The Path of Peace and Liberty
"There is no path to peace.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is
The Non-Aggression Principle
This site is about a simple yet powerful idea called the
By the Light of Liberty..
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato
Advocates for peace and liberty often say that they have taken "
To embrace the
..We Will Heal Our Culture
"Violence is a disease. You don't cure a disease by spreading it to more people." - The Game of Thrones
Whether it be the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, or the multiple wars against other countries, it is obvious that the State is addicted to violence.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Western culture, and the United States in particular, has been gravely infected by
Because war thrives on
For those who are either new to the
Tales from the Trail
A Matter of Perspective
One beautiful example is Raphael's
In contrast to that time,
The people in power, in turn, seem incapable of seeing beyond a single dimension. Lacking any depth of understanding regarding
Finally there are the citizens. Often misinformed but nonetheless willing participants in the political process, they flail back and forth within the narrow confines of left and right, seemingly distracted by the smallest of issues and unable to see the bigger picture. Blocked in their desire for peace and prosperity by forces they cannot see, they fixate on small obstacles but perceive them as insurmountable barriers. Lacking perspective, they are unable to see alternate paths forward.
As long as people are locked into the false dichotomy of left and right, they will forever be unable to see the fuller, richer reality.
"School of Athens" by Raphael, c. 1509-1511; "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" by Paul Gauguin, c. 1897; "Return of the Bucentoro to the Molo on Ascension Day" by Canaletto, c. 1733-4; "The Nolan Chart", from a diagram created by David Nolan in 1969.
August 24: Dr. Paul and the Cure for War
"When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads." - Dr. Ron Paul
The War Disease
On August 24, the Ron Paul Institute held its fourth annual Peace and Prosperity conference in Dulles, VA. The headline topic was "Washington's Addiction to War". In addition to Dr. Paul, there were a number of other interesting and passionate speakers at the conference. What follows are some of the highlights.
Welcoming the attendees was Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute and co-host of the Liberty Report podcast presented Monday through Friday with Dr. Paul. Opening with the headline topic, Mr. McAdams emphasized the importance of repairing language and calling things by there proper names. He described how economic sanctions are actually just another type of warfare, one that is particularly insidious in that it impacts civilians first and can be as deadly as any shooting war. Contrasting the declining national infrastructure he experienced on his drive from Texas with the rapid growth of office buildings around DC, McAdams stressed the importance of following the money. As companies that benefit from the largess of the Military Industrial Complex grow rich, the rest of America is being hollowed out.
Following Mr. McAdams was Congressman John Duncan, one of just six Republicans that voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Representative Duncan described how unpopular that vote was in his conservative Congressional district. It was delightful to hear that the vote eventually became one of his most popular votes, illustrating the importance of courage and patience in the face of strong opposition.
Next up was David Stockman, former Congressman, Manager of the OMB and, in 1967, antiwar protester. Mr. Stockman called imperial Washington "the greatest threat to world peace". A numbers person, he stated that the actual annual cost of the nation's military apparatus was $1.1 trillion, a number that far exceeds the spending of the next eight countries combined. Just the $80 billion so called "intel" budget was 25% more then Russia's total spending on defense.
Using NATO as an example of military waste, Mr. Stockman recalled the promise President Reagan made to Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989. In trade for Russian support of the reunification of Germany, the United States promised that NATO would not expand east. What has happened instead is that NATO has expanded to the very borders of Russia with the incorporation of former Soviet Republics such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. This has only served to heighten tensions with Russia while extending the commitments of NATA, and by extension, the US taxpayer, with ever diminishing returns.
Nathan Goodman talked about "The Economic Costs of US Empire", highlighting the $5.9 trillion dollars that the US taxpayer has been saddled with for 21st century wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Goodman described how government spending on things such as war lacked a feedback mechanism like that which occurs in the free market through pricing. Instead, we get endless waste and destruction with no one being held culpable. As Mr. Goodman put it, "with great power comes massively reduced accountability."
