Today I'd like to make a few points that concern not so much what we believe in, but how we think about it, how we present it, and how we fight for it. It starts from a simple question:
Introduction: Why don't you like the State?
People often ask me, why are you against the State, what has the State done to you, personally? Is it so terrible not be allowed to trade legally in drugs, or to pay a little money in taxes?
Well, yes, it is terrible, those are crimes committed against me. But there's much more than that.
The question is actually threefold.
- First of all, yeah, why don't we like the state? What is the gist of our opposition to the State?
- Why does it matter so much? There's a lot of things I don't like, but I don't make paramount political causes worth fighting for out of them. Is it just a political opinion, a preference, or is it more than that?
- And finally, there are many ways to answer this question. Which one is the best, and how best to sell the answer in order to be convincing, in order to win?
The following presentation is my answer to these three questions.
1. Laissez-faire versus the State: Civilization or Dark Ages
If government controls could achieve nothing but paralysis, starvation, and collapse in a pre-industrial age, what happens when one imposes controls on a highly industrialized economy? Which is easier for bureaucrats to regulate: the operation of hand looms and hand forges—or the operation of steel mills, aircraft plants, and electronics concerns? Who is more likely to work under coercion: a horde of brutalized men doing unskilled manual labor—or the incalculable number of individual men of creative genius required to build and to maintain an industrial civilization? And if government controls fail even with the first, what depth of evasion permits modern statists to hope that they can succeed with the second?Ayn Rand, “Let Us Alone”, Chapter 13 of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Civilization has been a continuous struggle of the individual or of groups of individuals against the State and even against "society," that is, against the majority subdued and hypnotized by the State and State worship.
1. 1. Dark Ages classes vs laissez-faire equality
A: I am your King!"
W: "I didn't vote for you."
A: "You don't vote for Kings."
W: "Well, how'd you become King, then?"
A: "The Lady of the Lake,... [angels sing] ...her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] THAT is why I'm your king!"
D: "Listen, strange women, lyin' in ponds, distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. SUPREME executive power derives from a mandate of the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."
A: "Shut up!"
D: "You can't expect to wield supreme executive power, just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!"
A: "Shut up!"
Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.
On many levels, we still live in the Dark Ages. My first case in point is the fact that we still have classes like in the Middle Ages. We have a nobility, like United Nations officials who pay no taxes. We have diplomats with diplomatic immunity. In general, politicians are above the law, forming a class of lords, of Übermenschen. Ordinary laws do not apply to them.
We have a clerical class, the church, who is still paid through taxes in many countries. In Switzerland, this very country, 24 out of the 26 federated States still have State religions.
We also have a military class: the army, policemen, and "security professionals", who are the only ones allowed to carry weapons, as if they were somehow more qualified (in Switzerland, any civilian can get, and many do, training in firearms as good as or even better as them).
And of course, we still have kings and queens, monarchies.
Europe, 2013. Monarchies in red.
Nice crown. Is it magical?
Have you ever wondered, how does one become a king? Through what magic does one family get the right to rule over other people?
My favorite story is that of the ancestor of the Grimaldi family that rules over Monaco up to this day. Their ancestor, in the 13th century, disguised himself as a monk to gain entry into Monaco's castle, then killed everybody, captured The Rock and proclaimed himself prince. That's it. And now look at his proud family:
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
But if you think even deeper: the presidents of democratic States have no more legitimacy than him. Just because some people put your name on a piece of paper and put the paper inside a box does not give you any more rights over other human beings than does disguising yourself as a monk and committing a few murders.
So we have people ruling over other people either in monarchies or in democracies, without any rational justification, except either feudal tradition, or democratic tradition. The rules of the latter, by the way, are as much relative and due to historical accident as those of the former.
More generally, most of the stuff done by the State are crimes, and would rightly be considered as such if committed by ordinary citizens.
In contrast, laissez-faire relies on one very simple idea: that everyone has the same rights, and that therefore, if my neighbor cannot take my money, I cannot take his either, be it trough direct theft or through asking other thugs or the State to do it for me.
1. 2. Dark Ages feudalism vs laissez-faire freedom
My second point is that the statist model is that of feudalism, of kings, lords, and serfs attached to the land. Moving, traveling, is thus frowned upon. Terms such as "emigrants" and "immigrants" have been introduced, and, depending on the historical context, either of them have been criminalized. Today's fashion appears to be opposition to immigrants while not minding emigrants.
