Sunday, May 17, 2015

Charles Murray Gives Up on Political Process, Calls for Civil Disobedience

Charles Murray, famed author, with  Richard J. Herrnstein, of the controversial book, Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, says that he has given up on the political process and he is now advocating civil disobedience.

In a new book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, according to the blurb, he writes that:
[W]e can no longer hope to roll back the power of the federal government through the normal political process. The Constitution is broken in ways that cannot be fixed even by a sympathetic Supreme Court. Our legal system is increasingly lawless, unmoored from traditional ideas of “the rule of law.” The legislative process has become systemically corrupt no matter which party is in control...

[The]federal government has a fatal weakness: It can get away with its thousands of laws and regulations only if the overwhelming majority of Americans voluntarily comply with them. Murray describes how civil disobedience backstopped by legal defense funds can make large portions of the 180,000-page Federal Code of Regulations unenforceable, through a targeted program that identifies regulations that arbitrarily and capriciously tell us what to do.

In concert with the book and the advocacy of civil disobedience, Murray is in the process of launching the Madison Fund. He writes:

The Madison Fund would have three goals. First, it would defend people who are innocent of the regulatory charges against them. Second, it would defend people who are technically guilty of violating regulations that should not exist, drawing out that litigation as long as possible,making enforcement of the regulations more expensive to the regulatory agency than they’re worth, and reimbursing fines that are levied. Third, it would generate as much publicity as possible, both to raise the public’s awareness of the government’s harassment of people like them, and to bring the pressure of public opinion to bear on elected politicians and agency staffs. To put it another way, suggested to me by Chip Mellor of the Institute for Justice:I want to pour sugar into the regulatory state’s gas tank.
This is all quite fascinating until one learns that Beltarian organizations, such as Cato and AEI, not exactly bastions of establishment rocking, are promoting his book and his view of civil disobedience.

Murray's project deserves to be monitored, but in the immortal words of Patrick Henry, "I smell a rat."

I hope I am wrong.


(ht Michael Edelstein)

Also see: The Beach Sand Limits of Charles Murray Radicalism


  1. OK, here's the deal: "Trust, but verify".
    i..e, accept what he says as true.
    Keep an eye on what he does rather than what he says.
    THEN declare yea or nay.
    As for me, I'll sign on whole hog UNTIL he demonstrates that he's a turncoat CATOite.
    In the meantime, I'll take him at his word and hoist a glass to the effort.

  2. Can our minds react quickly, and in sufficient numbers to address the boot that is aimed at our necks? Honestly I doubt it, because we are forced to always be on the defensive, and we are simply reacting to what the state has long desired. It may be time to start utilizing a different tactic that is very difficult to overcome, laughter, and ridicule.

    Everyone wants respect, especially politicians who may not have started out as narcissists but are seduced by the power, and perks to the point that they can no longer empathize with the citizens they represent. But what would happen if we relentlessly laughed at, and ridiculed their every word. The idea is to make the hunter feel like the hunted, and to make them experience humiliation on a scale unmatched in American history. We should make them loose their nerve when facing the public, similar to Hillary Clinton's current fear of the press, and the questions she dreads facing.

    In fact Hillary should be Libertarian's first target, in order to refine the techniques, and prove the the power of laughter, and ridicule in the hands of some of the most intelligent people in this country. I propose we use relentless ridicule, and the power of her own words to strip her of the cold blooded determination that feeds her malignant soul. At this point she is in hiding, but what would happen if we started showing up at her events, and loudly shouted, "We came, we saw, he died, cackle". We could even make up catch phrases that would leave Hillary helpless to respond, "Da Bull's, Da Bear's, Benghazi", or "Mena, Mena, Mena, Mena', followed by a long snorting sound. The idea is to relentlessly repudiate her, and force her to abandon her dream. The theory is to repudiate the entire electoral process, and hopefully awaken the public to the slavery that awaits if they don't lay waste to the entire slate of candidates inflated sense of self worth.

    I know it is a very tall order in this era of controlled interactions between the public, and their masters, but it is worth considering. Now Charles Murray's idea is a trap from the get go, the judiciary will always have overwhelming amounts of public dollars to put law breakers away in the for profit penal system. A startup pro-bono defense fund will be simply outmatched, and be forced to withdraw from the field. Lastly, any idea that is connected to the Cato Institute should be thrown to the curb with extreme prejudice, and be allowed to die with dignity in the gutter.

