For an Optimistic Libertarianism

There are many and complex reasons for believing that the long term trend of history reflects well for libertarianism. I know many of you are thinking I have jumped the shark on that idea, but I think I can lay out a decent case. Let me give you one sweeping generalization I saw someplace as a starter today: in an age of mass affluence; economic development and individualism go hand in hand.

We need to think about the long term trends and not what mad scheme the Obama administration has dreamed up this week. Libertarians seem to be unduly pessimistic these days. This post was prompted by two fellows on Twitter who are wonderful voices for freedom and liberty; but took exception to my assertion that we are, indeed, winning the battle of ideas. I think the long-run economic and social trends favor libertarianism even as the short term trends tell us that our opponent, the State, is still strong.

One example of the long term trend that I see lies not inside the United States but outside. Consider the country China. In my youth China was 100% communist and the government impoverished the country while murdering millions upon millions of innocent citizens. Now they no longer believe in communism and central planning. They are no longer communist even if the ruling party keeps the outer form of the old government. The people have seen what individuals working for themselves can do — and so has the world.

Or consider the old USSR. It is gone. It fell apart as a result of central planning. After 70 years or so of trying to build the “New Soviet Man” the people saw that the ideology of complete government control just does not work.

Consider the ever optimistic Murray Rothbard. He started out in the 50s with very few allies and very few outlets for his writings and ideas. By the 90s he was world famous and the leader of a huge wing of radical libertarian thought. The Mises Institute promotes Rothbard as well as von Mises and their analysis of government and economics. Not only that, but many scholars have arisen to take their place and extend the libertarian philosophy.

We also have The Ron Paul Movement which will continue even though Ron Paul is retired from the House. We have the, Free State Project, Zero Hedge, the Mises Institute, Laissez Faire Books, Twitter, Liberty Classroom, and a host of other important voices for liberty. But much more importantly; we have the internet and millions of diverse voices teaching each other the philosophy of liberty. We are a decentralized movement that has no one leader for the statists to destroy. We are legion.

Hans Hoppe wrote:

“…the task of supporting and keeping alive the truths of private property, freedom of contract and association and disassociation, personal responsibility, and of fighting falsehoods, lies, and the evil of statism, relativism, moral corruption, and irresponsibility can nowadays only be taken on collectively by pooling resources and supporting organizations like the Mises Institute, an independent organization dedicated to the values underlying Western civilization, uncompromising and far removed even physically from the corridors of power. Its program of scholarships, teaching, publications, and conferences is nothing less than an island of moral and intellectual decency in a sea of perversion. …”

The Austrian School is enjoying its most spectacular surge in growth in my lifetime. Ron Paul awakened many to the ideas that the Austrians have been putting forth ever since its founding by Carl Menger. Now a new generation of young people are reading Austrian economics. The economics of the Austrian school tells these young folks that government is the eternal enemy of peace, prosperity, and liberty.


Rothbard once told us that before the 18th century in Western Europe there existed an identifiable Old Order called the Ancien Régime. It was feudalism marked by “tyranny, exploitation, stagnation, fixed caste, and hopelessness and starvation for the bulk of the population.” The ruling classes governed by conquest and tricking the masses into believing that it was divine will that the Kings should rule and plunder. The Old Order was the great and mighty enemy of liberty and for a score of centuries it did not appear it could ever be defeated. We know better now that the classical liberal revolution triumphed in the 18th century (in the West at least). We can win again and next time we will know not to allow even the seed of old order to remain. We must pull out the idea of the old order root and branch.

We don’t face as hard a task as the original classical liberals did in the 1700s for we now know that it can be done. We have every reason to be optimistic for the long run even as we fear the brutality and horror of the short run as the dying beast can be very dangerous in its death throes.

Burden of proof lies with the statists

Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a Great Leap Forward that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.— Robert Higgs

This is yet one more post set off by a tweet on Twitter. Glenn Greenwald once said that Twitter was like crack and he was correct. I have met so many wonderful people through that media. A tweet led me to look for the above Robert Higgs quote. I had seen it before but today it struck me as very important since I am always seeing state worshipers claim that anarchy (or voluntarism) would lead to violence. Violence? What is one supposed to call the violent record of the State?

