What can liberty lovers do in this era? (beginning thoughts)

I was talking to a young friend on Twitter the other day ( Joe @024601 ) and we decided we wanted to talk over strategies and tactics for dismantling the police state and promoting liberty. I realized that such a project would take some time and would cover many posts. I am hoping to talk some friends into joining in a conversation in the comments section to help me put my thoughts into a coherent whole. Yes, the comments section that I have neglected for years. (live and learn I guess)

I think the first thing to do is take stock of the various players in the drama. Murray Rothbard told us that libertarians and anarchists tend to only see the individual and his relationship with the state. That tendency often causes us to be more pessimistic than we should be since standing alone against the state is a daunting prospect; especially against the U.S. Empire. He pointed out that there was another major player other than the individual and the state. That player is the “nation”. Not the “nation-state” but the nation. The genuine nation is a people. Best to let Rothbard explain.

Rothbard on the Nation:

The “nation,” of course, is not the same thing as the state, a difference that earlier libertarians and classical liberals such as Ludwig von Mises and Albert Jay Nock understood full well. Contemporary libertarians often assume, mistakenly, that individuals are bound to each other only by the nexus of market exchange. They forget that everyone is necessarily born into a family, a language, and a culture. Every person is born into one or several overlapping communities, usually including an ethnic group, with specific values, cultures, religious beliefs, and traditions. He is generally born into a “country.” He is always born into a specific historical context of time and place, meaning neighborhood and land area.

The modern European nation-state, the typical “major power,” began not as a nation at all, but as an “imperial” conquest of one nationality — usually at the “center” of the resulting country, and based in the capital city — over other nationalities at the periphery. Since a “nation” is a complex of subjective feelings of nationality based on objective realities, the imperial central states have had varying degrees of success in forging among their subject nationalities at the periphery a sense of national unity incorporating submission to the imperial center. In Great Britain, the English have never truly eradicated national aspirations among the submerged Celtic nationalities, the Scots and the Welsh, although Cornish nationalism seems to have been mostly stamped out. In Spain, the conquering Castilians, based in Madrid, have never managed — as the world saw at the Barcelona Olympics — to erase nationalism among the Catalans, the Basques, or even the Galicians or Andalusians. The French, moving out from their base in Paris, have never totally tamed the Bretons, the Basques, or the people of the Languedoc.

Notice that destroying the very concept of “the nation” has been the obvious goal of the “deep-state” or the ruling elites for a long time now. The present crisis of illegal immigrants is destroying communities all over the west every bit as much as the welfare state destroyed families. It seems the state (nation-state or government) finds ever new ways to enslave the masses.

As an anarcho-capitalist, far too often I think in terms of the state verses the individual and ignore the state’s attack on families, close associations of people, nationalities, and other groups. Even though the “nation” cannot be precisely defined we must be mindful of its existence and how the national group plays into our plans to overcome the state.  Rothbard claimed the “nation” is a complex and varying constellation of different forms of communities, languages, ethnic groups, or religions, so there is not a single dictionary style definition. I sometimes talk about “a people” when I really should say “nation”, but old conversational habits are hard to break and I am not sure I would be understood if I used “nation” rather than “people”.

We need to be mindful of these human groupings (nations) since we need to form alliances with all those who would help us fight the state. Note that Murray Rothbard rebuilt the idea of “libertarianism” in this country not only by being the great “systems builder” that he was, but also by building alliances with groups that did not “get” Rothbardianism totally but understood freedom and liberty. Rothbard believed that we had to form alliances with groups who were wrong on some issues but were on our side in loving liberty and freedom. The main thing was that if they hated the state as it existed presently, then they could be very useful in tearing down the state.

With those opening words out of the way, the question really is “what the hell can we do now to promote freedom and liberty?”