  3. My reaction to this is...finally. An action plan. Something people can do other than seethe and write blogs.

    Civil disobedience intentionally structured to bog down the state in the impracticality of its own fundamental nature makes so much tactical sense. A monolithic, bureaucratic, inflexible, unthinking foe of giant might is taken down exactly thus. Compel divisions of enemy tanks to have to maneuver across quicksand to attempt to get you, and you defeat them without having to confront their guns and armor directly. Love it.

    Fighting the state on playing fields of its own design, like politics or media, trying to match it dollar for dollar and resource for resource makes absolutely no damn sense. Attacking the state where it is most vulnerable and least capable is tre perfect.

    Cynicism is misplaced. If this tool can be perfected, made functional, and expanded so everyone can do it, it's game on.

  4. I must agree with Switchblade on this one. The insidious strategy of the government is that it nickels and dimes us all and there is never a large enough group or a significant enough financial incentive to challenge any one regulation. And in any event their ability to print their own money means a limitless war chest which would quickly deplete Murray's fund.

    1. Yes, the effort would need to find ways to maximize the ratio of state resources the effort consumes vs. its own resources. With some clever planning and rapid adaptation that ratio can be kept quite high. And while the government can always just print more money, it can’t escape the consequences like inflation and economic damage.

      Plus you're overlooking an additional category of benefits. The public perception benefits. The oxygen the state needs more than anything else to survive, the thing it can't imperil, the thing it can't print, legislate, or bomb into existence is the popular perception of legitimacy.

      Gandhi's civil disobedience campaigns only employed thousands of people. In each case the British had the resources to lock them all up forever and be done with the affair before lunch. But they couldn't do that and stay in business, because the eye of the larger public was upon them. The state is a con game, where making the con seem legit to the masses remains more important than anything.

      All the U.S. civil rights movement incidents were pulled off with a few thousand people carefully chosen and staged for maximum drama and media exposure. Organizers loved it when the police trotted out all their menacing guns and started beating people up on camera. Politicians reacted as they always react when a parade gets big and splashy enough and endures. They get in front of it.

      If we perfect the technique and strategy, we could run a range of narrowly defined disobedience campaigns that take turns partnering with different special-interest groups like Tea Party groups and anti-Obamacare groups tapping their outrage and willingness to join us in defying the state over their particular issue. Principled opposition expressed in widespread action if properly employed is a weapon able to cause a lot more damage to the state’s legitimacy and authority than it might seem.

    2. ".. it can’t escape the consequences like inflation and economic damage." The history of two world wars and the great depression of the 1930's and 1940's not to mention the one we are in right now shows that government escapes the consequences quite handily. In fact they grow and thrive in these situations. The Civil Rights movement was co-opted by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which turned all minorities into slaves of the government. Gandhi turned India into a self governing democratic socialist state. Not exactly a roaring success. Yet the problem is not so much government itself, it is the fact that it is a human creation to use force against your fellow man. People support it and nourish it because most would rather use a club than practice tolerance. Your enthusiasm about your ideas for action is marvelous and I hope you prove my cynical response wrong. But maybe you could focus your attention on the psychology of human's and then begin with small local actions to help your fellows embrace the tolerance required of commerce without coercion.

    3. You temper my points eloquently though I think not invalidate them.

      You are right the government’s disinformation attributes responsibility for trashing the economy to everything but its own money printing. But here’s the catch. The bargain struck with the populace for the carte blanche mandate to micromanage the economy is consistent prosperity. When the economy crashes, voters don't care much for excuses and blame the politicians in office. Trust in government plummets. All I'm saying is there are undesirable consequences to government for printing money. It's not a freebie.

      Yes, the Indian independence movement and the civil rights movement both ended up landing in states of affairs hardly better. From one frying pan into another. Yet the technique of civil disobedience effectively got everyone out of the frying pan in both cases. That part worked. There is no necessary association with where things landed. For example, I don't think the British government cared all that much whether Gandhi wanted to establish a monarchy, a democracy, a republic, or an anarchic region. They just wanted to salvage what standing they could as part of their exit from an intractable situation. Presumably a libertarian civil disobedience movement would have a clearer vision for the end-state. Once it had the government on the defensive, it would be able to press for specific next steps toward that vision.

      Your emphasis of the importance of psychology and culture change is true but ineffective as a tactic for change. Essentially all cultural institutions are statist imbued, dominated, owned, and vigorously defended. Lock stock and barrel, from top to bottom. Influencing them via brute force pounding by a miniscule vocal minority is all but hopeless a goal to pursue and hope to accomplish within any time frame less than multiple generations at best. In essence, there is currently no viable path forward that way. By contrast, civil disobedience enables small numbers of people to have far greater effect within reasonable timeframes. History shows this lesson. Let's use it.

