A Lodging of Wayfaring Men - by Paul Rosenberg

Date read: 2024-05-30
Tags: State
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Key ideas: Published in 2007. "Instantly named Freedom Book of The Month and a major influence in the Cyber-underground, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men is the story of freedom-seekers who create an alternative society on the Internet - a virtual society, with no possibility of oversight or control. It grows so fast that governments and "leaders" are terrified, and fight to co-opt this cyber-society before it undermines the power of the governing elite."


The collection of taxes is not moral; it involves coercion and intimidation: things that are rightly branded as evil if a person does them to his neighbor


I have more information for you, and also need some from you: First of all, it is not really the FBI that is behind this, it is the NSA. The FBI is only their tool to get to you. Here is what is going on: The FBI has several agents tracking your customers. They’ve had a hard time getting into most of their computers, but have found a few that didn’t see to their security very well. They verify your statement that these are just normal people, and that they are doing some of their business off of the books in your markets. The NSA is very concerned about people avoiding taxes via the Internet. They want to find a few of your people, and make public examples of them.

I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I don’t like what the NSA and FBI are doing. I especially don’t like the idea of them publicly crucifying some basically honest people, so they can scare other people into staying in line. I have an old, trusted friend who is helping me with this case; both he and I have a concern, which I’d like you to answer. This really means nothing to me as your attorney. But as someone who is gathering information for you, it matters to me that your cause is just. Please indulge me:

Even though it is not the purpose of your service to interfere with taxation, it is used to that end. We are convinced that your service does some good, but we are concerned that the good may be offset by harm from reduced taxes. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.


Michael read the note, printed a copy to review, and deleted it. He quickly wrote to the other members of the group about what Bari had told him, of the NSA, and people about to be made public examples. Warning notes were sent out. Also, one of the programmers had figured out how the FBI got into the dentist’s computer, and was beginning to distribute a program that would warn the users and them of every such hack attempted by the FBI, without letting the hacker know that he was noticed.

Michael re-read Bari’s note, and especially the question. “Dear Lord… the same one they always ask,” he muttered, and grimaced. “All right, once more, I guess I’ll deal with taxes.” He sighed, and sat down at his terminal.


I’m very pleased that you understood our position on taxes: That they are the concern of our users. We don’t have any say in whether they pay or not. That being said, you are correct that a number of our customers avoid taxation through the use of our service. And I can understand your concern that we could be doing more harm than good. That is a fair question.

There are so many answers to your question that I hardly know where to start. Here’s one quick thought before I really get into it: Most of the people who use our service to avoid taxation would be doing so with or without us. So, in tallying ‘damage,’ a significant portion of it has to be written-off right from the start. (I have no good way of knowing what that percentage might be, but I do suspect that it is quite significant.)

Now, onto the meat of the subject: It is difficult to discuss taxes. The problem is that most people consider them to be a force of nature – a thing whose basic existence is not to be questioned. We can argue in polite company about the details of taxation (what are the right percentages for income tax, and so on), but once you question the morality of taxes themselves, discussion ceases, and you are branded as a radical, an extremist, and a bomb thrower.
“Fish notices the water last” - that’s why people consider taxes and the state as a force of nature. They have lived under this sytem of oppression for so long, they can no longer fathom the idea that it’s not natural.

The short exposition is this: Do I have the right to come to your house and take your property? You answer, ‘No’. How about if I convince ten others that it is a good idea? (You still answer ‘No’.) Then why does it become ‘moral’ when I convince a majority of the people in your town to take your stuff? And if I do not have the moral right to loot you, by what right does a government do so?

My point is this: The collection of taxes is not moral; it involves coercion and intimidation: things that are rightly branded as evil if a person does them to his neighbor. All taxes involve the threat or use of force. At some point in every taxation process, weapons are involved. This fact intimidates people into paying. None of the arguments for the morality of taxation stand up to real scrutiny. Ultimately people give in because the rulers are the ones with all the power, and they would not want to be on the side that opposes them.

I am a psychologist by trade, and I take my discipline seriously. My doctoral thesis was on psychological damage caused by living in servitude. I know how a life of servitude damages the human psyche. Living under a taxing state is servitude, and it is seriously damaging to human health and function. This I can prove empirically. For me personally, that is why I oppose taxation – it is bad for people.
“State can have originated in no other way than through conquest and subjugation” (F. Oppenheimer). Thus, living under any state is servitude. Some states exploit their subjects more some less, but they always exploit. The state cannot exist without economicaly exploiting their subjects. For more see books tagged State.

