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Should Anarcho-Capitalists Abandon Political Activism?

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(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

AnCap FlagQUESTION: I now identify more with anarcho-capitalism and I want to disengage from political action. I further hope that politics will become increasingly irrelevant to people as liberty ideas spread. What do you think of this approach?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Everyone must follow their hearts. If you are called to something other than political action, that’s where you should put your energy. That is where you will be most passionate and successful and where you will find your next step, whatever that may be.

We need people in the liberty movement in politics, but we also need those who actualize the stateless society, as you’d like to do. In my opinion, running as a candidate provides a wonderful platform for teaching others about libertarianism. Taking political action at some point is probably necessary to change the system. However, when society is ready for liberty, it will look beyond politics to see what works. Each of these three activities takes people with different talents and attitudes; we need them all.

Enjoy your journey; feel free to share what you find!

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LEARN MORE: Suggested additional reading on this topic from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

Some libertarians have long pondered the question of the need, desirability and nature of political activity. Following are two articles from prominent anarcho-capitalists, one pro-political activism, one against. Both make great reading, regardless of one’s views on the subject.

The Anti-Party Mentality by Murray N. Rothbard, November 10, 1980. Arguably the father of anarcho-capitalism (often credited with creating the name), Rothbard strongly supported political activism. In this article, Rothbard criticizes fellow anarcho-capitalist Samuel Edward Konkin III’s anti-political booklet New Libertarian Manifesto and explains why he thinks political activism is necessary for liberty to triumph.

Excerpt: “I see no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action. Religious or philosophical conversion of each man and woman is simply not going to work; that strategy ignores the problem of power, the fact that millions of people have a vested interest in statism and are not likely to give it up… Education in liberty is of course vital, but it is not enough; action must also be taken to roll back the State…”

Voluntaryist Resistance by Carl Watner. The founder of the acclaimed Voluntaryist newsletter and website opposes political activity on both practical and moral grounds. He explains why in this 1983 essay.

Excerpt: “The Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political strategies to achieve a free society. We reject electoral politics, both in theory and practice, as incompatible with libertarian principles. Governments must cloak their actions in an aura of moral legitimacy in order to sustain their power, and political methods invariably strengthen that legitimacy. Voluntaryists seek instead to delegitimize the State through education, and we advocate withdrawal of the cooperation and tacit consent on which State power ultimately depends. Voluntaryists are exclusively committed to using nonviolent strategies to oppose the State. The purpose of this paper is to show why this commitment is a function of voluntaryism and how voluntaryist resistance differs from conventional nonviolence theory.”

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They Said It

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Chuck Schumer(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

DEMOCRATS TO VOTE AGAINST FIRST AMENDMENT: “The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans. We have to bring some balance to our political system.” — Sen.Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Apr 30, 2014, announcing that Democrats will vote this year on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to override First Amendment protections of political speech and political activism by restricting the amount that individuals and groups can spend on such speech and activities.

SAVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT: “Displeased with recent legal victories in which free speech has prevailed over limitations on political speech imposed by Congress, Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), Mark Udall (D., Colo.), and other Senate Democrats have introduced a constitutional amendment that would not only set aside the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence and invest Congress with virtually unlimited power to regulate the political activism of private citizens, alone or in groups, but would also give the federal government and the states the power to shut down newspapers, television stations, and radio networks that displease them. This is an all-out assault on the First Amendment and an act of vandalism against the Constitution.” — The editors of National Review, “Save the First Amendment,” May 2, 2014.

EVERYONE IS UNDER SURVEILLANCE NOW — SNOWDEN:

Edward Snowden

“[Surveillance] is no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing. It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.” — NSA whistleblowerEdward Snowden, “Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden,” Associated Press, theguardian.com, May 3 2014.

PULLED OVER FOR DRIVING WHILE HUMAN: “Driving stiffly, having tinted windows, slowing down when seeing law enforcement, and driving in an out-of-the-way area may be innocent conduct by themselves. But when taken together along with driving a vehicle with out-of-state plates in a mountainous smuggling corridor 40-45 miles away from the border, we conclude Agent Semmerling had reasonable suspicion Ms. Westhoven was involved in smuggling activity.” — Federal Judge Scott M. Matheson, Jr., writing in US v. Westhoven (US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, April 24, 2014). Also cited by the judge as reasonable cause for suspicion: acne, nervousness, driving with hands on the steering wheel in the 10-2 position.

Jimmy KimmelEARTH DAY GIFTS: “I never know what to get the Earth for Earth Day. So I just bought it an iTunes gift card and buried it.” — Jimmy Kimmel April 23, 2014.

FOREIGN AID:

Jimmy Fallon

“Joe Biden said the U.S. will help Ukraine with financial aid as long as the leaders tackle corruption. Because if anything stops corruption, it’s bribing someone to stop corruption.” — Jimmy Fallon April 22, 2014.

NOT IN AMERICA: “Donald Sterling’s girlfriend said she’s ‘going to be president of the United States’ one day. Yeah, like we’re going to elect someone who secretly records people’s private phone calls and conversations.” — Jimmy Fallon May 1, 2014.

RE-QUOTED AND NOTED

MISES ON POLITICAL ACTIVISM: “No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is Ludwig von Misessweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result.” — Ludwig von Mises from his 1922 classic Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, quoted by Jim Powell in his investment newsletter Global Changes and Opportunities Report, April 2014. You can read Socialism by Mises in its entirety online here or download it as a free ebook from the Mises Institute here.