no third solution

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It’s Not Voluntary, and It’s Not a Contract

July 21st, 2008

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Some people think that the Constitution is a contract binding upon all people. What follows are excerpts from a conversation with one such individual.

There is no sunset clause on the Constitution. This is not a contract that expires if I don’t vote for its continuence. The idea that if we stop pleading for our life, we are to blame for losing it is wrong.If I trust somebody with a loan and they swear an oath to pay it back, I need do nothing to but expect its safe return. The idea that if they call me to ask if they still need to pay it off, and I don’t pick up the phone, and that this means they don’t have to pay off the loan, is beyond preposterous.

Every last one of these officials swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. No amount of political shell games changes that.

Read this carefully,  I’m going to hang you with your own rope:  This  analogy is tantamount to someone long dead signing a promissory note in my name, and then presuming that I’m liable for it. Could I sign a note, obliging my children, and your children, and our children’s children, to pay for something in perpetuity?  Would any reasonable man conclude that such instruments would be valid or otherwise enforceable contract?   There is no principle of law or of reason that would support that view.

Among other requirements, a valid contract requires several things:

  1. offer and acceptance, by which one party extends an offer and the other party has an opportunity to freely accept or refuse to accept,
  2. consideration,  usually understood to mean that there is an exchange of value for value, but at the very least an exchange of wills in accordance with (1),
  3. legal intent, that is, the contract may not oblige parties to do anything which is illegal
  4. capacity, that is, the parties are both of mind sound enough to give valid consent and agreement

It is plain that the Constitution is not a contract of any sort, nor was it ever intended to be such an instrument.  midwesterner follows the stale “it’s a contract, stupid!” argument, with the equally asinine suggestion that I agreed to the constitution when I took my oath of office, only to backtrack later and argue that acceptance of the constitutional “contract” is the “default” for anyone born here.  Being born in to slavery does not mitigate the fact that one is born a slave.

Continuing, midwesterner resorts to ad hominem, and appeals to popularity, while simultaneously resurrecting the ghosts of the “contract” argument:

More courage than brains, eh David? Or maybe your comment gives you away and you really are only playing. I assure you I am serious.

You can live in your happy little fantasy land, I happen to have an anarchist/individualist ideal myself. But that is exactly what it is, an ideal. Unlike you, I live in this world and I seek alliances of people who will not only honor my personal LLP, but will help me protect it against those that won’t. 200 some odd years ago a bunch of people who held the same general values as I do drafted an open contract with anybody who wants to join it. This is a mutual protection contract between voluntary participants…

An “open contract”? Surely you can’t be serious. There is no such thing as a contract to which both parties did not voluntarily execute. Such a contract, executed by men of sound mind and body, can be binding upon those who executed it.  Its scope extends no further than that.  There is no thing as a contract which binds parties other than those who have executed it.  If the people who did not or who do not want to join it, are not free to abstain without being evicted or murdered, then there is no contract, only a threat, and decisions made under extreme duress (if you’re keeping track, duress is sufficient cause to void a contract).

midwesterner‘s replies were along the lines of “good luck convincing a judge of that argument.”  So, he half-heartedly accepts the premise, but then admonishes me for not accepting a brand of justice that even he admits is criminally inadequate.

Anybody who wants to can reject both the incursions and protections of the law. They are called outlaw, which does not necessarily mean ‘criminal’ in their nature, it means outside of a particular association’s laws. There are good associations and there are bad ones. My first ancestor to set foot in North America arrived on the Mayflower with the Puritans. He was lynched by them for not being submissive enough to the nascent Puritan state. They called it a hanging and him a criminal but what I’ve been able to dig up, it was Puritans eliminating an ‘enemy of the state’. Yep. My 11 greats grandfather is the first enemy of the state executed by Europeans in the New World. From what I can tell, he had a hot temper and plenty of courage but was not real strong in the thinking things through department. You are welcome to go outlaw at anytime you like. I have made a tactically very different choice. As compromised as this government is, I think working inside the system is still possible and useful.

Since you make clear you will have no part of this constitutional contract, I encourage you to stop giving any money to this government, stop registering any land you own, buy or sell with this government, stop driving on any roads, etc. Of course, being outside the law, if you have any disputes this government will side with whoever is ‘inside’ the law, but fire away, hope for the best. I’m with you in spirit. I might even put up an article eulogizing you. People can leave comments like flowers for your memorial.

I have chosen to accept the constitutional contract we have with our government now. I can opt out easily enough. All I have to do is leave behind any property I have acquired within its protections (and maybe even not all of that) and I am free to leave. I choose to stay. But I demand that all officials honor their oaths to me. At some point it is possible enough of us constituents will decide that the officials claiming constitutionally described roles are in fact outlaws and we may, as once before, take things back directly into our own hands. I sincerely hope we never get to that point, but history has plenty of governments that turned criminal by violating their charters and oaths.