I have a friend who is an economist, and he opposes taxation because it is incredibly inefficient, taking money out of the most productive hands, and placing it in the hands of people who produce nothing. He argues that humanity would do far better without it.

My friend the philosopher says that anything involuntary is contrary to the best interests of mankind, and that taxation slows the true engine of progress, individual human energy.

There are a great many reasons to oppose taxation. But the crucial first issue is the ability to honestly consider the subject. We have all been so conditioned to accept the status quo, that thinking outside those limits automatically seems bad.

If all taxes were ended, people would still find ways to purchase the things that mattered to them, including firemen, roads, and police protection. But as soon as people think about eliminating taxation, these three things scare the hell out of them, and they refuse to think about it any further. (Which is one of the effects of living in servitude that I analyzed in my thesis.)

Now, as right as we may be about this, the world is arranged around taxation, and pulling a lot of money out of the system could cause problems. We are aware of this, and wish to avoid it. So, in the next version of our software, we’ll have a place for our customers to make donations to various causes. We will then direct the funds to the appropriate places.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. And thank you for the new information; we’ll do our best to see that innocent people are not hurt.


Because none of us have ever lived in any situation except subjection to state power, we have no mental images of anything different

“All right, I’ll contact you on Jim’s computer in just a minute.”

MA: Frances, are you ready? JF: Yes, I am.

MA: OK, hang on and I’ll post some reasons why these ideas bother people. Take a look through the list, and see which ones seem to fit you. The first one probably doesn’t fit, but I’m leaving it in because it does fit a lot of people. Remember also that people don’t really think about these things, they just react.


  1. Fear of responsibility. Freedom is threatening because it eliminates the possibility of shifting responsibility for your errors onto others. Freedom puts you right out in the open, with no cloak for your mistakes. It also gives you full credit for your successes, but that is seldom considered, as the fear-based impulses are generally stronger.

  2. Fear of separation. For a variety of reasons, most people have an instinctual fear of being separate. The feeling is that separation means death. This may be true in some rare situations, and was certainly true in the distant past, but it is an impulse only, not reason.

  3. Rulership as a force of nature. For the last several thousand years, nearly all humans have lived and died under some form of rulership. So many generations have come and gone under this arrangement that it now seems to most people as a force of nature: That which was, is, and shall be. When you mention something different, it causes them mental stress.

  4. No mental image. Because none of us have ever lived in any situation except subjection to state power, we have no mental images of anything different. So, when we start talking about a truly free place with no rulers, the listeners have no images to draw upon. It seems like we are proposing a pointless journey into an unknown and dangerous place. Again, this is a feeling, not reasoned thought.

  5. Group conditioning. A central fact of modern social behavior is that almost the entire populace has gone through 11-17 years of social conditioning in the school systems. This conditioning shows up in a variety of ways, especially in dealing with authority figures. The conditioned responses are: Obey authority. Don’t cause a disruption. Accept the place given to you. Conform. The real effect here is the installing of comfort reactions and discomfort-reactions. Our system flies in the face of almost all of this.

  6. Lack of critical thinking skills. For a variety of reasons (which I have not spent the time necessary to properly catalog), the 20th Century saw a mass movement away from reason and toward a devotion to emotion. Have you ever tried to reason with someone who lives by emotion? It is essentially impossible. These people can be influenced by getting them to identify with characters from movies and television, or with celebrities, but seldom by reason. Most people aren’t fully that way, but modern critical thinking skills are disastrous, and a great many people distrust reason, with full faith in emotion. Many of them are beyond hope of recovery.

  7. Cognitive dissonance. This is what happens to people when they have accepted an idea, or series of complimentary ideas, then, an obviously different idea is presented, and it makes some sort of sense to them. It causes a conflict. This is properly called cognitive dissonance. People don’t do well with these conflicts; their general reaction is to eliminate them as quickly as possible. The easiest way to do this is to simply drown them out by reciting their original ideas and trying not to think about the new idea. Yes, this is dishonest, and yes, it requires denial, but most people prefer it to critical analysis of their existing ideas, and, potentially, changing their minds. Combine this with all the other items shown here, and the conflicts arising from taking on a difficult new idea are too much for many people to bear.

  8. Fear of reprisal. This is the simplest one. Think of an IRS audit, an FBI raid, or of Stalin. Obviously the rulers won’t like our free markets. It is not unreasonable to expect that they will take reprisals against people who displease them. A very reasonable concern.

