Freedom must be demanded not begged for


* * The Meaning of “Please” * *

by Larken Rose

Imagine a slave who, while being whipped, cries out, “Please,
massa, no more!” What message does such a plea for mercy convey?
Obviously, it conveys a desire for the beating to stop, but it also
conveys another message—albeit an unstated one: “Master, I accept
that it is up to YOU whether I am to be beaten or not.”

The word “please” is short for “if it pleases you.” In many
contexts it is a polite thing to say, implying that it is up to the
listener (not the speaker) to decide whether to do something or
not. “Please pass the gravy” is a request, not a demand. “Please
donate to this charity” is an invitation, not an order. Such uses
of the term are both polite and proper. However, the term is not
appropriate when the listener has no right to be the one making the
choice to begin with. For example, someone confronting a purse-
snatcher who just robbed a little old lady should not say, “Please
give the lady back her purse.” Rather, the message should be, “Give
it back or else!” In most situations, deferring to the listener’s
pleasure (implied by the term “please”) is civilized and
charitable, but it is not appropriate when the listener is about to
harm an innocent person. Then, what’s called for is a command.

* * Begging for Freedom * *

The point of this linguistic lesson is this: The majority of what
the “freedom movement” does essentially consists of the victims of
tyranny saying to the tyrants, “Please stop oppressing us!” Whether
one is lobbying for “legislation,” or trying to get a certain
candidate elected, a dual message is being sent to those in power:
A) “We want government to stop doing this to us,” and B) “we accept
that the choice of whether to stop doing it is government’s (not
ours) to make.” Consider just two examples (out of hundreds that
could be used):

1) When one lobbies for lower “taxes,” it conveys a two-fold
message: A) “We’d like to keep more of our money,” and B) “We
accept that it is up to you, the politicians, to decide how much we
can keep.” (Contrast that with what was done at the “Boston Tea

2) When one lobbies against so-called “gun control,” both messages
are again implied: A) “We’d like to keep our guns,” but B) “we
agree that we need ‘legal’ permission from you politicians in order
to have the right to do so.” (Contrast that with what happened in
Lexington, with the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”)

While such requests certainly appear, on the surface, to be pro-
freedom in nature, in a very real sense they are NOT. The
underlying implication of all such petitions to those in government
is that it is up to them, not up to the people, what “rights” the
people will have. But such an implication completely contradicts
the entire concept of individual rights.

* * Unalienable Rights * *

The Declaration of Independence expresses the idea that an
individual’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
is not derived from any man-made law or any government, but is
intrinsic to all people, having been “endowed by their Creator.”
The very term “unalienable” implies that such rights cannot be
taken away by any “legislation,” or any other act of man. (Such
rights can, of course, be violated, but they still do not cease to
be rights.)

Nonetheless, much of what is done by those claiming to be pro-
freedom advocates consists merely of asking the politicians to
either support or oppose this or that legislation, thereby giving
their “legal” PERMISSION for the people to be free. In doing so,
even some of the most ardent, well-meaning freedom activists are
inadvertently conveying one message loud and clear: “We do NOT
believe in unalienable rights!”

To REQUEST that one’s “rights” be honored by those in power is to
concede that it is up to the discretion of “government” whether to
allow the rest of us to do something or not, which in turn implies
that we have no rights at all. (A “right” is, by definition,
something that one does not need “government” permission to do.) On
the other hand, to DEMAND that one’s rights be honored, whether
those in “government” want to or not, and whether “the law” allows
for it or not, is perfectly consistent and in keeping with the
concept of “unalienable” rights. But how many people dare to make
such a demand?

* * An Uncomfortable Position * *

The reason so many liberty advocates end up doing little more than
begging for freedom is quite simple, and quite understandable.
First, it is a scary thing to demand something from any large,
heavily armed gang (“government” or otherwise), especially when
that gang thinks it has the right to run your life. To engage in
resistance against such a gang—whether by forceful or passive
means—is a very dangerous undertaking. But there is a deeper issue
as well.

Almost all of us, since back before we can remember, have been
trained to respect and obey “authority,” and to obey whatever
commands “authority” may give us. As a result, most people have a
very hard time, for example, disobeying a police officer, not only
due to fear of being arrested, tasered, etc., but also because, as
a result of our upbringing and authoritarian indoctrination, it
feels very uncomfortable, and even immoral, to not “do as you’re
told.” As a result, and as odd as this may sound, most people have
a very hard time viewing “the police” as mere mortals.

