One criticism I have received from my peers is that I am “too radical.” When I was first faced with that accusation, I asked for elaboration, and the critic stated that I “have strong views on everything, and they’re kinda crazy sometimes.” I was first taken aback, trying to evaluate whether or not I was actually too radical. I decided to quiet down a bit for a while and not be as vocal about my libertarian leanings in my personal life. This was a mistake.
Take a brief look at recent history and look at what dominated the pre-U.S. hegemonic world, particularly during the cold war. Communism had a greater influence on the hearts and minds of every individual than any ideology ever had before. It was global, and even Americans feared for the future of the United States due to the “Red Scare.”
In 1949, the Soviet Union successfully tested a nuclear bomb and communist forces led by Mao Zedong (1893-1976) took control of China. The following year saw the start of the Korean War (1950-53), which engaged U.S. troops in combat against the communist-supported forces of North Korea. The advances of communism around the world convinced many U.S. citizens that there was a real danger of “Reds” taking over their own country.
This global communist uprising left a lasting imprint, and the ideas are still practiced by many countries today. Most notably is Venezuela, which collapsed under its own socialist weight and now has to feed its people rabbits. These radical leftist ideas of state control took a grip on the world, and we still haven’t pried it off.
As strange as it sounds, the libertarians should take a page out of the Marxist playbook. Clearly, it has worked for the left in the past, and it seems to be taking a new form in the Antifa movement, but what is it that gives them such great impact, and what can we take from the left’s playbook to further libertarianism?
Many members of the liberty movement like to be “less radical,” aiming to be more socially acceptable at the expense of their principles. This is what is described as “opportunism,” or the belief that we should wait for opportunities to insert our principles, rather than always being active and pushing. Murray Rothbard had a few things to say about that in his writing The Case for Radical Idealism.
The major problem with the opportunists is that by confining themselves strictly to gradual and “practical” programs, programs that stand a good chance of immediate adoption, they are in grave danger of completely losing sight of the ultimate objective, the libertarian goal.
This is where we need to look at the left’s actions. Their unrelenting push for their end goal of total socialism is what gives them so much ground. They don’t sacrifice their principles, and it is effective. We should do the same.
Murray Rothbard then goes on to describe the sad case of a man named Robert, who decided to focus less on the libertarian goal and began to slowly make friends with the state, all for the sake of becoming more appealing. As great as it would be to not be seen as outlandish when advocating for the end of all taxes rather than a slight decrease, focusing on the slight decrease results in freedom fighters losing sight of their goal.
A more recent case of this would be the curious one of former VP of the Cato Institute, who made the case that libertarians and conservatives should tone down their opposition to the welfare state. While of course, the liberty movement should look to find new recruits, abandonment of principles and advocacy for a devastating program that is destroying minority communities is not the way to do it. This dilutes the message of libertarianism and will only result in creating a fake libertarian movement that will hurt the true fighters for freedom.
Libertarians need to say what the masses see as crazy. These wars are murderous, taxation is theft, and the government is phenomenally oversized. The best part about this is that it works. Ron Paul was radical, voicing sympathy for anarchist ideas and openly stating that cocaine should be legal (and being met with applause nonetheless), and his movement grew. More people came to radical libertarianism through him than probably any other libertarian icon through history.
But saying radical things isn’t the only aspect to libertarian success. We need to act. We can do this by building platforms and talking to people. We need to spread our message to the masses, through culture, conversation, debate, and academia. The state only has power over us because we act as opportunists, rolling over belly-up and letting it stomp on us. Etienne de la Boetie said:
He [the state] thus domineers over you…has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you.
The state is able to walk over us because we let it. We need to act against them. Hans Hermann Hoppe laid out a way to do so:
If compelled by them, one complies, out of prudence and no other reason than self-preservation, but one does nothing to support or facilitate their operations.
What Hoppe is saying here is that we should not assist the state. Like a child doing something obnoxious, do not encourage it. Avoid it when you can and do not use its faculties, and openly act against it. One way to avoid using its faculties is to trade in cryptocurrencies, avoid its taxes, and help the poor through private charities or in private groups. Spread the message by talking to friends and family, or connect through culture, such as comedian Dave Smith and band Backwordz have done.
The fight against the state’s oppression must not be a passive one. Do not sit alone at home and mope that the state exists, band together and act. The state will not decrease until we gather the masses and turn popular support against them. Then we can be free.
This article was originally published on 71 Republic.