One of the most powerful presentations of the day for me was that made by journalist Rick Sanchez. Having worked for NBC, MSNBC and CNN, Mr. Sanchez explained that he now has much more freedom as a journalist working for RT America than he ever did at the other networks. Mr. Sanchez suggested this was because of the corporate capture of the networks by defense contractors like Raytheon and companies like Monsanto that seek to control what is reported.
Mr. Sanchez stated that what was important was "what they don't tell you". Sanchez pointed out the hypocrisy of his former employers in their inordinate focus on the now discredited narrative of Russian interference in the 2018 elections while ignoring more than a century of US interference in the elections and operations of countries from Latin America to Asia. US manufactured coups, such as that which occurred in Honduras in 2009, are little if ever mentioned while days and weeks of news cycles are devoted to determining whether a hundred thousand dollars of ads by some Russians may have tipped an election.
Former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson laid out the case of a deep state coup against Donald Trump in the form of Russiagate, outlining the evidence and describing the corruption within the FBI. Mr. Johnson thoroughly deflated the narrative of the Russian hacking of the DNC servers in 2018, outlining the forensic evidence indicating that the leak to WikiLeaks was an inside job.
Col. Douglas Macgregor presented his proposal for "National Security Without Constant Conflict", stating the need to get out of Afghanistan and to sign a peace treaty with North Korea. As other speakers had stated, failure was being repeatedly rewarded. Col. Macgregor closed by stating "We need to stop being an engine of destruction and get back to being an engine of prosperity."
The great Lew Rockwell, one of my personal heroes, gave a moving talk about his dear late friend, Murray Rothbard, and Murray's belief that the single most important issue for libertarians was the war and peace issue.
Mr. Rockwell outlined the ways that war destroys a society: First, it deforms us morally. War makes us think that people are disposable. Second, it deforms the economy, killing the freedom of curiosity and the freedom of knowledge needed for an economy to prosper. Third, war distorts reality itself. It does this by wrapping itself in images and symbols of home and family, deluding people and preventing them from seeing its true nature. Mr. Rockwell closed with the straightforward remark "Peace builds, war destroys".
As usual, the Good Doctor, Dr. Ron Paul, closed the conference with his prescription for peace. Dr. Paul captured the audience's attention with his charismatic and passionate support for the causes of peace and liberty. Dr. Paul described how governments try to divide us into groups but that liberty frees us to be able to work together to find solutions. Noting the destructive outcomes of government interference overseas, Dr. Paul stated that "nonintervention is the answer".
After regaling the audience with a number of stories about his time in Congress, Dr. Paul wound down his talk by saying that the answer really came down to following the
August 15-16-17: Lessons from Woodstock
"Three days of Peace and Music." - From a 1969 promotional poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
The Woodstock Nation
That was quite a party they had back there in '69. Some 400,000 young people made it to the
The actual event took place some 60 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock, an artist colony that was home to Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and a number of other musicians at the time. The concert promoters had originally hoped to have the festival at a site close to Woodstock but politicians intervened and the promoters had to scramble to find another location.
From the reports I have read it was a remarkable event, the largest gathering of youth for peaceful purposes in the history of humanity up to that time. For many it was a life changing experience, not only for those in attendance but for those there in spirit.
I was but a small tyke at the time, not quite seven, so it was a number of years after that before I knew much about the event. Over the years, having watched and heard the concert footage and music and having read numerous interviews from those who were there and those that made it happen, I myself have drawn a number of useful lessons from the "gathering of the tribes".
Peace is possible
While the documentary of the festival features a number of beautiful young women in various styles and states of dress, photos show that the audience was predominantly male, and the Vietnam War was undoubtedly on the minds of most of those men. The Vietnam War was running full throttle and, while it was not known at the time, the year 1969 would mark the peak of U.S. troop levels in Vietnam. Over half a million men were stationed there, with over a third of the U.S. troops in Vietnam being there non-voluntarily as draftees.
