“I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember, my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Fade to the screen where we see the signature Frank Miller Batman logo overlaid with the Superman logo. If you are a comic book fan as I am then you almost assuredly understand the significance of this moment at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con. I still remember the chills I felt hearing Harry Lennix read this line from the climax of The Dark Knight Returns, one of the most famous graphic novels of all time and in my opinion the penultimate Batman story. This was DCs way of letting us know we’d be receiving a Batman Vs Superman movie in the not so distant future. This was fresh off the heels of Man of Steel and at the beginning of their cinematic universe. It was a bold move coming out of the gate so strong and a comic book nerd’s dream to finally see a comic book accurate version of Batman that was able to go toe to toe with gods like Supes.
Cue almost three years of advertising/ teasing the film. Everything looks visually stunning and true to the comic. The Bat-armor used to fight the blue boy scout is ripped straight from the pages. The movie is released. I’m deployed in the middle east and have been there for about three months. I miss my beautiful wife (I married way out of my league), my 2 year old daughter who barely remembered my face any more, and my 5 year old little angel girl. At this point in time, this movie is the only thing going for me and is something to brighten my spirits. There is a dilapidated building that plays movies that we call a theater on the base. I use my one day off to go see the comic book movie event of a lifetime. At least that is what I thought… the movie was terrible. Some may argue against this, but they are just plain wrong. This movie was a beautiful train wreck and that was it. Nice to look at, but no substance.
Why do I tell this story? It’s to illustrate a point. Almost nothing ever lives up to the hype. Yes, this movie was bad, but had there not been as much hype surrounding it, then one could easily say this was a decent movie. The hype brought it down. When you expect a masterpiece and you get average, it makes it seem terrible due to your expectations. Quality is sometimes determined by previous assumptions.
Now to the topic at hand, The Monopoly on Violence. When I first heard Peter Quinones mention this project I was very excited. The topic of anarchy is one seldom discussed and when it is it’s almost always with malicious intent towards the concept. Part of me was genuinely worried for Pete as well. He’s an awesome podcaster, but I knew nothing of his filmmaking skills or the team he had surrounded himself with. Additionally, while this is bewildering to the laymen, anarchy is an immensely broad subject to cover. The idea was awesome and the hype was real, but could he and his team stick the landing?
Holy shit, they definitely did! Right from the start this documentary pulls no punches and just showers the audience with red pills. Normies beware! If you use this as a tool to educate your friends or family on liberty then be prepared for a discussion. This is essentially immersion therapy in regards to liberty education. It may be fruitful or you may piss off your liberal aunt or conservative uncle, but it will definitely make them think. For those initiated in the true beauty of freedom, this is pure bliss and sure to teach you something new. I’ve been in this scene for a while and even I learned some things and was introduced to some new interesting personalities.
After the intro, the film starts out with what I perceived as a “white pill” from the historian James Scott. He puts into perspective how short the State has been around in relation to Homo Sapiens and thus reminds us that coercive entities are not essential to human society.
Next, we move to the topic of Law. Enter Stephen Kinsella, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Jeff Deist. Good God! Right from the beginning they clearly signal they aren’t playing around with the quality of their guests.
Now we move to education with Thaddeus Russell. This part was excellent. Russell was absolutely on fire for every interview clip throughout the film. He touches on the origin of education and how it was intended to create perfect citizens for the State and how schools are essentially prisons for your children. That one hit hard for me.
Taxation… us anarchists generally aren’t fans of this. For this topic, we receive Donnie Gebert who reminds us that politicians who beget no negative incentive for squandering your money are very likely to do just that. Deist tells us how taxes are a “tool of compliance” and how they are actually unnecessary due to the Federal Reserve. Deist is always a treat to listen to. I love him being in this documentary.
Deist’s comments on the Fed perfectly transitions us into the next topic of central banking. Here we get Sandy Klein educating us on the scam that is the Federal Reserve. This shifts to Joseph Salerno instructing why this scam came along in the first place. To further the State’s favorite, most profitable (for the elite few), and most despicable enterprise, war.
Enter guests Jeff Deist, Peter Klein, Daniel McAdams, and Scott Horton. Oh!? You thought they blew their wad early with Judge Nap on the topic of law? How wrong you were! Don’t feel bad. So was I when I first watched this. Jeff goes straight for the economics and shows the staggering cost of war. Klein reminds us of the sad affair of the continuous loss of freedom under the precedent of war time necessity. McAdams highlights the 1984-esque cycle of never-ending war we put ourselves through by our inane or ingenious (depending on perspective) foreign policy. Scott tugged at my heart strings once again with his mention of Yemen. That one is personal for me, as that issue is what really opened my eyes to the evil of being in the military. I could no longer claim ignorance to the damage being done by me. No amount of “just following orders” can justify that travesty and I also want to take a moment to drop a harsh reality to any fellow veterans out there. What you did was wrong. You contributed to a system that wrongfully disposed of human beings as if they were cattle at an alarming rate. Once you come to terms with that it’ll get easier and we need to stop sugar coating this idea. The Nuremburg defense didn’t work for the Nazis so why the hell would it work for you?
