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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Libertarianism on Steroids

I've been attending a social media and counterterrorism workshop/conference over the past couple of days, and one of the participants presented a paper on the sovereign citizen movement, which is a loose collection of hyperindividualistic, anti-government citizens who contend that they're only subject to common law and not to federal, state, or municipal laws. Members of this movement also don’t recognize the U.S. currency, contend that they’re "free of any legal constraints," and reject most forms of taxation. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there are about 100,000 core believers and another 200,000 who resist "everything from speeding tickets to drug charges."
The strange subculture of the sovereign citizens movement, whose adherents hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs, has been growing at a fast pace since the late 2000s. Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials.
Although it has roots in the white supremacy movement, it longer is (or at least elements are not). Many members are African-Americans, and several have voice their opposition to anti-Semiticism. Instead, the movement is rabidly anti-government and as such has attracted computer hackers, former hippies, and survivalists. The presenter ("Jarret Brachman") remarked that its a volatile mix of the Tea Party and Occupy movements. To me it seems like libertarianism on steroids (Ron Paul is the candidate of choice for many, but I doubt he shares too much in common with most sovereign citizens).

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