy you watch on television. So, I really am stuck here, and even if I did relocate, it’s not like I would escape others who are keen on labeling entire groups of people however they like. (After all, there are those who hate ex-pats.)

No, it’s the “stupid” part that bothers me so much.

Why is that?

Well, in this particular case, “stupid” is referring to the abundance of religious belief and fervor in the United States.

However, “stupid” simply does not apply.

People do not become Christians because they are stupid.

People become stupid because they are Christians.

In order to believe in Christianity, you have to have your capacity for processing reality severely crippled. You have to be able to believe in an entirely anti-reality concept such as “god,” but still be able to function in the world.

Even then, it’s not fair to call it stupidity. Civilized people do not sneer at a paraplegic and call him “lazy” for being unable to get out of his wheelchair.

People who are religious are mentally crippled and deserve the sympathy to the extent that they deserve.

This does not, of course, excuse them for inflicting their handicap on children, especially with the access to information we have available today. Even if a religious parent did not wish to alter their belief, they are definitely aware of other religions, and especially of non-belief. It is indefensible to tell a child that God is absolutely real when there are so many resources available to parents to present differing viewpoints, at the very least.

Still, “stupid” does not apply. It is not through a lack of intelligence that religious people believe what they do. It is through having their brains damaged by being inflicted with unrealities as if they were absolutely true.

Religion is not a reasoned position; this is why presenting evidence and a strong logical case against religion fails to convince so many people.

One last thing, and then I’ll be finished.

The vast majority of people who are throwing around the epithet, “Stupid Americans,” are almost guaranteed to be holding beliefs just as irrational and just as dangerous and damaging as religion.

This is because almost everybody in the entire world today believes that violence is the best tool to use to solve social problems. This is not generally the case in their personal lives, but in society at large, they champion and cheer violence being used to further their goals.

This belief is the fundamental curse of humanity; it is the cause of war and devastation and economic crises and all manner of violence in the world that is entirely avoidable.

The reason people believe this is because, as children, they are made to believe that even though violence is bad for an individual, it somehow becomes good when used by a group. This is a complete contradiction, because members of the group are individuals themselves, and it is this unreality inflicted on children that damages their ability to process reality…

Hence, even if “Stupid Americans” wasn’t an invalid and cruel thing to say, it would merely be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.


“Eternal Vigilance,” or, the Argument from Exhaustion

In a recent debate between Michael Badnarik and Stefan Molyneux, Badnarik commented that anarchy wouldn’t work because (paraphrased) people lack the killer instinct. One must be eternally vigilant against the hordes of marauders just itching to destroy one’s life and livelihood.

A comment by a FDR poster completely collapses this “argument”:

I wonder, are we currently being “eternally vigilant” for any signs of slavery coming back into society or is this no longer a concern? It’s just time that makes these problems appear worse. In the midst of a statist world there is much hand-wringing and brow furrowing over the idea of anarchy whereas when it does finally start turning around (I dunno, a few hundred years from now) people will look back at our time and think, “Cripes, can you believe how paranoid those people were back then about a government!?”

The reason slavery hasn’t returned to society is because people recognize that the ownership of human beings is completely immoral. This has not penetrated our social consciousness to the degree that it is commonly understood that we exist as tax livestock, but there is no chance of slavery being accepted as moral.

This is what will cause statism to be rejected: a recognition that the initiation of violence to solve social problems is completely immoral.

Once we put this into practice, vigilance against statism will no more be required than vigilance against slavery is today.


Everyday Anarchy

I started to write a post about the G20 protesters that were either labeled or called themselves “anarchists”–though I personally do not care who said it first–when I realized that what I was writing was much of what had already been discussed in Everyday Anarchy by Stefan Molyneux:

It’s hard to know whether a word can ever be rehabilitated – or whether the attempt should even be made…

Some words can never be rehabilitated – and neither should they be. Nazi, evil, incest, abuse, rape, murder – these are all words which describe the blackest impulses of the human soul, and can never be turned to a good end. Edmund may say in King Lear, “Evil, be thou my good!” but we know that he is not speaking paradoxically; he is merely saying “that which others call evil – my self-interest – is good for me.”

