It seems that my recent article, No Room for Statism in the Libertarian Tent, and my recent blog post, The Libertarianism Debate Continues, have touched a nerve with some people. One emailer felt that I was arrogant and simplistic, and on a “high horse” in my perhaps harsh evaluation of “minarchists” or “minimal state,” limited-government libertarians and my promotion of uncompromisingly principled libertarianism.
In my blog post, I wrote, ” if you support a State to exist to rule over my life, my person, my property, my labor and my contracts, and whose agents or employees are empowered to use threats and coercion against me if I don’t obey their rules regarding what they think I should do with my life, my person and property, and my labor and contracts (rules which go beyond ‘don’t aggress, don’t violate other people’s persons or property,’ etc.), then I find it very difficult to say that you are a libertarian.” I don’t see that as “simplistic” or “arrogant,” but merely clarifying the difference between actual libertarianism and statism.
All libertarianism is is the promotion of the non-aggression principle. Don’t initiate aggression. It involves self-ownership. I own my life, and you own your life.
But, as soon as you institute a “State,” an organization whose agents assume control over a particular territory and over the lives of the people within the territory, no matter how “limited” that State organization, what about those people within that territory who disagree with that organization’s control or monopoly of various “services,” or its method of collecting payments for such “services”? Such a method for such a scheme is contract-less and coerced. Right there you have abandoned the non-aggression principle, no?
So do you really want to empower that coercive government and its agents to have that kind of control over everyone in the territory even those who don’t consent to those State agents’ authority and control? And what, as long as 51% of the population voted for that system which rules over everyone including the other 49%, that’s okay? And the majority-elected rulers have the power to enforce their will on the minority with aggression, coercion and violence? That’s an acceptable “libertarian” view of society?
Obviously, with such a “limited government” that involves coercion and the use of aggression to enforce the will of the rulers or the majority, it is still a rejection of the non-aggression principle.
So really, because of the absence of a voluntary contract between the State’s agents and those over whom this State apparatus rules, and because of the empowerment of a group of people to make demands on those who do not consent to its rule and to use deadly force if dissenters resist such a rule, what we have here, as Murray Rothbard pointed out, is nothing more than a criminal enterprise. A racket.
Even a “limited government” is still an institution in which dissenters who might prefer to use private services (such as for security) may not do so because such alternative choices will not be recognized by the official “law” of the society, which isn’t really “law” at all, but a racket. Therefore, this “limited government” thing is really phony-baloney, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
So in the meantime, according to some who are minimal-State libertarians or who are anarcho-capitalists but feel that gradualism from current “Big Government” to liberty is the way to go, I ask you: Right now, when I’m walking down the street and this empowered government police officer wants to stop me and question me for no reason, and I’m minding my own business and he doesn’t suspect me of anything, and I say, “Would you mind leaving me alone, I’d like to go on my way,” and he doesn’t like that and wants to grab me and prevent me from going on my way even though he has no reason to suspect me of anything, what do you say then? We should keep this scheme of government monopoly in place? But only temporarily until we can convince more authoritarian sheeple to please let us have our freedom, dignity and peace? So according to your “limited government” system, if I try to defend myself against this gangster who has no moral authority to stop me, then I’m the criminal, and not the aforementioned neanderthal. No thanks.
And also, there are self-described “libertarians” who want to reform the local government police, reform the NSA, or reform Medicare or Social Security. Yet those schemes are all immoral and unjust monopolies, ponzi schemes and criminal rackets. You can’t reform a criminal racket, can you?
“Limited government” still involves the institutionalization of aggression as the official, legal means to enforce the will of the rulers and their enforcers, to push the will of the majority onto the minority, and it creates a two-tier system in which there is one set of laws for the rulers and their enforcers and another set of laws for everyone else. That’s hardly a libertarian way of life, in my view.
So reforming a criminal enterprise isn’t just merely rearranging the deck chairs. A criminal enterprise that enslaves and imprisons innocents can’t be a “limited” one. And an organization which uses only “minimal aggression” initiated against people can never be just.
I know, a lot of people have been brainwashed to accept the State and its monopolies and territorial control as a given. They are indoctrinated through 12 years of government-controlled schooling to idolize and be loyal and obedient to the State and not question its legitimacy.
The fact that so many amongst the population are so brainwashed to not question the State’s legitimacy is why honest persuasion on the justness and goodness and peace of liberty and libertarianism can better help to break through that indoctrination. Certainly the political process and elections (“We’ll elect that ‘libertarian’ to office and he’ll shrink the size and intrusiveness of government, that’s for sure,” etc. etc. etc.) have not worked thus far. And that is because the inherent nature of the State is to always grow, become more powerful and intrusive, and never shrink. Instead of wasting time and money attempting to reform the criminal racket, it needs to be abolished, root and branch. More and more people are beginning to wake up to that and accept that fact.
Libertarians, stick to your guns in the cause of liberty. One helpful hint is to read Rothbard, Rockwell, and Hoppe. The future of libertarianism and liberty really depends on being uncompromising and 100% principled.