On Larken Rose, Libertarian Organizations, and the Means to Achieving Liberty

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This is from a post on LarkenRose.com.

The “Campaign for Liberty” is about to have a huge event in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in just a couple of weeks. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be there (as a spectator), but I know I won’t be speaking there.

Being faced with the tyrannical monstrosity that now resides in Washington, a lot of pro-freedom folks are talking about how everyone who loves liberty should do whatever it takes to “get along” and to “work together” toward our common goals. The question is, what ARE those supposed common goals?

…Instead of continually trying to get freedom “legalized,” those who value individual liberty should be working to come up with ways to outwit, escape, resist or defeat the tentacles of “government.” Yes, I mean they should be figuring out ways to be free, despite the fact that freedom is, and always has been, “illegal.”

A PDF of the full post is here. His website does not seem to have permalinks. I encourage you to read his entire post. 

Larken is most visible for having gone to jail for failure to file tax returns. The Department of (in)Justice refers to him as a “notorious tax protester.” I saw Larken Rose speak when he came to Michigan a few months ago. He started his talk by telling the audience that he was going to talk about something they might find hard to swallow. He talked about why it is that there can be no place for a ruling government in a free society, because the concept of government planning and redistribution is, by definition, an invasion of individual rights.

Old hat for me, but most of the people in the audience, I could see, were a bit perplexed by Rose’s radical direction. He talked about his evolution from being skeptical of goverment, to being a libertarian minarchist, to being a libertarian anarchist. In the above-linked post, he talks about his book, How To Be a Successful Tyrant. I’ve read the book, and it is superbly done, so I highly recommend it. He has written a few additional books and has tirelessly advocated liberty and shared his life experience with audiences all over the world. Larken is the real thing.

I don’t diss CFL, and I don’t think Larken does either. I think he just asks some basic questions about what is (or isn’t) being done to pursue the good life that is not dominated by government intervention. Though I do wish he’d elaborate further on how people should “outwit, escape, resist or defeat the tentacles of government.” We write much on LRC (or link to articles) about resisting government hegemony, becoming self-sufficient through frugality and resourcefulness, getting out of debt, planning for employment opportunities, investing using the principles of Austrian Economics, embracing natural (not pharmaceutical) means to good health, etc. These are all things that are done outside of the political process.

I tend to think that the good these groups do – like the Campaign for Liberty or Young Americans for Liberty - is in exposing other young people to some radical ideas based on using painstaking analysis and critical thinking skills. Many of these kids, when given some exposure to the ideas of liberty, experience the lights going on, they become inspired to learn more, and later become idealistic visionaries and proponents of libertarian thought. Sure, these groups get involved in politics, and too much for my taste, but developing a political libertarian is at least a step in the right direction, especially for people who formerly would not have entertained anything but mainstream, pro-state ideas cherished by the collective, group-think masses. If we can get people – especially young people – to move closer to the goals of making proper distinctions, deconstructing GovernmentSpeak, defining terms, and forcing critical assessment of what is said in the media, that is a major part of the education process. Until they can learn to do this, their personal opinions matter little. Republicrats and Demopublicans have opinions too, but no substance and no ability to reason. This is where we want to be unique.

I think, at this point, that nothing can be fixed via the political process. No ballots, no politicians, and no libertarian-lite legislation is going to restore liberty, because the political process has become so corrupt and its agents are immensely wealthy and empowered. We don’t have the political power to defeat them outright, but we do have the individual power – working in concert with one another – to resist them, impede them, protest them, deny them, and ally with others who wish to do the same.

I still think that education of the human mind, by freeing people from the imprisonment of conventional learning and exposing them to a higher level of reasoning, is a great force for liberty for coming generations. The grass roots movement doesn’t just sing to a choir – it recruits for the choir. We teach people to think and we recruit them into the thinking class.

9:17 am on September 8, 2009