In contrast to southeast Asia, where young men were being forced to inflict horrific violence,
..but politicians often prefer war
Unfortunately, despite its relatively benign nature, the ever paranoid Nixon demonized the use of cannabis in the years following the festival. Associating it with the antiwar movement, Nixon dramatically increased the criminal penalties for its use, igniting a war on drugs that would escalate through the Reagan and Clinton administrations to the point that the U.S. would eventually have the highest incarceration rate in the world. By 2013, with less then 5% of the world's people, the United States had 22% of the world's prisoners.
Politics divides, music can unite
Prior to the festival, many people had feared, or had been encouraged to fear, that the violence that had occurred the previous year at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago would reignite amidst such a large gathering. What was missed at the time was a full understanding of the divisive nature of politics and
During the campaign leading up to the 1968 presidential election, candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy had both strongly spoken out against the Vietnam War. Tragically, in the midst of his rising popularity and on the very eve of his primary victory in California, RFK was silenced by a gunman. Incredibly, although the overwhelming majority of Democratic Party voters had voted for an antiwar candidate, at the convention in Chicago it became clear that the apparatchiks of the Not-So-Democratic Party were going to choose the pro war Humphrey, demoralizing the antiwar community and escalating tensions already heighten by the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. the previous year.
While the festival received overwhelmingly positive reviews regarding its peaceful nature afterwards, the organizers had to deal with an unexpected threat before the concert even began.
The Yippies (Youth International Party) were an anarchistic political group that was largely focused on opposing the Vietnam War and decriminalizing cannabis and other drugs. They often used street theater and pranks to draw attention to their cause. While generally nonviolent and having no official hierarchy of leadership, one of its founders, Abbie Hoffman, seemed inordinately attracted to the spotlight. Drawn into the political circus that was the Democratic convention the year before, Hoffman and seven others had been arrested and charged with inciting a riot, a riot which many believed was actually initiated by the police.
While awaiting his trial prior to the festival, Hoffman made a spectacularly ham-fisted attempt to insert himself into the festivities. Joel Rosenman, one of the organizers of the fair, describes what went down:
"I went to see Abbie on his request-an invitation one doesn't refuse. I said, 'Look Abbie, I know you'd like to make a kind of big presentation at Woodstock, but it isn't that kind of a show, it's rock 'n' roll and it's really a weekend of peace and music,' and he said, 'I don't give a damn about that, you guys write a big check to my organization, and we're cool.' 'What are you talkin' about?' 'Here's what I'm talkin' about-$10,000.'"
To ward off disruption the organizers cut the check. I find this episode particularly appalling as I am actually very sympathetic to much of what the Yippies tried to do. By embracing the growing mass media and using art and street theater, the Yippies had attempted to bridge the gap between the flower children, perceived by many as self centered and hedonistic, with the hard core antiwar and anti-government movements.
Unfortunately the Ring of Power, in this case attention and fame, proved too difficult for Mr. Hoffman to resist. Apparently not content with the coerced payoff, Hoffman further disgraced himself by jumping onto the stage during The Who's set to harangue the audience for enjoying the festival while a friend of his was in jail for two joints of weed. Displeased by the interruption, Pete Townsend, who later expressed his sympathy for Hoffman's cause, knocked the usurper off the stage for violating, in Townsend's words, "the sanctity of the stage".
The world is not black and white
While the first Woodstock festival has been called "a gathering of the tribes", some critics over the years have complained that the audience was overwhelmingly white, insinuating that racism was somehow at play. This is a ridiculous notion. While the audience was generally light in complexion, that largely reflected the ethnicity of those in the immediate and surrounding areas. Additionally, the musicians they had come to see and hear were a diverse lot representing a number of different musical styles and heritages. The music portion of the fair was bookended by acoustic guitarist Richie Havens and electric guitar marvel Jimi Hendrix, with stellar performances from Sly and the Family Stone and Carlos Santana. The first day of the concert featured classical Indian music by Ravi Shanker, interspersed among a number of folk acts such as Joan Baez whose husband had recently been jailed for resisting the draft.
