I have been having a Twitter discussion with the “voluntarist anarchists” on strategy and tactics for weeks on end. If you are not familiar with them, Wikipedia says:
Voluntaryism, or voluntarism, is the philosophy which holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary. Since voluntaryists hold that the means must be consistent with the end, the goal of a purely voluntary society must be sought voluntarily. Voluntaryists assert that people cannot be coerced into freedom or voluntarily give it up. Voluntaryists often advocate the use of the education, persuasion, and non-violent resistance as the primary ways to change people’s ideas about the state and their behavior toward it.
The Anarcho-Capitalists and those committed toVoluntarism both have the same goal in mind. In my view it does not matter what the two camps think will happen in the absence of the State; the free market will order society rather than armed goons of the criminal racket called “government” or “the State”. Members of the two camps often have a vision that differs from the standard Rothbardian vision of what a State-less world would look like and that is OK since telling the future is notoriously hard. We are close allies who hope to see people use free-will, non-coerced interactions to create society and order. The market will decide what the State-less future looks like.
The problem is always picking correct tactics to get to the end goal. The problem right now is with Ron Paul and tactics. Since Voluntaryists see the government as violence and force — they don’t believe you can use government to end government. I have said it many times this way: “you can not use evil means to achieve good ends“. But on the other hand, if one is being mugged by an armed criminal he has the right to defend himself with violent resistance; deadly force even. So, since I am inside this political system I have the right to use it to reduce government or to eliminate it. But is it a good tactic? That is the question that is hard to answer.
Ron Paul has introduced millions and millions of enthusiastic young people to the ideas of liberty and freedom, and not just in America. Ron Paul has had an effect on the young world-wide. It has been amazing. Many of them are reading von Mises and Rothbard — I can hardly believe it. Many just listen to Ron Paul’s message that is a mixture of Austrian Economics, Classic Liberalism, and strict Constitutionalism. Ron Paul is amazing: he is taking the ideas from Human Action and presenting these ideas to a world wide youth audience who would never read that enormous book. He is teaching the youth more about how the FED works than all the social studies teachers in America ever did. But now what?
First, I would like to say that if the media and the GOP had not used underhanded tactics Ron Paul might have actually won the nomination. But I never expected a win and I doubt highly that Ron Paul did either in his heart of hearts. This was a message campaign just like in 2008. It was a unique opportunity to use the system’s own national stage to spread the ideas of liberty to the people of America. Ron Paul took that opportunity and made good use of it while he had it.
But now what? The “liberty movement” or the “rEVOlution” will continue to work towards reducing or eliminating the State. Some are simply “small governemnt” people who, in truth, still believe in the State but want to see it much reduced in size and scope. Some truly believe in a “night-watchman government” that provides only courts, cops, and defence plus a few other items. Some are anarchists like this writer. I may have even left some out in my broad strokes above.
I think the people of America were better off with the government in 1780 than now. I think the people of America were better off with the government of 1880 than now but less so than that of 1780. The government of 1980 was far, far worse than 1880 but far better than today. See a pattern here? We have seen a government grow in power and domination of the people for over 200 years. Year after year the people have lost liberties and rights. We have reached the stage were government seems to be a power grab a day.
If I could push a red button and get us back to the government of 1880 I would do so in a heartbeat. What liberty minded individual would not do so? If we could then go back to the Articles of Confederation of 1780, it would be like a dream come true. But wait; what about the near anarchy of the Continental Congress? Even better! I am saying that less government is better for the people. How can you not agree?
I think that voting is a fool’s game that just adds legitimacy to the central government of the US. Even so, I would vote for Ron Paul as I see him as an agent of change — a mole inside the structure — who was trying to reduce the size, power, and scope of the beast. I do not belittle others who think that voting matters, that is their free-will opinion. Even the non-voting Murray Rothbard would root for certain people in elections. He thought LBJ (a monster) was better than Barry Goldwater since he thought Goldwater would start a nuclear war. (good evidence that he would have) Rothbard loved to root for the lesser of two evils; even while he knew the State must end by a majority of the population withdrawing their consent. He saw the future of America in the fall of the old Soviet Union.
I will continue to be conflicted over the Ron Paul issue and voting. What if he runs again in 2012? What if there is divine intervention and he is nominated in Tampa this year? All in all, I think Ron Paul’s political career is over and so my conflict is at an end if he retires from politics.
Can there be another Ron Paul? No. No one has built a 30 year history like Ron Paul did and that was a huge part of his draw. I will continue to root for candidates who say they are for smaller government and more freedom; but will not be disappointed when they don’t deliver — seen it all before.
If you don’t vote then we are in agreement. If you do vote, then I wish you all the luck in the world changing things. (for the better of course!) We should all remember the admonition: “first, do no harm”. Trouble is; knowing what to do is not all that easy.