The Problem With Ammon Bundy

Ammon Bundy said if the government did use force to retake the Malheur National Wildlife refuge “they would be putting lives at risk.”

Earlier, the protesters vowed to occupy the refuge for “as long as it takes,” as state and federal officials on Sunday sought to defuse the situation.

The protestors have said they stormed the federal land in a remote area near Burns, some 280 miles southeast of Portland [Oregon], to protest the prosecution of a father and son facing jail time on an arson charge for burning 130 acres of land.


Should the government own land not needed for legitimate defense of the country, as in military bases, or for courts and other government buildings?

Should the federal (or state) government be involved in seizing private property so that it may never be used commercially, or for other non life-threatening activities the government deems unacceptable?

No, and no.

But this does not automatically make the actions of these protestors valid.

Two years ago, Cliven Bundy (Ammon Bundy’s father) took similar action in the state of Nevada. At that time, I wrote:


The problem with Cliven Bundy is that he’s bundling secession from the federal government into his rebellion….What we’re left with is a false alternative: Either support secession and state control of the individual, on the one side; or support the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] and its constitutionally invalid, often arbitrary actions (part of a much bigger federal government problem), on the other.

It’s in this sense that I refuse to take a side. In a certain sense, my heart is with a rebellion against the unjust and arbitrary seizure or manipulation of private property via the federal government. But I’m not convinced that handing over power to our respective states is the answer, either.


It’s not enough to be against something. I’m wholeheartedly against the federal government seizing control of what once was, or should have been, private property.

Imagine if the West had been settled this way. At that time, the government acted solely as a policeman, opening up the lands and respecting private ownership to those who legitimately and legally claimed them.

Today, it’s just the opposite. The government tries to get control of everything it can, so development, farming, and just about all human-related activity will diminish or stop.

That’s what environmentalism is, at the core: anti-human preservation of earth in its natural state, despite the needs, wants or desires of humans.

But in order to be against something, you have to know what you’re for. It’s OK to hate and oppose, so long as you know what you love, and what you favor. Otherwise, you’re simply hating and opposing.

The reason I oppose federal control of what should be private land from Washington DC offices is because I favor the ideas of individual rights, private property and the U.S. Constitution — which provided for a limitation on exactly the kind of intrusive government we have today.

On a deeper level, I detest environmentalism and its anti-human stance because I love what human beings are capable of doing with their minds, their reasoning, and their ingenuity when left free, under economic liberty, to do so.

The danger with these anarchist-type militias is that they want to get the government off the backs of the people (or at least themselves) without articulating any idea of what the replacement will be.

If they’re determined to make a point, it should be peaceful. Yes, they’ll be arrested, but they will have made their point in defense of individual rights and private property. Then it’s on to court, to make a principled case in defense of individual, including property, rights. This assumes that Bundy has a legitimate case, which not all of the facts suggest he does.

You might argue that they will not get anywhere in court. That’s plausibly true. But what other choice do we have? If we reject the idea of civil government as such, and refuse to fight for its proper implementation, then there’s nothing left to support but anarchy.

Imagine if America’s founders had fought the American Revolution – justifiably against the British tyranny – while offering no Constitution in its place.

In fact, the first attempt at a Constitution – the Articles of Confederation – failed. Rather than giving up, the very same founders gave it another try, and we got the U.S. Constitution in 1787. It served us well for a century or two. Eventually, we blew it. That’s where we are today.

But that’s no reason to support anarchy. Instead, we have to resuscitate the idea of individual rights and really get it right this time. I don’t see how Bundy’s revolt in Oregon contributes to that.


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