Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns to other people their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others?
— Friedrich A. Hayek
I am Justin Oliver, a Texas native, and I believe that if you wish to be free, you must allow others to be free as well. An overarching premise on this site is that rights — principles for how people should be free to interact with others — can be determined from an evaluation of facts of reality. The most relevant fact is that an individual’s life is an end in itself. Since this is true of all people, a person’s life should not be subordinated to the life of another. The right to life means that a person should be free to exercise one’s own judgement, while leaving others free to do the same.
Way back when, it was actually an episode of the now-defunct “Hannity & Colmes” on the FOX News channel that first sparked my interest in politics. I was flipping through channels, and it was the regular back-and-forth bickering you hear on cable news when host Alan Colmes interrupted the two blabbering guest, saying he was not going to allow them to keep talking over one another, or something along those lines. That was a first, not something I would expecting to hear on the air. I watched a few more episodes over the coming weeks, and then I expanded my viewing habits to include Bill O’Reilly and the other FOX opinion shows.
I remember that Christopher Hitchens made frequent laps around the cable news circuit. I liked his bombastic, iconoclast style and his disdain for conventional wisdom. I was already turned off by the autocratic mainstream thought, which never seemed to get anywhere or accomplish anything. Eventually, I looked to get more of that unconventional wisdom, and so I began to expand my field of opinions. Suddenly, this interest that had been buried by years of government schooling had surfaced. I would go to the city library and read The Nation and National Review. Then, I was more anti-liberal establishment than conservative. That might have been because the Democrats were in the White House. Hitchens, at that time, was a fierce critic of Bill Clinton, so that played into my anti-liberal bias.
Occasionally, National Review articles would (sometimes critically) mention writers like Milton Friedman and other nominal libertarians. That path led me to F.A. Hayek, whose “The Road to Serfdom” led to my disillusionment and eventual break with conservatism. That led to Ayn Rand’s fiction — “Anthem,” then “Atlas Shrugged,” and then “The Fountainhead.” This was about the time I discovered Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school of economics. In the off-chance the site was taken offline, I would download Mises Institute audio lectures and dutifully take notes.
By college, I was a hard-core minarchist. My conversion to staunch libertarianism did not took place for about another five years. I was still not interested in political action, but I did enjoy watching political debates on cable news and C-SPAN. That sustained my interest.
Around 2005, reading Walter Block (“Defending the Undefendable”), Murray Rothbard’s non-economic works (particularly “For a New Liberty”), and Hans-Hermann Hoppe (“Democracy: The God that Failed”) turned me away from support for any notion of a monopoly state. I read more individualist anarchist writers like Roderick T. Long and Kevin Carson. They are considered more on the left-wing side of individualist anarchism because of their emphasis overcoming forms of private oppression in addition to the political imposition of the state.
Since then, I have been developing an understanding as a left-libertarian minarchist. I am more active in the political scene than I had been before. I didn’t participate in the 2008 Ron Paul campaign, which I have some regrets about not doing. I am more likely to be found working on the Free Justin Project than anything else, spreading the ideas of individualism one mind at a time.
My tattoo (right forearm) quotes “I am. I think. I will.” from Ayn Rand’s “Anthem.” The book depicts a dystopian future in which man has fully embraced economic and cultural collectivism. The concept of the individual has been systematically eliminated when the book’s protagonist, Equality 7-2521, finally rediscovered the word “I.” The quote also incorporates the axioms of existence, of consciousness and of identity.
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