Living the Outlaw Life

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“When the phone, fax, pager, or one or both of the two radios on my belt weren’t going off – and if no one came by for answers – I’d just sit there and stare at a particular photograph I had hanging on my wall. Indeed, I could have looked at that picture for hours: wishing, hoping, and dreaming for a way of life I wanted, but did not have…[t]he scene was literally a thousand miles away, yet it was always with me, occupying a special place in my free moments of thinking…[b]ut when I did have time to think, I’d dream about that place in the picture…it was just a picture. A picture of horses grazing on open country…[f]our basic colors made up that picture. In the foreground, the brown of the mid-winter valley floor, dotted with horses. Beyond that, where the land goes up, the thick green of probably a million tall trees. Above timberline, the pure white of deep, cold snow. The bluest of big Western skies capped off the whole thing. To me, it was a picture of incredible grandeur. And right there, where those horses grazed, that was my property, although I never got to think about it much.”

Brian Kelling



Obviously, this article’s picture isn’t the exact one described by the referenced quote, but that is beside the point. A sense of nature, peace, and freedom is conveyed through both, for each illustrates what many Americans have been missing in their own lives; namely, a sense of belonging and home. The pace of Western civilization has accelerated so much that growing segments of mankind are unable to keep up, thereby necessitating a reevaluation of the inescapable feeling of being trapped within one’s own lifestyle.

Transcendentalism was a 19th century American philosophical outlook that shared much with classical liberalism. The transcendentalists perceived institutions as corrupting entities upon individuality, based on the assumption that humans were inherently good; these conclusions were reached through subjective intuition rather than through scientific observation. Perhaps the most well-known example of this American intellectual tradition could be seen through Henry Thoreau’s Walden, which truly speaks to and deeply connects with Americans from all walks of life, as it did with me.

One recurring element of institutional corruption that handicaps personal liberty are oxymoronic “victimless crimes.” Men like Harvey Silverglate, Fred Rodell, and even Franz Kafka have warned people about the dangers of government laws, and as such, Americans enjoy the highest incarceration rate in the world at 716 per 100,000 of the national population; not only that, but 22% of the entire planet’s inmates are right here in the “land of the free.” Don’t worry, though – the political crusaders of the alt-right have promised us all that Our Dear Leader will “Make America Great Again,” so that means he’ll fix this gross injustice too, am I right?

Against this backdrop of the American police state and resurgent transcendentalism emerges Claire Wolfe, the very same one who authored the fictional Hardyville series. Over the course of a 15-year period, Wolfe observes events and suggests actions that just might be effective as successful pushback. In her article entitled, Freeing Your Inner Outlaw, Wolfe sets the tone for the entire outlaw series by first mentioning that:


“You can be convicted of violating laws that don’t exist – as plenty of ‘tax criminals’ have been. Ask the IRS for copies of the laws you’re allegedly breaking and they’ll respond with legalistic gobbledegook. I have a friend who once testified as an expert witness in a tax case. Her expertise? Grammar. On the stand, she diagrammed a mega-monster sentence from the tax code and proved the alleged regulation couldn’t be obeyed – because it literally had no meaning in the English language. Still, people get arrested for disobeying it.”


Perhaps unsurprisingly to my readers, I agree with Frank Chodorov that the income tax is quite evil. Wolfe’s example here is quite humorous by highlighting the legalese used to “befuddle” Americans. She goes on to say that:


“Bottom line. You’re no longer a law-abiding citizen. There are too many laws to abide. And it doesn’t matter whether they call’em laws, rules, regulations, or something else altogether. You break them altogether. With laws like these, who even wants to be a law-abiding citizen?”


Ergo, Silverglate really was correct in saying that it is literally impossible to obey the government’s laws, even if you had wanted to do so to the letter. It really does underscore Quinn Norton’s frustration that prosecutors and bureaucrats try to game people into little traps so they can ruin their lives. Furthermore, Wolfe says:


“So, why not enjoy being above the law? Why not embrace it? Why not do it with panaché? Flair? Savoir faire? Pride and shining resolution? Why not, in short, free your Inner Outlaw?”


Those questions of hers are more than fair, given the circumstances. If Americans are just gonna be shoved by authoritarians into regular illegal behavior through no fault of their own, then why not refuse their “sanction of the victim” by taking pride in being illegally free? Hence began the libertarian meme of freedom outlaws.

Right in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Wolfe explained in her article, Freedom Tomorrow, that:


“As Rep. Ron Paul suggested, Congress could even use its constitutional authority to issue letters of marque and reprisal. That would turn privateers loose, under strict rules of conduct, to hunt down and deal with terrorists. Which is not as farfetched as it sounds. Ross Perot did it when he snatched hostage employees out of Iran, and privateers routinely played a part in early U.S. wars. That might be an effective way of striking directly at the evildoers (a thing that righteously needs doing) without murdering already long-suffering civilians, destroying their cities, opening the U.S. to further attacks from enraged people, and saddling ourselves with an ever-more expensive standing army. But these things aren’t likely to happen.”