In contrast to that time, the recent outrage over cultural appropriation is puzzling. Musicians, painters, writers and other artists have long borrowed bits and pieces from numerous cultures. In the 1960's George Harrison became intrigued by a musical instrument, the sitar, while on the set of the movie "Help" and ultimately introduced millions of Beatles fans to Indian music. Likewise members of the Rolling Stones, the Animals and numerous other bands in the U.K. were huge fans of African American blues music and integrated elements of that music into their style of play. This in turn generated a greater audience for a number of older blues players in the United States.
Additionally, like music, science and technology progresses from new discoveries and inventions from people all over the world. The Apollo moon landing that had taken place just weeks before the Woodstock festival had benefited greatly from contributions by German and other European scientists. To criticize someone for embracing positive elements of another culture seems unnecessarily belligerent, intentionally provocative and contrary to a spirit of peace and brotherhood.
The producers of the show had hoped that more than a hundred thousand people would show up for the festival but told the locals they only expected 50,000. In the end more than a half million people either made it to the site or got stuck in traffic trying to get there. Needless to say, food, water, sanitation and other services were quickly overwhelmed. Torrential rains added to the discomfort.
"Be Prepared" is the Boy Scout motto. While I was never a fan of the uniforms and other paramilitary elements of the organization during the years I was a member, there were a number of useful skills and values that I either learned or had reinforced by that group. Being self-sufficient was one of those skills, and it is something that can be a benefit not just to oneself but to others as well. Those that arrived early with tents, sleeping bags and supplies likely faired far better then later arrivals. Not only were they better prepared for the rain, they were in a much better position to help others in need, to share a blanket and a meal.
No, I don't mean join the military. In fact, I prefer you not do that. What I am talking about is extending a hand to help others in need, whether they be your neighbors or cold hungry strangers.
During the course of the festival there were numerous examples of people pitching in to help. In an interfaith effort a number of ladies from the Jewish Community Center of Monticello joined together to pay for and assemble 30,000 sandwiches which were then distributed by the Sisters of the Convent of St. Thomas. Meanwhile members of the Hog Farm commune, relying on numerous volunteers and funds from the concert promoters, did their best to provide "breakfast in bed for 400,000". In addition to staffing the kitchen and distributing food, other volunteers helped to staff the medical tents, providing basic first aid and calming those tripping for the first time.
I should make a distinction at this point between volunteering as a charitable act and
There is no free lunch
While many of the multitude received free food, medical attention and other services, it still had to be paid for. This was done through the generous donations of labor by thousands of volunteers and by financial contributions from hundreds of supportive townspeople. Additionally, while hundreds of thousands of concert goers were pleased when the promoters declared it a free concert, John Roberts, the chief financial backer of the festival, found himself $1.5 million in debt at the end of the festivities. In addition to all of the unexpected costs and the lost revenue from not charging for tickets, the backers faced dozens of lawsuits from surrounding dairy farms for the interruption to their milking and delivery schedules. In the end, although it took eleven years, Mr. Roberts made sure that all debts were paid in full.
I love Gravy, as long as it is Wavy
"We must be in heaven man!" - Wavy Gravy at the Woodstock festival
While Abbie Hoffman had seized the microphone at center stage to berate the audience, co-emcee Wavy Gravy, member of the Hog Farm and the "Please Force", embodied the spirit of the festival and projected a feeling of harmony, cooperation and happiness. He made people understand that we are all in this together, and that we can all benefit by helping each other out. While preparation is certainly important, being able to appreciate and enjoy the present, no matter what the conditions, is vital to living fully. We should always make now the best possible now.
