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February 16, 2012

Thought
Bumped

Monty's got a big Doom post for tomorrow [since posted], and while I don't have anything to add to it per se, I have a related thought.

I grew up on the East Coast. For a while, I lived in California.

I was blown away to learn that people could just start bonfires on the beach, whenever they liked.

Now, to be honest, I learned on this when the government was trying to crack down on the practice, but I was blown away at the idea that a private citizen could, in this country, previous to changes in this law at least, simply create a bonfire on the beach and enjoy it. Just because he wanted to.

Then I started to think like this: What kind of a mind-screw did they do on me when I should be surprised that people would be allowed to do this?

You see what I mean? My default mental state, thanks to the more statist area I grew up in (at least as far as bonfires) was that of course I wasn't permitted by The State to build a bonfire and enjoy it.

I internalized that. My default belief, absent any external stimulus, was that of course that would be an Illegal Act, and of course I should not Break the Law.

And this is where I begin to get angry:

How much of each of our current mental landscapes are shaped by government such that we internalize the idea that the basic right to be left alone (presuming you're not destroying other's property) doesn't exist?

How much of we come to accept such restrictions as "just normal"?

If you try to open a shop, how many licenses and inspections and certificates do you need?

And we all of course accept that. Of course we cannot perform a lawful trade without first securing the go-ahead of a half-dozen bureaucratic agencies.

I mean, that's just normal, right? That's just how it is, right?

Sixty years ago, would we have thought that was normal?

Or would we have said, "I'm sorry, are you attempting to tell me I cannot pursue a lawful trade without your... permission that I do so?!"

To what extent have we internalized that the "normal" situation of our life is to be unfree, to the extent that a simple pleasure, like building a bonfire on a beach and (get this!) drinking wine while watching it burn, seems like a bizarre indulgence of a malfunctioning anarchy?

I'm angry that someone put into my head the reflexive thought: Of course you mustn't do that; you aren't Allowed.

And once you've accepted that basic regime of requiring permission and licensing to do most everything in your life-- that makes it quite easy for the state to simply begin forbidding you to do whole categories of things altogether.

After all, you've accepted you need a license to do this or that, and that license can only come from the government. And if the government then refuses-- well, it's up them, isn't it? They have the right to deny you, right?

But did they?

When did they accumulate this power?

Just over the course of long decades, as a result of a thousand laws passed For the Public Good, and millions of decisions that it just wasn't worth fighting over.



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posted by Ace at 02:05 PM

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