Pro-Capitalist, Anti-Government Extremists
Continued from previous page
Yet in a Venn diagram of antigovernment extremists, Barton is one of the few who would fall clearly outside of the overlap between Casey- and Stansberry-style anarcho-capitalism and Patriot ideology.
The areas of overlap, particularly with the radical “sovereign citizens” movement, are significant – and not unknown to adherents of anarcho-capitalism, or “voluntaryism,” as it is called by some. Carl Watner, who has been publishing a newsletter called “The Voluntaryist” since 1982 and who appears to be the godfather of Casey and Stansberry’s hyper-antigovernment ideology, grapples with many of the same issues that sovereign citizens do.
In a 1994 article titled “Un-Licensed, Un-Numbered, Un-Taxed,” Watner wrote approvingly of what he called “conscientious objectors” (sovereign citizens, as readers of this blog would call them) “who prefer to remain individuals rather than embrace a statist system which licenses, numbers and taxes them in hundreds of ways.”
Watner’s essay focused on the “ Embassy of Heaven,” an Oregon-based sovereign citizen group and church that sells fake passports and licenses for so-called “Ambassadors of Heaven.” As Watner explains it, members of the “Embassy” consider themselves to be residents of Heaven and subjects of Christ – and like ambassadors from anywhere, they reason, they are entitled to live within the United States without being subject to its jurisdiction.
Voluntaryists and sovereign citizens are not identical. One difference Watner identified between his approach and that of the Embassy of Heaven “is that the church relies upon the Christian religion as its bulwark in resisting the State.”
Not all sovereign citizens belong to an organization like the Embassy of Heaven, but many do carry licenses identifying them as members of nonexistent nations – a concept Watner does not approve of, as it suggests that people properly ought to carry identification in the first place.
“Whereas the Church says its members are not residents of the state, thus escaping its jurisdiction, the voluntaryist says that the state should have no jurisdiction over any one at all,” he wrote. “The state is a coercive institution, completely at odds with the moral laws that decry thievery, slavery and murder. Evil in any form should not be legitimized, so the voluntaryist refuses to grant validity to the state’s claim of jurisdiction, even over residents.”
Still, he managed to find common ground with the “conscientious objectors” of the Embassy of Heaven: “Voluntaryists believe in challenging the state head-on, yet they and other conscientious objectors share a common philosophical insight with the members of the church: might does not make right. The state rests on might: therefore it should be rejected.”
The Embassy of Heaven, therefore, “will then receive our praise for living by the voluntary principle, even if we do not choose to personally endorse it by becoming a member.”
Today, Casey, Stansberry, and other like-minded ideologues continue Watner’s tradition of conceding overlaps between themselves and Patriots, even as clear disparities exists. The two ideologies do appeal to much the same audience – and sometimes, their representatives share the same stage.
At 2012’s “FreedomFest,” for instance, Casey was listed as a keynote speaker together with a plethora of Patriot bigwigs, including Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News personality and 9-11 “truther” who thinks the government was behind the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and G. Edward Griffin, co-author of a popular Fed-bashing tome called The Creature from Jekyll Island. FreedomFest was organized by Mark Skousen, a friend of Patriot ringmaster Glenn Beck and nephew of the late W. Cleon Skousen, a hugely influential figure in Patriot conspiracist circles.