An excellent book on the trials and tribulations of the medical staff charged with keeping 400,000 people healthy can be found in the book Woodstock '69: Three Days of Peace, Music, and Medical Care.
The book Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsury, provides a great summary and set lists for each of the artists that performed at the festival along with historical context and a discussion of the impact of the festival on later events.
Quote from Joel Rosenman, page 139 of the book Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsury, forward by Martin Scorsese.
Woodstock promotional poster at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko
The crowd at Woodstock. Photo by Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
"US Justice" - image by Andrew Lesko.
1960's era buttons on display at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko.
Chicago Democratic Convention riot, 1968. Original source unknown.
Yippie! button.Photo by victorgrigas, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
The Who. Photograph by Heinrich Klaffs. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Ring of Power. Composition by Andrew Lesko.
Psychedelic bus display at the Museum at Bethel Woods, photographed by Andrew Lesko
B.B. King. Public domain photo of B.B. King in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1972. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Earth from Apollo 11. Public domain photo. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Sharing a blanket. Public domain photo by Mark Goff, August 15 1969. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Voluntaryist banner. Public domain image by Marpescz. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Woodstock tickets. Public domain image anonymous. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Image of Wavy Gravy speaking at the Woodstock festival, 1969.
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." - Edgar Allan Poe
The penultimate episode of the Game of Thrones left millions of viewers horrified. They witnessed the senseless and utter destruction of a beautiful city occupied by hundreds of thousands of civilians. The Queen, it seems, had lost her mind in
As much of any fantasy movie or series can, the Game of Thrones revealed a historic reality often ignored. That reality is that civilians are not just the "collateral damage" of brutal wars but are very often the targets.
The included picture shows what was left of the German city of Dresden after a massive firebombing by Allied forces. In a series of four raids, from February 13 to the 15th, 1945, the "good guys" carpeted the city with bombs and incendiary devices. They did so with the intent of utterly destroying the city, and its largely civilian population, by fire and suffocation. After waves of bombing the city was engulfed in
The targeting of civilians did not end with
The reality is, as insane as the actions of the Dragon Queen were, the fantasy world of the Game of Thrones cannot compete with the real world, a world where criminals such as Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton walk free with little or any hint that they might someday pay for the war and other crimes they have committed.
A more detailed look at how the war makers deceive us can be found in the chapter Dead Ends.
Photograph of Dresden by Richard Peter, 1945. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Downloaded from Wikimedia.org
“We are the authors of our own destiny; and being the authors, we are ultimately, perhaps frighteningly, free.” - Śāntideva
Waking up to the NAP
I recall first learning about
I found both the concept and the statues beautiful. I do not completely understand
Rather than living in ignorance and fear, we libertarians embrace knowledge and compassion.
Guanyin-Bodhisattva: Baltimore Museum of Art; Padmasambhava, Demon-Taming Teacher: Freer Museum, Washington D.C. Photos by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.
A Vision for Peace
This does not need to be. There are millions of good Christians in the world, perhaps even hundreds of millions, who seek to live the words of Jesus.
With regards to war, I have no doubt the Christians will play an important and perhaps even decisive role in ending that plague as well. As with abolition, it will no doubt require sustained and unyielding effort.
A Time for Action
The time has come to end the wars, and to end them now. On this there can be no compromise. Just as "Who will pick the cotton?" was not a valid argument to support slavery, "How can we protect ourselves without military interventions?" is not a rational argument to support US military involvement in at least
Ending the wars will require strength. Unfortunately there is weakness within the Christian community.
Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters. Unfortunately it seems that many churches have forgotten this lesson,
It is time to recognize that the State is not our master. It is time for Christians and secularists, Jews and Gentiles, to break free of the State and join together to support peace, liberty and the end of all wars. We must stop being seen as willing participants or even promoters of the State's wars of death and destruction. I believe this is something we can and must agree on.
A more detailed discussion of these topics can be found in the Beginner's Guide to Peace referenced at the top of this page. An explanation of how the State hijacks religion can be found in the chapter called Losing the Way while a discussion of how to repair the damage to our culture can be found at Going Off Road.
