State Power and How It Might Be Undermined

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State power is the most dangerous force in modern life. State rulers, seeking their own aggrandizement and enrichment, employ this power systematically to plunder and abuse their subjects. Of course, they cannot act in this way without the assistance of many others, among whom some assist willingly, some in return for adequate compensation, and many only under duress.

To maintain their grip on power, state rulers (1) bamboozle as many subjects as possible; (2) co-opt those whose cooperation or support is essential by bribing them with various sorts of payoffs; (3) intimidate those who are not essential and not fooled by threatening them with fines, imprisonment, and other punishments; and (4) kill those who are not essential, are not fooled, and will not bend to intimidation.

Anyone who seeks to stymie or overturn state power must block these state actions or render them less effective. Resisters therefore have many options.

First, they may work to reduce the number of people who succumb to the rulers’ bamboozlement by exposing the rulers’ lies, spreading truthful information, and revealing the rulers’ venality and cynical disregard of the people’s natural rights and the general public interest. People may withdraw their children from government schools and teach them at home; they may spread truthful information about the horrors of the state and the glories of freedom by means of the Internet and the World Wide Web. In short, people may use the word processor that is mightier than the Predator drone (formerly the pen that is mightier than the sword) as well as face-to-face communication to reeducate those who have been taught, conditioned, and forced to drink’s the rulers’ Kool-Aid.

Second, resisters may alter the incentives of those who cooperate or support the state in return for various payoffs. For example, companies that seek contracts with the government or privileges gained via regulation, tariff protection, or other anti-social means might be boycotted. If this effort caught on, companies would be put in a position of having to choose between the profits to be gained by serving the state and the profits to be gained by serving consumers in a free market. Just as today many sellers certify that their produce is organic and thereby gain sales at the expense of sellers who cannot make this claim, sellers might certify, via independent third-party certification agencies in the free market, that they are free of government contamination – that is, that they have neither sought nor accepted any contract or privilege from the government.

Those who are currently co-opted by the state might also be subjected to public condemnation, denunciation, and shunning, not only commercially but socially. If a company works with the government’s armed forces or its spy agencies, for example, people might treat its owners, executives, and workers as the untouchables were treated in the classic Indian caste system. No matter how much the government offered in pay and perks, some people might be unwilling to invest in or work for companies if such an association would make them social pariahs.

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