i was raised in georgia, about thrity minutes north of the florida border, closer to alabama than to the atlantic ocean. it is a rural community, very agricultural, with a small town as the county seat. i spent most of my young life raised as a republican (whatever that is) and though my parents weren't particularly political, i always had an interest in the wider world because my dad (a lifelong role model) always watched the evening news.
i was also, almost by default, a racist. because almost everyone was, it seemed pretty natural and i was open and unashamed of it. this is where my deconversion process began.
i never really thought much about whether racism was right or wrong, but just assumed it as fact without question. many people go through their entire lives without questioning the premises of their beliefs, but i was lucky enough to escape this. most of my freinds were like me until i became close, in the tenth grade, with one of the few people in town who was raised as a liberal (another vague term). as you might guess, he was strongly opposed to racism, which i thought was silly, but he provided some arguments that challenged my worldview.
when i went to college (1995), the first friend i made was black. we rode to and from class together and he was a smart and polite individual. it made me realize the folly of generalizing about large groups of people in an narrow and absolute fashion. that experience really made me sympathetic to blacks, and consequentially, other races. at that point i had to let go of racism. the realization that i had been wrong for so long about something i had never even bothered questioning set off an intellectual storm of self rediscovery.
in 2004, there was a presidential election. the main candidates were george w. bush and john kerry. i had already seen four years of bush as president and wasn't keen on seeing four more, especially since he had a majority republican congress. still, i didn't want to vote for that moron, kerry. so,with the help of another friend, i began to look for other options.
i went virtually everywhere. if you were a candidate for president in 2004, i went to your website. i read about every nutjob and crackpot in the country who was seeking that office. i researched every third party and even spent a fair amount of time frequenting a communist website called "www.che-lives.com". turns out that not only the top two, but every other political group out there seemed crazy, even the libertarian ones. but over the succeeding weeks, i noticed that the libertarians were right about "random-idea-A". then i noticed they were right about "random-idea-B", and "C", until i realized, "holy crap! i'm one of those crazy libertarians!"
i began to dig deeper. i went to websites like the CATO institute and reason.com. i read "the law" by frederic bastiat. i read harry browne's books, "why government doesn't work" and "the great libertarian offer". i was hooked! the ideas revealed to me were mind-blowing. i bought a copy of "the pocket constitution", read it about 20 times and carried it everywhere i went. when a friend noticed i was carrying it, he suggested that i read lysander spooner's essay "no treason 6, the constitution of no authority". after reading that devastating argument for the constitution, i stopped carrying my pocket copy, and the door to true radicalism had been opened.
by cracking the very foundation of the u.s. government, spooner's argument had me questioning the legitimacy of the idea of government at all. i began listening to "free talk live" on internet radio and visiting the largely anarchist website, www.lewrockwell.com and consequently, www.mises.org.
at the mises institute, i began to learn of the economic impossibility of the state and how the belief in such a thing required a core dedication to the ideas of socialism, which had been thoroughly debunked by von mises himself. at that point, my brief venture into the realm of minarchism was over. to my chagrin, i had accepted anarchism.
it was an uncomfortable acceptance. in a short span of years, virtually all of my wider philosophical ideas had been wiped away and i had become something i had never dreamed possible. over time, however, as i became more educated and confident, i have developed a great sense of pride in being one of a minority of people who absolutely opposes evil.
it hasn't made life easy. now i have to think of the implications of actions i didn't think about before and i hold myself accountable for the ethical implications of every decision i make. because the state is everywhere, i have to be very careful not to compromise myself through compliance.
has it been worth it? that's hard to say. knowing the truth is a great thing. understanding right and wrong is mind-expanding. the problem (and it's a big problem) is that, if you plan to live according to your beliefs in this way, life becomes very inconvenient and dangerous. if you plan to oppose evil without compromise, you should be prepared to fight. those who wish to control you will often think little of doing everything in their power to do so, even if they have to kill you.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
- c.s. lewis
not to say that those of the state torment us for our own good. to the contrary, they do it for their own good, at our expense. but it is far more dangerous if they are able to satisfy their own consciences by blanketing their actions in a fallacy of "public good". as with most things, there is a trade-off. if you want to know the truth, you will have to sacrifice the bliss of ignorance. the only problem with that is that once you understand, there is no going back. you can't simply unlearn.