You are welcome to make your heroic solo stand. I prefer to pursue a course that I estimate has a far and away higher chance of success. My ancestor’s unilateral campaign to free himself from Puritan domination certainly failed spectacularly. Let me know how your’s works out.

No, MW, you’re not welcome to reject the incursions and the protections, and, News Flash, nobody ever took an oath in your name, they swore to the idle winds, and those oaths aren’t worth a thin dime.

The presumption that the state owns all the land by right, which it does not, is of paramount import to your requirement that I cede all property acquired under its protection. Does that protection not have a price? For what have I been paying, have I paid, all these years? Is there no price (however high) which I might in theory pay to purchase my freedom? Of course there is not!

What you’re saying is that the consideration (remember that lawful consideration must be a part of a valid contract) offered by the State, in return for my adherence to this contract, so-called, is my own life, liberty and property. But the State has no rightful claim to any of these things, never had a rightful claim to these things, and by no principle of law or reason can ever in the future acquire a rightful claim to these things.

…You can secede your ass out of here anytime you like. Start walking. If you find some place better, LMK. I think what you are really saying is that property that you have acquired through the present system has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it is yours. That is bullshit. You only still have it because there were other people helping you keep it. Without those people and the terms they protected you by, you would be nothing more than some corpse rotting in the ditch of some great collective’s cultural revolution.

You are free to leave, so go.

There you go, folks: if you don’t like my country, get the fuck out.  Apparently, this is midwesterner‘s country.  Not mine.  If I don’t like it, I have to leave, or I’ll get shot.  One wonders why it never seems to work the other way: if he doesn’t like me, or my points of view, why doesn’t he have to leave?

The important consideration is, this:

Through the act of secession, what precisely would I take from you (or anyone, for that matter), which would justify violent suppression of my action? In other words, what do I take, to which you are otherwise entitled by right to defend?

blank out.

If I no longer want the services, it cannot be argued that future payment is required for past services rendered. Those services were already paid for, either by myself through my taxes, or by others through theirs. If the government maintains that it is merely amortizing the costs of its services rendered, in perpetuity, then surely there must be some discount rate by which I could conceivably settle the balance due#. That one can’t acquire—even by paying tribute—Allodial title to property claimed by a government is proof that no such price exists.

Questioning my defiance and proposing that I “Look at everything that government does” for me, asserting all the while, that I therefore owe anything to the government, is an argument that is altogether backwards.

If you think the government does things for you, or for me, you’re flat out wrong.  Governments produce nothing.  Never have produced anything, never will.

Flip the script, and why don’t you look at everything that you do, everything that I do, for the government.  What we get in exchange for the taxes we are forced to pay is the slow creep of totalitarianism: the inconveniences and false arrests we suffer, the injustices in which we’re accomplices-by-duress,  the atrocities of wars waged in our name, the violent oppression of brown-skinned foreigners, the corporate welfare, the mindless nationalism, the institutionalized racism—I could go on, but I won’t.

Look closely at these things that individuals do for the government often under protest.

Take a deep breath, and tell me who owes anything to whom?

# This would, conceivably require the government to continue to render those services payment for which is simply made in advance. But I’m suggesting that one might offer to pay—in advance—for services which would never need be provided in any quantity or quality.



  • Ian says on: July 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm


    Are you coming to NH? We’ve got a growing group of voluntaryists here in Keene.

  • tumbleweed says on: July 22, 2008 at 9:33 am


    I think “oh snap!” sums this up pretty well. First he throws a bunch of logical fallacies and arrogance, then he acts like he’s already won the argument simply by saying something. I think I saw a straw man in there somewhere too. Some people.

  • AzraelsJudgement says on: July 22, 2008 at 10:48 am


    If the crips rule my neighborhood I suppose I should work with them or else the Bloods will just come in and takeover anyways.

  • KipEsquire says on: July 22, 2008 at 1:59 pm


    The next step is to read the first two chapters of Randy Barnett’s “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” in which he argues that a government’s legitimacy derives not from the existence of a “social contract,” but from recognizing the impossibility of a such a contract — which in turn requires the government to be as harmless and inoffensive as possible in order to make the governed comfortable with the (non-contractual) arrangement. The less coercion (i.e., the less deviation from a “contract”), the more legitimate the government becomes.

  • Mike says on: July 22, 2008 at 4:07 pm


    Why the constitutional social contract idea is so popular is a bit beyond me. It’s obviously a fraud. The cleverer argumenters in support of it will sweep aside the word “contract” as sophistry, and say that what’s meant here is something more fundamental, a “higher” sort of contract, and then come up with all sorts of justifications to “prove” that you assented to it.

    If they can do so after reading Spooner, though, my benefit of the doubt evaporates and I have to conclude they’re either insane, evil, stupid or some combination thereof.

