Civic duties

In which I write a letter to elected officials.

So by now you may be familiar with South Carolina Code Title 23 Chapter 29, the state law that requires all organizations who directly or indirectly advocate, advise, teach or practice the duty or necessity of controlling, seizing, or overthrowing the government of the United States, the state of South Carolina, or any political division thereof, to register their activities with the South Carolina Secretary of State. Now that I’ve been informed of the law, here are the contents of the letter that I wrote and dropped in the U.S. postal service today, addressed to Mark Hammond, arbitrary Secretary of State over South Carolina.

Secretary of State Mark Hammond
P.O. Box 11350
Columbia, SC 29211

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you today as a member of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, a subversive organization advocating the duty, the necessity, and the propriety of overthrowing the governments of the United States and of the state of South Carolina by unlawful means – as we advocate the duty, the necessity, and the propriety of overthrowing all forms of government at every level throughout the world. As advocates of the doctrine of Anarchism and the strategy of counter-economics, we specifically reject legalized methods of changing government policy, such as government elections and legislative lobbying, and we advocate the deliberate use of illegal tactics such as civil disobedience, and nonviolent direct action in defiance of unjust laws, as our preferred means of bringing about the dissolution of all government into the economic organism.

Members of the A.L.L., both anonymous and open, operate in many states, including in South Carolina. We are actively engaged in attempts to influence political action in the state of South Carolina – specifically, by aiming to stop any political action at all from being inflicted upon the people of South Carolina. We reside and transact business within the territorial boundaries claimed by the state of South Carolina; we are in your neighborhoods and we are in your business districts. We may even be in your homes; have you checked under the beds and in the closets?

I believe that our doctrines and activities qualify us as an officially recognized subversive organization, as described in South Carolina Code Title 23 Chapter 29.

Please consider this our notice of subversive activities; I would be honored if you would add our organization to your registry of organizations working for the overthrow of government in South Carolina. All government is, after all, nothing more than an absurdity, a usurpation, and a crime, inflicted on the vast majority of peaceful people, without their consent, by the dictation of a select few men who have neither the wisdom, nor the virtue, nor the right to presume to rule over anyone other than themselves. It has always been the most deadly tool of oppressors and exploiters, as the past victims of South Carolina’s government, from the Stono rebels to Denmark Vesey to the 35 victims of the Orangeburg Massacre have known all to well. When belligerence and inhumanity prevail, the peaceful and the humane must find honor in being categorized as the enemies of the prevailing order. Please keep me updated as to the status of our registration. I look forward to hearing back from you as to our official recognition as enemies of your state and its government.

Sincerely,
Charles Johnson

PS. I am told that there is a processing fee in the amount of $5.00 for the registration of a subversive organization. Our organization is in fact so dastardly that we have refused to remit the fee.

All the great governments of the world - those now existing, as well as those that have passed away - have been of this character. They have been mere bands of robbers, who have associated for purposes of plunder, conquest, and the enslavement of their fellow men. And their laws, as they have called them, have been only such agreements as they have found it necessary to enter into, in order to maintain their organizations, and act together in plundering and enslaving others, and in securing to each his agreed share of the spoils. All these laws have had no more real obligation than have the agreements which brigands, bandits, and pirates find it necessary to enter into with each other, for the more successful accomplishment of their crimes, and the more peaceable division of their spoils. – Mr. Lysander Spooner, Natural Law, or the Science of Justice.

I’ll keep you advised as to how the process goes.

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26 replies to Civic duties Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Gabriel

    The text mainly seems to emphasize violent overthrow - wouldn’t your emphasis on non-violent direct action conflict with that?

  2. AlaskanAnarchist

    Gabriel, maybe you’re reading something I’m not, but nowhere do I see anything in Rad Geek’s letter about “violent overthrow”.

  3. George Donnelly

    Hilarious. On one level I love it. On another, I wonder if anything that invites attention from aggressors is unwise and possibly even self-destructive.

  4. BroadSnark

    LOL. And you got to use the word “dastardly.” Love it.

  5. Drunkenatheist

    “Our organization is in fact so dastardly that we have refused to remit the fee.”

    Beautiful! I’m still giggling over that line.

  6. Bob Kaercher

    Um, you did what???

  7. Rad Geek

    AlaskanAnarchist,

    I could be mistaken, but I took Gabriel to be referring to the text of the law, not the text of my letter.

    Gabriel,

    If I’m right in that interpretation, my answer is that the law emphasizes overthrow by means of force, violence, or other unlawful means. Since counter-economics, as a strategy, is based on the deliberate cultivation and protection of illegal activity (black marketeering, tax resistance, obstruction of enforcement, etc.) Probably not what the authors of the law were primarily thinking of; I imagine they were thinking of whiskered men with bowling-ball shaped bombs and Commie coups d’etat and the like — but it does seem to be included within the scope of what they intended to cover.

    George,

    Thanks. On inviting attention — maybe. But I doubt that the risk is much greater than the risk already entailed in openly advocating revolutionary Anarchism on the Internet.