Detail from "Sermon on the Mount" by Carl Bloch, c. 1877; Roman coins c. 225-212 BC, provided by Classical Numismatic Group and used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Note: This is a reprise of an article written in 2017. Not much has changed.. – A.L.
A ritualized killing that is still recalled after many centuries, it was a
Has much changed in the past two millennia? It certainly seems today that
Yet, as powerful as it is, the Empire is cracking.
Reporters of war crimes are reviled, jailed and even murdered while war criminals roam free, spreading fear and lies in the media and halls of power. How did things get so distorted? More importantly, how do we find the courage and strength to break through the walls of deceit? More on this topic can be found in the chapter Dead Ends in our free online book Beginner's Guide to Peace.
"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." - Francis of Assisi
An old man suckles at the breast of a young woman. How should we view this image? Is it a dirty picture? What does that even mean? Should we be squeamish or outraged with regard to the act it depicts, or can we charitably think of a situation where such an act would be appropriate?
The image shown is from a centuries-old painting by Johan Carl Loth. Completed in the second half of the 17th century, the title of the work is "Caritas Romana", or "Roman Charity". The painting portrays a scene from a popular story that goes back millenia, all the way back to ancient Rome.
The story is about an elder man named Cimon who is imprisoned for illegally burying his father. Sentenced to death by starvation, his daughter Pero visits him in prison and secretly feeds her father from her bosom. Eventually spotted by a guard, the sentry is moved to tears by the charitable act. In the end, both the father and daughter are freed.
Generations ago the deed depicted in the painting was considered to be an excellent example of familial piety and a noble act of charity. The scene has been depicted numerous times in classical European art. The story likely originates from an even older version featuring an elderly mother as the prisoner.
The presumption of innocence
There is a concept in philosophy called
In our current time there seems to be a rising number of people primed to be offended, who mistakenly believe that the smallest verbal mis-queues are grounds for punishment. This is not a new phenomenon but one that seems to be intensifying.
Perhaps this is because we are losing our connections to each other. Part of this may be technological. Studies have shown that feelings of isolation and depression increase with time spent on social media. Part of it may be educational. The teaching and promotion of victimhood seems to be increasing in intensity as students are taught to see oppression from everything but the State. It is certainly political. The ruling class loves it when the public is distracted by arguments over microaggressions as the State wages war against people at home and overseas.
Viewing others in a positive light
Are these people in need because of misfortune, or are they there as a natural consequence of their own negative actions?
The truth is that no one can fully know the journey that another has traveled.
One characteristic of charity is kindness in judging others. The Apostle Paul said it well:
It is said that charity begins at home. This is probably true because all charity must begin with a connection. It can be an empathetic connection like the emotional pull of family and friends or a logical connection based on an understanding of the benefits of cooperation and mutual aid. When connections are very strong giving is not a sacrifice but a necessity. Truly, with the closest connections it can feel like one's own heart will break if one cannot give generously and help others when they are in need.
The puritanical willingness to use the violence of the State to enforce one's own view of morality has long existed in the U.S., to the misfortune of many. More information on this phenomenon can be found in the chapter Losing the Way in our free online book Beginner's Guide to Peace.
* Principle of Charity - Definition is from the book "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Caritas Romana (Roman Charity). Painting by Johan Carl Loth (1632-1698). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
A Portrait of a Tyrolean Girl. Painting by Knaus Ludwig (1874). Public domain image downloaded from ClassicArtPaintings.com.
Charity. A woman with three children huddled in front of the church of the Madeleine in Paris. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1865). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
War is threatening to become pandemic across several large regions of the globe and there are signs that we are on the verge of a world wide epidemic. Careful planning and extreme caution are advised.
The war disease continues to shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, both directly and through destruction of basic social services.
Please visit Antiwar.com for daily updates.