Scott interviews Danny Sjursen about his new book, which chronicles his own story of disillusionment with America’s endless wars, in addition to outlining what he believes should be the new attitude of true American patriotism. He calls this type of patriotism “patriotic dissent,” explaining that when one’s country has become an empire of military adventurism founded on lies, the truly patriotic thing to do is to oppose these trends. Part of the way he does so is by offering historical examples of figures often held up as champions of militarism, like Eisenhower and Grant, and showing that their true opinions were more nuanced. He believes that a multifaceted approach is required in order to build a broad coalition of true patriots who can change America’s military culture for the better.
Discussed on the show:
Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005
“America’s Expeditionary Kleptocracy: A Banana Republic and Its Banana Wars” ( Original)
Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. army major and former history instructor at West Point. He writes regularly for and he’s the author of “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson;; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom;; Listen and Think Audio;; and
Donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

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  • I am not going to deny this as a new Marine, but the government mafia certainly makes you feel like you’re up there on a special status everywhere you go. It’s similar to being a “Made Man” in the Mafia in every shape or form. And sometimes it makes me feel torn apart because I enjoy it, while at the same time, trying to stick true to my values.   What I mean is that the respect people just give to you when they learn that you’re a Marine. They just literally go the extra mile all of a sudden over the Average Joe next to you. It’s not just that, but also a sense of belonging when you meet someone that just went through training with you, or another Marine on leave that just ran into you. For example: On my way home from Recruit Training last week, I was still in my Dress Blue Delta’s (for those who don’t know, the uniform consists of a white barracks cover (or hat), short khaki shirt, blue pants, and nice shiny black dress shoes). The moment I got out of the car to grab an airport cart for my bags, the security cop (not TSA) waived the $5 fee without question. When I went to check in my baggage, the ticket agent said not to worry about it as it wasn’t required for military members to get paid. At the security line, I was waived through even the PreCheck line without hassle. Waiting for my flight, I met up with two other guys that also just got out of Recruit Training. We weren’t in the same platoons, but instantly connected because of the training. Then another Marine we didn’t even know talked to us and we all soon were having a good time. On my flight home from Los Angeles to Seattle (I flew from San Diego to Los Angeles first), one First Class passenger offered to pay for all my drinks while the airline said that the snacks that I wanted were on the house. I’m not going to lie, all of this felt great when you have people doing that kind of stuff. But I know it was just like “Made Man” rituals of the Mafia and felt uncomfortable at times. For guys out there who’ve done it before, how did you overcome that in order to leave? I have a feeling that besides myself, many liberty minded military guys be it Marines, Army, Navy, whatever, decide to stay because they’re addicted to the respect people give to you. How do you overcome the enjoyments of free drinks, waivers, and the whole nine yards to separate yourself from the machine?

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  • Suppose a group of Ancaps are on the verge of overthrowing a government somewhere and imposing a libertarian social order. Suppose there was a debate in the US about whether to use the military to help them, stop them, or do nothing. Which do you choose and why?