    As for the “get the fuck out” bit, heh, I’ve done that. Not because subjecting myself to a lesser evil is in any way good in absolute terms, but because withdrawing support for the peak efflorescence of evil to me is better in relative terms.

  • csun says on: July 22, 2008 at 8:23 pm


    I rent my property by the year from my county government and each year the rent goes up without any input from me.
    If I refuse to “opt out” by not paying my rent i.e property tax,I will be kicked off my land and it will be sold on the courthouse square to the highest bidder.
    It makes absolutely no difference whether I can afford the rent or not, if I don’t pay I will get the boot from the benevolent overlord.
    We are all serfs renting our freedom by the year from a collectivist government.
    We can never own property free and clear of the threat of seizure by a fiscally irresponsible and corrupt government.
    On the right we’ve brain dead denizens proclaiming”support the troops” and on the left we’ve doubly indifferent morons screaming “Bush lied , people died.”
    The show goes on and the rent is always due.

  • Francois Tremblay says on: July 23, 2008 at 2:49 pm


    My answer would have been

    “I don’t know who you’re trying to fool, midwesterner, me or yourself, but you’re no Anarchist. And you are insane if you believe that a piece of paper protects you from anything.”

  • firstorb says on: January 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    although i do believe that our countrys government is somewhat of a joke where actors and wrestlers can become government officials (not to mention t19 and social security is a joke). i will not pretend to be educated enough to be able to side either way on your argument. but i will say you do make some strong points. kudos to you.

  • Mike says on: September 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm


    It is a contract. You signed up for this contract when you became a citizen. Don’t remember doing that? Your parents must have done it for you then. Feel free to renounce your citizenship and become a denizen. You won’t be able to do a number of things a citizen can do: vote, get a social security number, get a regular job, etc. But you will not be liable for the income tax if you don’t have a taxpayer identification number (SSN) and you buy, sell and trade with anything besides Federal Reserve notes (gold and silver maybe). The fact that you (probably) have a birth certificate, citizenship, a SSN, and numerous other licenses prove that you have agreed to abide by all the rules and regulations of these contracts. If you don’t agree with the rules set forth by these various contracts then why don’t you renounce them and live your life without them. The Amish do, and so can you.

    • nothirdsolution says on: September 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm


      But you will not be liable for the income tax if you don’t have a taxpayer identification number (SSN)

      Wrong. You can't renounce an SSN. I've inquired.

      The fact that you (probably) have a birth certificate,

      Is merely evidence of when and where I was born (and to whom).

      The Amish do, and so can you.

      The amish do not live outside of the vast majority of these "contracts".

      Do your homework.

  • Mike says on: September 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm


    “csun” is spot on about how the property tax is prima fascia evidence that the government owns every single inch of land in the USA. They enforce their domination of the land by force. If you don’t think that this fact of life is “fair” or “right”, tough; they have men with Darth Vader outfits and M4s standing by. Not much you can do about that.

    You are half correct though, governments take a lot from us, but it is all done by consent. Income tax is voluntary, you agree to it by getting a SSN and earning wages in the form of Federal Reserve notes. Trade your labor for property. Fed notes are not property; they are an obligation of the Federal Reserve. It is like going to Disney Land, buying Disney dollars and then complaining about the terms, conditions and restrictions of their currency. While it will prove to be more difficult to buy stuff at Disney Land with gold and silver, you will not be required to play by Disney Land’s rules. When you use their dollars you consent to their rules; the reason you consent is for the convenience their currency provides you. You can either have convenience or freedom, take your pick.

  • nothirdsolution says on: September 24, 2009 at 10:33 pm


    the government owns every single inch of land in the USA. They enforce their domination of the land by force. If you don’t think that this fact of life is “fair” or “right”, tough; they have men with Darth Vader outfits and M4s standing by. Not much you can do about that.

    That's a charmingly defeatist attitude.

    You are half correct though, governments take a lot from us, but it is all done by consent.

    It's not consent because A) most people were never given a "choice" and B) even if they were, the decision was made under duress (i.e., threat of violence).

    Go troll somewhere else.

  • Sovereign Man says on: October 6, 2009 at 6:41 pm


    Citizenship is voluntary and must be done with full knowledge and intent.

    One can not be born in any state, as a state is only an artificial claim to jurisdiction.
    One has no memory of birth nor any knowledge of circumstances surrounding it. (i.e. Birth Certificate)
    One has only the authority of man and any proclaimed authority greater then the one is fictional.

    A name is an artificial designation given to property by the owner thereof.
    Do you have any owner?
    Have you been using a name? (registered freely at ones supposed birth and given to the government freely and willingly by uninformed parents)

    Using someone else's property without consent is trespass.
    Did you ask for consent to use said property. (i.e. Name)
    Do you continue to use said property? Why?

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics