Strategies For Advancing Liberty — Building Alternative Structures To Government
Those who have read me for a while have seen that I’ve transitioned a lot over the last few years. When I started blogging, my first post was days after the 2004 election, defending a vote for George W. Bush as the best of a couple of bad options. Now, I’m nearly indistinguishable from an anarcho-capitalist. I don’t believe that our current governmental structure has any hope to do anything but grow to an eventual collapse, and that something must be done about it.
One of those early posts was defending the use of incrementalism in our strategy for change. I’ve modified that position slightly, but there is one point that I think still bears repeating:
An entire society based on the role of a strong federal government would collapse without it. The only prudent way to deconstruct that society is incrementally, because only then can we slowly build up the private support structures to replace government.
As much as I hate to say it, I truly believe that if the government disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t be all wine and roses. Civil society needs institutions to operate, and if you remove all the existing institutions without having alternatives, the result will be the type of “anarchy” feared by most who hear the term: chaos.
But above, I make an error. The answer is not to slowly deconstruct government first and then let the alternatives grow in government’s absence. The answer is to create those alternatives and thereby make government redundant (and unnecessary).
Anarcho-capitalism describes a society free of the initiation of force or fraud. Each individual has a right to his or her life, liberty, and property, and no other individual or group can legitimately violate that right.
The State is a centralized organization that inherently violates rights. It funds its activities through extortion. It restricts voluntary trade through licensure, subsidy, and prohibition. It uses its monopoly of force to erode every limitation on its power, and thereby grows until it collapses under its own weight. It demands subservience to its authority.
Many of our relationships with each other are structured through institutions. We use these to simplify our trade, to transmit our culture, to communicate, and to resolve our differences. To the extent that our institutions rely on the State, they are vulnerable. Our institutions can be corrupted as the State engulfs them, or can be destroyed when the State fails.
The Anarcho-Capitalist Entrepreneur Network exists to help individuals cooperate to design and implement organizations that respect the rights of individuals; to create organizations that are completely independent of the State. In time, we hope that such organizations become familiar enough that individuals no longer consider force or fraud a legitimate way to interact with each other.
There are some who believe that working within the system, they can change it. While I think those people should continue their efforts, I don’t have much hope that they can be anything but a brake on the growth and expansion of the State.
Instead, the way to beat the State is to make them irrelevant. The more time we spend working completely outside of the State, the less reason we have to keep it alive at all. The quicker we duplicate the purposes of their coercive institutions with free and voluntary institutions, the sooner we can put an end to their institutions entirely. When they finally wither and rot, our key to ensuring peaceful anarchy rather than chaos is having something that is free to supplant the institutions which have collapsed.
An undertaking like the one proposed is not going to be easy or trivial. But right now the options I see going forward on our current trajectory are a continued trek down the road to serfdom or a painful chaotic collapse. Those aren’t the only options available, and the stakes are high enough to make it worth the effort to avoid that fate.