Anarchy is simply when the gang of thieves writ large called the state does not exist. Every single person can be freed to buy and sell in a voluntary manner. Everyone is able to seek the protections services that they want from whatever firm they want. Everyone is freed to concentrate on being productive and being socially responsible. It is in man’s nature to cooperate and with no state you will see even more cooperation than with the predatory state spreading violence and envy.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. ~Lord Acton

I have heard people claim that the State is necessary since men are not angels. They think that men in charge of other men is somehow better than men being in charge of themselves. The truth is that since men are definitely not angels we need to destroy that agent of great power, force, fraud, violence, and domination — The State. There never was a man alive who should be entrusted with the power of the state.

Experience has shown me that people should be on guard to protect liberty precisely when the Government’s purposes seem to be beneficial. We are normally alert to invasions of our liberty by evil rulers; but we allow usurpations of our liberties often when we think that government is trying to be helpful. Never trust the government when they tell you they are trying to help you!

It is beyond belief that some people think that government, which is raw force, is somehow better than voluntary cooperation; and yet, I read many progressives and “liberals” who say that the government is the fount of all progress. How did they get that deluded when the evidence of government evil is all around them?


The Evil Minions of the State

The average man, whatever his errors otherwise, at least sees clearly that government is something lying outside him and outside the generality of his fellow men; that it is a separate, independent, and hostile power, only partly under his control, and capable of doing him great harm. Is it a fact of no significance that robbing the government is everywhere regarded as a crime of less magnitude than robbing an individual, or even a corporation? . . .

What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the fundamental antagonism between the government and the people it governs. It is apprehended, not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the benefit of its own members. . . . When a private citizen is robbed, a worthy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; when the government is robbed, the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before. The notion that they have earned that money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would seem ludicrous. ~H. L. Mencken


The ruling group of a State has one main interest; that is to maintain their rule over the population. No group wants to lose their power. They will tend to use force and intimidation at times but that is not enough. The ruling group is vastly outnumbered and the use of force alone will just not cut it. To remain in power the rulers need the support of the majority of the people. The support does not have to be joyous and enthusiastic; as resigned acceptance works just as well. The complicit complacency of resigned acceptance probably accounts for the vast majority of citizen support.

The rulers can use force but that will not subdue the majority they need and so the ruler’s basic overall problem is ideological. The state must pay off minions to be enforcers of the will of the rulers, but they must also pay off “intellectuals” to convince the population that the state is “good”, or at least inevitable. I read a comment today at a progressive site where someone said the State was a force of nature and eternal. That fool is exactly the useful idiot that rulers want: he has the perfect slave mentality.

The state must secure support through the creation of vested economic interests. Everyone employed by the State apparatus is paid off and that makes them supporters of the ruling class by self-interest, but that is still just a small minority of the population. Subsidies and other grants of privilege will buy even more support among the privileged cronies outside the state apparatus; but in the end, promoting the statist ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals” who act as opinion makers. The job of the intellectual is to provide the ideas for the common man who, in general, never thinks for himself but relies on his “intellectual superiors” to formulate his beliefs. And so the State needs the support of the opinion makers in the society. These people are paid off in grants, subsidies, access, money, prestige, and all the rest.

But why do the opinion makers support the State? Why not just make their living in the free market if they are intellectually superior? It is because the safety and guarantee of the blessing flowing from the State are seen to be far more secure and reliable than going it alone on the competitive market. The intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for convincing the common man that the state is necessary and that they must support it. Their rewards are paid in monetary wealth, fame, prestige, “respectability”, and more. And the fact that most of these people are “outside” the state apparatus gives the mistaken impression to the gullible that these “intellectuals” are not bought and paid for shills for the state.

The basic argument of the opinion makers is along the lines of “the rulers are wise men with the interests of the whole country at heart”. They tell us that the rulers hire the “best and the brightest” experts among us to advise them on their burdensome civic duties.  And besides that, government is said to be necessary to civilization — it would be horrible chaos to leave the warm embrace of the State say the opinion molding class in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  The rule of the State is now proclaimed as being very scientific since “experts” do the advising. Since ideological support is vital to the State we see it deploy its vast army of its minions to fool the public with all manner of propaganda dressed up in logical sounding myths.

The main war against the State is being fought with ideas, not guns. We must overcome the hired prostitutes of the government who claim to be objective intellectuals or other opinion makers while, in fact, they are just hired liars. Our job is to de-legitimize the state.

When we convince the majority of the people that the state is not legitimate then the State will fall just as the USSR did when it lost the faith of its people.


