The two most important words in the anarcho-libertarian vocabulary are, or should be if they’re not already, “secession” and “abolish.” These two linguistic gems convey the most immediate of actions that are necessary to restore order in a world of chaos and aggression. They are also unambiguous and direct.
Liberty abhors centralization, and centralization is socialist.
Political centralization is the concentration of power onto a small group of people called the state (sometimes also referred to as “the government”). The state is an institution which excels at nothing except the violation of rights. It has monopolized many entrepreneurial functions. These functions, ranging from the production of law and security to the management of money and banking, must be returned to entrepreneurs and provided by the free market.
Secession is the separation of a large political unit into smaller political units. At first, it would seem that the libertarian should have nothing to do in terms of supporting a particular political group over another. Indeed, all politics implies the existence of a state, and the state is the institution of aggression. Why then should we favor secession?
For one, secession puts local interests above those of faraway politicians. It is impossible to fathom that a few hundred legislators can really know what is the best for your life and the life of your family and friends and community. The politician not only pretends to know what is best for you, but also believes that it is his duty to provide such things. As if that were not enough, the politician will ultimately employ threats against your life and property to force you to comply with the governmental decrees. The above is still true with the more local government, yet secession helps to return the power, even if such power is for now another — but smaller — state, closer to home, where it can become increasingly more manageable.
And while it is true that local governments can be despotic, it is nonetheless important to keep the larger, usually more powerful government, at bay. The larger governments get, the more aggressive they tend to be. As the number of citizens (or “serfs”) under its control (“jurisdiction”) increases, the government manages not only to steal more, but starts to steal in many creative ways.
What are the limits of secession, or where should it stop? Allow provinces and states to secede from the national government and then cities from the province. Villages, counties, townships and hamlets: the decentralization must trickle down until we reach the individual level and then voluntary non-political associations can finally become possible. One of the main historical problems of secession is that they failed because they did not go far enough.
And finally, the spirit of secession emboldens the mind and warms the heart. It heightens the desire for freedom and fuels the spirits of freedom fighters.
Few things are more pestilent than socialism. Socialism is state control of our means (our bodies or property) and in controlling our means, it limits our ends. For every government program, there is a market sector that has been crippled or, worse, has been regulated so severely that only the state has a monopoly over it. Every time the state grows, the flame of liberty grows dimmer.
Abolishing government programs is necessary to regain many of the missing bits of freedom that have been eliminated. But it does not stop here. Beyond being free of having to finance and submit to a government program, its abolition opens up the possibility for entrepreneurs to discover if there is a demand for the government “service” that has just been abolished. Lacking governmental obstacles, the free market can fill the needs of our fellow human beings in more efficient ways. That is, it can do more with the same resources, or provide more goods and services with fewer resources. Market competition lowers prices, continually improves quality, and reduces wasteful activities. State programs do nothing of the sort.
When people are free to make their own choices, society becomes smarter. They do not have to depend on a single provider of solutions or policies. Of course, those solutions — if they can be called solutions — are planned by politicians (who are suddenly experts in every field!), financed by theft and are ultimately imposed by threats of fines or jail time or death, or a combination of these.
Though markets continue to bring increased quality of life and wealth to those who participate in it, the last hundred years have witnessed the consolidation of large central powers (the U.S. Federal government and the European Union come to mind). This obscene conglomeration of power has done nothing but inflate currencies, control the movement of people across international (and sometimes even within national) lines, regulate and control commerce, or otherwise ban it completely. The result has always been disastrous. Wherever there is socialism, there are poverty and chaos. Increased central planning and additional bureaucratization take us farther away from markets and from liberty. To have freedom, the advances of the 20th century must be repealed. Politically at least, smaller is better.
Thanks to Juan Fernando Carpio for the original idea.