Since my last post over a month ago, I have spent the time I could have been blogging reading or rereading The Only One and His Own, Angelus Silesius, Storm of Steel, The Glass Bees, and Characters and Characteristics of William Law: Nonjuror and Mystic. I would have liked to disparage Orin Kerr’s second of two posts on the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, and to draw different implications than those drawn by the Georgetown law prof who stated in the New York Times the self-evident truth that the Constitution is of No Authority, but time got away from me.
I am prompted now to write (albeit briefly) by Eugene Volokh’s post yesterday, aptly titled Harshly Criticizing Judges (or Others) for Their Past Conduct = Crime?, about a unanimous Indiana Court of Appeals decision published last week. Incidentally, I’m again impressed by Volokh’s uncanny ability to confront the outrageous in the law without outrage.
It occurs to me that by the logic of this decision this very blog, People v. State, the very theme of which is to point out the criminal nature of most of what is done in the name of the spook whose name is the State, could get me not only kicked out of the law business, a possibility I don’t fear, but also convicted of a felony. It further occurs to me that I myself could name off the top of my head three judges whom I consider (based on well considered and readily articulable facts) “child abusers” in the sense clearly meant by the defendant whose conviction was upheld by this decision. Incidentally, the author of this decision dissented from an Indiana Court of Appeals decision which would have overturned the conviction and 45 year sentence of an innocent man but which was itself gratuitously overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court.
To conclude this otherwise brief post, let me quote Stirner in The Only One and His Own on liberty of the press:
Do I perhaps hereby show myself an opponent of the liberty of the press? On the contrary, I only assert that one will never get it if one wants only it, the liberty of the press, i.e. if one sets out only for an unrestricted permission. Only beg right along for this permission: you may wait forever for it, for there is no one in the world who could give it to you. As long as you want to have yourselves “entitled” to the use of the press by a permission, i.e. liberty of the press, you live in vain hope and complaint.
“Nonsense! Why, you yourself, who harbor such thoughts as stand in your book, can unfortunately bring them to publicity only through a lucky chance or by stealth; nevertheless you will inveigh against one’s pressing and importuning his own State till it gives the refused permission to print?” But an author thus addressed would perhaps — for the impudence of such people goes far — give the following reply: “Consider well what you say! What then do I do to procure myself liberty of the press for my book? Do I ask for permission, or do I not rather, without any question of legality, seek a favorable occasion and grasp it in complete recklessness of the State and its wishes? I — the terrifying word must be uttered — I cheat the State. You unconsciously do the same. From your tribunes you talk it into the idea that it must give up its sanctity and inviolability, it must lay itself bare to the attacks of writers, without needing on that account to fear danger. But you are imposing on it; for its existence is done for as soon as it loses its unapproachableness. To you indeed it might well accord liberty of writing, as England has done; you are believers in the State and incapable of writing against the State, however much you would like to reform it and ‘remedy its defects.’ But what if opponents of the State availed themselves of free utterance, and stormed out against Church, State, morals, and everything ‘sacred’ with inexorable reasons? You would then be the first, in terrible agonies, to call into life the September laws. Too late would you then rue the stupidity that earlier made you so ready to fool and palaver into compliance the State, or the government of the State. — But, I prove by my act only two things. This for one, that the liberty of the press is always bound to ‘favorable opportunities,’ and accordingly will never be an absolute liberty; but secondly this, that he who would enjoy it must seek out and, if possible, create the favorable opportunity, availing himself of his own advantage against the State; and counting himself and his will more than the State and every ‘superior’ power. Not in the State, but only against it, can the liberty of the press be carried through; if it is to be established, it is to be obtained not as the consequence of a petition but as the work of an insurrection. Every petition and every motion for liberty of the press is already an insurrection, be it conscious or unconscious: a thing which Philistine halfness alone will not and cannot confess to itself until, with a shrinking shudder, it shall see it clearly and irrefutably by the outcome. For the requested liberty of the press has indeed a friendly and well-meaning face at the beginning, as it is not in the least minded ever to let the ‘insolence of the press’ come into vogue; but little by little its heart grows more hardened, and the inference flatters its way in that really a liberty is not a liberty if it stands in the service of the State, of morals, or of the law. A liberty indeed from the coercion of censorship, it is yet not a liberty from the coercion of law. The press, once seized by the lust for liberty, always wants to grow freer, till at last the writer says to himself, really I am not wholly free till I ask about nothing; and writing is free only when it is my own, dictated to me by no power or authority, by no faith, no dread; the press must not be free — that is too little — it must be mine: — ownness of the press or property in the press, that is what I will take.
“Why, liberty of the press is only permission of the press, and the State never will or can voluntarily permit me to grind it to nothingness by the press.”
Let us now, in conclusion, bettering the above language, which is still vague, owing to the phrase ‘liberty of the press,’ rather put it thus: “liberty of the press, the liberals’ loud demand, is assuredly possible in the State; yes, it is possible only in the State, because it is a permission, and consequently the permitter (the State) must not be lacking. But as permission it has its limit in this very State, which surely should not in reason permit more than is compatible with itself and its welfare: the State fixes for it this limit as the law of its existence and of its extension. That one State brooks more than another is only a quantitative distinction, which alone, nevertheless, lies at the heart of the political liberals: they want in Germany, i. e., only a ’more extended, broader accordance of free utterance.’ The liberty of the press which is sought for is an affair of the people’s, and before the people (the State) possesses it I may make no use of it. From the standpoint of property in the press, the situation is different. Let my people, if they will, go without liberty of free press, I will manage to print by force or ruse; I get my permission to print only from — myself and my strength.
If the press is my own, I as little need a permission of the State for employing it as I seek that permission in order to blow my nose. The press is my property from the moment when nothing is more to me than myself; for from this moment State, Church, people, society, etc., cease, because they have to thank for their existence only the disrespect that I have for myself, and with the vanishing of this undervaluation they themselves are extinguished: they exist only when they exist above me, exist only as powers and power-holders. Or can you imagine a State whose citizens one and all think nothing of it? It would be as certainly a dream, an existence in seeming, as ‘united Germany.’
The press is my own as soon as I myself am my own, a self- owned man: to the egoist belongs the world, because he belongs to no power of the world.
With this my press might still be very unfree, as e.g. at this moment. But the world is large, and one helps himself as well as he can. If I were willing to abate from the property of my press, I could easily attain the point where I might everywhere have as much printed as my fingers produced. But, as I want to assert my property, I must necessarily swindle my enemies. ‘Would you not accept their permission if it were given you?’ Certainly, with joy; for their permission would be to me a proof that I had fooled them and started them on the road to ruin. I am not concerned for their permission, but so much the more for their folly and their overthrow. I do not sue for their permission as if I flattered myself (like the political liberals) that we both, they and I, could make out peaceably alongside and with each other, yes, probably raise and prop each other; but I sue for it in order to make them bleed to death by it, that the permitters themselves may cease at last. I act as a conscious enemy, overreaching them and utilizing their heedlessness.
The press is mine when I recognize outside myself no judge whatever over its utilization, i.e. when my writing is no longer determined by morality or religion or respect for the State laws or the like, but by me and my egoism!”