Most Americans are quick to comply with any request a “law
enforcer” may make, even in situations where the same request, if
made by an average citizen, would be responded to with anger, or
even violence. When, for example, a police officer asks, “May I
search your car?” the average American will, without hesitation,
give his consent, even if he has done nothing wrong, and even if
there is no reason to SUSPECT that he has done anything wrong. But
if the average man on the street made such a request of a stranger
(“May I search your car?”), he may very well get a response more
along the lines of, “Of course not! Get away from me or I’ll slug

The difference is that nearly everyone has been trained to bow to
“authority.” (Anyone who wants to see just how profound, and how
dangerous, the effects of such training are should study the
experiments conducted by Dr. Stanley Milgram, as described in his
book, Obedience to Authority.) Nearly everyone, when dealing with
“law enforcement,” has an attitude of, “I am good, and therefore I
cooperate with the police.” As a result of our conditioning,
receiving the approval of “authority” feels good, while being the
target of “official” condemnation feels bad. As a result, even
mustering the mental strength to refuse to consent to an
unjustified search, or to refuse to answer the questions of a
perceived “authority”—even in situations where the police openly
acknowledge one’s right to do so—is extremely difficult for most

How much more difficult, then, is it for the average person to even
begin to consider the possibility of openly, intentionally
disobeying the so-called “laws” of those who claim to be our
rightful masters (i.e., “government”)? What good person would
willingly take upon himself the label of “law-breaker” and
“criminal”? Right here and right now, the answer to that question
is: anyone who actually believes in freedom.

* * “Tolerating” and “Demanding” * *

Activists are constantly opining that we should “demand” that
politicians do this or that, and that we should not “tolerate” the
rampant corruption and oppression we see today. But, to be
perfectly blunt, most of them don’t really mean it.

To “demand” something does not simply mean to beg for it; it means
to insist upon it, backing up that insistence with a serious “or
else” clause—a THREAT. Likewise, to not “tolerate” something means
to not allow it to happen, which implies that one will use any
means necessary to stop it from happening. So what do those in the
freedom movement mean when they talk about “demanding” things of
those in government, and not “tolerating” what government is doing?
What, exactly, will they do if government ignores their “demands,”
or does what they say they will not “tolerate”?

Most of the time, the only threat is that in a few years, the
people “demanding” things might VOTE against those currently in
power. However, when the next election rolls around—if they still
even remember their “demands” by then—the voters will have a choice
between voting for someone who will lose (from a third party), or
voting for someone who will preserve the status quo (any Democrat
or Republican). Either way, the same ruling class remains in power,
the “demands” dissolve, and the people are stuck with the very
situation that they said they refused to “tolerate.”

As a result, such “demands” are really not demands at all. Some
people get outraged, jump up and down and shout a lot, and then,
exhausted and defeated, they go back to being oppressed, without
having changed a thing, and tyranny continues on its merry way. Is
it any wonder that most people don’t bother to try?

* * It’s All In Your Head * *

The truth of the matter is that, as vicious and destructive as
“government” can be, the real problem resides, NOT in Washington,
but between the ears of several hundred million Americans. The only
way a few hundred politicians can continually extort and control
several hundred million citizens is by first convincing them that
such extortion and control is legitimate. By labeling oppression as
“law,” and condemning as “criminals” any who disobey any of those
“laws,” tyrants—throughout the world and for thousands of
years—have successfully trained the peasants to enslave themselves.
As long as the common folk measure their goodness by how well they
obey their masters, they will never be free, and oppressing them
will be very easy.

And that is exactly what people do when they express pride in being
“law-abiding taxpayers”: they are BRAGGING about handing over the
fruits of their labors to politicians (being good “taxpayers”) and
blindly obeying whatever arbitrary commands the politicians may
issue (being “law-abiding” citizens). They take pride in their own
subservience, and view as the scum of the earth any “law-breakers”
who don’t.

* * Condemning Runaway Slaves * *

Sadly, and ironically, many people who call themselves advocates of
freedom seem more than eager to demonize and chastise those few
people who call for actual resistance to tyranny. They insistent
that we must “work within the system” to achieve freedom, and
proudly proclaim that they would never resort to “illegal” means to
do so. What that literally means is that they do not believe that
they should exercise their individual rights, or live as free human
beings, unless and until “government” gives them PERMISSION to do
so. Why beg that a “law” be changed unless you feel an obligation
to obey such “laws,” even when they’re unjust?”

Petitioning those in government to “legislate” freedom is akin to
trying to talk a carjacker into agreeing that you should be allowed
to keep your own car. In addition to the very small likelihood of
such an approach being effective (as unlikely as voting or lobbying
is to result in freedom), such an approach also implies something
absurd: that you need the carjacker’s CONSENT before you would have
the right to keep your own car. Not many people would be silly
enough to take such an approach, and yet most people, including
most people in the freedom movement, do something equally silly,
when they act as if they need the CONSENT of politicians in order
to exercise their unalienable rights (which itself is a
contradiction in terms).

