by Paul Bonneau
Have you ever wondered what freedom would look like? The big picture, I mean; not just like what it would be like to smoke some pot without being beat up by thugs.
Strangely enough, any realistic picture of freedom will have to include statists in some respect! It’s not like we can take any remaining statists out back and put a bullet in their head; that option, although consistent with statism (at least the more extreme varieties), is not available to us. And it is completely unrealistic to imagine that we can ever convert all statists to support freedom. If we have learned anything about freedom, it is that many if not most people have no use for it, or prefer it in small doses.
Luckily, we don’t need to shoot them or convert them! Divorce is good enough. Statists will always be here, but we don’t have to live with them.
The answer, I believe, is that old notion, that government should be as local as possible. Statist City should have the kinds of laws its population loves and supports. Minarchist Town should have a few, and Anarchyville should have none at all.
This prescription takes into account the fact that people are rarely all one sort of person. No one is perfectly statist, few if any are perfectly anarchist, and virtually everyone changes over time. Doesn’t matter, as long as they live where it suits them.
In a realistic free world, strangely enough, there will be plenty of room for statists, just as today. The only difference is that they will be limited to oppressing themselves, not us. And for many of them, maybe even most of them, that will be good enough. Most statists want people in their immediate vicinity to be controlled, not everyone on earth. It’s more the ruling class that wants the latter.
Of course, secession will be necessary. We can’t have the feds telling us what to do. Bad enough that after secession, the states will still want to do the same thing. Clearly there must be a devolution of governance to the lowest possible level. It will be a long process.
But the funny thing is, many statists support this notion that government should be as local as possible–which means we can recruit them for this effort! One-size-fits-all government does not make them any more happy than it makes us.
I was once involved with battling the teaching of religious ideas such as Creationism in government schools. Once I completely gave up on government schools and joined the homeschooling community, I found people there whose worldviews I had been battling before, living in nearly complete harmony. Once people realized they could pass their worldview to their own children, all need for battle disappeared. They didn’t care that other parents’ children were learning strange notions, just as long as their own children weren’t.
“Love It Or Leave It”? We should adopt this slogan. It is threatening only if “leave it” means getting kicked out of America (and going where, exactly?). When all it means is moving down the road 20 miles, what’s the problem? It’s not a problem at all; it’s a solution!
Another group of statists believe we should “Honor Diversity.” OK then, let’s be diverse! Diverse in governance (or lack thereof). They too should be able to get behind this idea of local governance.
I’m fully in agreement with Stefan Molyneux’s notion that the first thing to be freed is yourself, in your personal relationships. But having done that, still there is an advantage to not being thrown in jail for wanting to smoke a little pot, or for buying a gun.
As a side note, the question might come up, how anarchy can be maintained in Anarchyville, since apparently nothing prevents statists moving there? The answer is shunning. Most statists will get the message that they should live with “their own kind.” Societal pressures will generally point in this direction.
Lately I have adopted this position in my internet forum discussions. At the end, after having made the case for freedom, I always say something like, “If you want socialist health care, then have it. I hope you get what you want. But in return, you should allow me to get what I want. We should not be forced to take one system or another; we should be able to choose based on our location (for example). Socialist health care for socialists, and no government health care for freedom-lovers.” Interestingly, most people seem satisfied with this. If they weren’t, they would be backed into a corner, having to advocate imposing on others, which is a tad less easy than “health care is a human right.” Most statists at this point either agree, or keep their mouths shut. And more to the point, the observers of the argument take notice.
It is a hell of a lot less threatening to a statist to think the freedom we envision still includes a place for them–a place even more suited to them, in fact, than what they have right now. They don’t have to imagine freedom being shoved down their throats. They don’t have to imagine putting up with donkey sex in the neighbor’s front yard, or whatever other absurd paranoid fantasy they might have about it.
A corollary to this is the realization that anyone working to impose freedom from the national level is less than helpful, even counterproductive, to our cause. Forceful homogenization of people’s desires is wrong no matter who does it. The only thing that should happen at the national level is the devolution of power downward.
My motto these days is “Let Statists be Statists. Just don’t make me part of it.”
Of course for this to work, freedom-lovers must be willing to move to a place that is free. It’s no help to remain 10% of the local population everywhere. Freedom lovers must concentrate their populations to some extent. There are the obvious state level efforts going on these days: Free State Project in New Hampshire, Free State Wyoming, and others such as Alaska, Montana and so forth. And there are efforts at concentrating different varieties of statists too, such as Vermont and Southern Secession movements (Texas and South Carolina). At least they could be characterized as statist, although they might object to be called that. All these things are good, if only we can support them with our own movement. “Love it or leave it,” folks. If you don’t leave it, you must love it. If you won’t even put out the modest effort to move toward freedom, then what good are you?
State-level concentration is good; so is community-level concentration. But whichever you prefer, please get off your duff and do it.
It occurs to me that a rough approximation of this state of affairs might even exist already, right in the middle of our rotten, fading empire. Anarchyville might be here, somewhere, already. State law may mandate a town have a sheriff, but nothing prevents that sheriff from being a figurehead, or “forgetting” to enforce laws. It doesn’t take a revolution to make this happen; it only takes concentration. It takes people who love freedom enough to move to the right place.