Speaking of Nuremburg, the next topic covered is democide. We cover how governments are more of a risk to its citizenry than other nations are. Judging by the last century you are 6 times more likely to be murdered by your own government than by another. And people think anarchists are the crazy ones…
On to the classic social contract. For those not in the know this is the laughable theory offered up by the statists that is used to somehow morally justify State rule. Michael Huemer does a masterful job of breaking down the different variations of this theory and explaining the clear logical lunacies required to buy this line of reasoning. This is followed by Deist piggybacking and further demonstrating the ludicrous nature of the social contract theory.
So, we’ve had one topic that was a laughable attempt at justifying State rule so let’s hear another, democracy. Huemer is once again in this bit methodically breaking down the logic involved in this nonsense. Dave Smith illustrates the mythology that we construct around democracy in order to sell it to the people. Thaddeus rounds this ensemble out with his mind destroying mic drop where he points out how and why we’re never taught to question the State at all.
Now it’s time to start making the case against the State. David Friedman uses the argument of how government is inherently flawed due to State actors not bearing the costs of their actions. Napolitano points out how the government interpretation of the interstate commerce clause has made Congress tyrants in wait in the eyes of the law. McMaken and Kinsella point out how government is unnecessary using principles of international law.
We’ve made it to the meat/body of this journey now. That being anarchy itself. We start out with a wonderfully put together historical montage explaining the prominent figures of anarchy’s past (Emma Goldman, Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, etc.) and the different forms of anarchy, some notable being anarchism without adjectives, anarcho-communism, anarch-capitalism, Christian anarchism, and so on and so forth. Christian anarchy was one that specifically stood out to me. I’m atheist/agnostic as of now, but I was raised in a very religious, conservative home and attended a Christian private school as a child and as such I’m well versed in scripture and religious ideas. This makes looking at the Bible through the lens of an anarchist a very interesting concept for me since I was raised to see it through the eyes of a generic neocon perspective. I also think it could make for a revolutionary way to make the moral argument to religious people who generally speaking are very concerned about being moral individuals and have been unknowingly religiously propagandized to be something I doubt Jesus would have been proud to call his people.
This segment is concluded by a star studded (as is an ongoing theme in this film) cast expounding on components of different anarchist theory. Block covers the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) which was popularized by Murray Rothbard, the father of libertarianism and the man who through his book The Anatomy of the State propelled me across the divide between minarchist and anarchist and removed any inkling of justification for the State within my mind. Friedman provides a devil’s advocate argument against the concept of rights. McMaken introduces the concept of covenant communities, which brings into focus the idea that anarchy doesn’t necessarily mean no rules and no organization. In fact, it’s the opposite in many ways. Larkin Rose lifts our spirits by reminding us that this war for liberty that we’re fighting is simply about reaching people and it’s ultimately a numbers game. Once enough people lose the illusory idea of authority, the State will simply crumble on its own.
“I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces” The previous passage is a line from Etienne de La Boetie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. This book precedes the next topic by centuries, but is the pure soul essence of what it is in my eyes. Agorism, which is in some ways an ideology and in others a tactic for liberty, was imagined by Samuel Edward Konkin III. He shared his idea with the world with the release of New Libertarian Manifesto in 1980. He wrote one more book (An Agorist Primer) before he died. He left the world before receiving his proper due and unfortunately with more books that should have been written. Luckily, this ideology has seemingly garnered more of its deserved popularity in anarchist circles, as of late. This has given us gems like Sal Mayweather who gives us a crash course in counter-economics and uses cryptocurrency as an example of agorism in action. Nick Irwin conveys the common agorist notion of bleeding the state dry. David Ballantine takes us through the Konkinian idea of white, gray, black, and red markets and how we should strive to stay in the gray and black to the greatest degree possible. The ideology of agorism is one that has captured my intellectual curiosity as of late and is the latest leg of my journey as I would consider myself one now.
Now onto something Konkin despised, politics. Rothbard and Konkin (my two favorite anarchists) disagreed on the use of politics to further liberty. Konkin thought it undermined the message, but Rothbard saw potential opportunities. Woods speaks of one such opportunity in the form of local politics and nullification. The great Ron Paul (Yes, you heard me right) speaks of the usefulness of secession for the furthering of freedom.
