What Reform Is

Liberty needs no libertarian reformers within the state

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The state, as an essentially parasitic enemy of voluntary society, institutionally incentivizes parasitic behavior in its members. When it limits its parasitism, the motivations underlying that restraint are almost entirely pragmatic raisons d’état, and not a principled recognition of individual rights. The state will generally predate as much as public opinion will let it get away with. When it restricts its predations, it generally does so to avoid running into mass resistance (regarding this, see my other essay, “Peacefully Staring Down the State”) and to preserve its public perception of legitimacy. Talk of “liberty” and “principle” by those within the state who seek to shrink the state are also generally mere attempts to shore up state legitimacy, and not expressions of true solidarity with victims of the state.

There is no need for principled libertarians to join the ranks of the state, or to try to direct it through voting, in order to cause the state to reverse-march. So long as there is ideological change shifting the frontier of potential resistance and the requirements for public legitimacy toward more libertarian demands, prudentially parasitic individuals within the state (many posing as libertarians, unfortunately) will assuredly come forth to call for limiting the state in order to preserve it. There is no need for actual libertarians to fill that role.

Liberalizing reform is not a matter of “public advocates” within the state “standing up for liberty.” Rather, liberalizing reform is a state ploy for self-preservation; it is a parasite pragmatically withdrawing an appendage to avoid counter-productively provoking its host. Libertarians need only induce such reform by making the host more irritable, through ideological change and the resulting advance of the red line of potential resistance. Prudent statists will then almost surely arise to counter the imprudent statists and counsel partial retreat. If they do not, the state will lose legitimacy and collapse all the sooner.

There is no need for actual libertarians to take on the role of the prudent statist in countering imprudent statists from within the state. Libertarians actually taking a hand in state reform is unnecessary, not to mention counter-productively corrupting to libertarians and tarnishing to the libertarian brand.

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