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  • Just a little essay I felt like sharing.   Upon The Modern American State “A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master in a number of years.” -Lysander Spooner I remember a few years ago, when people still had some fight in them; when there were protests at memorials, in the streets, at places where it counted. I remember when people disobeyed. Today you do not see that. People have grown complacent, scared, nervous, and fearful. They do nothing because they dread what might become of them if they step out of line, or are merely too apathetic to do something. The men and women in power and in positions to enforce that power do not question what they do, at least not openly, and the people outside of those positions accept what is done to them. Ask a man or woman today if they think the system is corrupt. They will say it is; admit that special interests and people with their own benefit in mind run the show. They know we live in a police state, a surveillance state. Nothing too overt yet, but as Edward Snowden, (in)famous NSA whistle-blower once said, it is merely “turnkey tyranny.” They merely need to flip the switch and all of us could be arrested for the many so called “crimes” we commit everyday. Who here, reading this, has not pirated something? Who here has not smoked cannabis or done some sort of illegal drug? Or perhaps you evaded a few taxes, drank raw milk, or engaged in some sort of regulated behavior without permission? Almost all of us have. Some of us will wind up in jail for it. Most of us continue on, either unobserved by the state or merely spared by oversight and the inability to enforce all of its edicts, which are legion. However, the state continues to tighten its grip. Today you hear of enterprising children having their lemonade stands shut down and being told they cannot shovel sidewalks for money. Dog permits are suddenly being enforced and previously ignored ordinances are being carried out in full force. Tell me, my readers, what has happened to this “free nation?” Chapter I: The Madness of Man The ignorance of those in power is mind boggling. They are men and women like you and me, yet somehow their opinions become law and this law is carried out through threat of violence. They believe themselves to be above us, to be worthy of ruling us. They decide who is put in a cage. They decide how much money is taken from your paycheck. They decide what you can put in your body and what you can do with your property. They even decide who lives and who dies. Yet who are they? Why can they do this? From where is their authority derived? Some would say the consent of the governed. Yet today, voter turnout is only about one third of the population for the presidential election and even less for all others. Half of this third then votes for the winning candidate and in so choosing becomes the plurality. In the current state of affairs, only a small fraction of the total population consents to the ruler through their vote. The government, therefore, is not derived from the consent of the governed, as that would require every single person to agree upon the ruler. Even democratic arguments fail to justify the current state of affairs, as a majority of the population never voted, indicating non-consent. Most do not bother registering. Therefore majority rule arguments fail. Some would argue a “social contract” places a burden upon the citizen to obey the government. Yet, no matter who one asks or how much searching one does, said contract cannot be found, nor can anyone’s signature be found upon said document. Indeed, the author certainly has not signed a contract of any sort. So then, where does this leave us? Why can this government tell individuals what to do, even if it violates their civil and property rights? The fact is, it relies upon brute force and the apathy of the individuals who make up its citizenry. Chapter II: The Apathy of Man As said in the introduction of this document, humans in modern society are apathetic. They may pay lip service to discontent and engage in some sort of “slacktivism,” but never do they protest or rebel or stand up for the causes. Indeed, apathy has overtaken them. A few years ago, there were protests. Fights against the state could be seen. Sometimes people were even met with success. Yet now we see, in this glorious time, people no longer fighting or rebelling in any great scale. They pay some mind to the elections, expressing dissatisfaction with the selection of candidates and occasionally discussing with their friends and family why they dislike the modern political climate. Never do they openly fight it. People go on with their lives, working their jobs, making ends meet. Why then, this sudden surge in nonresistance? Perhaps the economy is to blame. Everyone knows how bad it is getting. Everyone feels the constraints of debt, whether it be student loans or mortgages or old credit cards. Full time jobs become part time jobs. Benefits are dropped. Some simply need to feed the kids and/or themselves, having no time to fight back. Survival is a top priority, not rebellion. Others are without direction. They know the current system is corrupt, but they know not what to replace it with. That is an topic that will be explored later in this paper. Others feel their voices and actions have no consequence; that their efforts would be squandered and they arrested. Yet it is this very mindset which holds any sort of change back. If people do not do anything, then the rulers shall encroach increasingly upon our liberties. Others still believe in the system and wish to “vote the bums out.” Yet, this author asks of all of you, how did the bums get in? These bums were the same ones elected the last race and more bums will take their place. The system is inherently corrupt. There is no hope of voting the right bums in when you have two parties whose rhetoric appears to be steadily becoming more similar. Indeed, both support war and the police state. Both support the degradation of human liberty. Others, on the other hand, are waiting for the right catalyst. They wish to fight back, but wait for others to join them. Indeed, many have anger festering in their souls: anger at the economy, at the arbitrary and cruel laws, at the wars and violence carried out by the state. Many in the other categories listed fall into this one as well. If/when this catalyst arrives, whether it be mass layoffs or another major war or cruelty from the state so severe as to shock people into action, there will be change, finally. This change will be uncertain though. None can truly predict how it will turn out. Chapter III: The Progression of Man In all of human history, since agriculture and the founding of permanent settlements, there has been an assumption that some higher power must control the individual, this higher power being the state. In certain areas of human existence, over certain stretches of time, people