In this next section Walter Block explains minarchism and then Dave Smith hits the audience with 2 perfect quotes that could only be birthed by his mind. “Everybody is a minarchist, you know, who’s not an anarchist” & “anarchists get accused of being utopian, but there is nothing more utopian than a minarchist.” In the great words of Stan Lee, “Nuff said.”
Part 2: Against the State
Kicking off the beginning of the second part of this intellectual adventure we have Market Anarchy. This is the idea that through the free and voluntary market things would be more efficient and just generally better due to market forces being more effective than ideas enforced through coercion. In this bit, Murphy brings up the statist sacred cow of “who will build the roads?” In ruthless fashion, Ryan McMaken and Walter Block help beat this cow to death, leaving only the densest of statists to say, “bUt MUh rOAdS!”
On to another statist sacrament, the justice system. On this topic Deist pontificates on the idea of private courts, private security and even dares question the necessity of “national defense.” Murphy raises the point that in a free society these systems would be engaged in competition thus raising the quality and increasing options. Can you imagine if the cop who murdered Daniel Shaver had worked for the private sector? He would have been fired on the spot and never work another day in that industry.
Part 3: Living Anarchy
In this final act, we are faced with where we are now and where to go from here. With innovation comes possibilities and while people like me are tech illiterate, this is an age of technology. I can already see this as I watch my children interact with tech. Informing us of the many innovations underway is the endearing Sal Mayweather. He discusses the possibilities of 3D printers, cryptocurrency, and encryption. He provides the tragic story of Ross Ulbricht as an anecdotal example of the possibilities available in this new age. As with Ulbricht’s Silk Road venture, with great advances come great risk.
“Politics is downstream from culture.” This is an overused quote from Andrew Breitbart, but sometimes there is truth in cliché. In my opinion, this is where us “liberty folks” have failed. Many chalk it up to us being overly right brained and not being in touch with our creative side. Whatever the reason, this needs to change. Luckily for us we have some examples to look at. There is Jack Lloyd, who managed to crowd fund his voluntaryist themed comic book series. Eric July is another major figurehead in the cultural forefront of anarchy with his metal band and his comic book and video game reviews. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Dave Smith who went from comedian to podcaster to cable news show contributor. Finally, we have the figurehead of this documentary himself, Peter Quinones AKA Mance Rayder, who started as a memelord and then became a podcaster and then made the move to documentaries thus putting you here reading this article.
“There is never, nor can be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power.” I use Albert Jay Nock’s quote to illustrate that as the State grows in economic and/or social power so do we decrease in it. This corresponds to us reducing our input to mutual aid. This leads future generations to believe that if the State never coerced us then charity and other such pursuits would not be entertained by the populace. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In this section, Max Borders informs us that at the peak, one-third of the US population were members of a mutual aid society. Additionally, we have many of these today. In particular, Voluntaryism in Action raised over 250k in 2019. One thing we need to keep in mind as the narrator tells us is that, “everything the State does coercively was once done voluntarily.”
This documentary concludes gracefully with some final words from some of the big hitters. Thaddeus implores us to be mindful of the fact that not everyone shares our values and therefore not all people desire to be free. Ron Paul and Bob Murphy remind us that the game is about conversion and once we get enough people to buy into our ideas then one way or another liberty will be had. Dave Smith makes a powerful analogy between slavery and the State. Eric July ends this triumphant tool for liberty with a call to action. It’s as simple as this, find what you’re good at or what you can do and simply do it. Doesn’t have to be grandiose, but do something.
In conclusion, if you couldn’t tell I absolutely adored this documentary. If I was to lob one criticism it would be the lack of leftist anarchists and their ideas represented. I only mention this in the spirit of fairness and I feel dirty even mentioning it as I hold this film in high regard. I think this will open many future doors and will be a timeless resource for liberty. Now I want to take a moment to expand on that. Should this be used to teach “normies” about liberty? I don’t think so. Personally, I could see this as being to many people what Anatomy of the State was to me. The thing that pulls minarchists out of the spot they have dug their heels in at. This is perfectly fine though. Different personalities, perspectives, methods, etc are required to move people along the way in different parts of their intellectual journey. For me it was Ron Paul (Conservative to Minarchist), Murray Rothbard (Minarchist to Anarchist), and Samuel Konkin III (Anarchist to Agorist). For some future individuals, Peter Quinones/The Monopoly on Violence may be in that list of things and/or people that completely changed their world view. This is nothing to be looked at lightly. What was accomplished here will surely echo throughout time.