Mind you, in today's Switzerland, the feudal model is still so legally actual that all males, conscripted in the army (another example of barbaric slavery), have to ask the Army's permission to move "abroad" (whatever that means) for extended periods of time. Yes, in today's Switzerland, not East Berlin!
The idea of serfs attached to the land is so strong that the State is completely unadapted to people traveling. States are at a loss in the current information and globalized society:
Where I live, where I work, where I get married, where I vote and pay taxes used to be in one same circle, the land to which you were attached as a serf. Now that it's all disconnected, States cannot find any consistent set of rules to apply. They simply try to grab money wherever they can, taxing either residency or citizenship, income or spending. There is no logic, no rationality beyond that of power, the dark ages principle of rule by brute force.
Being asked stupid, irrelevant questions, checked for owning magic talismans called passports, searched without reasonable suspicion just because you cross a border, are trademarks of the State's tradition of irrational power.
Some economists (Bruno S. Frey, FOCJ - Functional Overlapping Competing Jurisdictions) have tried proposing complex solutions to address this, but they appear as inferior constructivists utopias from the start, fake solutions to a problem that's been solved long ago, by the free market.
The laissez-faire model, in contrast, is that of a free human being. The free human being is not a serf attached to land. He lives wherever he pays his rent or owns property. He votes in whatever company or association he has voluntarily entered and in which he enjoys voting rights. He works wherever people are willing to purchase his labor services. He pays no taxes. He uses no public goods, since there is no such thing anyway. The free human being pays for services he chooses to purchase. Period.
Crossing borders, traveling, shopping, working and living all around the world, all belong to the realm of the market, of laissez-faire, of modern civilization, they belong to our world of freedom that States despise so much and try to destroy.
1. 3. Dark Ages superstitions vs laissez-faire rationality
A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
There are still superstitions, witch hunts. More Witches Have Been Executed Since World War II Than in Centuries Past. We have black magic talismans like identification papers, passports, licenses.
Some areas of research necessary for progress are banned, like GMOs, cloning, etc, without any valid reason, except so-called "ethical committees" made usually of religious people without any competence on the matter
We have dark ages costumes and rituals (think of judges and lawyers), ceremonies like citizenship, army, etc. Black magic acts, like pretending to be creating wealth through printing money. And of course, we have the ideas that suffering is good, the labor theory of value, etc.
In contrast, laissez-faire is based on solid economic theory. The rule of reason, of rationality. The rules that people apply for everything scientific - then forget in political matters.
1. 4. Dark Ages barbarism vs laissez-faire civilization
The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form.Gandhi
Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
If libertarianism is so great, why hasn't any country in the world tried it? The answer is that every country has tried it and every country practices it to one extent or another. This is the reason we experience progress, enjoy wealth, and have access to things like longer lives, food to eat, cities, smartphones, financial markets, useful websites, shoes, clothes, and the like. It's why we can mostly say what we want, fall in love and act on that, and do what we want in a general way provided we don't hurt others. These conditions all flow from human volition using private property (including property in ourselves) that is exercised whenever and wherever it is permitted by the authorities. Government doesn't create anything. It just takes stuff, overrides our preferences, and threatens us if we fail to comply. It has the same relationship to human liberty that a tick has to a dog. Just because ticks exist doesn't mean that dogs aren't real or are some untried experiment. Similarly, just because theft and murder exist doesn't mean that we should not rather have a world in which they did not.
Violence is the tool of the state. Knowledge and the mind are the tools of free people.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., The Libertarian Paradox
I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor, and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the ‘economic means’ for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the ‘political means’.
Franz Oppenheimer, The State.
There are only three ways to acquire wealth in a free society. The inheritance model occurs when someone gives you wealth. The economic model occurs when you trade a skill, a talent, an asset, knowledge, sweat, energy or creativity to a willing buyer. And the mafia model occurs when a guy with a gun says: "Give me your money or else."
In his 1860 article, Panarchy, P. E. de Puydt suggested that someday, people would cease to consider violence as a legitimate way to impose political opinions, just like they don't consider violence anymore as a legitimate way to impose religious opinions. This is our hope: someday, in civilized countries, governmental oppression will be remembered as a nightmare of ancient barbarian times, something unthinkable to civilized people, just like Wars of Religion now seem a barbarous thing of the past to inhabitants of most civilized countries.
And finally, consistent with all the rest, States rely on unchecked violence, committing violence against people who have done no harm to anyone, merely to enforce arbitrary laws, or their power. States are therefore violence, chaos. States are anomy: a society with no fixed, rational set of rules, only arbitrary, historical contexts of power, laws that change depending on who you are, where you are.
Civilization, on the other hand, in addition to what we've seen above, requires control of violence to make the rest possible.
States lead to Dark Ages decivilization, chaos, superstitions. The State drives people towards war, intolerance and hatred, through collectivization of risks and decisions. The State is a war of all against all, a negative sum game of grabbing other people's belongings.
Laissez-faire is the exact opposite. The market drives people towards peace and tolerance, through cooperation and trade. Laissez-faire is order, violence bound by rules. Laissez-faire is modernity and civilization. Laissez-faire is the rejection of rule by brute force, by conquest, which has no place in our century.
This leads us to the one and only relevant political question: does violence have to be curtailed by a universal and rational law, or is it a means for some to satisfy their wishes through the State?
The simple difference between rights and preferences: the fact that I want bread, a telephone or national defense, doesn't give me the right to force someone to provide it for me.
Civilization, thus, is synonymous with libertarianism, with laissez-faire: it's a society where people respect each other's rights. Laissez-faire means one thing: the principle of non-aggression. Which means that no one, whatever his social status, his gender, his race or his power of any kind, has the right to use aggressive violence against other people. That's it.
2. Why it matters so much
Why does all of this matter so much?
Do you see the pattern, and the huge difference there is between the Market and the State? It's not a matter of choosing the most efficient way of achieving a given goal, it's a matter of recognizing good from evil, creation from destruction, equality from authority.
States are violence, destruction, poverty, death, chaos, anomy. States lead to the war of all against all. States make people think of the world as a zero-sum game, thus hating and fighting each other instead of loving each other and collaborating.
Luckily, I dare say, we live in a world in which what is right is also what works. The universe does make sense: theft and crime are not the most efficient means of making a successful living. Thus, communism doesnt' work, and it's not a "noble idea that unfortunately failed": it's a rotten idea that failed because it could only have failed in a rational and just universe. Therefore, the distinction between Anarchy and State, laissez-faire and intervention, Civilization and Dark Ages, growth or decline, progress or stagnation, order and chaos, law and nihilism, is not an innocent one, but one of utmost importance.
We're all aware of that, and other speakers will certainly give us further examples. I'm sure in the next few days you're going to hear lots of examples of how the government is destroying our lives while the market is making them better. I'm thus gonna address a few less obvious yet nonetheless dramatic consequences of the existence of the Dark Ages institution of the State. I'm going to stick to a few points which I think are essential yet not emphasized enough.
2. 1. Growth
If the State had been abolished a century ago, we'd all have robots and summer homes in the Asteroid belt.
Samuel Edward Konkin III
Y yo les pregunto. ¿Qué habría pasado con la civilización si el prospero mundo liberal de la economía de mercado del Imperio Romano, de comienzos del Imperio Romano, no se hubiera desmoronado por culpa del socialismo? A lo mejor podríamos haber llegado a la Luna en el año 800 ó 900.
Jesús Huerta de Soto, La Caída del Imperio Romano
Anarchy is all around us. Without it, our world would fall apart. All progress is due to it. All order extends from it. All blessed things that rise above the state of nature are owed to it. The human race thrives only because of the lack of control, not because of it. I’m saying that we need ever more absence of control to make the world a more beautiful place. It is a paradox that we must forever explain.Jeffrey Tucker
Tout acte juste est créateur, tout acte injuste est pure destruction
En effet :
— Toute réaffectation volontaire de son patrimoine par un propriétaire légitime lui donne davantage de valeur, ne serait-ce qu'à ses yeux ; de même, dans tout échange volontaire, où par définition personne ne vole personne, chacun donne plus de valeur à ce qu'il reçoit qu'à ce qu'il donne en échange : ces deux types d'actes sont donc par définition productifs, créateurs de valeur. Rothbard a démontré le caractère nécessaire et suffisant de ces relations.
— En revanche, toute injustice, toute violation de la propriété naturelle, détruit le lien entre le porteur d'un projet et ses possessions, qui donnait leur valeur à ces dernières ; en outre toute remise en cause de la propriété, sur quelque richesse que ce soit, met en branle un processus de rivalité pour le butin où, en tendance, les efforts faits pour s'emparer de l'enjeu consomment de la richesse à la hauteur de celle qui a été ou sera volée — c'est la Loi de la destruction totale, aussi appelée Loi de Bitur-Camember. "Mettre en cause la propriété c'est la détruire" est donc une proposition vraie dans tous les sens du terme, le sens économique comme le sens juridique.