lost this notion. Medieval Ireland was absent of any state, as was Iceland for a time, as was Neutral Moresnet, as was certain stretches of the United States for brief periods of time. No formal government existed, with people respecting their neighbors and living freely. Society was, for the most part, a voluntary association. No taxes, no arbitrary edicts, no insufferable politicians, kings, or masters. Today, we see a resurgence in the state. Where once human liberty thrived, as America so often bragged of herself, claiming humans to be free within her bounds, now we see an authoritarian state. Where once we saw people choosing what to do with their lives and property, we see the choosing done for them. We, we human beings, We The People, no longer have the ability to choose. Our property belongs to the state. Our bodies belong to the state. Our choices are the state’s to make. They watch us, they record us, they imprison us if we step out of line. The money in your paycheck, the fruits of your labors, the profits of your business, belong to them. They take their cut and leave us the rest. You may not own certain plants, you may not drink certain things, you may not own certain businesses, you may not do things unless they tell you that you may. They manipulate the economy through the system of banking that is fractional reserve banking. They set the interest rates, print more fiat money, and inflate the money we save, devaluing our work and our labor. Through this manipulation they give their bed partners, certain large corporations who make certain to lobby them well, very large benefits. They drive out competition and destroy those who wish to survive and thrive. They use your money to wage war and to kill. They use their plunder to murder and destroy. The arming of extremist groups, the toppling of rival governments, the destruction of people’s livelihoods, all because of the state. The blood money known as taxation is taken from We, The People, and used to kill. Now some may say they have a right to this, to do take our property, to wage wars, and to lock us up for disobeying. But as stated in Chapter I, no argument for their rule holds up. They rely upon brute force and the barrel of the guns of the enforcement they hire. So, tell me readers, why do they get to decide what is done with our lives? Your life is precious, as is mine, as is everyone’s. We own ourselves; each individual is entitled to their own free will and their own property. To sell our souls to a master or masters is one of suicide. To let them decide our lives is inherently insane, yet it is the status quo. The progression of man should be to do away with the state and allow for mutual respect to govern our interactions with others. To eliminate the force used to tie us down to arbitrary edicts agreed upon by corrupt, old men and women in capitols. The individual is the individual, not the state. Of course, this progression is not certain. The change manifesting in society, the unrest over the violations of human rights, can vary greatly. Chapter IV: The Change of Man What will the change be then? Progress says that society should develop liberty and tolerance for all individuals. We should do away with attempts to rule each other. Despite this should, what will happen? When the revolution comes, will it be a victory for humanity? Will we see a new era dawn? A new golden age, a Renaissance, where human life and rights are enjoyed by all? Will technology and art and economy all advance as the efforts of human civilization surge and create a beautiful, voluntary society? Will we humans learn to love and respect each other? Can we build something better than before? Can humanity do away with war and power and hatred? Put in a grave the control others have over others? Or will the tyrants win? Will men and women who seek that power rule us still? Will their grip upon us be stronger than ever before? Will the dream of a free and just society be lost? Will war and surveillance and fear spread before us? Will we let them rule us? The choice is for We, The People, to make. The change may be wondrous, or tyrants may still rule. Throughout history the rebels typically became those they fought, becoming rulers and killers and thieves. They lost their vision. Perhaps we today can reclaim it, shake our apathy, and fight. When the old is abolished, we should replace it with nothing. Let our decency and respect for each other prevail. Let us create a society of human rights, not of tyranny by the state. If such change can be secured, it may be temporary. It will be a long fight and a brutal one, against all those elements that wish to rule us. It will take suffering and unrest to secure our liberty. Nothing is for certain, except for change. If Man can build cities larger than forests and go to space and explore it, I think Man can build a free society. This change starts with you. You go out and you organize with people. Tell them you won’t be trod upon. Tell the state that it does not rule you, that they are mere posers and usurpers. A collective roar of rage, a resounding “NO” should echo out from our lips. Then, maybe, we can capture our humanity. Then, maybe, we can put a stop to the tyranny of the state. “A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.” It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life. Destroyers, are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them. Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

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  • Whenever a person who opposes the military-industrial complex speaks out against it, neocons predictably say that this person is criticizing the people who are giving him the right to say such things. Hopefully, everyone here knows that this is nonsense, but how best to explain it? I want to write an article on this and make sure I cover all the bases.

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  • Hello friends, I am an American who is currently very dissatisfied with the way things are going in America. I’ve had my heart set on New Zealand for the last while, but as someone who is poor and barely making it, I am wondering if there are any options besides the traditional route of saving up all my money on my own and moving on my own- which is a depressing thought, since that will likely take me about ten years. I am posting this thread here to ask for opinions. Is there a cheap way to change countries? Do I need to purchase property in the place where I’m moving, or does that matter? Is there a way to secure employment prior to emigration or should I save up enough money to assure myself of a monetary cushion while I look for work? I suppose I’m a bit new to all of this…and it occurs to me that questions like these are going to be important to answer in the coming years as more and more people start figuring out that America really isn’t the land of the free any longer.

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