However, those who do not play such pointless, ineffectual
games—those who refuse to play by the tyrants’ rules—are often
shunned as “extremists” by most conservatives, Constitutionalists,
and even many libertarians. Any talk of “illegal” resistance to
tyranny—in other words, any type of resistance that hasn’t received
the tyrants’ written approval—is almost always met by harsh
condemnation from those who claim to be proponents of individual
liberty. This is no different than having a bunch of slaves who
continually lament the injustices of slavery, but who then
immediately condemn any slave who actually tries to escape the

There are only two options: either we are all the property of the
politicians, and therefore our only legitimate recourse is to beg
our owners to change their ways, or we own ourselves, and do not
need anyone’s permission to be free. Sadly, the vast majority of
Americans, including most of the people in the freedom movement,
hold the former mindset, and regard as “fringe kooks” any who hold
the latter mindset. As a result, even those who claim to be zealous
advocates of liberty keep their activism within the confines of the
game set up by the tyrants: the game of elections and legislation,
which leeches away an enormous amount of time, effort and money
from well-intentioned citizens, without giving them any positive

* * The Solution * *

There is also good news, however. Just as the PROBLEM is in your
head (and the heads of several hundred million others), so is the
solution. The solution is not any political party, any political
campaign or movement, any lobbying effort, or any petition or
protest, all of which play right into the notion that our only
recourse is to ASK the tyrants (“the system”) to please let us be
free. No, the solution is for you (and everyone else) to understand
that you own yourself, whether the politicians’ “laws” acknowledge
that fact or not. If Americans understood that one, simple, obvious
truth, their outlook and their actions would drastically change.
And they would achieve freedom without a revolution, and without
any election or “political action” at all.

Imagine if people thought they had the right to keep what they
earn, instead of believing that politicians have the moral right to
forcibly take a portion of it, via “taxes.” If the people did not
view such extortion and robbery as legitimate and “legal,” there is
no way that IRS agents, who are outnumbered TWO THOUSAND to one by
those whom they rob, could continue to collect. In fact, if the
people didn’t view such robbery as legitimate, ending the “federal
income tax” wouldn’t even require any sort of forcible resistance;
universal “non-compliance” (i.e., many millions of people doing
NOTHING) would make the entire scheme unenforceable.

The same is true of other sorts of tyranny, including citizen
disarmament (“gun control”), drug prohibition, and all manner of
oppressive “regulation” and “taxation.” If the general public
understood that each person owns himself, and that no one owns
anyone else, any initiation of violence against any individual—even
if the aggressor calls himself “authority” and calls his attacks
“law”—would be viewed as immoral and illegitimate, and would be
resisted. And if there was universal disobedience to such
oppression, tyranny would simply evaporate into thin air, without
so much as a whimper. (Remember, all of the authoritarian
enforcers—police, military, and the hordes of government
bureaucrats—are people too, and enforce the decrees of politicians
only because they view them as inherently valid and legitimate, and
view disobedience to such “laws” as immoral. That is why they
constantly use violence in the name of “the law,” in situations
where they never would have used violence if they were acting only
on their own behalf.)

Of course, if only a few people, or even a few thousand, understand
the idea of self-ownership, and everyone else remains deceived,
those few could not openly disobey the state without being crushed
by its mercenaries (who would deem their violence to be righteous).
The focus must, therefore, be on spreading the concepts of self-
ownership and unalienable rights to as many minds as possible. But
that is no easy task, since almost all of us have been taught, not
only by the schools, media and government, but even by our families
and friends—even those in the freedom movement—that obeying
“authority” is the highest virtue, and disobeying is the worst sin.

None of these comments are intended to impugn the motives of those
who are trying so hard, “within the system,” to achieve freedom and
justice. They should be commended for their concern about the state
of society today, and for their personal willingness to do
something about it. But the truth is, it is not only ineffective,
but self-contradictory to try to advocate liberty by way of “the
system.” Focusing efforts on those who wear the label of
“government” will never bring about freedom. The people who seek
“high office” do so because they love to dominate others, and the
widespread belief in “authority” gives them the opportunity to do
so, in a way that even most of their victims view as legitimate.

Once the people stop viewing themselves as slaves, and stop viewing
the politicians as masters, voting and lobbying will end, and the
people will stop saying “please” to those who claim the right to
rule them. Only then will freedom defeat tyranny.


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