Modern civilization is a product of the philosophy of laissez faire. It cannot be preserved under the ideology of government omnipotence.
Ludwig von Mises
Dark Ages ideas are bound to keep us, or lead us back to, Dark Ages poverty. In this day and age, we could and should all be extremely wealthy. Dark Ages economic theories are keeping us poorer than we have to be. Why and how? There are many factors, all related to the distinction between Dark Ages States and laissez-faire market civilization.
Half the people of the economy are in the parasitic, clerical and State officials class, not doing any productive work in the best case, and doing destructive work in the worst case. Given that, it's a miracle the economy is working at all. Take taxes as an example. Thousands of people working on checking tax codes that could and should be simpler, while the taxes themselves, of course, are never "neutral" and always harm the economy and the people.
The more complex the economy is, the worse the economic calculation problem becomes. The market is the modern way of having a functioning economy. Laissez-faire is what allows economic progress, and therefore civilization.
What is civilization?
For me, civilization, understood as economic growth, which by definition is what got us out of the status of animals fighting for survival, requires three essential things:
- The division of labor;
- A practical means of exchange: money;
- The accumulation of capital.
All of these are hindered by the State through fiat money and taxes:
- Division of labor: Hindered by taxes. It becomes more interesting to do some untaxed work for myself than to work more, be taxed at a heavy marginal tax rate, and use the remaining money to pay someone. Thus pushing us back towards barter economics, and autarky, and regressing to days before specialization, and thus much lower efficiency.
- Money as a stable means of exchange: inflation undermines money's stability, while taxes on monetary transactions undermine its usefulness.
- Accumulation of capital: without savings, there is no investment. Without investment, there is no growth. It's really that simple. If I have an idea, say a new invention, I'll need money to develop it, pay designers and workers. I'll need to borrow money, or have some money of my own saved. You cannot innovate or develop new technologies in a barter economy, above a primitive level. The state encourages consumption, not savings. Savings are taxed multiple times, as something particularly wrong: the income, then the wealth, then again when we use that wealth, even on inheritance.
But why is growth so important? Indeed, we actually have people against it. Growth means simply that we have more money than we did last year. What does that mean? Well, yes, it means better purchasing power. Consumerism. Buying stuff you don't need to impress people you don't like.
But it means a lot more than that. It means more money to buy medication, health care. More money to spend on causes we like, or to invest. It means more technological progress, since we need to be able to afford the new technologies. Thus, growth means better lives, it means longer lives, it means less suffering, pain, poverty.
Yet growth, again, is only possible through the free market.
The State is making us unimaginably poorer. Through Dark Ages classes of people not doing any actual work, through banning and taxing exchanges, through jailing people who could work and save, through sheer destruction of goods.
Imagine how big the economic screw up has to be for us to have both huge amounts of unemployment while there is still, of course, an infinite amount of work to be done (marble palaces for everyone, food for everyone, inventing and producing medications against all diseases, etc), and to actually have negative growth rates today, despite all the technological progress that the market still manages to bring.
What has been happening for the past century is basically two forces:
On one side growth, civilization, accumulation of capital, technological progress, the marvels of capitalism. An ever-growing pie of wealth.
On the other, the increasing parasitism of the State, not content to steal the same relative part which has become bigger in absolute terms, but stealing an ever-increasing percentage of the pie.
The problem is, this is not some economic model where growth is exogenous. The State's stealing more and more, and in addition to laying out thousands of new laws and regulations that don't even make it richer, but only make us all poorer, is finally reaching the point where its avidity is killing the economy. The little growth we have now is actually the result of a huge growth of the market, minus a huge amount of theft and senseless destruction perpetrated by the State.
But the forces of progress can't compensate for the amount of destruction anymore. Thus, wealth is decreasing again, something that would make absolutely no sense in a free economy. We have today countries with negative growth rates. In 2013, with all the technological progress. Imagine the amount of theft and utter destruction that had to happen for this to be even possible.
Remember too that differences in growth rates get compounded, which over the long run makes huge differences.
Let's check the maths.
If you need a brief introduction to the power of compound interest, remember this episode of Futurama, where Fry gets frozen and checks his bank account after 1000 years, to discover his $.93 have become $4.3 billions. Here's a table of Fry's bank account:
Fry's account ($)
after 10 years
after 100 years
Apply this to growth rates, by going to our
And keep in mind the effect of State size on growth rates, and the rise in State size. Empirical studies have shown that 10 more percentage points of State are enough to make a difference of 1 percentage point of growth rate.
