Author Archives: Brad Warbiany

The Gadsden Flag

Gadsden Info
For the Christmas party we had over the weekend, we decided to do a gift exchange. When we had to tell everyone what we wanted several weeks ago, I explained that I wanted a Gadsden Flag for my basement. That caused quite a bit of a controversy. I did end up getting the flag, but it brought on even more comments. One of our friends (the liberal lawyer, a former libertarian) said that she thought it was the kind of thing “someone in a militia would have”. Efforts to explain that I’m not a violent person, even with uses of terms like “gentle giant”, didn’t really get across why I love this flag.

For me, the Gadsden flag elicits an emotional response. To me, the American flag is a symbol of our nation, but it’s the refined, socially acceptable version. The Gadsden flag, however, seems like a symbol of our national spirit. And it is a distinctly American symbol. The rattlesnake is ours alone. “Don’t Tread On Me” could very well be an American motto. But I take the idea of “Don’t Tread On Me” and internalize it.

It is a personal issue. Eric’s essay on the Sovereign Individual explains it very succinctly. “Don’t Tread On Me” is a personal statement. It is the statement that I truly am a sovereign individual. It is the statement that I recognize myself, not the government, as the ruling authority in my life. And that recognition extends farther. My parents are not the ruling authority, although I look up to and respect them. My wife is not the ruling authority, although I usually defer authority to her most of the time. I follow my own ethical and moral code, and I believe that I’m a generally good person in doing so. But I do so for my own self-worth, not because society, or government, or the world tells me what to do. “Don’t Tread On Me” says that if you treat me like a servant or a subject, your commands carry absolutely no weight with me.

But it serves a different purpose at the same time. It is a reminder. Every person in this world makes a choice whether to be a sovereign individual. Most of them make the negative choice, and most of them do not make that choice consciously, they adopt it as a default position. They abdicate responsibility for their own lives and their own decisions, and when something like Katrina comes along to shock them into the reality that they alone are responsible for themselves, their world crashes down around them. My new Gadsden flag is a personal symbol that I have made that choice deliberately, and made it in the affirmative. It is a symbol that will hang proudly and prominently on the wall in my basement. As much as it is a reminder to me, it is a signal to all who enter that America is more than just a nation, it is an idea.

Natural Rights doctrine – the missing piece

Some of you remember the debate raging a while back about whether property rights are natural rights, and exactly what that means. There were a few things that just didn’t sit right with me, but I haven’t had the time to really collect my thoughts and provide the response I wanted to give, until now.

To sum up, Eric, Robert, and I argued that property rights were a natural right because they exist inherent to man’s nature, and that is why we should push them as a society. Alice and JimmyJ pointed out that whether they exist in a state of nature or not, a right is only as valid as the society surrounding it. And Dada took that line of thinking to the next level and decided that socialism is perfectly valid because a society can define rights as they wish.

The disconnect for me was that I heard what Alice and JimmyJ said, and they are correct. Once you reach the point where you have a society and government, your rights are truly only worth the ability to back them up. America is still pretty well off on that score, but societies throughout history have proved that life, liberty, or property rights are quite easily discarded by an overbearing government. We can call them “natural rights” all we want, but a natural right to life doesn’t stop a corrupt government from putting a bullet in your head. To clear up this disconnect, we need a valid reason for why a society should be set up to recognize and protect those rights. In our debate, neither myself, Eric, or Robert explained why that should be the case. And that’s unfinished business.
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The World’s Youngest Curmudgeon

There are many roads to becoming a classical liberal, and I would be sure that among the various contributors to this blog, we’ll have traveled a wide variety of them. Many people older than myself once held faith in the institutions of government, only to learn over time that their faith was unfounded. They were part of the system until they learned how asinine the system was. I took the opposite road.

I’m a bit of an introvert. I grew up without a lot of confidence in social situations, and accordingly, found myself a fly on the wall observing the behavior of others. You learn quite a bit about the world when you close your mouth and open your ears, and what I saw increasingly just didn’t make sense. I watched the group dynamics of my “peer group” throughout school, where more importance was placed on which clique you were a part of than what occurred between your ears. It became more important as people got older that you acted to “fit in” to a group than be yourself and let the chips fall where they may.

And it’s not gotten any better with age. I sit now and watch the bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans, knowing that neither group considers principles or ideas to be the guiding force in their actions, it is partisan politics and satisfying interest groups that’s important. It has become a clan mentality, where protecting members of your clan is a moral imperative regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Where you regularly proceed with slandering members of opposite clan, even if they’d normally be someone you’d be friends with. It is now more important to fit in with your political party, or your race, or your class, or your gender, or any number of manufactured cliques than it is to even hold beliefs and stand up for your own thoughts.

I observed all this from a vantage point on the outside, and I became disgusted. I resigned myself to make up my own mind on every issue based on the evidence and the arguments I had available to me. I named my personal blog the Unrepentant Individual, which has led some to believe that I hold myself above reproach and act without apology for things I do. This is not true. What I will not apologize for is being myself and only myself. I consider myself to be an individual, and any “membership” I hold with others of my political party, my race, my socioeconomic class, my gender, or any other manufactured clique is just ancillary. I am not a “classical liberal” because it sounds fashionable, rather because the arguments I’ve found towards classical liberalism seem much more compelling than any other political philosophy I have yet found.

Eric has asked me, as well as many other bloggers, to blog here because we tend to agree on a wide variety of issues. We look at the world in much the same way, and we have very similar goals. But I am not here to kowtow to the wishes of a group, because while this is a “group blog”, it is a coalition of like-minded individuals, not membership in a club. Most of these bloggers are people who I consider to be my closest friends in the blogosphere, and are all people I respect very highly. I can’t say that for all conservatives, all libertarians, or even all people who consider themselves to be classical liberals, and there are quite a few people on the opposite side of the debate who I highly respect, no matter how much I may disagree with them. These are individuals that I respect, not members of my clan.

To people that don’t understand the way I think, I tend to appear far more obstinate, stubborn, and curmudgeonly than anyone born in the late ’70s has a right to. But part of being an unrepentant individual makes me not care one iota about that. I am who I am, and people who don’t like that know where to go.

I write primarily for The Unrepentant Individual, and am also a contributor at The FairTax Blog.

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