A lady shares her family story and thoughts on collectivism

I was sent the following story by a friend I met on Twitter. She is a little shy about telling it and so I present it here without her name and without any link to her at all. I enjoyed the story; it is a trip though time from oriental despotism (or feudalism) to communism to fascism. It is a story of revolution gone bad and a family living through it to come to the “free world”. It is the story of her family and their escape from tyranny. I hope you like it as much as I did.


A Very Brief family history and My thoughts on collectivism

My father was born in China during a very tumultuous time. Between the Japanese invasion and civil war raging on between the Communist Party and the Nationalists. My Grandfather was a higher up in the Chiang Kai-shek army. They were a part of the 2 million who fled to Taiwan at the end of the war when the CCP took over. My Grandmother strapped her infant son on her back and guided my 8 year old father and his older brother to the coast on bound feet.

They knew the evils ahead despite their participation in the evils past. I am in no way supportive of fascists or nationalists even in the face of my family’s affiliation. The purpose of this post is more-so to point out why I think central planning in any form is a government nonetheless and without a doubt will become far more oppressive than what “the people” could ever imagine no matter how good the intentions were at the beginning of the movement.

Fist of all, let’s take a look at the premise behind the Revolution. The people were fed up with the inequalities and hardships they faced under feudal times and even with the dissolution of the monarch, found it was not much different. The CCP appealed to the people because it promised equality, working together, sharing, et cetera. Sound familiar? The people wanted to be taken care of by their government not much unlike the “occupy” movements that are going on today.

Mao Zedong was not called “dictator.” He wasn’t called “President” or “Prime Minister.” He wasn’t even called “Leader.” He was the “Chairman” of a central planning committee. The country had established the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (this name would change several times before it became the People’s Republic of China or PRC). It was intended to be a structure much like the one I hear people clamor for today. It was a structure that promised to cater to the people’s interests. They successfully centralized government on this premise and made the people feel like they had a voice by letting the peasant class be a part of associations that worked alongside the governing body.

Many horrors commenced following the PRC establishment. I don’t intend to go into them or recount the history of the PRC. Notable events to research: The Great Leap Forward in which anywhere from 10-45 million (there is no way of ever knowing the true casualty count) Chinese perished to famine. Also the Cultural Revolution where China was stripped of it’s “old ways.” A great movie portraying the hardships of a family through this era is To Live.

The purpose of this post is to explain why I do not believe in the ideals conveyed to me by the communist or syndicalist types. I do not believe in a planning committee. I don’t believe in the success of a horizontal structure as I feel it will NEVER truly remain horizontal. It doesn’t take much to topple a carefully balanced weight to one side or the other. I am not at all interested in being a part of a collective and be required to “share” by force.

I place no titles on myself aside from Voluntaryist. My political, religious, philosophical views are always growing and being shaped with age, experience, and information intake. However Voluntaryism will always remain a constant. Because I want to be an individual. I want to give out of my own compassion and humanity, not because I have to. I want to own myself.


I found the story, and the closing especially, to be powerful and moving. I told her so in a private message. The conclusion she reached is spot on target. Anytime some small group gets to make the rules and tell others what to do; the situation will lead sooner or later to tyranny.

She has concluded, just as I have, that The State is the “organization of the political means”; which means that it is the systematic, predatory process over a given territory. The State is a  “legal” and brutal monopoly of force, theft and destruction. It destroys private property rights. Since production must always come first, the free market proceeds the State, and the State then lives off of the private production as a vampire bat sucking the life blood from the populous. The State was born in conquest and exploitation: born in evil and forever must remain evil.

Clowns, Collectivists and Stupidity

Most of the time you can depend on progressives saying the stupidest things about economics. Since they think that all blessing flow from the central government, there is little hope of the greedy, envious little so-and-so’s ever realizing that the government is not making wealth but destroying it.  As it so happened, I was reading a thread at the progressive Guardian newspaper when I ran across the following comment by a poster who does not post often, but when he does — it is usually a good one. The progressives, as usual, had been saying how “capitalism” was so awful and only the crazed could believe in the free market. Part of his response was:

Well well. Looks like the collectivist circus is back in town and the clown car just showed up.

Everything that makes up our current standard of living exists thanks to evil capitalists who greedily created things that other people wanted to buy, saved capital and created capital goods that other evil capitalists used to invent even more sophisticated things that have made everyone’s life more pleasant.

You know, things like modern housing, automobiles, airplanes, vaccines, MRI machines, increased crop yields and other such things that collectivists apparently think simply appeared out of the aether.