So let's take this simple example: two countries which have a State size different by 10 percentage points, which equals to 1 percentage points growth less. So if we take one country with a growth rate of 1%, and another with a growth rate of 2%, what will be the difference over a 1000 years?
1.01^1000 = 20 959
1.02^1000 = 398 264 651
difference : 18 964 times.
So, while the first country will be 20 thousand times wealthier, the second country shall be 400 million times wealthier, that is, 20 thousand times wealthier than the first.
So, do growth rates matter? Yes, they do, a lot. This is not the kind of difference as between having a 50 inch screen TV instead of a 49 inch screen TV. This is the kind of difference like between starving in the Dark Ages and having smart phones: wealth and technology we can't even grasp right now. It's a difference between abject poverty and incredible wealth for millions of people.
2. 2. Survival
Formally, I call it Objectivism, but informally I call it a philosophy for living on earth.
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who needs it
You can deny the ethics of what makes survival on earth possible only for so long. Ideas, of which the logical conclusion is death, applied inconsistently, entail a slow death. It's the case of all the constructivist ideologies, be it socialism, feminism, ecologism or fascism.
As we have seen, the State is destruction, the Market is creation.
But there's more: while the market saves lives, the State kills. In the 20th, the Century of the State as the statist Mussolini rightly called it, states murdered 260 million people. Freedom is a life or death issue. Current policies of countries like the USA, waging wars against their own citizens under the pretense of the war of drugs for instance, raiding homes, killing and imprisoning innocent people, is but an example.
This is a life or death matter. We're on the side of life.
Beyond that, as we have seen the State curtails growth. Poverty of course leads to death, see starving countries like North Korea. This is where statism leads.
And if we think further in the future, the long term survival of the human species requires space colonization. Space colonization is expensive, and thus will require the amount of wealth and technology only a free country can produce in the long term.
2. 3. Transhumanism
Freedom, Immortality and the Stars!
L. Neil Smith
Extropians are the transhumanist libertarians who vow to develop the technologies that will actually make it all happen.
As Kim Robinson poignantly emphasized this fact whenever a character died in his Mars trilogy, “And there went another one who could have lived 1000 years.”
Robert Vroman, Help! The State is Trying To Kill Me
Immortality may not be a reality yet, but rapidly evolving technology is making it more realistic, said Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google
“I felt some deep disgust – as would any ancient – at the efforts of ‘singularity’ thinkers (such as Ray Kurzweil) who believe in humans’ potential to live forever. Note that if I had to find the anti-me, the person with diametrically opposite ideas and lifestyle on the planet, it would be that Ray Kurzweil fellow. It is not just neomania. While I propose removing offensive elements from people’s diets (and lives), he works by adding, popping close to two hundred pills daily. Beyond that, these attempts at immortality leave me with deep moral revulsion.”
Nassim Taleb, Antifragile, quoted by Gennady Stolyarov II
Life is sacred to libertarians: we believe in the non-aggression principle, we're humanists, not constructivists. Humans are not expendable. Population growth is not a curse but a blessing. Mankind is not destroying the planet, mankind is more important than the planet. Unlike statists, we are individualists. We do not think in terms of groups, but of individuals. Each individual is thus a valuable life that should be preserved. We don't care about the survival of species. We care about the survival of each and every one of us humans. The end of aging is now a matter of technological progress, and of allowing the research.
Of course, life extension is completely against the interests of States. Their Madoff-based social security systems were not designed for it. Their collectivist ideologies don't care about it. Their ethics are anti-life.
Life extension is, again, a laissez-faire value, something impossible under statism, and something that matters, if anything. Again, like for growth, picking sides for or against immortality should be pretty easy.
3. What do you do about it?
My personal life is a postscript to my novels; it consists of the sentence: 'And I mean it.'
I've tried to show the fundamental opposition of the State and the Dark Ages it entails and Laissez-faire and the Civilization it allows, and the paramount importance of this unavoidable choice.
From this, several conclusions can be drawn, which make obvious the strategy for furthering laissez-faire - and thus civilization and mankind.
3. 1. Reframe
If you don't like what is being said, change the conversation.
Don Draper, Mad Men
This is the most important point. My whole speech so far has been one big reframe. It's not so much about our opinion on things, it's about how we view things. What I'm suggesting is a better frame of thinking of freedom versus the State.
Let me give you a few examples and then dig deeper into what they imply.
“You libertarians are the types that would allow fornication in public parks!”
