|Ontario farmer Frank Meyers|
Photo by Cole Garside
To those of us who are soberly aware of the nature of the relationship between the state and its citizens (subjects), even the official definitions of expropriation and eminent domain - the legal power of the state to take private property for the public interest - screams THEFT! But let's take a moment to cut through the legalese to make it as clear as possible what eminent domain really means.
The word eminent has dictionary definitions including high in station, conspicuous and projecting. That is to say that something that is eminent is of greater stature, prominence, and likely power than other things surrounding it. The word domain is defined as a territory governed by a single ruler or government.
When the two words are paired, we get a term which basically means that the party of greater stature, prominence and power is the party with the right to rule over a territory in question. In other words, might makes right. And who, in the cases of Frank Meyers and countless others, is mightiest? You guessed it; the state.
In an interview with Maclean's Magazine, Meyers said, “In other countries, they’re crushing you with bullets and guns and ammunition and tanks and explosives. Not in Canada. It’s pencil and paper here, and then they’ve got control.”
It's true that throughout the legal process by which the government seized Meyers' property, not a single bullet was fired, nor did any tanks roll up his laneway. His son even told Maclean's that the Department of National Defence had been "fair" with his family. However, the entire process was made possible only by the government's ability to forcefully evict Mr. Meyers, through the use of violence, if necessary.
|Who owns the land?|
The sentimental value of his farm, it seems, is far greater than any offer of monetary compensation presented to Mr. Meyers by the Canadian government. He has lived on the land for his entire life, and it has been in his family for generations. "It is difficult to know that you’re losing everything you’ve got," Meyers told McLeans.
There has been a lot of discussion lately in libertarian and anarchist circles surrounding the tactical implications of the defensive use of force against government agents. The question has been eloquently explored by Chris Cantwell in his article, When Should You Shoot The Mailman, and Larken Rose in his piece, When Should You Shoot a Cop.
When is it appropriate to use defensive force to defend your property against agents of the state? If you ask me, the case of Frank Meyers is a perfect example not only of a tactically justifiable, but perhaps also a morally imperative time for the use of defensive force. I consider that if I were in Meyers' position, near the end of my life, facing the prospect of having my most significant asset, my home for 85 years, and the site of some of my fondest memories and most life-enriching experiences stolen from me, there is not much I wouldn't be willing to do in order prevent such a tragedy. Top that with the knowledge that my stolen property would be used to train militarized killers to commit murder in all corners of the world against people I have never met, and who have never harmed me, and I am angry.
To those libertarians who advocate achieving change through legal means, and who advise submission to violent government aggressors in most all situations, I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of Frank Meyers.