  5. The most important thing you can do to smash the Progressive State of America is to take your kids out of K-12 government schools, perfectly legal. This and numerous other perfectly legal tactics are outlined in my last three books.

    1. My kids have been homeschooled from the begining. They are now enrolled in the Ron Paul Curriculum and loving it. Tom Woods and Gary North's classes are worth far more than what you pay for. Every libertarian should look into it. I can't recommend RPC highly enough.

    2. "The most important thing you can do to smash the Progressive State of America is to take your kids out of K-12 government schools, perfectly legal."

      All four of my kids have been(are being) home schooled from start. Thankfully I have a super wife that pulls it all off.

      I can see how it grate's on many of those connected with the government school system-regardless of political affiliation via surface level discussions.

      Outside of those directly connected to and/or benefiting from government schools, it's mostly Leftists that really get in a tizzy when the subject comes up, but only before they find out(if I share) that have home schooled children.

      I'm very careful how I discuss the topic of home schooling and with who outside my "safe" areas/communities...because many of these people might use government as a hammer to try to force me to do what they think I should do.(CPS, etc.)

      I do think that like financial privacy/freedom, government is slowly tightening the legal noose around home schoolers in general.

      The Feds are eventually going to ram the Common Core curriculum down the States throats(probably called something else, but with the same intent), and that is going to further restrict/control things.

      We are members of HSLDA, but as we all know, the resources of the government are almost unlimited and the deck always stacked. I fly low to try to stay safe.

    3. Home schooling is fine if you can afford it. But it is very expensive and not necessary to counteract the effects of the Progressive movement. My wife and I read to our children before they were born and continued to do so throughout their childhood. We also focused their attention on reading, writing and arithmetic throughout school and assured them that grades were only important in those subjects properly instructed. We used study workbooks available at any bookstore to supplement the K thru 12 curriculum. We encouraged summer school in and out of the public system. We made sure they understood public school was forced and we had to make the best of it and let their own curiosity be their guide to learning. We encouraged getting a job as soon as possible and the self responsibility required. My wife and I worked full or part time most of the time as our children grew into adults. And we had plenty of time to teach our children. Our work was itself a lesson in life. Participating in school gave them insight into their fellow human beings and their mother and I gave them the principles to live by.

    4. "Home schooling is fine if you can afford it. But it is very expensive"


      I don't want to offend you in any way, shape, or form. That being said, I take issue with the above statement.

      When my business was suffering dramatically my wife and I made some very big concessions to make sure she stayed home, as well as the kids.

      Obviously there are times when it can be difficult for any couple to do so, but homeschooling can be done very inexpensively.

      My kids are not on the "Ron Paul curriculum", but my understanding is that curriculum is "free" for primary school age for example. Still yet, one of the curriculums my wife uses is called "Classical Conversations". We get a major discount on tuition because she is a "tutor" as well for the weekly class sessions(at a local church).

      Some things we did when my business was not doing so well:

      All our kids clothes were purchased from garage sales, Goodwill, etc.
      No cable/TV(we still don't have it, but have internet)
      No car payments
      No eating out(we also always have gardens too), we also belong to a "co-op"(which is nothing more than a pooling of families funds and some labor for bulk food purchase, it's not in the "commie" sense)

      Those are the big changes we made, but we were committed, maybe obsessed with saving every penny we could while my business was close to being no more.

      I could go on forever with the list of costs we chopped in hard times, but my intent is to point out that is CAN be affordable if you really sharpen the proverbial pencil.

      I think it's great and admirable that you took the extra time necessary to deprogram your kids, but Mr. Ostrowski was making a point of actually "smash"ing the Progressive state...while he wasn't clear in his meaning I'm going to posit that he meant when you remove your kids from the system, their funding(which is usually based per student) goes with addition the natural rejection of its legitimacy.

      Best Regards to you Brian! I do like most of your comments- Nick

    5. No offense taken. Different strokes for different folks.

    6. Nick -


  6. We are all a bunch of wimps. Stop cooperating. I know, there are risks. There are also risks to going along to get along.

    As individuals we divulge our personal financial information to the state (tax returns, etc.) and acquiesce to ridiculous law. Even worse our businesses actually enforce some of these ridiculous laws such as payroll taxes and immigration.

    Once I purchased a vehicle from a dealership paying the full amount with a bank check. The dealership was still required by law to get my financial information and proof of insurance. When I started to walk out of the deal they allowed the transaction without my financial information and insurance; I'm guessing they made up some fake paperwork to cover there butts.