- What do you mean, public parks?”
"Congressman Paul, 50% of Americans pay no income tax. What are your thoughts?"
- We're halfway there!
- A vote for Bart is a vote for Anarchy!
For those of you unfamiliar with the Simpsons, in this episode, Bart is accused through a poster that "a vote for Bart is a vote for anarchy". Instead of accepting the frame that anarchy is bad, and defending himself of being an anarchist, of apologizing, Bart's supporters start themselves sticking the exact same poster: "a vote for Bart is a vote for anarchy".
3. 1. 1. Know you're right.
Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.
In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.
Being a libertarian, being in favor of the free market, is not a political label like any other. The debate is not whether to be a conservative, a socialist or a libertarian. The debate is whether or not you are in favor of human progress, civilization, and human enhancement.
Today, this should be obvious to everybody. The collapse of Greece. The outright theft of savings in Cyprus, etc.
States are Dark Ages institutions of violence, barbarism, superstition, black magic and inquisition. Libertarianism is civilization. Thus, even if there were but one libertarian against the whole wide world of statists, they're the ones who should be defending themselves, and apologizing.
As de Jasay has shown in his essay Liberalism, loose or strict, the presumption of freedom is a logical necessity: We don't have to justify our right to be free, they should strive to justify their right to point a gun at us.
Frame: we are normal, they are retarded. We are the forces of good and progress. It's not about defending the rich, or a more optimal system. It's not about apologizing for our rights. Like I've shown above, it's about civilization.
We must reclaim the moral high ground on issues like bank secrecy, tax competition. Never apologize for what you know to be right.
3. 1. 2. Stick to the essentials
Don't answer complex questions (e.g. beating your wife), or who should the State control, who should the State take money from.
Remember that some questions should not be asked, there is no right answer.
Move the conversation from irrelevant policy questions to the only one political question on which all the others rely: in which cases is the use of force justified?
Don't get distracted into debates about the color of the walls of the bathrooms of public buildings which shouldn't even exist in the first place.
It's not about consequences, it's not about what you like, it's not about what's nice. It's about whether or not a given case justifies the use of violence. That's it, that's all politics is about.
3. 1. 3. Be positive.
When people are free, they create things no one had previously imagined possible. This is the reason for human progress. It’s about the struggle to make life ever more wonderful, to improve health and diet, to lengthen lives, to overcome the state of nature, alleviate suffering and create a beautiful and flourishing world.
Insist on the beauty of market, spontaneous order, harmony of human interactions. I mean, it is something beautiful, this huge spontaneous coordination that is necessary for a global civilization. Civilization is so magnificent that it thrives despite the State.
3. 1. 4. Drop the labels
We shouldn't even call ourselves libertarians: we're simply people who have a basic understanding of how the world operates, and what are the basic requirements for growth and civilization. People don't call themselves physicists just because they don't try to ignore the laws of physics. Yet what the States have been doing is exactly this: ignoring the laws of economics. If you drop an apple, it will fall to the ground. If you tax an economy, destroy its currency, and penalize saving and economic transaction, if you ignore the law of supply and demand, if you try to control the economy, to fix prices, then it will just as surely collapse. And that is exactly what has been happening. We're not libertarians, we're people who understand the laws of reality, people who are on the side of progress, technology, increase in standards of living, all that is good and right and beautiful.
What is libertarianism, liberalism, laissez-faire, market anarchy, etc ? Many different names for one simple idea.
My definition of laissez-faire is very simple: it means recognizing the simple fact that all human beings have the same rights, and that therefore, no one can claim to be "king" or "president" or "senator" or "policeman" and have any rights over me that I would not have over him. That's it. It means that the right to use violence, as a universal right, makes sense only as the right to defend oneself against aggression, that is, I have the same right to defend myself from aggressive violence by another person, and that person has the exact same right to defend himself from such violence were it initiated by me.
Therefore, our goal is not to sell the label, our goal is to convince people that this basic intuition that they all have is the right one. That's it.
We should not need labels to describe what is normal, the abolition of slavery and theft. We are people who don't think we have the right to use aggressive violence. Should we need a label for that? We are non-criminals. Do we need labels for people who *don't* go about raping, or killing, or stealing from everyone? All we want is the abolition of politics.
We are people who understand the above. I don't need a label because I accept the realities of science, because I prefer life to death, progress to decay, civilization to barbarism. Our ideas are obvious truths, they are not a lifestyle to which to "convert" people. We are not an oppressed minority group. Our ideas are the ideas that make life on earth possible. Our ideas are the truths that everyone already accepts in most of their lives, unless they're in an asylum or in jail already. Our ideas make life on earth and in a society possible.