  8. JOR

    It’d just be even more funny if they didn’t process ALL because you didn’t send the five bucks.

  9. NP

    If I get arrested; I am blaming you, Charles

    : )

  10. justino

    Brilliant. I’m reposting this to DFW ALL.

  11. Gabriel

    > It’d just be even more funny if they didn’t process ALL because you didn’t send the five bucks.

    Bureaucracies tend to act like computer programs in many ways, doing things mechanically even when the result is absurd. I think this possibility is very likely!

  12. Discussed at alliance.rationalreview.com

    Are We Not Afraid? « On ALLiance:

    […] that all subversive groups must register with the government and Charles “RadGeek” Johnson has responded, clearly, that the ALLiance of the Libertarian Left not only belongs on their register, but we take […]

  13. Marc

    “Hilarious. On one level I love it. On another, I wonder if anything that invites attention from aggressors is unwise and possibly even self-destructive.”

    George has his PhD in bringing down unwanted attention from the Po on himself.

  14. Aster

    ROTFL. Do it again!

    Okay, that was not my mature judgment speaking. I love this gesture, but we’ve passed the point where gestures like this can be made without serious fear of state reprisals. I don’t want to see you on the receiving end of a taser. When the state truly comes for you few are able to help, and less are willing.

    I’ve met too many people who have been tortured by the police.

  15. Fascist Nation

    Oh, this is soooooooo sweet.

  16. Rad Geek

    Aster,

    I don’t disagree with you, and I don’t have any wish to invite taserings. But I think what’s important to realize is that any form of activism in explicitly Anarchist groups (or, what I think is actually more risky, single-issue anti-cop groups) has already exposed me to the danger of government reprisal as much as I’m likely to get exposed in the near term. I doubt that this gesture is likely to expose me to much of anything in the way of greater danger than what I’ve already put myself in, just in virtue of publicly advocating what I publicly advocate. In any case, if I am exposing myself to greater risks, I do have the privilege to put myself out on the line in many ways, given the social and familial resources I have to fall back on — privileges that many of my comrades and allies don’t enjoy. In the unlikely event that this prompts the Homeland Securitate to take more interest in me, I’d rather that they were wasting their time scrutinizing me and chasing me around than on focusing on said comrades and allies who, for whatever reasons, can’t afford to take the kinds of risks that I can.

  17. Discussed at www.jad-davis.com

    Rad Geek fulfills his Civic Duty - The Jverse:

    […] Jad on Feb.10, 2010, under Stuff I Like For no healthy reason, I love this sort of thing. Rad Geek, a member of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, registers, via post, his advocacy of […]

  18. George Donnelly

    Charles, the thing is when it’s on the internet it can escape notice or it can be chalked up to idle talk.

    But when you issue an official communication to them, they may view it as something they have to act upon.

    It’s like when you talk to cops, you have to avoid saying anything at all, because you may inadvertently admit incriminating yourself - and they will act on it.

    If it comes to the point where it makes the news, the fact that you initiated contact detracts from your ability to score propaganda points.

    The letter is definitely very funny and emotionally satisfying, but a very risky approach.

  19. Gabriel

    “It’s like when you talk to cops, you have to avoid saying anything at all, because you may inadvertently admit incriminating yourself - and they will act on it.”

    You might say something incriminating, but more likely a cop will just lie and misreport what you said in order to get a conviction. They have no conscience and little humanity.

  20. Rus

    I wonder if “asking for open government and criticizing local government” on my website is “such behavior”.

    Thanks for posting this … gave a good laugh and attention to an issue that many have skipped over in the media.

  21. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-02-14 – Shameless Self-promotion Sunday:

    […] week for catching up on old commitments and making new connections. You probably know by now about my letter to the Secretary of State of South Carolina; you may not know that I was briefly interviewed about the letter by Ernie Hancock on Declare Your […]

  22. Discussed at www.blagnet.net

    Blagnet.net » Quote of the day:

    […] wisdom, nor the virtue, nor the right to presume to rule over anyone other than themselves. &#8212Charles Johnson, in a letter to the Secretary of State of South Carolina var addthispub = ''; var addthisbrand […]

  23. jrlcat

    I like the letter, but it looks like some of the reporting about the law (not necessarily on this site but elsewhere) is wrong, and it is actually a McCarthy-era law from 1951:

    http://volokh.com/2010/02/10/did-south-carolina-pass-a-subversive-activities-registration-act-last-year/

  24. Adam

    This is absolutely hilarious. 10/10 for the OP

· March 2010 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-03-03 – Limited-time offer:

    […] you hope to be officially recognized as an enemy of the state of South Carolina (as per South Carolina Code Title 23 Chapter 29, you’d best move quick and make sure you send […]

— 2012 —

  1. Discussed at dallas.libertarianleft.org

    ALL (Sort of) Performs Its ‘Civic Duties’ | DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left:

    […] with every letter of the law, Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson took it upon himself to contact South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond about ALL’s activities. Secretary of State […]

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