Do-Nothing Anarchists

couch potato

I love liberty. I hate government. Does that mean I want no government? Absolutely. Am I sympathetic to the anarchist cause? You bet. Do I see eye to eye with most fellow anarchists? Mostly no. This is because so many can tell you why government is awful. Many can even paint specific pictures of how they think a world without the state would look. Very few, though, have any actual clue on how to get from here to there.

The somber reality is that we live in a world dominated by nation-states. Governmental systems, from constitutional republics to democratic socialism, to outright monarchy or dictatorship, control, or claim to control, almost every inch of this planet. Government rules the world, and no amount of wishful thinking will make it go away or shrink in size and scope.

It annoys me to no end when I hear anarchists judging or ridiculing other libertarians for trying to “work within the system.” Sure, navigating through the difficult, painful process of either elections or legal battles is an uphill struggle, and can often lead to wasted effort and frustration. But it’s something that actually has the real potential to shrink government. Criticism of these efforts should only be accompanied by a more efficient solution for ending the state. And those proposed anarchist solutions are practically an endangered species, bordering on cryptozoology.

Here are some things that won’t end the state:

Not voting No, the state doesn’t subsist off of completed ballots. Those are just a tool it uses to justify its legitimacy. Even if almost everyone stops voting, there will be enough special interests and government employees voting to keep the charade alive. And even then, what’s to stop voting from being mandated, or a straight up oligarchy being established, using the failure of the democratic system as justification? Either way, the state’s power carries on without votes.

Bitching Much like extra weight and relationship problems, big government can’t be complained away. The state don’t care. The state never listens. It’s time to move on.

Doing drugs I know it expands your consciousness, maaaaan. And if everyone did it people would just, like, wake up to the system. I also know most drugs tend to be very illegal still, making it easy to lock up or discredit you if ever you become a threat. Being stoned all the time makes you less of a threat to government, not more.

Making more anarchists Now I am by no means dissing the crucial importance of spreading the ideas of liberty. It’s the invaluable first step towards living in a free society. But you can’t just stop there. An army of people who think the state is a sham, but nonetheless keep on paying taxes and abiding by laws just like average citizens, will have zero positive impact.

Talking about new technology Yes, bitcoin and blockchain technology have the power to replace the state’s banking cartel. Of course, Uber-like services paired with driverless electric vehicles can take down the oil companies’ power while removing police’s ability to abuse people through DUI laws and revenue collection via speeding tickets and various fines. And naturally, decentralized emergency response apps like Cell 411 may indeed supplant the entire government police and fire system. But you know what won’t get rid of the state? Simply talking about all these wonderful things. Technology isn’t a deity that is empowered by evangelism and songs of praise. You actually have to develop and proliferate new tech.

Doing nothing (i.e. all the above examples) If your entire contribution to humankind consists of being a smug anarchist, you’ve done no good. In fact, you may even be a net loss for liberty if you’ve dissuaded some optimistic young person from supporting a candidate like Ron Paul who at least has the capacity to cause some momentary grief for the ruling elite.

There is hope for a future without government. There are ways of rolling back the state’s influence bit by bit, expanding global liberty all the while. However, sitting in a basement smoking a joint while complaining about government and sneering at people for voting isn’t one of them.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • Steve

    My favorite do-nothing rationalization is that the state is doomed anyway, that technology X or flaw Y will inexorably cause the state to collapse or wither away. We can just hang out, drink beer, complain about statists, and wait for the Anarcho-rapture. Anyway we’re not going to persuade anyone because they’ve all been brainwashed by the public schools and made dependent on the state, so they can’t see the obvious rightness of our ideology.

    • LynxFreeorDie

      It’s true. It’s part of the fallacy of the market, that “the market will provide” like some deity. No it won’t. The market is an imagined thing. The market is US. If WE don’t do all these things, like develop the tech that will doom the state, and fight for it, the state will never fall.

  • Tuk

    This is spot on! It’s so frustrating seeing people dissuading each other from voting when there are elections being decided in the <100 vote margins here. The Manchester Mayoral race was won by 75 votes! And the Democratic candidate had the support of the national party, so that was a very unlikely win for Gatsas. But I don't think it was free staters who helped him win. I'm not saying he's an ideal mayor, but at least he's willing to stand up against public sector unions who demand raises from the pockets of the citizens.

    The most critical tasks for liberty to succeed will be building organizational structures that offer services without using taxpayer funds. But it's a whole lot easier to complain about taxes than to contribute to building the institutional infrastructure necessary to live without a coercively funded state.

    • LynxFreeorDie

      It was some Free Staters that helped. Namely, Americans for Prosperity knocked on thousands of doors and made many more thousands of GOTV phone calls, all in Manchester, to turn out pro-liberty voters for that race. Three AFP staffers are porcupines, and a dozen extra volunteers were. It’s never enough, though.

      I totally agree about building organizational structures that will replace the state. Working on some of those.

  • It seems like you would have to shut it down one regulation at a time and hope it goes well. Like ending the ban on cannabis and freeing people in jail for cannabis is a good start. You could perhaps stop auto emissions tests later, let VW do what they want, stop inspecting cars. Not as certain that would go well, but I’ve considered it and may well be something that only very old cars fail and may be a racket. Then end the post office… people in rural areas may freak but not as badly as 20 years ago. But if you think there won’t come a point when you lose the majority, be it shutting down schools or police or armed forces, you are looking at shadows on cave walls. Most government evolves from a perceived need, and while it tends to outgrow its justifications, there comes a point when losers will outnumber winners, and mistaking a gain for immunity from pendulum swings and blowback is going to be disappointing.

    • Totally agree. Except there is some nuance with saying there’s a demand for government services. There’s a demand for solutions to problems, and when someone passes a law to deal with it, no matter how terrible the “solution,” it’s like “bam, problem solved.” So yes, if anyone wants to get rid of government, one must first replace its positive functions.

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