Carefully Calculated Submission: When Should You Obey the Law?

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“It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born.” [emphasis added]

Étienne de La Boétie


Paulbaack’s “Kiss the Ring of Dracula.”


Carefully calculated submission, simply defined, is obedience to government laws for the sake of self-preservation when faced with superior firepower. It is a method used whenever openly resisting the State becomes unwise to the degree of becoming a suicide pact. Given the reality of lawfare, it is not always possible to conduct more effective pushback, even in the form of legal interstices.

Back in 2011, two articles were written, which if put together, effectively birthed this method of carefully calculated submission. Larken Rose wrote in his famous article, When Should You Shoot a Cop?, that:


“Of course, on a practical level, openly resisting the gang called ‘government’ is usually very hazardous to one’s health. But there is a big difference between obeying for the sake of self-preservation, which is often necessary and rational, and feeling a moral obligation to go along with whatever the ruling class wants to do to you, which is pathetic and insane.” [emphasis added]


According to Rose, the reason why you would choose to obey a Bluecoat is more important than whether or not you actually do so. As long as obedience to authority is truly in your immediate self-interest (that is, survivability), and not because you feel guilty or otherwise have given your “sanction of the victim,” then that crucial distinction makes all the difference in world. Roger Young wrote months later in his seminal work, I Hereby Secede, that:


“Any state agents sent forth by the ‘United States Government’ to contact me will be dealt the equivalent respect and kindness that is shown toward me by such agents. Any perceived obedience by me will be the result of carefully calculated submission to an entity and its agents exhibiting superior firepower.” [emphasis added]


What Young is saying here is that he will mirror back the temperament and attitude of government agents. Although I slightly disagree with him on this point (I prefer to “kill’em with kindness,” even when they’ve bullied me on occasion), the more fundamental point being made here by him is that he’ll obey said agents only if it’s in his self-interest to do so. Not getting democided (or even “suicided” by the Deep State) would definitely be in his interest, despite the fact that he is being coerced, to be sure.

Might such carefully calculated submission be a compromise of principle? Last time I checked, civil disobedience is a form of refusing consent, but not all forms of refusing consent are civil disobedience; for example, it is not illegal to reject the advances of a potential suitor or lover, given that there is a free market in dating and romance on this continent. Unless you’re going for a jury nullification defense in court, then all civil disobedience would be is an exercise in not only futility, but also an incredibly easy way to generate a criminal record on yourself, possibly even with the legal handicap of being a convicted felon added on for good measure.

How about civil defiance, instead? Shane Radliff and I have already reasoned out a priori whether civilly defiant freedom cells might be useful as a form of pushback against the government police during a traffic stop, and needless to say, he and I remain quite skeptical of (fellow Texan) John Bush’s proposal. Regardless of the constitutionality of the government police themselves, the fact of the matter is that the penalty for resistance is always death, plain & simple.

Purely as a matter of security culture, the general rule of thumb is to avoid the bludgies, despite the nuance and minutiae some individuals wring their hands over. Consider what Jan Karski, a former member of the Polish underground during World War II, wrote in his autobiography:


“In June 1940, the Germans staged a manhunt in the streets of Warsaw and seized about twenty thousand people who were taken to three large police stations where they were searched, questioned, and had their documents verified…[a]ll those whose documents were not in perfect order, who could not give a satisfactory account of their ancestry, employment, and political sympathies, or could not clear themselves of charges made against them, were sent to concentration camps…[w]e later learned that about one hundred members of the Underground were caught in this raid. They were, without a single exception, promptly released. Every one of those had his documents in perfect order, could prove his occupation, and supply a satisfactory account of his personal history. Every one had ready answers to every question that was asked of him and impressed the police by his clear, straightforward, and unhesitating manner.” [emphasis added]


That is rather quite instructive, wouldn’t you say? Instead of lashing out via suicide by cop, an individual could use carefully calculated submission as a security culture technique. Sure, he wouldn’t be contesting their potential use of color of law, yet he would still “win” by keeping his freedom (hey, if it worked for the Polish resistance, why can’t it work now for 21st century Americans?).

Keep in mind, too, the paradoxical imagery of a murderer obeying the speed limit because he’s got a dead body in the trunk of his car. Obviously, he’s not travelling faster than the government’s imposition because he sincerely believes in the legitimacy of speed limits, but rather simply due to the fact that he doesn’t want to attract undue attention to himself. Mitigating the effects of one’s actions is always going to be risky, yet to paraphrase George Orwell’s fictional Julia character from 1984, you can disobey the big rules just as long as you keep the small ones.



Postscript: As this article goes to press, one of my proofreaders reminded me that there were audio/video versions made of both Larken Rose and Robert Young’s respective articles. Feel free to listen/watch to, When Should You Shoot a Cop?,” and I Hereby Secede.”

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