Of course, this presumes that the federal Congress bothered with obeying their delegated enumerated powers, as per the Constitution. In this case, Wolfe is explaining the Marque & Reprisal Clause (Art. I § 8 cl. 11) as the constitutionally authorized remedy to piracy, which can be easily applied to terrorism had the Congress actually been serious with dispensing with the threat; assuming, oh-so-naturally, that the “War on Terror” had been genuine in the first place.

Several years later, Wolfe tackled the issue of transportation alternatives, especially given all the right to travel infringements. In her article, Footloose & Fancy-Free in the Country, she wrote:


“First requirement: No permits, licenses, government restrictions, or bureaucratic involvement at all. I know it’s naïve in this super-governed age, but I’m foolish enough to hold fast to the belief that in a truly free country people travel peaceably on the roads without being stopped and hassled by the ‘authorities’ and without asking the permission from the king (or the president, or the governor, or the Bureau of Law Mowers, Motorbikes, and Small Radio-Controlled Widgets). Motor vehicles are not only expensive and prone to breakdowns (anything but simple), but with driver’s licenses becoming national ID cards, unconstitutional highway ‘checkpoints’ everywhere, and our every move being tracked through our licenses, registrations, and purchases, those vehicles we rely on are being deliberately used by government as the vehicles of our unfreedom. So. No gasoline motors…[t]hat leaves animal-power, pedal-power, or the recently exercised shoe-leather.”


While I appreciate her systematic evaluation of many alternatives, I think she’s a little too quick to rule out gasoline engines (or electric cars, for that matter; it is the early 21st century after all!). Admittedly, Rayo disliked how much he relied on legal interstices so he could travel in relative safety from the bludg, particularly during import-export with the servile society; so, had a Second Realm been built by now, then it’d be a hell of a lot easier to use alternatives of many kinds, one of which would be a network of private roads, such as right here in Texas (and why not? With all the talk of secession given the aftermath of Brexit, why can’t a step in the direction of a “Texit” be road privatization?).

A few years later, Wolfe began encouraging strategic relocation to small towns. In her article, Moving On: A Small Town Can Be a Haven During a Depression, she writes:


“My very first ‘social engagement’ here in the new town was to pile into a car with several people and haul little tin buckets out to a ‘u-pick’ organic blueberry patch. Afterwards, some of the same people, and a few more, roamed out to a prime blackberry hedge and got to work together. The same woman who organized the berry picking took a look around and decided that she and her friends could all benefit from household work parties, too. So, instead of hiring contractors or gardeners for every little thing, as some might have a couple years ago, a bunch of us will be ‘hiring’ each other for weed-pulling, dry-walling, painting, and ripping-up-of-old-floors.”


Such grey-market activity is truly evocative of Americana, bar none! Informally working for pay without humiliatingly subjugating yourself to coercive medical insurance (aka, Obamacare) or socialist insecurity is truly not only a blessing, but also a return to America’s origins that have since been mostly lost. Wolfe’s point is well-taken here, despite the doom porn overlay, simply because when you move somewhere else, you are “voting with your feet” in search of personal freedom, which is voluntary; as a form of direct action, strategic relocation is anathema to collective-movementists, unless it is done as a reformist “political migration,” like the Free State Project, which Wolfe also mentioned in her articles, mostly before New Hampshire was selected.

Claire Wolfe’s Living the Outlaw Life was a transcendentalist-like experience for me to read, as well as learning some more background history on libertarian “activism” (such as it is). Much like vonu, being a freedom outlaw has less to do with “fighting the system” than it does with actually being free, of living freedom in the here and now, despite the State. As she put it in her truly uplifting and inspiration article, The State of Freedom in America, she states that:


“Distrust of institutions – including distrust of politicians, political parties, bureaucracies, and legislatures – is a necessity for a free country. Sheer, simple crotchety distrust of authority is more likely to lead us back to individual liberty than is any glowing, inspirational ideal. (On the contrary, glowing ideals historically lead populations to march blindly into tyranny and destruction.) And you know, if distrust is a good sign of freedom, we must be in really good shape.”


If I am ever blessed with daughters, I hope I’ll be able to encourage them to model themselves after truly American heroines like Wolfe. I’d like to live in an environment populated by courageously independent women who aren’t disingenuous to men. Perhaps the emergent cultural norms and social customs of a Second Realm can facilitate not only the bridging of the widening gap between the sexes, but also an advancement in human liberty through forming bonds of trust between individuals who value their relationships more than they do activist organizations or legal defense fund scams.

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