Adam Kokesh’s plan to seek the Libertarian Party nomination in 2020 on a program of abolishing the federal government would seem to be a move in the correct direction. However, this idea may be incomplete in various ways. This leads to the need for a consideration of what the ideal anti-state leader would be, and what their actual role might be in the development of an anti-state movement.
I would argue that abolition of the US federal government is the most important task that anarchists, libertarians, and anti-statists can currently devote themselves to. The US regime is not just another government. It is the most powerful state in history, the de facto government of the world, and, not coincidentally, the world’s most deadly and lethal regime at present in terms of the sheer numbers of casualties generated by its actions. Domestically, the USA is also the world’s leader in mass incarceration, and maintains one of the world’s largest police states. This does not by itself mean that the USA is the worst possible state to live in as a citizen. To the contrary, the US maintains a much higher per capita income level and a much higher level of technological and industrial development than many states, which affords the average person a very high level of comfort by world-historical standards. However, it should be no surprise that one of the world’s most technologically advanced and wealthiest states would also be the most aggressive and imperialistic.
The primary reason to abolish the US regime is its role as a worldwide killer that seeks global dominance, and which threatens aggression and invasion against nations that do not comply with the imperial program. However, this is an issue that is of nearly zero concern to most people living in the domestic United States. As the libertarian writer Tom Mullen has pointed out, “Unfortunately, most Americans do not bat an eye at the worst offenses committed by the presidency, namely the killing of millions in undeclared wars of choice with nations who have never attacked the United States.”
One of the most important political occurrences that happened in US history was the success of the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the consequent delegitimization of imperialist wars and military conscription. This success has reduced the US state, the most powerful state in history, to having to fight imperialist wars with armies of indentured servants, mercenaries, and proxy forces. The indentured servants that comprise the state’s official armed forces are largely generated by the economic draft which results from the ongoing impoverishment of poor and working class communities. That’s the reason why the US armed forces are both disproportionately minorities and disproportionately from white working class strongholds like the Rust Belt. However, an ironic consequence of the abolition of conscription is that the general public no longer has any motivation to oppose imperialist war. This does not mean that the abolition of the draft was a bad thing. The elimination of conscription was both a major victory for individual liberty, and deprived the state of access to mass conscript armies. Yet it does mean that opposition to imperialist war is no longer a viable vehicle for organizing mass resistance to the state as it was during the 1960s.
However, the example of Ron Paul is interesting to consider. Ron Paul was a rather popular presidential candidate, for a fringe candidate, and emphasized a consistently antiwar and civil libertarian message, while also focusing on opposition to central banking, and presenting himself as a generally socially conservative figure who nevertheless de-emphasized the more right-wing aspects of his outlook during his campaign. The result is that Ron Paul spurred the growth of the liberty movement. However, this movement has not necessarily ventured in a happy direction since that time. Instead, libertarianism has splintered into a range of factions that serve as microcosm of the wider set of left/right red/blue divisions that dominate the wider society. For example, some former libertarians have become alt-rightists and others have ventured into “social justice warrior” territory.
The big question at present involves the issue of how a new anti-state leader could emerge that has a similar impact to Ron Paul, though greater and more far reaching, and in a way that is more sustainable in the long run. Given the present polarization that exists in the United States, the ideal anti-state leader would have to be someone that is seen as rising above the usual dividing lines, and has a focus that is oriented towards the Center, albeit the radical or even revolutionary Center rather than the Left or Right.
At present, there is no single issue on which Americans are particularly focused. Instead, what is driving the present divide is a range of issues of varying degrees of importance to different sectors society. Therefore, it would be difficult for an anti-state leader to attempt to amass a following by appealing to a single issue of the conventional kind. Instead, the ideal anti-state leader would be one that was seen as capable of rising above conventional divisions concerning left/right political affiliations, cultural norms, religion, race/ethnicity, gender/sexual orientation, class/occupation, language/nationality, or positions on particular issues of controversy such as abortion, gay rights, immigration, or gun control.
The plan that Adam Kokesh has put forward is a good one in the sense that it focuses on the core issue at hand for the anti-state movement, i.e. state abolition, rather than the usual array of side issues that normally serve as distractions for the anti-state movement(s). I do not think Adam’s plan would actually be “legal” within the framework of the US constitutional system. I know of no powers the President has to simply dissolve the federal government by means of executive order. I am quite certain that Congress, the federal courts, the wider array of the power elite/state/ruling class, and, especially, the military industrial complex, would resist. A sitting President that attempted such an action would simply be removed in the same manner as Salvador Allende and replaced with an Augusto Pinochet.
However, politics is driven by myth as much as it is by factual realities. The emergence of a popular anti-state leader offering a plan for dissolving the federal government, and in a way that transcends or rises above the normal left/right divisions would likely have the effect of growing the anti-state movement. President Donald Trump has been something of a godsend to anti-statists because having an oafish creep as head of state is certainly a desirable state of affairs in the sense of its corrosive effects on the legitimacy of the state. Hopefully, Trump will inspire a wave of even more ridiculous and cretinous characters to seek and win elective office.