3. 1. 5. Set your reality
In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice the world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind, and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Remember, whoever has the strongest frame wins. This is our reality, and if it is strong enough it will win over theirs. Never accept a frame you don't like. We should never be defending ourselves based on our opponent's premises. Instead, we must impose our frame and ridicule our adversaries for clinging to Dark Ages superstitions. When accused of criticizing the State, agree and amplify. You can never be critical enough of the state.
We must have a strong frame. We must not suggest that maybe a change could be better. We have to laugh at Dark Ages priests for enforcing their superstitions. We must make people realize that's its not a matter of political "sensibility", it's a matter of grasping reality. We all love freedom, but being free is about a lot more than freedom. It's about what the human species can accomplish in the universe, instead of wasting resources on Dark Ages rituals.
This is our world: it belongs to us, the owners of property, the producers, the creators. We know the laws of reality, physics, economics, science in general. States ignore them, they are out of touch with reality.
3. 2. Act
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
3. 2. 1. Be free
You have to start living the life of the person you want to be.
Bobbie Barrett, Mad Men
But it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it's all we have left in this place. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free.
V for Vendetta
Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?
Henry David Thoreau
The greatest lie of all isn't that man shouldn't be free but rather it's that you aren't free. Buzz, you're born into this world with your own mind. It isn't controlled by anyone but you.
Scott Carpenter, Buzzard and I
I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
When you smoked that joint last night on New Year’s Eve, did you care about the fact that it is, supposedly, illegal? You knew perfectly well that there exists some bunch of legalese in some legal code you’ve never seen that claims, if you can believe it, to give certain men with guns the “legitimate” authority to prevent you from ingesting certain natural compounds, and to physically restrain and do violence to you in pursuance of that end.
Of course, being the reasonable person that you presumably are, you knew all that to be a bunch of nonsense and saw right through that claim of legitimacy. Those paragraphs of legal garbage no more bound you last night than do, well, the dead fingers of the dead lawyers who wrote them. Thus, last night you only took the sensible precaution of avoiding those particular men with guns who irrationally worship those dead fingers, just as you exercised caution about walking home through a bad neighborhood and opted for a cab instead. Smart of you.
Arto Bendiken, Set Your Code Free
The State relies on violence as an ultimate threat, but it seldom has to use it. It relies on our fear and obedience. Remember that bad rules are made to be broken. States' laws don't apply to you.
Remember, that most of the walls are within your head. As long as you can get away with it, act according to your conscience, not according to States' orders. Remember that you're only affected by what you let affect you. Ignore the State as much as you can. Before you can save others you must save yourself first.
3. 2. 2. Mean it
But I don't think of you.Howard Roark, in Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
The distinctive feature of libertarians is that they coolly and uncompromisingly apply the general moral law to people acting in their roles as members of the State apparatus. Libertarians make no exceptions. For centuries, the State (or more strictly, individuals acting in their roles as “members of the government”) has cloaked its criminal activity in high-sounding rhetoric. For centuries the State has committed mass murder and called it “war”; then ennobled the mass slaughter that “war” involves. For centuries the State has enslaved people into its armed battalions and called it “conscription” in the “national service.” For centuries the State has robbed people at bayonet point and called it “taxation.” In fact, if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place.
Now, this is the hard part to grasp. You have to actually take this seriously. Stop thinking about the State as some group of legitimate leaders who are wrong on a few points. Take this seriously. Consider the state as a criminal band, and act accordingly. Is it immoral to lie to a criminal band? Didn't think so. Is it immoral to try to get what you can out of it while contributing the least? Didn't think so. The illusion of politics is tempting. Thinking of the State as a bunch of nice people who actually care about your opinion, who want to discuss the issues, who think "all opinions are important" and "relevant to the democratic debate", etc. Well, get over it. No matter what they say, the State is a band of thugs using violence in order to fight against civilization. Never forget it. Modern civilization, humanity, will not survive if we lose.
Which brings me to the essential : the goal is not to convince statists that we are right and they are wrong. The goal is to win. The goal is for statists to be powerless, not to acknowledge their powerlessness.
We are not the student who comes questioning the master about some doubt he has about the rightness of his system. We are free people who don't give a damn about the looters. Our goal is not to convince criminals, including statists, that they are wrong. Our goal is to have a society where all criminals, including statists, are rightfully defended against and made to pay for their crimes.