The word “anarchy” may be almost beyond redemption – any attempt to find goodness in it could well be utterly futile – or worse; the philosophical equivalent of the cliched scene in hospital dramas where the surgeon blindly refuses to give up on a clearly dead patient.

Perhaps I’m engaged in just such a fool’s quest in this little book. Perhaps the word “anarchy” has been so abused throughout its long history, so thrown into the pit of incontestable human iniquity that it can never be untangled from the evils that supposedly surround it.

What images spring to mind when you hear the word “anarchy”? Surely it evokes mad riots of violence and lawlessness – a post-apocalyptic Darwinian free-for-all where the strong and evil dominate the meek and reasonable. Or perhaps you view it as a mad political agenda, a thin ideological cover for murderous desires and cravings for assassinations, where wild-eyed, mustachioed men with thick hair and thicker accents roll cartoon bombs under the ornate carriages of slowly-waving monarchs. Or perhaps you view “anarchy” as more of a philosophical specter; the haunted and angry mutterings of over-caffeinated and seemingly-eternal grad students; a nihilistic surrender to all that is seductive and evil in human nature, a hurling off the cliff of self-restraint, and a savage plunge into the mad magic of the moment, without rules, without plans, without a future…

All this may be true, of course – I may be thumping the chest of a broken patient long since destined for the morgue, but certain. insights, you could say, or perhaps correlations, continue to trouble me immensely, and I cannot shake the fear that it is not anarchy that lies on the table, clinging to life – but rather, the truth…

Read on…

We’re not going to get there through violence.

We won’t get there if we focus on that which we cannot control.

We can get there… but pushing the conclusion without building the support will be worse than failure.


Anarchism – Now!

Download MP3
7.7M 11:12

Major and massive hat-tip to Stefan Molyneux for seeding my brain. 🙂

Written by James Pyrich in: Philosophy,What Is Anarchism? |

No American Patriots Have Died In Any War, Ever

There has never been such a thing as a war in which American Patriots have died.

There has also never been such a thing as a war in which the Enemies of America were defeated.

Why is this?

Because America does not exist.

“America” as an entity, or as a thing–as something that exists objectively in the real world–does not exist. There is not a thing you can point to and say, “This is America.”

But what about the people? Surely they are America?

Sorry, the people who are called and believe themselves to be Americans are not objectively different than those who are called Englishmen, Afghanis, Japanese, or Australians. If you were to examine the DNA, you would find no gene or allele for “American”.

But what about the land? Surely that is America?

No. If you took a rock from America and examined it in a laboratory, you would find no characteristic called “Americanness” by which you could say that this rock was objectively different than a rock that came from anywhere else in the world, or the universe.

But what about the buildings and the cities? Surely all of those are America?

Again, no. Building architectures and city plans do differentiate cities from each other worldwide, but there’s not an objective difference that makes a building “American” or a city “American.”

The only reason any of the above are called “American” is because people believe it is. You don’t have “America” in any of the above–you have people doing things in cities and buildings on the land.

There is absolutely no objective difference between a person doing something in his home in New York than another person doing something in his home in Yakutsk.

America is a fiction just like God or Zeus.

The fact that nearly everybody believes it is real does not make it so.

The only people that have ever died in any war throughout human history are people who have been broken so very early on that they no longer remember what it was like to have a will, pride, honor, respect, or integrity of their very own.

They subjugated themselves to a “higher whim” that they dared not question. However, no such “higher whim” has ever existed nor ever will exist.

Beliefs in these fictions–god and country–have caused deaths in the hundreds of millions in recent centuries, if not billions throughout the course of human history.

The fact that none of these things have existed, currently exist, or ever will exist through the course of human history just leaves one question:

Do you wish for me to be shot if I do not believe the same things you do?

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