The question of open borders, or free immigration, has become an accelerating problem for all of the west and is a big question in the present American election cycle. A big part of that is because the welfare state increasingly subsidizes immigrants to enter and receive permanent assistance. Another aspect may be the state’s using the massive invasion of illegal immigration to destroy cultural cohesiveness which could enable the masses to threaten the state’s power.

Why mention that one specific problem at the very beginning of considering strategies? I do that because it is a great example of how the liberty lovers can be divided by a particular policy problem. Yelling “bigot” or “racist” at each other is not going to get us where we need to go. And yet, the answer is easy for those of us who realize that there should be no welfare state to draw the illegals to come here in the first place, and there should be no public property. If all property was privately owned then any immigrant is someone’s guest. However, we are a long way from a situation where there is no monopoly state and every bit of land belongs to someone or some group. So we have to deal with the situation as it exists presently.

I hope the reader realizes that the above paragraph is a minefield of arguments even among just the anarchists. Some will say there should be no private property at all while others will say there should be only private property — and a war of words breaks out! But I am hoping to talk about how to avoid a dystopian future where we all have the boot of the state at our throats forever. We must deal with the present danger and the situation as we find it right now.

So, we have to map out a strategy that will let us work against the police state and worry about perfection later. We need to teach people about the nature of the evil state and teach them that having rulers over us leads to the police state we see all around us. Ron Paul did a great job of teaching young people about the evils of the present state of affairs. I disagree with Ron on the question of the existence of a state; but I loved what he did educating people on the problems of our government as it stands. I think emulating Ron Paul in his educational mission will be a big part of what we must do. But there must be more. Alliances must be built and we may have to fight the state in the streets.

A lot of Americans who hate the US Empire are divided on the issue of Donald Trump at the present time. But there is one unifying aspect that we don’t mention often enough. That aspect is that Trump represents a great and deep anger at the ruling elite. He may not be the total answer but many of his fans just know they hate the state as it is presently run. He is leading a populist uprising. That, my liberty loving friends, is a plus for our side. I think the Sanders supporters on the Democratic Party side also where driven by a deep hatred of the status quo. We have many potential allies!

Next post will be about setting a goal for reducing the power of the state that can get broad support. We can not expect everyone to magically see that the only real way to contain the state is to eliminate it. That is a bridge too far in the beginning. What I hope to do with the next post is identify the groups that we can draw support from for a goal of vastly reducing the scope and power of the state. We need to identify our potential allies.

I hope this introduction to what I hope to do over several posts was not too rambling. Till next time, keep up the fight.

Lysander-Spooner-Quotes-5

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7 thoughts on “What can liberty lovers do in this era? (beginning thoughts)

  1. Mark,

    @024601 here. I’m going to respond to your post in a few separate comments, that way we can keep what I’m sure will be several overlapping ideas separate, for clarity’s sake. Forgive if I am missing any points or trying to interject my own. Blame it on the beer.

    “He pointed out that there was another major player other than the individual and the state. That player is the “nation”. Not the “nation-state” but the nation. The genuine nation is a people.”

    I’ve not read as much Rothbard, Mises or Hayek as you, but I was pleased to see the passage you quoted and its implications, for a couple of reasons.

    The first is that it kind of rebukes a trend I see in libertarianism where people eschew any and all association or cooperation with others. One of the main criticisms I hear about libertarianism, especially from the left, is that no one can do anything all on their own. That we all need to work together. Well yeah, no shit. My response is that libertarians, by their virtue of rejecting coercive cooperation via the state, are much better suited to work with others, especially on a voluntary basis. I think the left’s confusion comes from the fact that they take the role of the state for granted, and sometimes forget that voluntary cooperation requires actual work, instead of simply doing as you’re told.