3. 2. 3. Make ideas available
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
The role of libertarian think tanks is making ideas available, for people who seek the truth, who seek answers. To make ideas available for when people start doubting the system, they can find a consistent theory. So that they know that what they understand about one part of the problem is relevant to all the parts of the problem. Everyone understands State evil at some level, but they don't connect it, they don't get that all State intervention is always wrong.
In a thousand years, our ideas will be either obvious and generally acknowledged without any debate, or mankind will have degenerated back to the Stone Age. In either case, no one will be debating politics.
There probably won't be a point where those guys acknowledge that we were right. There's simply gonna be a point where our ideas will become obvious. Gandhi's winning stage is not a point where the statists give in, acknowledge they were wrong, and congratulate you on your prescience. It's a point where jailing people for drug use becomes rightfully considered as barbaric and unthinkable as torturing people for heresy.
Which is why you must remember that the goal is not to convince the looters to stop looting. The goal is to make people realize they are looters, or not even that: to make people act accordingly, and treat looters as looters, even without realizing it.
The goal is not to convince them that we have won, the goal is to win.
3. 2. 4. Deny them the sanction of the victim
"I want," said Rearden gravely, "to let the nature of this procedure appear exactly for what it is. If you need my help to disguise it—I will not help you."
"But we are giving you a chance to defend yourself—and it is you who are rejecting it."
"I will not help you to pretend that I have a chance. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of righteousness where rights are not recognized. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice."
"But the law compels you to volunteer a defense!"
There was laughter at the back of the courtroom.
"That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen," said Rearden gravely, "and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition—which you cannot force—that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there—I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine—I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me—use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action."
Hank Rearden, in Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Ignore the State as much as you can. Never forget what the State is and act accordingly: you don't have to tell them the truth, you don't have to tell them anything you don't have to, you don't have to do what they expect you to do, you don't have to do what they think you should do, unless they actually force you to. Don't do anything voluntarily that isn't truly voluntary. Make the State's intentions clear. Submit to its violence, but don't help it pretend it's not violence.
3. 2. 5. Be an entrepreneur of liberty
We're here to preserve democracy—not to practice it.
This is the kind of contradiction that affects lesser, contradictory, contextual, nihilistic ideologies - not laissez-faire. Therefore, our view is the opposite: We're here to strengthen the Market, by practicing it:
Every single transaction that takes place outside the nexus of state control is a victory for those individuals taking part in the transaction. So there are thousands of victories here each week and each one makes a difference, strengthens the agora, and weakens the state.
If this country is worth saving, it's worth saving at a profit.
H. L. Hunt
Today we have great libertarian entrepreneurs that have used new technologies to expand the freedom of the market against the power of the State:
- 3D printed firearms
- Silk Road
Conclusion: Reclaim your reality, reclaim your life
The good news is that the growth of the States cannot go on. Governments are crumbling, becoming ever more extreme in the violence and destruction they inflict. The bad news is there's a real possibility of reverting to even darker ages if left unchecked. It's up to us to get sure that the consistent path chosen is that of utter modernity, not that of utter darkness. We libertarians are the forces of light fighting against this darkness. It is not a trivial matter.
We must have a strong frame. We must not suggest that maybe a change could be better. We have to laugh at Dark Age priests for enforcing their superstitions. We must make people realize that's its not a matter of political "sensibility", it's a matter of grasping reality. We all love freedom, but being free is about a lot more than freedom. It's about what the human species can accomplish in the universe, instead of wasting resources on Dark Ages rituals
Therefore: trust your libertarian intuition. Know that you are right, even if everyone around you is wrong. Live according to your principles. Don't compromise. Apply libertarianism. Be an entrepreneur. We are right, we are civilization. Live accordingly. Don't wait for permission to be free. Don't ever let the looters and their laws (Ayn Rand) stop you. Live. Create. Invent. Prosper. Grow.
This is our world: it belongs to us, the owners of property, the producers, the creators. We know the laws of reality, physics, economics, science in general. States ignore them, they are out of touch with reality.
It's not a matter of opinion or lifestyle. I say it's about being denied unimaginable wealth, lifelong health, even immortality. Space travel. The long term survival and flourishing of the human species: You know, the little things.
This isn't about a system being more optimal. This is the real issue, the real cosmic battle of good versus evil in which we are the avant-garde fighters. Laissez-faire, libertarianism, is not an ideology. It is an essential step on the path towards human progress, life extension and transhumanism.
Thank you very much.