Additionally, the polarization that is currently taking place is by no means undesirable, either. Increasingly, Americans are coming to give their primary loyalties to their “tribe” (with the Red and Blue tribes being the largest of these), rather than the state itself, which can only have the effect of delegitimizing the state to an even greater degree. It is also true that a range of political and other subcultures are emerging which espouse an increasingly bizarre array of crack pot causes and beliefs. Examples include the apparent growth of the flat earth movement as well as the seemingly growing popularity of conspiracy theories. The intellectual quality of these movements may be shabby beyond belief, but intellectual standards only matter for intellectuals. If others adopt the view that the government is indescribably evil because lizard people from outer space are pulling the strings of state power, this ultimately helps rather than hinders the anti-state cause.
Similarly, the growth of extremist movements on the margins likewise has a similar effect of corroding the legitimacy of the state. It is for this reason that the marginal growth of movements such as Alt-Right, Antifa, neo-Communism (now commonly called “tankies”), White Nationalism, Black Lives Matter, etc. may actually be helpful in the sense that these represent social currents that oppose the legitimacy of the (current) state, and tribes to which people are transferring their loyalties. This does not mean that it would be desirable for any of these to gain state power. Far from it. The threat of the seizure of power by racial extremists or totalitarian political groups, left or right, would justify Schmittian repression. However, to the degree that these represent a disruptive force on the margins they are helpful. The same could be said of loopy elected officials. For example, it is helpful when a lunatic Trotskyist extremist such as Kshama Sawant gets elected to the Seattle City Council just as it might be helpful to have a lunatic right-wing Christian extremist such as Roy Moore in the Senate. The objective is to make the state into the greatest mockery and laughing stock possible. As I have said elsewhere, “I seriously want Kanye West to run for Prez with Kim as his running mate, and I want to see Ted Nugent and Kid Rock stand for the Republican side. I want to see characters like Paris Hilton and Snoop Dog and Eminem in Congress, as Governors and as Mayors of major cities. For people who feel that they must vote, I always encourage them to vote for the most ridiculous and extreme people possible” whether their choice is the Transhumanist Party or the Party for the Animals.
However, it would be inappropriate for the anti-state leader to be someone who espouses such ideas in the manner of an Alex Jones-like or Abby Martin-like figure. Instead, the ideal anti-state leader would be someone who emerged as a national leader espousing a platform similar to that of Adam Kokesh, or Norman Mailer during his 1969 mayoral run in New York City. However, such a leader would need to have a “moderate” to “liberal” image. Because anti-statism is often associated with right-wing extremism in the United States, it is likely necessary for the anti-state leader to be someone that does not come from a right-wing background and maintains no right-wing affiliations. Additionally, third party organizations have proven themselves to be very inept and inadequate in terms of both winning elections and spreading a political message. Ron Paul was a miserable failure when he ran for the presidency as a Libertarian. It was only when he ran in the Republican primaries that he achieved popularity.
At present, I am inclined towards the view that the ideal anti-state leader would be someone that entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries in some future election as an explicitly anti-state candidate espousing a program similar to that of Kokesh or Mailer. Such a person would need to be “credible” in the sense of having already been successful in politics, business, entertainment or sports, but they would also need a “clean” image in the sense of not being easy to denigrate as a mentally ill, racist, drug addicted, sexually perverted, huckersting, criminal freak. Indeed, it might very well be helpful if such a person came across as exceedingly conventional and boring in their personal life. However, such a person would also have to be entirely committed to the anti-state cause in a very sincere way, and in a way that was capable of selling the anti-state message and awakening the 40% of Americans who now express sympathies with secessionist causes.
The impact of such a leader would be to greatly expand the popularity of state abolitionism, and hopefully generate the development of even more radical anti-state movements on the ground level in the same way that Ron Paul inspired the liberty movement. Given the ever growing diversity of US society it is unlikely that there will ever be “unity” among anti-statists. Instead, a more practical approach might be to encourage the proliferation of anti-state movements across the political and cultural spectrum, with many of these being vociferously opposed to each other, and espousing any range of extremist, dubious, or generally crackpot ideas about faked moon landings, weather manipulation by pedophiles in the Vatican, microaggressions, romantic medievalism, occultism, or “cows are people, too!”
However, while the growth of a massive political underclass of this kind might be helpful towards the purpose of merely growing the anti-state movement(s) on a numerical level, it is also necessary to develop a more intellectually and politically serious overclass of that is capable of developing workable ideas toward the objective of state abolitionism. The ideal anti-state leader must necessarily be someone that is capable of making state abolitionism appear reasonable, nuanced, moderate and even-tempered in appearance.
It is also imperative to develop such a movement in the United States as much as in any other nation, not only for the reasons previously described, for also for the world-historical ripple effect that the disintegration of the United States (the world’s most powerful state and in many ways the most radical nation) into, for example, a collection of hundreds or even thousands of independent communities similar to the Greek cities of antiquity would actually have.
It is necessary for an influential national leader to emerge that has the effect of “getting the ball rolling” toward the development of movement(s) of this kind. Thus far, I have no clue as to who such a leader would be or if such a person would ever even exist.