Getting it Said

Kevin Carson at C4SS:

In my opinion the best way to change the laws, in practical terms, is through counter-institution building and through counter-economic activity outside the state’s control:  in other words, to render the laws so irrelevant and unenforceable, by our efforts outside the state, that even the state must make concessions to reality.


It seems to me that statism will ultimately end, not as the result of any sudden and dramatic failure, but as the cumulative effect of a long series of little things.  The costs of enculturing individuals to the state’s view of the world, and of dissuading a large enough majority of people from disobeying when they’re pretty sure they’re not being watched, will result in a death of a thousand cuts.  More and more of the state’s activities, from the perspective of those running things, will just cost more (in terms not only of money but of just plain mental aggravation) than they’re worth.  IOW, the decay of ideological hegemony and the decreased feasibility of enforcement will do to the state what file-sharing is doing to the RIAA.


The most cost-effective “political” effort is simply making people understand that they don’t need anyone’s permission to be free.  Start telling them right now that the law is unenforceable, and disseminating knowledge as widely as possible on the most effective ways of breaking it.  Publicize examples of ways we can live our lives the way we want, with institutions of our own making, under the radar of the state’s enforcement apparatus:   local currency systems, free clinics, ways to protect squatter communities from harrassment, and so on.  Educational efforts to undermine the state’s moral legitimacy, educational campaigns to demonstrate the unenforceability of the law, and efforts to develop and circulate means of circumventing state control, are all things best done on a stigmergic basis.

A thousand times “Yes!”

4 Responses

  1. Interesting, but I can predict that the reaction that many people will have to being encouraged “to be free” is that they are free enough, and don’t mind the constraints of existing institutions enough to bother recreating them. Although I’m willing to accept that at least some of these reactions may be the result of “false consciousness,” not all of them are, and apathy is not a sin when it comes to opinions about institutional reform.

    • I think it’s entirely reasonable for people to be happy enough with existing arrangements that they don’t find it worthwhile spending their own time and resources creating an alternative.

      That’s why it’s so important that those of us who aren’t happy with the status quo build alternative institutions people can migrate to easily. I don’t think everyone should be out there creating alternative institutions, but I do think that’s the most effective form of libertarian activism. Very difficult to do, of course, and often prone to land you in jail.

  2. Since Socrates, the most effective form of political activism has been civil disobedience. If that’s what you mean by creating alternative institutions, then you’re in good company with Socrates, King, and Gandhi.

    The track record of creating institutions de novo is more dubious. If that’s what you mean, then you’re in mixed company. On the one hand, you’ve got the Oneida colony, Venice (the original seastead?), and the United States. On the other, you’ve got Liberia, Fordlandia, and Jonestown. High stakes game.

  3. If country singers were economists, there would be a song called “Freedom ain’t free unless you’re a free-rider (then there might not be freedom),” and another called “Succession is the right thing to do.”

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