Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Abolish Government

Libertarian commentators often discuss the reasons government doesn’t function as advertised. There are so many things wrong with government, and so many examples to point to, that documenting peccadilloes is easy. We take some heat, then, for failing to suggest solutions. Much of that heat is a little misguided, as we mention the final solution frequently: Privatize everything, from education to roads. Additionally, we writers often make the mistake of assuming readers know what we’re thinking; it is often the case that identifying a problem identifies the solution, but not everyone is on the same page – most folks (us writers included) don’t always realize how many solutions are already available. For that reason, in recent articles I’ve linked some resources that have good bibliographies, and that refer to concrete, current instances of private successes.

Going another step, I gather that the real problem is how to get from here to there: How to implement the solutions we suggest in the face of government opposition; how to reach the eventual (peaceful!) abolition of government.

First, the good news: I’m convinced government will be abolished (the reasons why will be for another article), but that it will take time. For now, here are some things we can do to hasten it along.

The most effective, enduring thing you can do is home school your children. That’s easy to say; actually doing it is a big deal. You have to make arrangements to live on one income, which assumes you have two parents in the house, which of course you should. Many believe the parent (hopefully the mother) who stays home and educates her children is making a great sacrifice. Fortunately, this isn’t really true; sophisticated New York cultural magazines are finally carrying articles showing that career mothers increasingly wish they’d stayed home, and more of them seem to be making the decision to do so. Further, homeschooling is engaging and rewarding for both parents. It’s simply more fun than the doodads and vehicles you can buy with the second income (while paying someone with inferior talents, skills, and motivation to take your neighbor’s tax money to control what kind of adults your children become).

When you home school, you produce well-educated, freedom-loving, self-reliant, well-adjusted children who will make you proud; who are consummately able and willing to take care of you in your old age; and who can take over the world (by being best able to ensure that nobody else actually takes over the world, as the UN wants to do today). You produce adults who are articulate, quick-witted, and equipped to persuade others of the benefits of living without forcible government.

Homeschooling will take a generation or three to have profound societal effect. Fortunately, since homeschooling has been gaining popularity since the 1970s, the first generation has been prepared for us. The middle of that generation is now winning all the national geography, math, and spelling bees.

Another important thing you can do, second in commitment only to homeschooling, is to compete with government in the provision of security. Organize your neighborhood, perhaps, and contract as a group with a private security service. If you’re an entrepreneur, start your own security firm. It’s a big enough business that some states regulate it closely; this means there’s already a market, and some folks already know how to get the business started.* According to left-wing opponents of private security, there are more private than government police in the US already, and the private security business is growing fast. Now may be a great time to get started. Security isn’t the only arena where you can compete with government, it’s just the most obvious. Roads, firefighting, a libertarian private school, you name it – you’re the entrepreneur. Competing with government at something it claims only it can do is for the daring and resourceful, of whom there are many active already.

If committing the next several years or decades of your life seems daunting, you can commit only a few minutes at a time: Pressure whoever’s in office now. For whatever reason, office holders at all levels are more impressed by snail mail than by anything else. Send letters to everyone who rules you whenever they are to make a decision. Tell them which choice to make, and give them a few short, level-headed sentences explaining why. Of course, you always want to tell them to vote in the way that reduces government. This may require telling them to vote in ways you don’t like, such as in favor of erasing gambling, prostitution, or drug laws. Every vote our rulers cast against government action will be a vote that increases or preserves liberty, economic prosperity, and (believe it or not) public morality. If the issue they are faced with does not present a smaller-government option, then tell them to grab the bull by neither horn – invent your own government-reducing command. For example, if your senator in Washington is deciding whether to write into law mandatory 10-year vs. mandatory 20-year sentences for drug pushers, tell him he needs to write instead a bill returning drug-legislative power to the states. Then tell your state legislators to give such power to counties.

Even if you dislike the idea of participating with your forcible government, it remains the case that telling your governor not to put a new tax up for vote is a step in the right direction. He doesn’t need to know you’re moving him in the direction of abolishing his office, that you didn’t vote for him, or that you don’t vote for people at all. He needs to believe only that you might vote for him next time. Forty years from now, it will be easier to abolish a government that taxes 10% of your income and offers no social programs than to abolish a government of the sort we have today.

Buy guns. Be sure you can use them effectively and safely. Just FYI, some of the best gun safety training is in the owner’s manual of your new gun. The more guns we own, the safer we are from ordinary criminals, from foreign invasion, and from our government. In case you’re wondering, the government’s own information shows that private guns and their owners are safer to children and to the general public than are wading pools and government policemen.

Join organizations, or start your own. Search the web, and find the libertarian organizations nearest you. You’ll make contacts and find new and useful information. Additionally, when you pool resources with like-minded people, public education and involvement become more practical. When energetic, liberty-minded people join forces voluntarily, they can lift a heavier rock than any person can lift alone. And yes, there may be some extremely well-informed anarcho-capitalists at Libertarian Party outings.

Finally, work hard to inform yourself. This makes you more effective in persuading opponents. Use the bibliographies at These bibliographies include commentary to help you select the books that most interest you, and posts reader reviews – worth scanning, because you might not finish a book that speaks below your level or that goes over your head. You’ll be able to separate the smart reviewers from the dumb ones.

Other things you can do depend only on your energy and imagination. Start your own anti-state website. Email articles to everyone you know. Buy vegetables from roadside stands (or anywhere you can avoid paying sales tax), or grow your own vegetables. Buy children’s books at garage sales. There’s even a market for used homeschooling curricula.

Notice that none of these solutions suggests that we can abolish forcible government overnight. The American Revolution (both of them) took years to complete. The revolution I want doesn’t even involve bloodshed; it requires bringing hearts and minds away from the dark side, one at a time. Any one person can require years to undo the pro-government indoctrination he has received.

When people are convinced, educated, and capable, they’ll come up with more solutions; the work will be under way. Worldwide anarcho-capitalist (a.k.a. voluntary) society is not only possible, I believe it is inevitable; many are already doing everything I’ve mentioned above, planting the seed of self-governance in the minds of people everywhere. Work at it one day at a time, and stay tuned.

* That there are others doing it means one or many of them will help you get going. They’ll know that increasing the visibility of their business means more business, even given the chance you’ll grow to be a competitor. In a strip mall some time ago, there were two discount shoe stores. One burned down. The other owner helped rebuild the burnt store, because the presence of two stores increased the shoe-related visibility of the strip mall. The presence of a competitor increased sales for the unburnt store. Near my home, three fast-food joints opened within 100 feet of each other within the last six months. You’ll have help starting your business.
December 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003

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