    The second reason I found that quote interesting is because Rothbard specifically takes the point he is making to advocate for what I can only describe as a “nationalist” view of society. I see that driving the politics of more and more people these days, and I’ve got to admit, I find it a worrying trend. As you know, I came to libertarianism as a progressive via my appreciation for Ron Paul. He had always been an advocate of open borders, free movement of people, etc. In other words, not much of a nationalist as I had come to know it at all. Recently I’ve seen Donald Trumps appeal to a certain segment of what I can only call “nationalist libertarians.” After reading the selected Rothbard quote, it makes a lot more sense to me where these tendencies are coming from.

    • Great comment. I want to do the next post on how we get various groups on our side against the government as it is presently. I want to explore who are the enemies of liberty and who are our potential allies. I want to “pick sides”. 🙂

      I especially want to explore how we get the wimins to join us in greater numbers. I think looking at the family and other social groups is the answer.

      One of the things Rothbard did was ally himself with the “old-right” like the right in the 30s to 50s. They were very anti-interventionist and thought the US government should only defend these shores and not go overseas to look for enemies. That sounds very nationalistic to the ear of most modern people.

      Rothbard was also supportive of various cultural groups maintaining their traditions if they wanted to do so — as long as they practiced the non-aggression principle.

      Thanks for the comment. I hope to look at a lot of that in the next post.

  2. “A lot of Americans who hate the US Empire are divided on the issue of Donald Trump at the present time. But there is one unifying aspect that we don’t mention often enough. That aspect is that Trump represents a great and deep anger at the ruling elite. He may not be the total answer but many of his fans just know they hate the state as it is presently run. He is leading a populist uprising. That, my liberty loving friends, is a plus for our side. I think the Sanders supporters on the Democratic Party side also where driven by a deep hatred of the status quo. We have many potential allies!”

    Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

    And I struggle with the Trump thing, as you know.

    One thing I noticed, obviously, about Ron Paul, is that he attracted a lot of unsavory types. Racist, bigots, etc. The folks who hang out on Stormfront. My answer to that was always “well, he is offering to them the liberty to act like complete assholes, and that’s probably why they are attracted to him.” But they were always a small minority of his following, and one he had no particular love for. The overarching thing I saw at his rallies that I attended, was a lot of very different people, with very different beliefs, all very interested in being left the fuck alone, and all very interested in letting each other live their lives as they each saw fit.

    I do not see that with Trump. I know you will surely disagree, but I see a lot more of what I can only call genuine fascism there. Genuine xenophobia, and not a small minority, but a rather sizable contingent. He’s taken most of the worst of conservatism, put a populist anti-establishment sheen on it, and done a tremendous job of selling it. At the same time, he’s a magnificent bastard and I still loath Hillary Clinton far more than him. Do with that what you will.

    • I think Trump and the hatred of the status quo that he tapped into (he did not start if) will be a post coming soon. It is a big topic.

      I am conflicted about Trump himself, but not the populist uprising. We need some anger at the state. Every candidate of my lifetime has disappointed once he got elected. I am sure that Trump will disappoint many of his followers if he gets in. (I still doubt he can be elected and then take office)

      Some of his followers hate foreigners but most (I hope) just don’t like people coming here illegally. I teach many undocumented as well as legal immigrants and the children see a big difference in the two groups. (and children just parrot their parent’s beliefs)

      The Trump phenomenon is a paradox wrapped in a mystery.

  3. Last comment….

    I’d love to see your long-form thoughts on Gary Johnson, The Libertarian Party, and what role the party should serve in our nation.

    I think we could find a lot to discuss there.

    • It is summer and I have some time. I want to get to all those topics in this series.

      As with many AnCap and other anarchists, I am not optimistic that we can fix anything by politics. Rothbard gave up on the Libertarian Party long ago, but the Trump phenomenon shows that just one man can turn a party upside down.

      If we could herd all the disaffected into the LP and turn it into the “very tiny state” Party then that might be a vehicle. We should not turn our noses at any ally. After all, even Rothbard tried to make allies out of the “New Left” once upon a time.

  4. Pingback: What can liberty lovers do in this era? (#1 – good guys and bad guys) | On the Mark

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