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Reader feedback – Mike Segal

23 May 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in diary | 4 Comments »

Occasionally I get email inquiries, and even praise, with regard to what I’ve been doing at this site, and in my own life. Some of those are worth publishing in their own right, and I think this message from Mike Segal is certainly one of those.

With permission (thanks, Mike!):

From: Mike A. Segal
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009
To: Mike Gogulski
Subject: feedback: Thanks for leading the way.

I know you got into this just for yourself, but I need to say thanks for doing what you’re doing, writing about it, and making these writings public.

I’m a recent university graduate, continued leader of local libertarian/pro-liberty organizations, and begrudged bearer of these shackles which were fastened upon me as a birth-right, but which hold only the burden of responsibility, the nagging but persistent label of “United States citizen.”  I understand that many consider it a foolishly immature act to disrespect that label, a badge of acceptance into this private club that millions of oppressed foreigners with backgrounds far less fortunate than my own can only dream of joining.  But even as indispensable a tool as citizenship has become for navigating our modern world, being helpful is never an argument for being good.  I believe that those who want U.S. citizenship for anything more than its utility are yearning for something which that label cannot and will not give them.

If they are looking for a sense of group identity, let them turn instead to their family, friends, and local communities who they interact with and by whom they are influenced every day.  If they are looking for a role model, then let them remember those individuals who instilled in them the core values by which they live their lives, and those who have inspired them to learn about the world.  Those are gifts that can only be given by individuals, not states. Let them remember the free exchange of ideas which has sustained and advanced societies for millennia, and the philosophy of individual sovereignty on which the United States was originally founded. And if they are looking for freedom, then let them find it as best they can, but recognize that that freedom exists in spite of, not because of, that label.  Being freer than neighboring governments is not a justification.  Even the least harmful cancer is a disease.

Otherwise, if they are looking for handouts from the “public” wallet, for power or control, or just to be on what they think is the “winning team,” then I hope they become aware of the enormous crimes to which their government has been party in order to provide for them such luxuries, and of the enormous costs that those crimes have had for millions domestically and world-wide, so that they may make an informed and careful determination of whom they wish for themselves to be associated with.  I hope they remember that fondness for a nation does not imply fondness for a government, and that their identity is determined by their actions alone, and not those of the bureaucrats who claim to represent them, all the while acting contrary to their interests.

At this point in my life, I am not yet prepared to take such a bold step as you have.  In a few months, I’ll be moving permanently to New Hampshire as a part of the Free State Project, which I assume you’re aware of, and I’m really not sure where I’ll end up from there.  There’s already a small but incessant tickle in my gut, a distinct and incisive plausibility, that one day, at some point in my future, I’ll want to throw the shackles from my body and free myself of the badge of terror with which I was unwittingly associated, and formally renounce my United States citizenship.  So thanks for leading the way.

Mike Segal, President
Florida Liberty Alliance
www.floridalibertyalliance.org

Dear Mike,

Thanks a lot for writing this. You’re certainly welcome.

When I first imagined ditching American citizenship, I didn’t really conceive of making a public spectacle of it. I’m glad that I did, though, simply because I’ve put a stake in the ground perhaps somewhere near the extreme(ly consistent) pole of things. Moving to NH for the FSP is a movement toward that pole. There’s a camp there, a fire already burning, a network. Use it. It’s a wee bit colder out here, if you follow my analogy :) I’ve also been immensely gratified to have met, at least online, so many interesting and passionate folks.

Thanks again,

Mike

  1. 4 Responses to “Reader feedback – Mike Segal”

  2. By Aaron Kinney on 24 May 2009

    Mike A. Segal sure knows how to write! His letter has some rather choice morsels, for example:

    I believe that those who want U.S. citizenship for anything more than its utility are yearning for something which that label cannot and will not give them.

    and

    And if they are looking for freedom, then let them find it as best they can, but recognize that that freedom exists in spite of, not because of, that label. Being freer than neighboring governments is not a justification. Even the least harmful cancer is a disease.

    Bravo, Mike A. Segal! And bravo to Mike Gogulski for leading by example!

  3. By Mike Gogulski on 24 May 2009

    Thanks, Aaron. And yeah, this letter is here not because of the “praise me!” aspect, but because it encapsulates several damned good ideas.

  4. By Aster on 25 May 2009

    Mike-

    I totally agree. I left, but I’ve two sets of papers in my purse- I don’t have the guts to do what you did, and I’m too careerist to allow myself to lose any possible aid to mobility.

    Kudos. Anyone who calls this immature should be told that denial of the reality of an empire with the blood of millions on its hands is a worse error than immaturity.

    In an era in which it is utterly crucial for the world to consciously identify what is happening in the United States as totalitarianism, but without disastrously misidentifying the uniquely individualist American sense of life as the source of this evil, gestures such as yours start recalling names like ‘Sakharov’. We must save the Declaration of Independence from the same plague spots which will forever stain the Communist Manifesto. You’re stepping forward to do that. And not as a gesture of altruism(=), but as a gesture of integrity and responsibility for human history. If the future does indeed belong, as Rand believed, to those who choose to take the effort to shape it, then we are all in your debt, and the prospects for what is looking to be a stormy century coming are that small bit brighter.

    And if the bastards do try to make you pay a price for this act of defiance, I suspect that more than a few of the people intellectually surrounding you have been moved enough not that voices will be raised in your defence.

    Motion for Browncoat B.D.H. Award. Second?

    (=) Totally agree with you that Preston’s call amounts to a demand for self-sacrifice. Oh, technically, it’s the emotionally abusive stoic doctrine of denial of all feelings or at least all ‘soft’ feelings as a virtue(!?!?), filtered through obvious layers of uberpatriarchal masculine toughness games with a heavy dose of cold ‘die for the cause’ Leninish vanguardism. He’s technically a Stirnerite amoralist egoist, or would be if he didn’t confuse the White tribe with his selfhood, and if I read him rightly, and if he’s not lying on this particular issue at this particular moment. Whatever. This deliberately sick lack of human empathy is the essence of what Riane Eisler identified as a ‘dominator’ as opposed to ‘partnership’ psychology, and it amounts in practice to a demand for altruism on the level of a Hitler or a Stalin, both of whose followers Keith seeks out, logically enough, as kindred spirits.

  5. By Mike Gogulski on 25 May 2009

    Thanks a lot, Aster. This road isn’t for everyone… heck, I don’t even know yet if it’s really for me. As you need them, keep your papers. They are not marks of allegiance, really, but talismans of value in warding off evil.

    And you’re absolutely right. There’s nothing about altruism in what I’m doing. This is about getting me right with me first and foremost. Where others find value, inspiration or even the faintest glimmer of new thinking in looking and my actions and what I’ve written, I have only gratitude for having found a way to really touch a few minds.


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