  9. Fear of the world falling apart. The central myth of the nation-state is that it is necessary to hold civilization together; that without it, we would all degenerate quickly into killers and thieves. This has been repeated so frequently and so consistently that most people accept it as fact, even though if asked to provide evidence, they have none. Actual analysis of this idea leads to a contrary conclusion, but that does not stop the impulse of fear. Very few people have ever questioned the nation-state myth at all.

The only thing that can be done by government and not by private groups is involuntary taxation

“Now, let me address a hidden concept that you refer to. You imply that if you don’t provide money to old people or medical fees that such things will not be done at all. You imply that it is either government or nothing. That is a false assumption. I don’t want to attempt a history lesson here, but that idea is manifestly false. Everything that your governments do can be done by other means, and done more efficiently.”

“But there are some things that can be done only by governments!” It was the Italian Ambassador again, angry still.

This time, Phillip answered with force. His voice was not loud, but it was surprisingly strong, and with complete conviction. “No sir, that is not true. The only thing that can be done by government and not by private groups is involuntary taxation – raising money without the permission of the donors. Make any sort of argument you like, and an honest economist can rebut it convincingly. If ever that was true, it is not true now.”

“Mr. Donson…” It was the Frenchman taking charge again. “You do understand what kind of situation that places these men in, do you not?”

“Oh, yes sir, I do.” Phillip paused, knowing that what he was about to say would cause significant effects….

“And the other choice is…” The thought leaped into his mind with such force that he almost looked around to see who said it. “Yes,” he thought to himself, “the other choice is to help them trash the best path to freedom in centuries, and doom generations to servitude.”…

My message to you, gentlemen, is that in the long run, you will go out of business

“I will answer your concerns on this subject, gentlemen, and then we will be done with this line of questioning for the evening; do we all agree?” Everyone at the table agreed.

“Good, then let me begin by saying that I have a good idea of where you’ll have to take this – draconian laws, hunts for fugitive money and fugitive citizens, outrageous penalties. Yes, I understand. The basic operating principle of your governments is being undermined. If you cannot take money involuntarily, you are out of business.

My message to you, gentlemen, is that in the long run, you will go out of business. I do not expect you to like that, but I do hope that you will accept it. There really isn’t much way around it anymore. Please answer me honestly, and I promise you that I will not disclose what you tell me. If current trends continue, how long before your governments have to seriously cut back their spending?”…

Now, let me address the ugly scenario, where your organizations attempt to destroy the Digital Economy. Your only chance to do it is with Stalinist terror, and I don’t honestly think most of you are willing to go that far. I hope I’m not wrong. Because if you did go that far, you’d likely put the world into a new dark age. The entire world economy would collapse, and I’m really not sure how bad it could get. The Chinese could take over, or perhaps the Muslims. But while such dark situations as these might not occur, even the best of the scenarios are quite bad.

“Thus far I suppose you don’t like my scenarios. Nonetheless I do think they are accurate. Now, let me conclude: “I do not think you can get the Gamma people to turn around and go back. The genie will not go easily back into the bottle. I’ve already described to you what I think will happen regarding the devolution of your system. Next, I said that fighting it would be amazingly ugly. But this was only half of the story. I described the damage I thought you could do. There is another side to this, and I think you will like that even less.

“The truth is that you can either allow a slow devolution, or you can cause your own swift elimination. If you allow the Digital Economy to exist, you are likely to keep your game going through at least your lifetimes. But if you come after our people with force, you will drive them to destroy you. Right now, they aren’t out to hurt you, only to be separate. But it wouldn’t take much for a lot of them to turn against you. You see, once they leave, it’s usually only six or eight months before the fog begins to clear. Then, they begin to comprehend just how perverse state servitude is, and how deeply it affected their lives. If you start hunting and killing them after they’ve passed that point, they are likely to turn on you with a force that you don’t think possible”.

From fiction to reality: As of May 2024, developers of BitcoinFog, Tornado Cash, and Samourai Wallet have been arrested. Their crime? They wrote free and open source software that protects people’s privacy. If we look back at what happened in the last five years or so, you can’t help but notice that the governemnts (especially the Western ones) are getting more and more out of control. It’s getting harder and harder to view them as legitimate.

“If you want to remain in power, […] I suggest that you leave them alone. You have great armies, but they have the ten million best and brightest on this planet. Don’t piss them off.” […]