Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The Right to Ignore Leviathan

Ignore Leviathan

Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground and other controversial books, has a suggestion. For business people. Pillars of the community. Fine, upstanding citizens.

Civil disobedience.

He’s suggesting, says John Stossel, that we ignore the parts of government that don’t make any sense, all the nonsense in the big books of the regulatory state.

Murray’s done this in his latest, intriguingly titled book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. Stossel discusses it on

Murray says, correctly, that no ordinary human being — not even a team of lawyers — can ever be sure how to obey the 810 pages of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 1,024 pages of the Affordable Care Act or 2,300 pages of Dodd-Frank. 

What if we all stopped trying? The government can’t put everyone in jail.

This is a provocative idea, even if not new.

Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail for not paying the poll tax, a tax that helped pay for the Mexican war he so despised (and was right to despise). Thoreau eloquently argued for civil disobedience in such cases; Herbert Spencer did something similar, in his 1851 Social Statics, with the chapter “The Right to Ignore the State.”

It is a risky tactic, of course. Thoreau was, after all, incarcerated for that night. You could wind up spending more time in the hoosegow.

Still, it could be worth it. Civil disobedience has good effects. Stossel cites “historian Thaddeus Russell [who] reminds us that many freedoms we take for granted exist not because the government graciously granted liberties to us but because of lawbreakers.”

It’s another path for citizen-initiated reform.

And it’s Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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Ignore Leviathan


By: CS Admin


  1. At this juncture this is the best alternative. There is not one government agency that is not corrupt or so inefficient as to be dangerous to one’s well being. But dangerous, definitely.

  2. Brian Richard Allen says:

    And then there is Joshua Glover and Wisconsin’s refusal (with regard the Fugitive Slave Act) to obey a supreme court decision it found to be (and that was) unconstitutional. 

    We, The (Sovereign American) People need remind our states’ legislators and executives of our sovereignty! 

  3. Ken Ferguson says:

    I find that the constant mantra by the left and the right of ‘rule of law’ is being abused. There is a significant difference between the rule of laws – which are passed by our duly elected legislative bodies, and the rule of regulation which is created out of whole cloth by professional bureaucrats. This has come about simple because the legislative bodies at all levels of government have abdicated their constitutional authority to executive and judicial branches of the government. And the government counts on ‘law abiding’ citizens to comply with the onerous weight of these liberty stripping rules and regulations.

    The nationalization of local matters is partly to blame. But the overwhelming influence of money and power by the corporatists combined with the moral and intellectual weakness of many of our legislators makes up the bulk of the problem. Freedom, choice, the right to do or not do are all sacrificed on the alter of greed. Morality is no a grey morass in which everyone is their own god, deciding right and wrong based on their opinion. So long as that is the case, our nation will continue to slip down the slope to join the great empires that collapsed upon themselves because of the lust for property and power at the expense of individual liberty.

  4. Keith Gardner says:

    Civil disobedience is a great idea – that was how India finally got Great Britain off their backs – but with our economic systems increasingly moving toward a cashless system, soon it will be very difficult to survive when the government either IS your bank or tells your bank to cut off your access to your “credits.”

  5. Courage personified! Bravery often hurts more than compliance in the beginning.

  6. I did my part. I was a drug dealer for years and now drug prohibition is on the ropes.

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