What we have today, useful idiots, is not anything resembling capitalism, but rather corporatism, the beloved system formerly known as fascism, which is a direct result of progressive collectivism.

You know, the folks who worship at the alter of the State and have “progressively” empowered the State to the point where it now openly claims the power to kill anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason whatsoever, and to suck the population dry via taxes and inflation to reward itself and it’s corporate cronies.

He went on to say that since nearly every abuse, every atrocity, every evil that Glenn Greenwald (a good solid anti-war type even though a progressive himself) writes about is a direct result of the poisonous collectivist progressive ideology of unlimited State power, and that the progressive clowns had a lot of audacity to talk about capitalism, which makes everyone wealthier, while their vision of an all powerful State makes everyone but a privileged few poorer.

The trouble we have convincing progressives that the laissez-faire free market is the route to go (along with voluntarism in general) is that they want the powerful state. They want the state to impose their vision of utopia upon the rest of us; or, they simply want the state to steal from the general population and give them what they desire.  It does not take a genus to see that if you empower the state to the point that it can loot others for your benefit then it is strong enough to loot you!

Even worse is the empirical fact that the state is using all the powers granted to it to engage in endless war. War is the health of the State, after all, and progressives destroyed the last of the constraints on the state going to war long ago. The “progressive era” was the death of what remained of the semi-constrained central Republic.

Murray Rothbard wrote in the Anatomy of the State:

The State is almost universally considered an institution of social service. Some theorists venerate the State as the apotheosis of society; others regard it as an amiable, though often inefficient, organization for achieving social ends; but almost all regard it as a necessary means for achieving the goals of mankind, a means to be ranged against the “private sector” and often winning in this competition of resources. With the rise of democracy, the identification of the State with society has been redoubled, until it is common to hear sentiments expressed which violate virtually every tenet of reason and common sense such as, “we are the government.” The useful collective term “we” has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the reality of political life. If “we are the government,” then anything a government does to an individual is not only just and untyrannical but also “voluntary” on the part of the individual concerned. If the government has incurred a huge public debt which must be paid by taxing one group for the benefit of another, this reality of burden is obscured by saying that “we owe it to ourselves”; if the government conscripts a man, or throws him into jail for dissident opinion, then he is “doing it to himself” and, therefore, nothing untoward has occurred. Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have “committed suicide,” since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part. One would not think it necessary to belabor this point, and yet the overwhelming bulk of the people hold this fallacy to a greater or lesser degree.

We must, therefore, emphasize that “we” are not the government; the government is not “us.” The government does not in any accurate sense “represent” the majority of the people.[1] But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority.[2] No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that “we are all part of one another,” must be permitted to obscure this basic fact.

The majority of Americans by this time late in the life of the American Empire have been schooled in government schools and the propagandized by the many minions of the State to believe that “we” are the state and that anything the state does is just “us” doing it “to ourselves”. So, murder, war, theft, intimidation and all the rest is justified in the minds of may as long as the State does it. And when the state does something so horrific that even the deluded progressives see that it is wrong; why then the answer is that a few “bad apples” are the cause and we must replace them next election! (or fire them if they are not elected politicians)

Sometimes we hear progressives decry the influence of the large, favored, and privileged companies on policies both foreign and domestic. What they fail to realize, no matter how many times it is explained to them, is that the large and privileged companies are in a symbiotic relationship with that state and that is a feature of the corporatist economic system (the fascism of Mussolini) that they themselves helped to establish. It is the working of Karma that the progressives now find the gang of thieves writ large that they helped to make so strong are now persecuting them.  (not that the rest of us are doing very well either of course)

It must be the fact that “misery loves company” that causes the progressives to want to follow the old, failed Soviet Union down the path to collectivism. It must be intense envy that causes the progressive to want everyone brought down to their level. What they can never seem to see (or they choose to ignore) is that egalitarianism is a revolt against nature. Humans have differing talents, interests, abilities, motivations, and all the rest. So why should the the achievers pay for the slackers until all are “equal”? Why should the armed goons of the state be empowered to loot the productive to subsidize the lazy?


The laissez-faire free market is just humans trading with each other in a voluntary and cooperative manner. This is moral, while the theft that the progressives love, when called by the name “tax”, is immoral. But even more to the point is that the laissez-faire free market makes everyone more wealthy while any intervention makes all but the favored few less well off — especially the poor. Yes, especially the poor. Progressives, in their unbridled envy, pursue policies that make the poor more poverty stricken while pretending to be trying to help them. That is hypocrisy writ large.